A little over a year ago, we made history and the nation celebrated the potential for a transformative and jubilant 2009. At last, after eight years, we seemed to be emerging from the tunnel in which aggressive assaults on peace and justice provided ample work for progressive activists and dampened the potential for radical social change. This past year was one of great promise on the left, but it was also a year of severe challenges for social justice organizing both politically and economically.
What worked for Fuerza Laboral in 2009 was our Colibri Workers for Rights and Justice Campaign, in which we organized with close to 300 workers who were locked out of their factory without notice. We've been fighting for 60 days of pay and benefits due to the workers under the Federal WARN Act, and for local and national reforms. It's still not over. But power is built in the process, and we've seen victories, built grassroots leadership, and made an impact on workers, companies and legislators in Rhode Island. Below are some ways how.
For small nonprofit organizations like Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty, grassroots networking is what it is all about. Fundraising is important, but for those of us who are trying to bring about change through education of the public, getting the word out to new audiences in unique ways is invaluable. Linking with very different organizations can make that happen.
The Vermont Workers' Center launched our Healthcare is a Human Right (HCHR) campaign in the spring of 2008. Over the past year and a half, the HCHR campaign has had some significant successes: we have engaged thousands of Vermonters through surveys and collections of postcards, mobilized hundreds to human rights hearings and legislative accountability forums throughout the state and brought 1,000 people to the largest weekday rally at the state capital, Montpelier, in recent memory last May 1.
2009 has been a year of reflection, planning, and forward movement for Deported Diaspora (DD). As we establish ourselves as a useful organization in the movement for immigrant and social justice, this year DD has continued to learn from the house-to-house immigration raids that occurred in Lowell, Massachusetts in the summer of 2008. The raids were part of Operation Community Shield (OCS), a national Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program that terrorized immigrant and working class cities in Massachusetts.
In February of this year, Nodutdol for Korean Community Development launched a new campaign: the Peace Treaty Campaign to End the Korean War. This war, which left millions dead and a country divided, with 10 million families separated between North and South Korea, has never ended. Much of the crises between North Korea and the U.S. are rooted in the fact that there is no peace treaty and therefore no basis of trust. Moreover, between 25,000 and 50,000 U.S.
Our anger is not enough. It is time for action. This was the guiding theme of Seattle Young People's Project's Youth Organizing Institute, a week-long youth activist training camp which took place in August of this year. At the Youth Organizing Institute (YO!), 23 Seattle youth gathered to learn skills and analysis related to understanding systems of oppression, youth-led grassroots organizing and real world survival skills for sustainable movement building.
Way, way back in 2008, a couple of things took place in our quiet little community (located 35 miles downwind from Los Alamos National Laboratory) that would develop into "what worked" for the Embudo Valley Environmental Monitoring Group in 2009. Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is the only facility in the United States that manufactures plutonium pits, which act as the triggers of nuclear weapons. Embudo Valley, a culturally diverse, traditional land-based community, lies 32 miles downwind from LANL.
To honor the moral clarity, courage and political commitment of its founders, RESIST created a new tribute grant in 2008: the Hell Yes! Award. This grant recognizes inspiring, radical activism that cuts to the heart of RESIST's mission to challenge illegitimate authority, with particular emphasis on anti-war and anti-imperialist efforts.