Thursday, September 06, 2012
New Mexico’s School Funding Cuts among the Nation’s Deepest
From NM Voices for Children: Cuts hurt economy in short- and long-term.
New Mexico ranks 16th worst in the country in terms of how deeply school funding has been cut since the start of the recession. These cuts put the state’s economy and long-term prosperity in jeopardy.
Investment in K-12 schools is almost 11 percent below 2008 levels, which means New Mexico has made deeper cuts than 34 other states, according to a report released Tuesday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.
“These cuts have undermined our ability to educate New Mexico’s children and there will be consequences for the state’s economy,” said Veronica Garcia, Ed.D., Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children. “Good schools and an educated workforce foster economic growth.”
The recession caused state revenue to decline sharply. But instead of addressing budget shortfalls by taking a balanced approach that includes new revenues, New Mexico relied very heavily on cuts to state services, including education.
The loss of federal emergency financial aid to states and school districts has contributed to education cuts as well. Federal dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Education Jobs Fund helped states limit education cuts initially, but the aid largely expired at the end of Fiscal Year 2011, leaving states to deal with education funding shortfalls on their own.
New Mexico’s K-12 education cuts hurt the state’s economy in the short- and long-term. The cuts have extended the recession by causing both public- and private-sector job losses, slowing the pace of economic recovery. The funding cuts have forced school districts throughout the state to lay off teachers and support staff, reduce pay for the remaining staff, and cancel contracts with private businesses.
Reducing investment in schools also has long-term economic consequences. A strong education system is essential to creating and maintaining a thriving economy. Businesses need a well-educated workforce, and education cuts undermine the state’s ability to produce workers with the skills needed to compete in a global economy.
“Across much of the country, kids are going back to school to find more crowded classrooms, and – in some cases – shorter school weeks,” said Phil Oliff, policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and author of the report. “That’s no way to develop our future workforce and build a strong economy.”
The Center’s full report can be found by following this link.
Monday, August 06, 2012
NM01: Michelle Lujan Grisham Changes Two Young Women's Lives; Guest Blog
Following is a guest blog by Hannah Roberto and Addie Bordegaray two young women entering their senior year of high school. They are Michelle Lujan Grisham's summer intern extraordinaires! Thank you Michelle for helping these two young women along a path that has influenced their lives.
On the very first Friday of our pivotal summer between junior and senior year in high school, we helped Mary Ellen organize her campaign party, not knowing that it would open a new window of opportunity for us. While greeting partygoers and collecting donations, we met Michelle Lujan Grisham and immediately hit it off during a casual conversation about summer and adolescent fun. We joked around about helping Michelle’s campaign in any way she needed and then gave our contact information to her campaign manager, Dominic Gabello, not expecting a call back. Within 48 hours, we were contacted by a staff member at the campaign who invited us to come in to help with calls, canvassing, and other campaign activities.
The following Monday, we went to her office down Mountain Road and 6th Street, not knowing what to expect. As we walked in, we were greeted by unfamiliar, yet friendly faces and were immediately put to work on contacting voters. Within the first two hours in the office, we were whisked away to a couple of news interviews and other events in which Michelle was being showcased. All of this seemed as though it was a dream. Within a couple days we were already experiencing a side of politics we had never seen before.
We began working for Michelle 11 days before the crucial primary election, and to say things were hectic would be a HUGE understatement. For 12 hours a day during the next two weeks, we made phone calls, knocked on doors, and did whatever was necessary to convince people to vote for Michelle. Everyone thought it was crazy that two 17-year-old girls would be so dedicated to this campaign so early, but we felt a connection to Michelle from the first day we met her, and knew we would do whatever it took to help her succeed. Little did we know that every phone call and knock on a door would help lead to a five point margin victory in the primary election.
Immediately following the election, Dominic asked us to take on the role of formal campaign interns and help Michelle through the General Election on November 6. Obviously, this sounded too good to be true! Who would’ve thought that two weeks of grueling hard work could lead to an opportunity that not only benefits us now, but will do so greatly in the future? Being an intern on Michelle’s campaign has taught us life skills, as well as the ins-and-outs of a political campaign. The skills we gain from working for Michelle are not just limited to politics, but will help us to succeed in any career endeavors we have in the future. Aside from just the professional standpoint, we also have formed bonds with many of our co-workers and have had the privilege to meet and get to know so many people just through this opportunity.
To us, this isn’t just a summer job that we were lucky to grab; it is much more than that. This opportunity has shown us what it’s like to have a serious and time consuming job, how to connect to people from all walks of life, and how to take chances and use them to benefit not only us, but our future. We could not be more grateful to Michelle and Dominic for giving us this chance, but we will stop at nothing to make them proud and to see Michelle not only win this election, but be the fantastic Congresswoman we know she can be!
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Guest Blog: Why Vote? A Young Person’s Perspective by Hannah Siegel
"This coming Saturday I will graduate from Sandia Prep in Albuquerque. For the past year, I have been the news editor of my school paper and I have always held a deep seeded interest in politics. Over the past month, these two passions have come together through my Senior Experience internship with the communications director of the Martin Heinrich for Senate campaign.
As a result of this experience, I was motivated to write an op-ed for other young people, giving my opinion on the importance of voting and explaining why I support Martin Heinrich. I hope you will consider publishing this op-ed in Democracy for New Mexico before next Tuesday’s primary."
Perhaps it was the midterm election cycle, the time of day (just after school), the polling place, or simple serendipity, but the first time I ever cast my vote, I was pretty much alone. There was no line and no need for the voter card I had carried around like a talisman since I first got it a few weeks prior.
Voting was simple and easy. I had done my research so thoroughly that I even knew which judges I wanted to keep. I could have filled in the circle that would allow me to vote straight Democratic, but for some reason I felt the need to bubble in each and every individual oval, and every time I did so, I felt a spark of adrenaline and a feeling of accomplishment and importance.
No longer would I just have to sit behind the phone and urge people to do what I so longed to do. No longer would I have to walk from house to house for hours in 100 degree weather with the bitter, yet hopeful knowledge that volunteering was all I could do. Finally, I had my own say. Finally, I could use my civic voice. At last, I could vote.
There are many reasons I could name that would explain my voting excitement or why I would encourage other young people to vote: every vote matters, voting now creates good habits later, and voting is the most important civic duty a person has. But those are just facts, and none of them really capture my enthusiasm. You see, I vote for my future. Incidentally, this is also why I cast my primary vote for Martin Heinrich and why I will do so again come November.
Right now, there are several bills floating around congress that would keep the interest rate on federal student loans low. And though, at this current moment it doesn’t look like I’ll need a government loan for college next year and the years beyond, for many of my peers, a government loan is their only option. The only thing the bills really differ on is how they would be paid for. The bill introduced by Republicans in the House of Representatives will cut funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which is aimed at stopping serious health risks and chronic diseases like HIV/AIDS and cancer before they happen, and is included in the Affordable Health Care Act. The bill that Rep. Heinrich supports will raise taxes by six percent on oil companies. Since oil companies are currently raking in more money than any other industry in America, I think they can afford a small tax increase to support the future generation of CEOs.
But there are other issues currently being debated on Capitol Hill that are just as important if not more so to my generation and future generations.
Firstly, being a relatively private person and having also recently joined Facebook, I can say that privacy on the internet, a place where confidentiality can easily be breeched, is a serious matter. But it’s not just hackers that can compromise private information. Recently, there have been rather terrifying reports that employers are demanding to see employees’ and job applicants' passwords so they can access information that may be hidden from the public eye on Facebook and other social media sites. To counteract this new trend, Rep, Heinrich took action and introduced the Password Protection Act, which would make it illegal for employers to demand online, private information.
Secondly, I have lived in New Mexico my entire life, which has given me a clear window into the debate over illegal immigration. We should build a higher fence; employers should be penalized for employing illegal immigrants; all illegal immigrants should be rounded up and deported; illegal immigrants shouldn’t have drivers’ licenses: these are all common opinions voiced about illegal immigration. But one thing that isn’t talked about enough is the children who come to our country at a young age. Though they are not American citizens, many of them have grown up in America. This is their home. They know English just as well as their fellow students and are just as driven to make the American dream their own—many serving our country in the military. Rep. Heinrich is a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), which would allow students, who are just like me, only different in their country of birth, to receive full status as a U.S. citizen.
Thirdly, I would like to take this time to talk about bullying. Yes, former Congresswoman Heather Wilson was right when she said recently that it is the job of parents to teach their children empathy and acceptance. However, I disagree that the government has no role in addressing the problem of bullying. This issue is especially close to my heart as someone who has been bullied because of perceived sexual orientation. In recent years, there has been a dramatic upswing in students committing suicide because they were bullied, especially kids who were bullied because of sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation, which is why a bill called the Student Non-Discrimination Act has been introduced. The act, which, again, Rep Heinrich co-sponsors, would outlaw bullying and harassment of students in public schools based on sexual orientation or gender identity both by bullies and by school staff and programs. The bill would not criminalize bullies, but would penalize schools that allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Lastly, Rep. Heinrich also fought against the House Republican budget which would make serious cuts to Social Security and Medicare. You may point out that neither of those things really affects me because, as a healthy young person, I don’t need them. But the truth is I won’t always be young and more importantly there are parents and grandparents out there who need these programs to insure their well being and the well being of their children and grandchildren. If I work hard and pay into the system, I should be able to receive the benefits I've earned when I retire. That’s only fair. But if the Republican budget passes, the rug may be pulled out from under me and everyone else because Medicare and Social Security will end as we know it.
When I go to the polls to vote, or when I weigh positives and negatives of both sides of an issue, I’m not just cognizant of my own situation, but of others’ as well. A country is a lot like a really big, dysfunctional family: we are united by a common citizenship and have a responsibility to one another. If one person is struggling, it is the duty of the entire family to help that person out, regardless of how that person may have fallen into that situation. The same is true of a country, but on a much larger scale. So when I cast my vote, I do it not just for my own gain and for my future, but also for everyone else’s. If we recognize that we are all in it together, we are stronger. That notion, I believe, is one that Rep. Martin Heinrich shares and that is why I will continue to throw my support behind him through voting and volunteering.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
House Majority Moves to Cut Children's Health Insurance Program, Could Have Devastating Effects for Uninsured New Mexico Kids
In an effort to stave off the bipartisan agreement to cut federal spending that was signed into law last year, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a measure that would take away an important incentive program that has helped thousands of uninsured children in New Mexico gain access to health care.
The measure would eliminate a pay-for-performance incentive plan that rewards states for doing an exemplary job of connecting uninsured kids to coverage. New Mexico has received over $18 Million for efforts in the Richardson administration to cut red tape barriers and reach out to eligible but uninsured children through the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). An estimated 31,500 more uninsured children were connected with coverage.
The incentive plan is one of several successful strategies that have brought the number of uninsured children in America down to a record low. New Mexico made significant progress as the number of uninsured children dropped by 10% from 2007 to 2010.
Background: Created by the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) of 2009, the bonuses reward states for demonstrating concrete success in enrolling low-income uninsured children in state Medicaid funded plans. To qualify, states must adopt one of a series of measures that simplify enrollment in coverage and reach enrollment targets. To date, the bonuses have worked exactly as intended - rewarding states for tackling the challenge of making sure that the lowest-income children in this country are connected to coverage.
During this recession, CHIP and Medicaid have been hard at work helping families unable to afford private health insurance to secure coverage for their children. When kids are healthy, we all win ”they are more likely to grow and learn in school, and their parents have peace of mind that an asthma attack or accident won't send them to the emergency room and break the bank."
Connecting eligible but uninsured children to coverage is a high priority for the Obama Administration. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has called on leaders at every level of government and the private sector to find and enroll the nearly five million uninsured children who are eligible for Medicaid and CHIP through her "Connecting Kids to Coverage" challenge.
There are still an estimated 50,000 children in New Mexico who are eligible for Medicaid coverage but are not yet enrolled.
Bill Jordan, Policy Director for New Mexico Voices for Children said: "It would be shameful for the U.S. House of Representatives to terminate the bonus program and remove one of the incentives for states like New Mexico to enroll more kids in Medicaid. Insurance coverage not only contributes to their health but it helps kids stay in school and focus on their studies, instead of missing school and being distracted by medical issues that could have been treated."
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Republican Senate Candidate Heather Wilson Says "She Can Tolerate the Bullying of Gay Kids"
There has been very little media coverage of the statement made by the New Mexico Republican Candidate for Senate Heather Wilson. She recently went on record with an out of touch position regarding the bullying of gay kids.
At a forum in Otero County, Heather ridicules Sen. Al Franken's bill he introduced SB555; the Student Non-Discrimination Act . From Al Frankens website:
"The proposed bill establishes a comprehensive federal prohibition against discrimination and bullying in public schools based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Specifically, the bill would forbid schools from discriminating against LGBT students or ignoring harassing behavior. Fifty years of civil rights history shows that similar laws are effective in preventing discrimination from happening in the first place. Like other civil rights laws, SNDA would prompt schools to avoid liability by taking proactive steps to prevent the discrimination and bullying of students protected by the bill."
"While federal civil rights statutes clearly address discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, and national origin, they do not explicitly include sexual orientation or gender identity. As a result, LGBT students and parents have limited legal recourse for this kind of discrimination."
The video above shot by American Bridge captures Heather Wilson's entire response to her tolerating of LGBT bullying. Be sure to read her words accompanying the video. She goes on to say it is the parents responsibility to make the kids stronger. No mention of the fact that the harassing and bullying by the bullies is bad. She goes on to say: "It is a act that would criminalize harassment or bullying in schools...of...of a...of children who...uh...mm...who are gay or who-it criminalizes bullying."
Heather sounds like a bully herself in this video. Her final statement in the video of the proposed Franken bill: "it (the bill) actually punish children and say that it's prohibited to express an opinion with respect to homosexuality in the schools...um I just think that's wrong..." Can she really believe what she is saying? So many pauses, and ums and ahs, she is condoning the right of young kids to mock and hurt other kids due to their homosexuality. It is OK for kids to make fun, harass, mock, even hit a fellow student that is maybe gay or lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Imagine the outrage if Heather was admitting this same condoning of bullying of other minorities to say hurtful/hateful words causing emotional and at times physical violence.
Imagine the other Matthew Shepard's, the torturing and the killings Heather Wilson is allowing to have happen, due to uncontrolled rage and hatred towards LGBT people. Bullying today results in a hate crime tomorrow, very easily. Just remember Matthew Shepard.
Heather is merely spouting the hatefilled Republican party line. She even calls the bill Franken introduced an "Agenda". Sure we all know the code for "gay agenda." The radical gay agenda which is teaching young people to not hate themselves and to survive the Heathers of the world. Code that prohibits the bullying of young kids, and not having these young kids carry with them self hatred for their lives because of being lesbian or gay. With so many LGBT bullying induced LGBT suicides being in the news currently, it is unconscionable Heather Wilson could say this and not be held accountable.
Heather obviously has not heard of the; "It Get's Better" campaign. In Heather's world it would be "It gets worse." Bullying is real, it hurts, it changes lives, it affects many, it kills, it is wrong and should be stopped at a young age, not condoned by our elected officials. Watch some of the videos recorded on the It Get's Better link above. These are real people on these videos all reminding young people that your life will get better.
Who knows what Heather's sexual preference is? There have been rumors for years that she had a woman lover in Washington DC., was even seen in lesbian bars. The rumor is her husband is gay as well, and their marriage is one of convenience. Honestly, Heather is kind of butchy and her hubby is kind of fem. It is conceivable this could be a marriage of convenience. But how would we ever know and to be clear "not that being gay is a bad thing."
Also, when ever we can bring up the "Heather Wilson cover-up for her husband scandel" we must. Remember how Heather was caught and admitted to lying about removing a file of information regarding her husband and what he did to warrant a CYFD file. A previous post on this website describes this Heather cover-up and can be seen here. What ever her husband did she did not want anyone to see it and this CYFD file has never seen the light of day. One can just assume the contents of the file would have derailed the Heather Wilson train to power.
The Huffington post covered this admittance by Heather Wilson to tolerate the bullying of LGBT kids. You can read the Huff post piece here.
The only local TV news coverage was done by KOAT TV channel 7, their coverage is here. It is appalling that the republican candidate for the United States Senate has the audacity to say this. It is made worse that no main street media has covered this outrageous statement.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
300 Youth Partake in Earth Day Service Activities at new Youth & Community Garden
Earth Care, Santa Fe, NM – (April 20, 2012) – Three hundred students from Amy Biehl, Capital High, Cesar Chavez, Ortiz Middle School, the Master’s Program, Nava, Salazar, and Tesuque Elementary schools, walked and bussed to Earth Care’s new location at the Zona del Sol building in the Tierra Contenta neighborhood for a day of environmental service projects. The event marked Earth Day and Global Youth Service Days.
The day included construction of an adobe horno, planting over 30 trees, constructing garden beds, and erecting fencing for the new Earth Care Youth & Community Garden at Zona del Sol. Partner organizations also hosted activities such as solar oven baked cookies, solar spun art, trash art, recycling relays, and the blessing of a medicine wheel garden.
Congressman Ben Ray Lujan attended and helped mix mud and wire fencing with the students.
At lunch, the 2012 Sustainable Santa Fe and Eco Schools Awards were presented, recognizing projects such as the infill condominium building project on Shoofly in the Green Building category and the Quivira Coalition for their “Carbon Ranch” conference in the Ecological Adaptation category. Thirteen schools received Eco Schools Awards for campus beautification, waste reduction, sustainable food, and water conservation. The event was hosted by Earth Care in partnership with s Zona Del Sol, The City of Santa Fe, and the Santa Fe Public School District.
About Earth Care
Earth Care’s mission is to educate and engage youth to create healthy, just and sustainable communities. We have been providing programming for young people in Santa Fe since 2001.
About Global Youth Service Day (GYSD)
Established in 1988, GYSD is the largest service event in the world and is now celebrated in over 100 countries. On GYSD, children and youth address the world’s most critical issues in partnership with families, schools, community and faith-based organizations, businesses, and governments. GYSD is an annual campaign that celebrates and mobilizes millions of children and youth who improve their communities each day of the year through service and service-learning. As a Lead Agency, Earth Care received a grant from Youth Service America to coordinate GYSD projects, promoting the idea that children and youth are assets and resources to their communities. www.gysd.org.
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
04/05: Young Professionals Mixer in Support of Martin Heinrich
From the Martin Heinrich for Senate Campaign.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Luján Announces 2012 Congressional Art Competition for High School Students
Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District announced details today for this year’s Congressional Art Competition. This annual competition allows members of Congress to display the talent and creativity of their high school constituents. The winning entry from each Congressional district will be displayed as part of an exhibit in the United States Capitol for one year. The winner will travel to Washington, D.C. for a reception honoring the national winners.
“The Congressional Art Competition gives New Mexico’s young and aspiring artists an opportunity to showcase their talents and have their artwork on display in the halls of Congress,” Congressman Luján said. “New Mexico has a rich artistic tradition and it is exciting to see the next generation of artists who will build upon that legacy. I wish all of the contestants the best of luck and look forward to seeing their works of art.”
The competition is open to all high school students within the Third Congressional District of New Mexico. All entries must be submitted to Luján’s Santa Fe district office by Friday, April 20, 2012 at 5 p.m. The winner will be announced at a reception on Saturday, April 28.
Follow this link for the 2012 3rd Congressional District of New Mexico General Guidelines for Students.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Where We Go from Here - Stay Involved
The following video and recap is from OLE NM - Here are some thoughts from just a few of the parents who spent countless hours at the Legislature this past month, fighting for Early Education.
We must stay involved, it does make a difference. It is for the children. Our future. Si Se Puede!
Dozens of OLE members and allies stayed at the Legislature late into the night on Feb. 15th to watch the Senate Finance Committee vote down our proposed Constitutional Amendment to save Early Education with money from the State's Land Grant Permanent Fund. The vote was 6 to 5, with Senators John Arthur Smith, Mary Kay Papen, Sue Wilson Beffort, Carroll Leavell, Rod Adair, and Steven Neville opposing the bill.
Please call and thank the Senators who supported the bill:
Senator Howie Morales,(505)986-4863
Senator Gerry Ortiz y Pino,(505)986-4380
Senator Nancy Rodriguez,(505)986-4264
Senator Carlos Cisneros,(505)986-4362
Senator Pete Campos,(505)986-4311
This defeat certainly means parents, kids, and early educators still have tough months ahead, but it does not mean this fight is over. Scores of our parents and kids from all over the state spent countless hours at the legislature and on the phone, talking to legislators. We passed 4 committees, twice as many as we did in 2011. We turned several key "No" votes into "Yeses." We are stronger, wiser, better known, and better positioned now to save Early Education by pursuing other actions and continuing to press this proposal next year
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
12/7: Fighting for Our Future: Youth Defend the Cap on Carbon Emissions
Local youth from Earth Care’s Youth Allies and international students from the United World College (UWC) in Montezuma, are partnering to lead a youth action at the Environmental Improvement Board’s (EIB) Public Hearing next Wednesday, December 7, 2011. Organizers from the two groups are calling on young people from throughout the state to stand with them in defense of the NM Cap on Carbon Emissions. The Cap was passed December 6, 2010 but now is under attack by Susana Martinez and the largest polluter in NM - PNM.
The Carbon Cap was written to reduce greenhouse gas emissions pollution in the State of NM by 3 percent per year from 2010 levels, with a goal to reduce emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020. Members of Youth Allies testified at the hearing in support of the cap in March and August of last year along with dozens of residents and expert witnesses and were proud to be a part of the historical decision.
“It gave us hope for our future. It made us proud to be New Mexicans because it set New Mexico as a leader for the rest of the United States and the world” says Marco Campos, Youth Allies Organizer. Now youth from the group have to once again prepare testimonies. “It’s frustrating when you take part in the political process for the first time and put your faith in decision-makers to respond and do the right thing only to have big industrial polluters undermine the process.” says Avree Koffman another leader from the group.
Local youth are not the only ones following the hearing and frustrated with the process. Students at the United World College, an international high school in Montezuma, NM, are upset as well. “This isn’t just an issue that effects NM,” says Kripa Dongol from Nepal, “the failure of political leaders to act on Climate Change is an attack on young people all over the world.”
“Susana Martinez is fighting for the right of PNM to maintain their profits no matter what the cost. I want to tell Governor Martinez that she is also working to flood my country, ruin our farmland, and leave my family homeless.” Says Ikhzaan Saleem from the Maldives. “What is happening in New Mexico is connected to a global struggle to shift away from dirty fossil fuels, and build a green economy that can provide young people with a hopeful future,” says Emily Swartz from Colorado.
The two groups are collaborating to organize a dramatic action at next Wednesday’s Public Hearing. Members of the two groups will also testify at the hearings and present petitions with hundreds of signatures from their peers who also support the cap on carbon emissions.
WHAT: Fighting for Our Future: Youth Defend the NM Cap on Carbon Emissions
WHO: The action is being organized by Earth Care’s Youth Allies and UWC Climate Action. Participants will include hundreds of NM residents, young and old.
WHERE: Meet at Warehouse 21. Procession departs from Warehouse 21 at 5pm, proceeds east on Paseo de Peralta to the old PERA building (1120 Paseo de Peralta) where action will be staged from 5:15-6:30PM. Hearings begin at 6:30PM.
WHEN: Wednesday, December 7, Sign-making @ 3:30, Action Training @ 4:15. Procession departs @ 5:00, ACTION @ 5:15-6:30, Public Hearing @ 6:30.
Youth Allies Action Network: is a program of Earth Care, a Santa Fe non-profit dedicated to educating and empowering young people to create healthy, just, and sustainable communities. Youth Allies is a network of hundreds of youth from public high schools throughout Santa Fe who receive training in leadership, cultural competency, sustainability, and social activism and lead community-improvement efforts through the program. Youth Allies Organizers have led climate action efforts in Santa Fe along with partners for the last 3 years including 350.org and iMatter events.
UWC Climate Action: Is a student-led initiative that aims to build youth power for a sustainable future. It is made up of students age 16-19 from over 80 nations.
Friday, December 02, 2011
12/8: Chamber Concert Fundraiser for Olive Trees for Palestine & Humanitarian Trip
The information below was provided by organizers for the Palestine Solidarity Trip and the Olive Trees for Palestine Concert Fundraiser:
WHAT: OLIVE TREES for PALESTINE, a chamber music concert to benefit the Palestinian Solidarity Project
WHO: Santa Fe classical musicians, Elena Sopoci and Kerri Lay, violins, Gail Robertson, viola and Dana Winograd, cello, partner with local activists volunteering with Palestine Solidarity Project. The event is also supported by Another Jewish Voice of Santa Fe.
WHEN: Thursday, December 8, 7:00 PM
WHERE: Unitarian Universalist Church of Santa Fe, 107 W. Barcelona Road.
The suggested donation is $20 for adults and $5 for students/youth.
A group of young activists from Santa Fe consisting of educators and students will head to the West Bank this December to volunteer with the Palestine Solidarity Project and participate in the development of a community library and land restoration efforts in Beit Ommar. Beit Ommar is a village in the Southern West Bank that is a consistent target of Israeli military aggression and violent right-wing settlers. The land of Beit Ommar has been seized for the development of illegal Israeli settlements since 1968. It is surrounded on three sides by settlements, including the notoriously violent Bat Ayin settlement.
The purpose of the group’s trip is to bring resources to help replant orchards that have been destroyed by Israeli settlers, as well as to witness the realities of Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people. "We are all engaged in global justice work here in our own community, and we believe it is important to connect our efforts with people’s liberation movements and struggles for democracy and self governance around the world. We plan to document what we learn and integrate it into our teaching and activism here in Santa Fe," says youth organizer Bianca Sopoci-Belknap, who initiated the trip’s planning last spring.
The trip has inspired others in the community to contribute their gifts to raise funds for the people of the West Bank. Four local musicians have decided to offer a benefit concert of interesting and seldom performed chamber music to help raise funds for the replanting of olive groves and library project. "I could either help by writing a relatively small check, or stage an event that could make it possible to raise considerably more money," said Elena Sopoci, violinist and event organizer. Sopoci and fellow musicians Kerri Lay, violinist, Gail Robertson, violist, and Dana Winograd, cellist, are members of local ensembles such as the Santa Fe Symphony, Pro Musica, New Mexico Philharmonic, SF Concert Association Orchestra, Serenata of Santa Fe, and Taos Chamber Music Group.
The concert on Thursday, Dec. 8, at 7:00 PM will be presented at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Santa Fe, 107 W. Barcelona Road. On the program will be Western and Middle-Eastern inspired chamber music for strings. Also, between musical selections, there will be readings of Palestinian/Arabic poetry. Bekah Wolf, a Santa Fe native, now living in Beit Ommar, who is coordinating the upcoming Palestine trip, will give a brief presentation to elaborate on the work of the Palestinian Solidarity Project, which she co-founded with her Palestinian husband in 2006. Another Jewish Voice Santa Fe is also assisting in presenting the event. The suggested donation is $20 for adults and $5 for students/youth.
Palestine Solidarity Project was founded by Palestinians and internationals in the summer of 2006 to build a unified strategy in our communities in order to resist the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian land and lives, and build a network of supporters internationally who are committed to seeing a just, peaceful solution in Palestine.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
White House Honors Tiffany Calabaza as a "Champion of Change"
Two of the Native American youth to be honored are from the Land of Enchantment, be proud New Mexico! Below is the press release from the White House:
On Thursday, December 1st, eleven Native American Youth leaders will be honored at the White House as Champions of Change. These young people are Champions in their tribes and communities as they work to improve the lives of those around them through innovative programs that help others, raise awareness of important issues like suicide and bullying prevention, energy efficiency and healthy eating.
“The ‘Champions of Change’ for Native American youth are here to share their stories and to attend the White House Tribal Nations Conference. They are examples of the generation that will build a stronger future for Indian Country by continuing to address the challenges facing American Indians and Alaska Natives,” said Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Charlie Galbraith.
The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different issue is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community activists, are recognized for the work they are doing to better their communities.
Tiffany Calabaza is one of the outstanding young Americans who was selected from a group of hundreds who answered President Obama’s call to share their stories of leadership and community service. To watch this event live, visit www.whitehouse.gov/live at 12:00 pm ET December 1st. There will also be a Twitter Q & A session with the Champs and Jon Carson (@JonCarson44) that will begin at 1:30 pm ET.
Tiffany Calabaza is currently a student at Colorado College and has helped bring renewable energy technology to her hometown of Kewa, New Mexico. Tiffany worked with her advisor and others at Colorado College along with tribal community members and tribal community leaders on education and development of the energy technology. Through her community based research, everyone agreed upon converting one of their community windmills into a solar water pumping station which will pump ground water in a more efficient fashion allowing livestock and other small wildlife to have a source of drinking water. The project continues to involve both Colorado College students as well as Kewa tribal members. The goal is to educate her community on renewable energy technologies so that it will raise awareness on the efficiency and benefits of engaging with this technology. Overall, Tiffany’s goal is to provide her people with solutions to allow the cattle to spread evenly throughout the rangelands and avoid over grazing, preventing further damage to our land.