Fueling Change: The 14th Annual Peace & Justice Action Conference

Written by Union Carter

With immense excitement, I introduce the 14th Annual Peace & Justice Action Conference, set to take place from September 28th through the 30th. Bearing the resounding theme “Praxis: Building Beloved Community Now,” this year’s conference is aimed to push forth our collective journey toward a more just and peaceful world.

Unlike any other event in the Inland Northwest region, this conference stands as a beacon for activists, advocates, and visionaries alike, providing a space where skills are honed, perspectives are enriched, and relationships are strengthened. The essence of our mission this year is to spotlight the intersectionality of race and class and to challenge ourselves to utilize this lens of analysis in our everyday work. It’s an invitation to recognize that the concept of Beloved Community must be built and nourished by the people within our shared movement, only together will we be able to obtain the future we aspire for.

I am honored to be amongst the team that is working tirelessly to ensure that the conference reaches its full potential for both presenters and participants. The conference spans several days, starting with an insightful evening Zoom seminar on Thursday (9/28), where the focus will be on progressive approaches to addressing Anti-Semitism. Followed by a community activity on Friday (9/29) evening, planned by the PJALS Activities Committee. Then on the primary day of the conference, we will have sixteen workshops across four different tracks for attendees to choose from. This includes Organizing Education, Radical Arts & Culture, Issue Education, and Mobilization. All of these are aimed to equip the audiences with the skills and confidence to continue organizing in their community.

Let us converge with a purpose, listen with intent, and act in solidarity. I hope to see many smiling faces in a packed library come September 30th! For any questions regarding the conference, contact Union Carter ([email protected])

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PJALS is Hiring Organizing Interns!

Written by PJALS Youth Organizers

PJALS is now hiring Organizing Interns for the fall 2023 session of the Young Activist Leaders Program! Multiple six-week internships are available at $16 dollars an hour, up to three hours a week, with the option to participate through spring. This position is available for those aged 15-22. This position is perfect for those passionate about social justice, whether new to organizing or not.

For this fall session of YALP, interns will work closely with PJALS Youth Organizers to defeat ballot Measure 1, which will expand Spokane County’s carceral system at a cost of $1.7 billion to taxpayers. We also know that none of this money will go to investing in community resources, services, and programs. Organizing Interns will engage with voters via text and phone banking. They will also have the opportunity to continue participating in YALP through the spring 2024 session. The spring session will include educational workshops on the basics of social justice work. Some of the topics these workshops will cover include, but are not limited to: nonviolence and militarism, fundraising, negotiating with people in power, and identity, privilege, and oppression.

If you or someone you know is interested in this paid internship, you can learn more and apply at pjals.org/yalpfall2023. Applications are due by September 18th, 2023. We look forward to hearing from you!

(Photo: YALP Spring 2023 graduation)

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Peace Advocacy

Written by Sharon Smith

PJALS has a committee tasked with advocacy in peace initiatives.  The committee is named the Peace and Justice Action Committee (PJAC). With a connection to the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), we have a common focus to guide our interactions with our National Legislators.  This year, that ask regards the use of funds from the Military Budget, placing some of those funds into Peace Building efforts around the world.

PJAC joined with other FCNL advocacy groups from Washington State, to visit with office staff of our Senators Murray and Cantwell.  Our ask was well received.  We have been unable to reach Rep. Morris-Rogers for such conversation. No appointment has been made for her office.

This is an example of the kinds of issues that we have been advocating for:

Dear Senator Cantwell,

As we all know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If the United States invests more in building peace and preventing conflict, we can save lives, reduce human suffering, and prevent the need for costly humanitarian aid and crisis response.

With that said, we urge you to invest in peace in the Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations. Specifically, I urge you to support not less than $66 million for the Complex Crises Fund, $40 million for Reconciliation Programs, and $25 million for Atrocities Prevention in the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPs) Appropriations bill.  

I hope you will publicly support robust funding for peacebuilding programs to prevent and reduce violent conflict in the Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations.

Thank you for your efforts to prevent violence, promote peace, and save lives.

Some of our committee members have written letters to the editor of the Spokesman Review to get the attention of our legislators. In visiting with the national offices of our Senators, we have given anecdotal stories about the importance of a financial commitment to Peace Building Programs.

Our work at times seems slow and tedious. Especially when we are not allowed access to our Representative. We are committed to this new approach to conflict resolution in our International Discourse. We are grateful to have a process that is Nationally staffed and is very knowledgeable about these issues. It helps our voices resonate with consistent messaging.

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A New Community Organizer’s Reflection

Written by Union Carter

As a transplant from Kent, WA, I did not picture myself living in Spokane. I had imagined that I would walk across the graduation stage right into my car and leave downtown Spokane to shrink smaller and smaller in my rearview mirror. Words can not express how thankful I am that life turned out differently–but for the sake of this article, I will try.

Ryann Louie (they/them) from Asians for Collective Liberation on the right and Union Carter on the left – tabling at the 2023 South Perry Street Fair

I was officially welcomed to the PJALS family on June 12 and what a whirlwind it has been since then. After my morning coffee date with Liz, Jac and I immediately got to work. They showed me the landscape of the organizing scene of Spokane, who to ask if I have questions about a specific issue and where to find them (spoiler alert: almost everyone works within a 100 foot radius of the Saranac Commons). I am appreciative of my time with Jac, their willingness to share knowledge helped me find my footing as I began my organizing journey with PJALS.

Since then, I have excitedly continued the planning of the 14th Annual Peace & Justice Action Conference and supported the efforts of the Justice Not Jails coalition turned Political Action Committee to defeat Measure 1 this fall. I am beyond grateful that my passion for people and  justice can be put to good use through my role as Community Organizer. I hope to serve the PJALS and greater Spokane community to the best of my ability; I truly believe we can continue to make positive change.

At first, Spokane can seem intimidating, but finding community can make a world of a difference. Lucky for me, I have found mine.

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Enacting Our Values

Written by Liz Moore

How do we live out our values within our movement while we seek to transform structures, institutions, and culture outside our movement? One way PJALS answers this question is through explicitly naming our values and agreeing on how we implement them together in the day-to-day.

This is important for several reasons. Our dominant culture does not prepare us for respectful relationships and healthy organizational culture. Our work for racial equity, economic justice, human rights, and peace requires a lot of emotional intelligence. We can often experience tensions about how we go about our work and about mistakes or missteps we make as we do so. In times of tension, it’s very valuable to have shared values and expectations we can return to so that we can resolve tensions. Articulating for ourselves how we do our work is an act of culture-making. By speaking it out loud and having a conversation within our community we can call each other into these agreements, creating shared commitments together.

Photo from Peacekeeper training in May 2023

In our PJALS community, we have Community Agreements for how we communicate and work together. These agreements apply to all people in the PJALS community – staff, steering committee members, and community members. We strive to nourish an internal organizational culture reflective of these agreements and bring that same culture into any community partnerships. These Community Agreements flow from our Values and Commitment Statement and our Organizational Culture.

Values and Commitment Statement

In our PJALS community, we believe everyday people can accomplish extraordinary things together. We strive to draw from our differences to increase and enhance effective action to build a just and nonviolent world. Our values ask us to honor and respect our web of different life experiences to work collaboratively, sharing power and decision-making. Our work is led by people directly impacted by the problems we seek to address, both among our PJALS community and in our broader community and world. We recognize our shared humanity and commit in the following ways neither to harm a member nor to see a member harmed:

  • Use an intersectional racial equity lens in all our work.
  • Call each other in, not out, when we make mistakes.
  • Use decision-making processes that engage our diverse community.
Organizational Culture:
  • Change is fundamental
  • Expectation for learning and progress
  • Take risks for our values
  • Share losses and victories
  • No internal competition
  • Strong relationships, strong team
  • Supporting self-care
  • Conscious use of self

These Community Agreements may already be familiar to you from the Action Conference or the BOLD Academy. We’re sharing them now as a sort of “booster” for broader shared understanding across our PJALS community.

  • Respect: We strive to make brave & welcoming space for all, so that we can take action together on our shared goals.
  • Anti-Oppression: No oppressive statements. If oppressive behaviors or statements are made, we name, address, own, and learn.
  • Support: We support each other by ‘sharing the air’ during discussions, speaking from our own experiences and perspectives, and learning from differences.
  • Curiosity: We aim to be curious, challenge assumptions, and work from “sound and current data.”
  • Awareness: We try to be aware of our choices and make them consciously, not reactively.
  • Learning & Improving: We evaluate together so we can learn from our experiences.
  • Focus: We limit distractions and sidebars in meetings or workshops to create a unified conversation.
  • Clear Agreements: We make clear agreements about roles, time-frame, actions, tasks, and relationship behaviors. We also make new agreements as needed. This agreement is expanded here.

I’d love to know your thoughts about these statements and agreements! What do you think about them? What does it mean to you to live these out? Can you think of examples of when these agreements have or have not been met in PJALS space? Do you have a challenge or suggestion about these as they are written? To share your thoughts, email me at [email protected].

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Community Event Calendar

Recurring Events

Every Monday:

Odyssey Youth Movement Drop-in (ages 15-18) @ Odyssey Youth from 3pm – 8pm (more info)

SCAR Testimony Workshop (virtual) – 3:30pm (more info)

MAC Movement: Free food with a side of free speech @ Spokane City Hall 5pm-6pm (more info)

Every Tuesday

SCAR Board Game Night from 7pm – 9pm (more info)

Every Wednesday

Spectrum Open Studio @ The Hive from 4pm – 7pm (more info)

Every Thursday

Odyssey Youth Movement: Adult Drop-in (ages 18-24) @ Odyssey Youth from 5pm – 9pm (more info)

September Events

Monday, September 4

Labor Day

Wednesday, September 6:

Staying Connected: An Alzheimer’s Association Seminar @ Spokane Public Library from 10am – Noon (more info)

Thursday, September 7

Atomic Washington: Our Nuclear Past, Present, and Future in Moses Lake at 6pm (more info)

Friday, September 8

Danielle Allen: Bringing Democracy Back from the Brink @ Gonzaga University at 7pm (more info)

Tuesday, September 12

PJALS Peace & Justice Action Committee (PJAC) Meeting on Zoom from 5:30pm – 6:30 pm (more info)

Wednesday, September 13

Gonzaga Resource Fair @ Gonzaga University from 10am – 1pm

PJALS Member Gathering & Potluck @ Finch Arboretum from 6pm – 8pm

Friday, September 15

Sequins & Velvet: Celebrating Resiliency al Ritmo de Salsa @ 6:30pm – Ticketed event (SOLD OUT)

Sunday, September 17

Zentangle Art Workshop @ South Hill Library at 2pm (more info)

Monday, September 18

Domestic Violence 101: Recognize. Respond. Refer. – virtual workshop by YWCA Spokane from 7pm – 9pm (more info)

Wednesday, September 20

Whitworth Service Fair @ Whitworth University from 11am (more info)

Thursday, September 21

Domestic Violence 101: Recognize. Respond. Refer. – virtual workshop by YWCA Spokane from 2pm -3:30pm (more info)

Friday, September 22

Neighborfest @ Eastern Washington University from 9am – 4pm (more info)

Wednesday, September 27

Debra Magpie Earling and the Lost Journals of Sacajawea @ Spokane Central Library at 6pm (more info)

Thursday, September 28

PJALS Peace & Justice Action Conference: Day 1Progressive Approaches to Addressing Anti-Semitism with Ben Lorber and Shane Burley – via Zoom with in-person watch party at The Hive, Event Room A (refreshments provided) (more info)

Friday, September 29

PJALS Peace & Justice Action Conference: Day 2 – Evening Presentation from the Salish School of Spokane with Chris Parkin at the Spokane Central Library (refreshments provided) – time TBD (more info)

Saturday, September 30

PJALS Peace & Justice Action Conference: Day 3 – Full day of conference events! @ the Spokane Central Library from 9am – 5pm (more info)

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Other Brief Updates

Join us on Wednesday, September 13th for the PJALS Member Gathering and Potluck!

6pm-8pm at the Finch Arboretum

Follow the Justice Not Jails campaign this fall and Vote NO on Ballot Measure 1! Learn more

Our SURJ Spokane group will be on break until January 2024 to focus on the ballot measure campaign. We encourage all SURJ participants to keep checking www.pjals.org/JusticeNotJails for ways you can get involved this fall!

Don’t miss future issues of our PJALS Handful of Salt Newsletter