Grammar School Students Who Already Challenge and Change The World

by Frank Panzarella, community activist

The Green Wolves, fourth-grade students at Elm City College Preparatory Elementary School, came up with that name for their own wonderful and imaginative adventure in becoming young activists.

Their teacher, Kurt Zimmermann of their Expeditions class, saw the PAR newsletter on-line and invited us to do a training for young people on things to think about when becoming an activist.

While some were still shy, others were bursting with ideas and questions. They surprised us right off by quoting suggestions from our own notes before we even began.

These kids were very interested in environmental issues and showed us their current great campaign. They raised money to replace all the teachers’ disposable coffee cups with lovely ceramic mugs that had the teachers’ names printed on them, so the teachers would reduce their paper waste.

We were thrilled to meet this group of engaging and endearing students and thank Mr. Zimmermann for the opportunity. We thought PAR readers would be interested in the notes we left the students with.

An Activist Guide List – Questions to Ask Yourself

  • “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
  • “Doing something is better than doing nothing.”
  • “My way is not the only way.”

Passion

  • What are the issues you feel strongly about? What would you like to accomplish or change? What do you need to study and understand?
  • Are there other people you know concerned about these issues? Who can you talk with?

Organize

  • How can you educate people about why your issue is important?
  • What are your short term and long term goals? What would you like to see happen in relation to your cause?
  • Who is it you would like to reach on your cause?
  • Are there people or groups who might be allies in reaching your goals?

Action Plans

  • What kinds of actions are appropriate for your cause?

Educational events

  • Write letters, articles, and petitions.
  • Use social media.

Rallies and demonstrations

  • Picket lines
  • Speak at hearings or local government meetings.

Create a plan to advance your cause and build support

  • Call a meeting to plan your actions if necessary.
  • Figure out a group process.
  • Be aware of your members and their ideas.
  • Promote democracy in action – listen to all and learn to resolve differences.
  • Respect the rights of others to have different views.
  • Struggle for a programmatic unity on issues — in other words, something everyone in your group can agree on to take some action.
  • Have a summation meeting. Meet again after your action to figure out what worked and what didn’t. What do you think could have been better? Decide if you will do something next, and pick a date for another meeting to figure out what it will be.
  • Have fun doing good things for the benefit of everyone.

Connecticut Sued for Using Clean Energy Funds to Fill Budget Gap

by Paula Panzarella, Fight the Hike

The state legislature’s attempt to raid $155 million from the clean energy and efficiency funds has met with strong resistance.

On May 15, with CT Fund for the Environment as the lead plaintiff, a lawsuit was filed in federal court in Hartford. Fight the Hike is one of twelve groups suing to get the funds restored for clean energy, conservation, and efficiency programs. These programs have helped Connecticut’s economy, improved health by lowering pollution from fossil fuels and resulted in lower costs for taxpayers. We demand their funding be fully restored!

These funds were for the energy programs that we have paid for through the surcharge fee on our United Illuminating and Eversource electric bills. The money was collected specifically to help consumers improve energy efficiency, take part in energy conservation programs, low-interest loans to help with solar panels, modernize furnaces, water heaters, etc.

Besides these programs helping consumers, they helped build up Connecticut’s economy. There are more than 34,000 people working in the energy-efficiency industry in Connecticut. It will be a staggering blow to these businesses and their employees if people cannot continue to have the assistance of these clean-energy programs.

The “Combined Public Benefits Charge” portion of our electric bill is how the Energy Efficiency Fund, CT Green Bank, and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are funded. To bolster the General Fund, the state is planning on seizing $155 million that was collected and earmarked for clean energy and efficiency programs.

By crippling these programs, it’s estimated that more than 6,600 jobs will be lost in the next two years, $21 million in state tax revenue will be lost, tens of thousands of people will not be able to receive energy assessments, weatherization upgrades, energy efficiency programs, and financial assistance for low-income ratepayers. The case will be heard before the end of June for a ruling to be made to stop the planned seizure of funds on July 1.

In other news, the legislature failed to pass an important large-scale community solar bill that would have allowed for 300 megawatts of new solar power. They passed a bill that would sunset net metering, another blow to the growing clean energy industry. Net metering allows homeowners to be credited for solar energy produced by their home that exceeds their usage (like rollover minutes on a cell phone).

#MothersDayBailOut Challenges the Nation’s Money Bail System

by Melinda Tuhus, WPKN Between the Lines

Connecticut was one of many states and cities around the U.S. that raised money and awareness to bail women out of jails and prisons for Mother’s Day this year. The Connecticut Bail Fund, working with a dozen other groups, raised about $30,000 and bailed out 30 women. The funds were used to bail out 26 women from the state’s only women’s prison, York Correctional Institute in Niantic – and another four from immigration jail. While these women are charged with crimes, they have not been convicted and are incarcerated only because they can’t afford to pay bail. The groups participating in the “Mothers Day Bail Out,” as it’s called, are not simply raising money to release women from jail, but are challenging the entire money bail system, which discriminates against the poor, the population most often caught up in the criminal justice system.

April Coalition For People Meeting Focused on Homelessness

by Jeffry Larson, Coalition For People

At its April meeting, Coalition For People members were joined by members and representatives of Mothers & Others for Justice/ Christian Community Action and New Haven Legal Asssistance Association.

We heard reports from Robin Latta on standards of discharge from health centers in the wake of the death of a homeless man, just released from the hospital, on the New Haven Green, and from Merryl Eaton on Mothers & Others for Justice’s plans for action on affordable housing crisis in New Haven. The need for affordable housing was highlighted by New Haven alder Dolores Colon in an article in the New Haven Independent, April 17: Colon Slams Slumlords, Praises Hill Model. We agreed to keep in touch about our related projects.

Early Wednesday afternoons seemed most convenient for our group and we will meet again on Wednesday, May 16, at 2 p.m, in the Community Room of the Fair Haven Public Library, 182 Grand Ave. Please join us to share your ideas and enthusiasm.

DAPL Protester Vic Lancia Arrested and Fined A Year After Wells Fargo Lock-Down

by Dan Fischer, Dragonfly Climate Collective

This an update and thank-you message for those who have supported our friend Vic Lancia. Almost one year after Vic shut down a Wells Fargo branch in Middletown in April 2017, Vic was arrested in February 2018 and fined in March 2018.

On April 7 of last year, Vic, then about to turn 77 years old, locked himself to concrete barrels blocking the entrance to a Wells Fargo branch in Middletown during a protest against the bank’s funding of the Dakota Access Pipeline and other fossil fuel infrastructure. Vic’s lockdown shut down the branch for nearly two hours. Meanwhile, nine Wesleyan University students blocked the drive-through ATM. Police were unable to extract Vic from the barrels and made no arrests.

At the time, Vic offered the following statement: “Wells Fargo is a major funder of the Dakota Access Pipeline. It’s full speed ahead for fossil fuels even as the destructive consequences of their use become more and more evident by the day. Their ONLY concern is profit! This is corporate tyranny! We, the people, will not continue to ignore this to the peril of the young, our planet, and its inhabitants. And that’s why I am here today disrupting business as usual at Wells Fargo. I am here to say no to profiting from climate destruction. We are part of a worldwide movement TAKING A STAND against greedy and parasitic people. We need to get in their way and tell them: ‘NO!'”

The demonstration was organized by Wesleyan Coalition for Divestment and Transparency, Students Against the Fossil Fuel Industry, and Dragonfly Climate Collective.

According to Vic’s attorney, Wells Fargo appears to have requested police action, and this explains why almost a year later on Feb. 20, 2018, a police officer approached Vic on the street, pulled out a badge, and arrested him. The arrest warrant found probable cause for four violations of Connecticut General Statutes: Breach of Peace in the Second Degree, Disorderly Conduct: Obstructing Free Passage, Trespass in the Second Degree, and Interfering with a Police Officer. [youtu.be/UckxZO1ZEr4]

Ultimately, the state attorney chose to charge Vic with the first three of these violations. As a result, Vic faced a maxi-mum penalty of nine months in jail and $2000 in fines. At Vic’s first court appearance on March 1, 2018, the state attorneys said they would get get in touch with the so-called “victim,” Wells Fargo.

At Vic’s second court appearance on March 26, the State offered Vic two non-criminal infractions as a plea deal, which he accepted: A non-criminal trespass (fee: $90) and a non-criminal Creating a Public Disturbance (fee: $90) with costs and fees imposed (amounting to a total of slightly over $2,000). Vic has raised just enough to be able to cover his fines. Anyone who was looking to contribute might instead donate to a number of ongoing sites of resistance against fossil fuel infrastructure. For example, at this link you can donate to the L’eau Est La Vie (Water is Life) Camp resisting the Bayou Bridge Pipeline: bit.ly/nobbp. capitalismvsclimate.org/2018/04/dapl-protester-vic-lancia-arrested-and-fined-1-year-after-wells-fargo-lock-down.

Meet the Illustrator of The Legend of Miss Kendra

by Eleanor Montgomery, NHFPL

On Wednesday, April 4 at 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., there will be an exciting program in the Young Minds Area on the second floor of the New Haven Free Public Library, 133 Elm St.

The Legend of Miss Kendra has been illustrated (by Tanya Leonello) and published as a hardcover book! This month over 2,000 copies of the book will be distributed free to each of the elementary school children in the New Haven schools where the ALIVE program [Animating Learning by Integrating and Validating Experience] is being conducted. Join the Mayor and other community leaders in marking this event!

The Legend describes the story of resilience born of suffering, of strength overcoming helplessness, and knowledge arising from the truth of experience. Miss Kendra is becoming embedded within the New Haven community as a guardian figure who helps children cope with chronic and toxic stress of everyday living. She represents the essence of so many real people in New Haven who have been working each day to help our children. Each of us, indeed, is Miss Kendra!

Come and celebrate our legend, meet the illustrator, get your own copy, and share in the discussions with friends and colleagues. Light refreshments will be provided.

In the Spirit of Dr. King – Fight the War Machine!

by ANSWER CT

Saturday, April 14, noon-5 p.m. Rally and March – Gather at the White House. Followed by teach-in at George Washington University.

Fifty years after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., peace and social justice groups across the country are uniting to carry on his legacy of determined struggle against racism, war and poverty. Many of these activities are being coordinated by the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.

In his final book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stated, “a final problem mankind must solve in order to survive … is finding an alternative to war and human destruction.” This comes just after his statement in the same text that “the time has come for an all-out world war on poverty.” Today, when there is no controversy in Congress about spending at least $700 billion on the war machine while horrendous cuts are being made to almost every program designed to help people survive, these words ring as true as ever.

In the richest country in the history of countries, this situation is unacceptable. Food stamps, Medicaid, programs to save the planet and funds for affordable housing cannot and should not be held hostage to a global war-making machine – a machine aimed not at freedom or democracy but domination and control, complicit in terrible crimes.

From facilitating the brutal war in Yemen to the extreme threats directed at North Korea, Venezuela and Iran, the U.S. government has placed itself completely at odds with Dr. King’s vision: A way of life where people’s needs rather than profits and imperial goals are the center of our society. This vision can be realized only if we seize the time and show that we won’t allow our future to be sacrificed at the altar of war and militarism.

Join us on Saturday, April 14 for a rally, march and teach-in against war, militarism and empire. These actions are timed to coincide with the anti-war Spring Actions 2018. As Dr. King said: “Science has provided us with adequate means for survival and transportation, which make it possible to enjoy the fullness of this great earth. The question now is, do we have the morality and courage required to live together … and not be afraid.”

Initial sponsors (list in formation): ANSWER Coalition; Justice First; Family and Friends of Incarcerated People; CODEPINK; Popular Resistance; Partnership for Civil Justice Fund; Imam Mahdi Bray, National Director of the American Muslim Alliance; Virginia Defenders for Free-dom, Justice & Equality; Internationalist Students Front at George Washington University www.answercoalition.org/ in_the_spirit_of_dr_king_fight_the_war_machine

Stop the Wars at Home and Abroad. Demonstration NYC April 15

by Henry Lowendorf, Greater New Haven Peace Council

There is no way to peace without dramatically cutting the $700 billion Pentagon budget and ending the many wars the US started and is engaged in. STOP THE WARS AT HOME AND ABROAD!

The Trump administration, however, is proposing more war spending and all CT members of Congress voted with their colleagues to increase the Pentagon budget by $80 billion, a third more than Trump asked for. This is a recipe for more killing, more refugees, more cultural devastation and indeed economic disaster for our own country. STOP THE WARS AT HOME AND ABROAD!

Cuts to the funding of education, environment, jobs, health-care, science, civil rights, infrastructure can only be reversed when we stop funding war. Ending the internal assault on minorities, immigrants, people of Muslim faith, women, our youth – ending the mass killings – requires strong opposi-tion to militarization and warmaking. STOP THE WARS AT HOME AND ABROAD!

The No US Foreign Bases Coalition, which brought together many peace organizations (noforeignbases.org) and held a successful conference in Baltimore in January, resolved to organize a national day of demonstrations on tax day 2018. There will be demonstrations in San Francisco, Minneapolis, Chicago and New York.

From Connecticut we want to send a large contingent to New York. We also want to subsidize transportation in particular to encourage youth to participate. Please help organize this effort. Let us know you will march and bring a crowd April 15, 2 p.m., Union Square, New York.
Greater New Haven Peace Council (203) 389-9547, grnhpeacecouncil@gmail.com

Seymour Police, Town of Seymour Policies Discriminate against Disabled

by Joseph A. Luciano  Disability Rights Action Group of CT

I have asked NBC-TV Troubleshooters to investigate the present-day status of ADA access and mobility in downtown Seymour. Investigation can reveal the plight of persons with disabilities (PWDs) living here.

This is happening 27 years after the Americans with Disabil-ities Act (ADA) was enacted (July 26, 1990). That’s 10,100 days ago. This was happening even before Seymour approved 38 new senior/disabled housing units downtown. On Columbus Street alone, the senior/disabled population has increased from 12 to 38—not counting the disabled living in my downtown apartment complex (Fallview Apts). Often, only able-bodied people can get around in downtown Seymour. I and other PWDs cannot—because police do not enforce ordinances or regulations that enable accessibility. I have filed complaints on these issues against Seymour and its police department with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities (1730312, 1830021). Inex-plicably, CHRO ruled that town and police policy do not discriminate against PWDs—even though only able-bodied persons can get around.

PWDs are routinely denied their rights to access and mobility at Seymour’s new $6.4 million park (Paul Pawlak Sr. Fishway & Park at Tingue Dam). Police do not ticket or tow away vehicles obstructing or blocking access to the “accessible walkway” leading to the scenic lookout.

PWDs are routinely denied their rights to access Seymour’s downtown businesses when property owners flout Seymour Ordinance 14-6, which mandates timely removal of snow from sidewalks. Seymour PD itself routinely flouts Ordinance 1-9, which mandates that flouters “shall” be fined up to $100/day for each day of the offense. Seymour PD has admitted never having fined snow ordinance flouters. Sidewalks covered with snow that should have been removed by town law prevent PWDs from access to groceries, restaurants, pharmacy, banking, worship, theater, shopping, and other reasonable purposes. For more information: DRAGconnecticut@yahoo.com, (203) 463-8323

Conference on Drone Warfare to be Held In Hartford March 14

by Rev. Rich Killmer, Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare

The Connecticut Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14 at Hartford Seminary, 77 Sherman St., Hartford, CT. The presenters include: Andrea Prasow, Associate Director of the Washington Office of Human Rights Watch; Dr. Maryann Cusimano Love, Politics Department, Catholic University, Washington, DC; Rev. Chris Antal, Unitarian Universalist Minister, who resigned as an army chaplain because of the U.S. lethal drone policy; Lt. Colonel Shareda Hosein (U.S. Army Reserves Retired), Muslim Chaplain. Two short films produced by the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare for congregations will also be screened.

Registration is free, but a free-will offering will be taken. Lunch will be provided. Please register at www.bit.ly/DroneCTConference. For more information, visit www.interfaithdronenetwork.org or call (609) 924-5022 or (207) 450-7242. The conference is co-sponsored by Hartford Seminary and the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare.

Resist Foundation Wants to Fund Justice and Liberation!

Resist is a foundation that supports people’s movements for justice and liberation. We redistribute resources back to frontline communities at the forefront of change while amplifying their stories of building a better world.

The movement for justice and liberation is in a constant state of flux. Here at Resist we’re constantly finding ways to sit in that change, learn from it, and iterate so we can be a more responsive and accountable organization to the front-lines. As we close out our 50th anniversary we continue to reflect on what our world, our movement and our organization will look like in the next half-century. We’ve learned a lot from these reflections. As we continue to reimagine our grants program in conversation with a growing number of our grantees and the wider Resist community we want to in-troduce two new and exciting changes in our program.

New Rapid Response Grant: In the last two years we’ve seen a sharp spike in the need for emergency and technical assistance grants from groups all over the country. For this reason we’ve merged our two grants into a new rapid response grant.

Resist now offers a $1,000 Rapid Response grant to better meet the needs of frontline groups and organizations. This grant is decided on by Resist staff and generally has a one week turn around. This grant is for groups looking to:

Imagine and Build: for groups seeking financial support with training, consultation, healing, cultural work, conflict resolution, and/or restructuring. Examples include (but are not limited to): developing organizing skills, exploration of new strategies, community-led arts and culture work, board and staff development, fundraising support and training, transformative and strategic planning.

Resist and Respond: for groups seeking to respond to unforeseen and timely political opportunities with organizing and/or cultural interventions. Examples include organizing direct action, creative resistance, and travel to protests in response to a call to action.

Please go to www.resist.org for information on how to apply for a grant. Resist, 259 Elm Street Suite 201, Somerville, MA 02144 (617) 623-5110, info@resist.org.

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