Toward Peace and Justice, October 2012
The belief that communities must develop their own means to overcome injustice and sustain themselves is at the heart of the American Friends Service Committee’s approach to building peace. As we move from one place to the next, we adapt our programs, informed by the strength and vision of each new partner community.
Still, consistent themes cut across the communities where we work. AFSC is able to bring lessons learned in one community into another, exploring ways to meet local needs, respect local culture, and build on each other’s wisdom.
In New Hampshire, residents faced with the risks of prison privatization are learning from our experience in Arizona. AFSC continues its history of bringing together farmers from North Korea with their peers from China, Vietnam, Iowa, and, most recently, New Mexico, finding common ground in the quest for sustainable, locally grown food. Delegations of immigrants and coal miners came to Washington, D.C., to personally present their own moving stories in the halls of Congress.
Please share these stories with your friends and families. It is my hope that these few examples will encourage many others to join with us as we continue to work for a more peaceful and just society.
While New Hampshire’s corrections department reviews proposals from private companies seeking to build and operate its prisons, AFSC is helping the state’s residents learn how prison privatization has played out elsewhere—namely, in Arizona, a state that has embraced prison privatization and seen the dangers rise with the costs.
Farm managers from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and one U.S. farmer—Don Bustos of AFSC’s New Mexico program—joined AFSC staff and partners in northeast China last month, where they visited research facilities as well as conventional and organic farms to explore sustainable farming techniques that could be adapted on their own farms.
AFSC’s tradition of bringing constituents to meet face-to-face with lawmakers is providing a beacon of hope for change within a frustrating political climate in Washington, D.C. This summer, AFSC’s Office of Public Policy and Advocacy coordinated meetings and congressional briefings for two delegations: New Jersey families split by immigration policies and relatives of West Virginia miners killed in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion.