THE NASHVILLE PEACE AND JUSTICE CENTER IN 2010 – END OF THE YEAR REPORT
2010 was a year of BEARING WITNESS FOR TOLERANCE, PEACE AND JUSTICE, which seem ever more entwined. Tolerance and fairness, regardless of race, religion, place of national origin, economic status or gender orientation, was a major issue in 2010 and promises to continue being so in 2011.
• We participated in several rallies for freedom of religion in Nashville and Murfreesboro. (A photo of our “Freedom of Religion” sign was used to illustrate this issue in the City Paper's Dec. 18 review of 2010.)
• We participated in the Civil Rights Memorial march as well as the Martin Luther King Jr. march and Convocation.
• We had a booth on Pride Day and took part in the candlelight march against bullying of young members of the GBLT community.
• We provided breakfast pastries for the annual Homeless Memorial Service for those who died on the streets of Nashville during 2010.
• We supported increased funding for Nashville's public schools and spoke out against cutting the budget on the backs of the lowest paid school support staff. Our position was covered on television and in print.
• We tabled at the downtown public Library on Human Rights Day.
There were also major international HUMANITARIAN CRISES in 2010.
• The year started off with a disastrous earthquake in Haiti and we decided to monitor the situation, to research and analyze the root problems and to advocate for appropriate aid to Haiti. We produced a flier, “Help Don't Harm Haiti”, urging citizens to contact the White House, and distributed it at the Martin Luther King Jr, Convocation at the Gentry Center. At the African Street Festival, we distributed an expanded position paper and asked people to sign postcards to former President Bill Clinton, thanking him for his work, while urging appropriate aid for Haiti. Children colored Haitian flags and produced art and notes for Haitian children.
• In response to the flood in Pakistan, we collected funds for aid to be distributed by progressive Pakistanis. We are participating in the fundraising efforts of the Friends' Meeting and did a presentation about Pakistan to the Nashville Salon.
Our mission of EDUCATION – of ourselves and others - seemed more crucial than ever this year.
• We continued our series of films and discussions at the Belmont United Methodist Church. Topics included the housing crisis, nuclear disarmament and women's rights. “Elisabeth of Berlin” told the story of a German Christian who risked her life to to expose the terrible suffering of Jews in Hitler's Germany and to urge her church leadership to come to their defense.
• We held our annual Potluck Dinner, in conjunction with Veterans for Peace, to learn about Tennessee's disarmament issues and the activities of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA).
• At the Peace and Justice booths at the African Street Festival, Pride Day and the Celebration of Cultures, we offered prizes for taking a “War and Peace” quiz, and used this to provide information not readily available in the mainstream media. At the Bonnaroo music festival, our booth offered “truth in military recruitment” literature.
• The complicated situation in the Middle East continues to merit constant study, education and advocacy. Elizabeth Barger met with thousands of peace activists from all over the world in Cairo, Egypt and returned to give us a slide presentation and lecture on the cooperation of the Egyptian, US. and Israeli governments in isolating the people of Gaza.
• We held a nonpartisan debate for candidates to the US. House of Representatives, District 5.
Our ADVOCACY FOR PEACE was unflagging. Like most Americans, The Peace and Justice Center wants an end to the military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and does not want the spread or escalation of conflict. We also call for a re-alignment of America's presence in the world - the prioritization of humanitarian aid and reconstruction over destruction and control.
• When General Petraeus spoke at Vanderbilt University, we joined the Vanderbilt Students of Nonviolence in a vigil to remember the deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.
• A van and several cars carried our members to Washington DC. to mark the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
• We held two vigils calling on the US. government to use its influence to end the blockade of Gaza.
• The Peace and Justice Center participated in the annual Palestine Freedom Walk in downtown Nashville.
• The Peace Supper and Peace Festival in June featured “Peace Mom” Cindy Sheehan, Nashville's own Rev. James Lawson, who taught nonviolent struggle during the Civil Rights Movement and a diverse mix of local talent.
• We held a roadside protest on the anniversary of the conflict in Afghanistan.
• Some members traveled to Fort Benning, Georgia, to call for an end of “The School of Assassins”.
• On Veterans' Day, we journeyed to Fort Campbell to stand in solidarity with a serviceman requesting treatment for his PTSD rather than a rushed redeployment to Afghanistan.
• In December, we held the fourth annual Peace Caroling, in front of the Green Hills Mall. An individual member was recognized in the Tennessean's Christmas issue for his weekly “Honk for Peace” vigils.
Our goal of working for SUSTAINABILITY has been facilitated by our move to the building on Posten Ave., which we share with TAP (with its present emphasis on working for Green Jobs), Kilowatt Hours (which works on energy conservation), and E3 Innovate, (an environmental construction group). Our volunteers, intern and copy machine have been well utilized by TAP.
We are not attempting to mention all of the various and worthy activities of our MEMBER GROUPS during 2010, but we did continue to offer them support with publicity (through the weekly eBlast), coordination and office facilities.
For the ORGANIZATION of the Nashville Peace and Justice Center, 2010 was a roller coaster year! We started the year, as usual, with a newly elected Board and officers. We had a staff of two part-time employees and had just increased our Coordinator's hours.
A major concern was fund raising; we were determined to raise enough funds to continue our activities and to pay our staff throughout 2010. A grant proposal was written by the Coordinator and A Board member, we had a successful yard sale, a New Yorker reporter was scheduled to talk about Haiti at a fundraising event and a fundraising mailing was prepared. By its April meeting, however, most members of the Board were convinced that we would not be able to raise sufficient funds in time to keep our two employees on staff. It was also felt that the Center could not continue with its present budget and structure. The Staff was regretfully let go, with severance pay and unemployment compensation.
In mid-April, the Board convened for an emergency meeting and decided to continue functioning, but to give up the lease on the Longdale Dr. building and to seek smaller quarters. It was also decided to restructure the organization. Past and present Board members were invited to contribute to this effort and the annual Summer Retreat in July was devoted to deciding our new structure. At the end of August, many members worked on the move to our new office at 3004A Posten Ave., Nashville 37203, near Centennial Park. An intern from MTSU helped us settle in and update our data base. Our amended by-laws were formally adopted in October. We had an Open House in November and a House Party in December to introduce the “new” Peace and Justice Center.
We urge both organizations and individuals to renew their membership or to become new members, so that we can hold an annual membership meeting and elect a new board under our new structure. We are also preparing to hold our first monthly ROUNDTABLE – a major component of the “new” Center.
We invite all progressive individuals and groups to choose one burning issue per month to discuss and decide what we are going to do about it!
Please join and be active! (Here again are the links to the explanation of our new structure and to the application forms.)