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Midwest Digest October 2022

Stories of work from around the region

Chicago WILD youth 2022
WILD youth (left to right) Auriyana, Gabe, Cece, Destiny and Faidat lead chants during their protest to stop the construction of a new youth prison in Illinois on July 26, 2022.   Photo: Claudette Richards / AFSC

Interns lead WILD Youth Organizing Institute in Chicago

This summer, the AFSC Chicago Peacebuilding Program piloted our inaugural WILD youth organizing institute, and it was epic! Twenty-one teens ages 15-19 participated in four weeks of training, activities, and action in support of abolitionist campaigns in Chicago. The entire experience was led and facilitated by our incredible team of coordinating interns. The interns reflected on the summer in this series of posts for Instagram that we hope you'll read and share! Learn more about recent work.


Online book launch for Light in Gaza set for October 6 at noon CT

Join Mosab Abu Toha, Refaat Alareer, and Jehad Abusalim of AFSC for the launch of Light in Gaza: Writings Born of Fire. They will discuss this seminal, moving and wide-ranging anthology of Palestinian writers and artists. Edited by AFSC staff, the book constitutes a collective effort to organize and center Palestinian voices in the ongoing struggle for liberation. Read more in this latest update from Jehad and Jennifer Bing.


Brynne Crockett promoted to director of Twin Cities Healing Justice Program

Brynne writes: “I am excited to continue my work with AFSC family. I have been doing youth work since I was a youth myself. Community building is important to me, and helping young people navigate through it is my passion. I have used my artistic talents to uplift the voices and stories of the young people I have encountered during this journey through music and organizing. Having mentorship at a young age helped cultivate my talents and shape my insight on community, so being able to mentor and provide the same services for youth and staff is important to me.”


Lawanda Hollister joins Michigan program as statewide organizer

The Michigan Criminal Justice Program is pleased to welcome Lawanda Hollister as a statewide organizer working to end life and long sentences in the state. In this video, Lawanda talks about her “path to redemption” through 34 years of incarceration in an overcrowded prison that was “noisy from sunup until sundown.” She adds, “I had to learn how to love me before I could learn how to love anyone else.”


Photo: Deaconess Foundation

Devonn Thomas to begin as St. Louis Program Director on October 3

AFSC is excited to welcome Devonn Thomas as the new director of the St. Louis Peacebuilding Program. Most recently she worked at Deaconess Foundation, an AFSC partner in racial justice youth work. As a member of Action STL and a former organizer with the Close the Workhouse campaign, Devonn brings experience and excitement to her work with youth. She studied African American Studies and Theology at St. Louis University, where she founded a Black-led abolitionist shelter.


St. Louis staffer Jonathan Pulphus (center) describes AFSC’s work to Midwest Region
Executive Committee members (from left) Fariba Murray, Tom Roberts and Actress Bartlett.

Short takes

At its recent meeting in St. Louis, the Midwest Executive Committee welcomed new member Fariba Murray and spoke with Devonn Thomas and current staffer Jonathan Pulphus about their work…. AFSC Iowa alum Kathleen McQuillen is organizing an October 12th discussion about organizing for a nuclear-free world…. Kay Whitlock, another AFSC Iowa alum, writes about culture wars and criminalization….. Here’s why it’s time to repeal the Authorizations for the Use of Military Force.

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