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Midwest Digest February 2020

Highlights of work from around the region

We Are Not at Risk - St. Louis children
St. Louis children proclaim, "We Are Not at Risk." Photo: Joshua Saleem / AFSC
To view the full Digest as a PDF, please click here.

“We Are Not At-Risk” campaign changing narratives about youth

AFSC’s youth-led We Are Not At-Risk campaign focuses on transforming the stories that media tell about young people. You can help by following the hashtags #wearenotatrisk and #3billiongstrong on social media, contacting local media outlets to urge them to take this pledge, and host a story gathering event featuring visual art or written stories in your community. Joshua Saleem, who directs AFSC’s work in St. Louis, shares these pictures of his children and adds, “We’re planning a press conference in late spring to officially demand local media outlets take the pledge.”


New Cary Fellow joins Healing Justice Program in St. Paul

Nhu Richards is the new Cary Fellow for the Healing Justice Program in the St. Paul office. She describes herself as a Vietnamese adoptee with a background in kinesiology with an emphasis in health and exercise science. Nhu's previous experience with AFSC was as a Freedom School participant and facilitator. Prior to that, she was a fitness trainer and yoga instructor, and she's also worked in the restaurant, life insurance and investment fields.


Sending love to people in prison

The AFSC Michigan Criminal Justice Program recaps an enormous amount of work in 2019, including a highly successful card-writing party with 30 attendees coming up to 50 miles away to send greetings to nearly 700 incarcerated people. “We are so thankful to people inside prisons who help us understand the landscape of prisons and work alongside us to raise awareness on the problems they encounter daily,” write staffers Natalie Holbrook, Demetrius Titus and Jacq Williams. “And, for the people who have come home from prison and stand with us in the work, your courage and resilience are teachers to all of us.”

At least these Iowans were ready for the caucus

The AFSC Iowa Immigrant Rights Program joined with other groups in hosting a pre-caucus Organizing for Social Change Training for immigrant and refugee leaders. Erica Johnson of AFSC shared this Caucus Resolution Toolkit and photos of the training, which was mentioned in the New York Times. One week later, Jody Mashek and Berenice Nava with AFSC’s Legal Services Program joined with other groups to host a DACA Renewal Clinic for 35 people. Jody encourages people to contribute to help people pay their $495 DACA renewal fee. The US Supreme Court will rule between now and June on President Trump’s order to end DACA.


Allies in the struggle for Palestinian rights

On January 30, Jennifer Bing of AFSC was asked by the Palestinian-American community in Chicago to join them at a press conference to respond to the news of a new “Middle East plan” put forward by the Trump administration. (Take action to oppose it.) The invitation led her to reflect on her extensive role as an ally in the work for Palestinian rights. Join Jennifer for a Gaza workshop for advocates in Chicago on February 8 and a No Way to Treat a Child webinar on February 11. Joyce Cassel, a long-time volunteer with AFSC in Chicago, shares about her recent experiences resisting Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes.

Limiting military recruitment—and a win for #NoCopAcademy

In response to interest from AFSC supporters and others on social media, AFSC’s Chicago office recently helped update two resources on limiting military recruitment in schools: “Five ways to counter military recruitment in your school district” and this counter-recruitment resource page. On Twitter, Debbie Southorn of AFSC shares that a “judge has ruled in favor of #NoCopAcademy in their #FOIA lawsuit. The emails are not protected, and the City must turn them over.”


Indianapolis Friends celebrate Erin Polley

From Facebook: “Indianapolis First Friends hosted a celebration of the amazing work of Erin Polley with AFSC Indiana. Erin’s collaborative activism has been a powerful change agent in Indianapolis. Her vision and selfless advocacy for those without a voice will be sorely missed. We thank Erin for her 16 years of dedication to AFSC and for working to transform the societal norms and systems here in Indiana for the past 12 years—not an easy job by any means. We wish her the best and will hold her in the Light as she moves on.” To view a photo tribute to Erin, shown above with her son, Jack, please click here.

Bits and Peaces

Please support AFSC’s emergency response to the migrant caravan….Read AFSC’s recent blogs on the expanded Muslim Ban, political asylum and ending endless war….Two days before the Iowa Caucuses, nearly 1000 climate activists, led by indigenous people, rallied in Des Moines to urge media from around the world to pay attention to the climate crisis. Check out a video, Quaker blog post, and photos of the parade and subsequent demonstration against a monument to white supremacy in front of the state Capitol.

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