Wednesday, April 29, 2009

EAOP Grad on State House Garden Campaign

From Carrie Abels in Montpelier, Vermont:

There’s something to be said for an advocacy group that is small, highly focused, and under an intense deadline. That’s what I discovered this spring, when I worked with five other Vermonters to win state approval for a vegetable garden on the Vermont State House lawn.

We met each other in January, at a gathering on ways to make Montpelier (Vermont’s capital) a more sustainable place to live. The six of us discovered that we all had the same idea – to create a State House vegetable garden that would inspire people to start food gardens of their own. So we decided to meet weekly to develop our idea – and meeting weekly was important, as a few of us once belonged to grassroots groups that met too infrequently to build momentum.

What’s more, we had a deadline. We wanted to start planting in May, but we only had three months to draw up a plan, create a polished presentation, and deliver our idea to the state commission that oversees the State House lawn. So we focused on tasks. It quickly became apparent that each of us had a particular skill that no one else in the group had; for example, I like to write, so I took the weekly minutes and wrote the proposal. All citizens’ groups should find out what each member does well and (just as importantly) what they like to do.

Early on, we also figured out who our key allies would be, and asked them for letters of support. We secured donations of seeds and supplies, making sure donors knew how they would benefit from the project. We also anticipated potential concerns and figured out solutions in advance.

When it came time for our presentation, we made sure each member of our group spoke – ours had been a team effort, and we wanted the commissioners to know that. They ended up voting unanimously in favor of our project.

My time in the EAOP certainly prepared me for an experience like this, and I’m grateful. Come visit the garden sometime!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An Action Appeal for the Western Shoshone

Dear Friends of Antioch,

Antioch New England graduate students and faculty have been involved with the people of the Western Shoshone of Nevada for the past few years with practicum projects, Advocacy Clinic projects, and a field studies course.

We are writing to enlist your help in an urgentissue of social and environmental justice facing the Western Shoshone in northern Nevada. Next weekend April 17-19 Antioch Environmental Studies students, Jay Avis, John Lippmann, and Peter Saltanis will be heading to Crescent Valley Nevada to join together with other students, activists, and Western Shoshone tribal members from throughout the United States for the Annual Western Shoshone Spring Gathering. This is a celebration of traditional culture, coalition building, and the Shoshone connection to the land.

This year however, the Spring Gathering has another important meaning. The Western Shoshone are in the fight of their lives to protect their traditional sacred territory of Mt. Tenabo and the surrounding Crescent Valley from destruction by the Barrick Gold Corporation in their plans to expand the second largest gold mine in the United States.

View a short video about Mt. Tenabo and the proposed destruction made as an EAOP student project. For starters, this mine expansion would:

· Disturb 6792 acres of land.
· Blast a new mine pit approximately 8900 feet in length, 6400 feet in width to a depth of 2200 feet.
· Pump approximately 1.8 billion gallons of water per year out of the aquifer under this land causing water shortages and impure wells for miles around the site due to a drop of up to 1600 feet in the water table.
· Leave in the place of a mountain a 1000-foot deep pit lake with water containing arsenic and many other heavy metals toxic to human and wildlife.

Despite orders from the UN and the Inter-American Commission in favor of the Shoshone, the Interior Department has refused to stop this project or honor its treaty with the Western Shoshone people signed in 1863 to protect the land rights of the Shoshone.

We are writing to ask all the friends of the Antioch New England community and the Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program to support the Western Shoshone in their fight for control of their land and spiritual practices involving the affected lands. As a start, we ask that you join groups such as Oxfam International, Great Basin Resource Watch and the Western Shoshone Defense Project. The WSDP has maintained a national and international legal and environmental and social justice campaign on behalf of Shoshone land rights issues for several years. We are also asking the following from you to help us in this urgent struggle:

1 Spread the Word: Send out this message far and wide to anyone you know, across the country about the Spring Gathering and the cause. Blogs, listserves, Op-Eds, and letters to the editors, anyone?

2 Attend the Gathering: For any of you who are able to join us in Crescent Valley to do so from April 17-19, please do! If you know of anyone who may be able to attend, please pass this on to them. The more people who can attend the gathering the better!

3 Donate to WSDP: Those who cannot attend, please consider supporting our efforts by sending donations to the Western Shoshone Defense Project. In the last week we have raised more then $400 towards our ultimate goal of $1000. This money will go towards staff, publicity and educational programming in the Western Shoshone struggle to protect their territory.

You can send donations to The Western Shoshone Defense Project at Western Shoshone Defense Project, P.O. Box 211308,Crescent Valley, NV 89821. For more information contact(775) 468-0230 Phone or (775) 468-0237 Fax, or check out the WSDP website

Thank you for your attention to this crucial economic and social justice issue,


Jason Avis (Teacher Certification Program)
John Lippmann (Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program)
Peter Saltanis (Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program)