Deb Svoboda

PJALS Steering Committee Chair Deb Vangeisen Svoboda

As a collective of activists, PJALS staff, steering committee members, and committee chairs addressed the difficult task of prioritizing efforts when there are seemingly endless injustices being carried out through direct acts and perpetuated through acquiescence and silence. Prioritizing our work aids us in focusing our “hands, heart, and head” efforts for a period of time for the best possible outcomes, leaving room for rapid response to an ever changing landscape.

As the Steering Committee Chairperson, I’m excited to share with you the three PJALS Priorities for Action 2014-2015. With your support through membership, volunteering, showing up, and lending your voice, PJALS can continue the movement for peace and justice. Ending the Death Penalty in Washington State is a top priority at a time when the national and state mood has shifted. Recent state sanctioned murders of individuals sentenced to death have re-ignited a long-time effort by PJALS membership. The PJALS Death Penalty Abolition Group has set a plan in motion to swing the pendulum in Washington and need your help.

Winning Smart Justice in Spokane County and City will continue to be a priority partnership. PJALS role in these efforts will be to build innovative alternatives to incarceration, implement policies that utilize resources effectively and humanely, hold officials accountable, and provide a forum for challenge and problem-solving. PJALS joins with the Smart Justice partners in order to create a strong and healthy community for every person regardless of race, ethnicity, resident status, income, gender, education, religion, or other social identity.

Supporting and Engaging Youth Leadership in our community is a priority with renewed vision for the Young Activist Leaders Program (YALP). The YALP graduates carry the values, knowledge, and skills of activism for peace and justice into their personal lives, workplaces, volunteer efforts, and their school settings. Their critical thinking and brilliant ideas have contributed to the Spokane community and beyond. YALP will continue with a focus on growing the program capacity.

In the next year, strategic roles for PJALS will be clarified in addressing accountability for law enforcement and in replacing militarism and war with community investment and peace. PJALS continues a relationship with the Palestine-Israel Human Rights Committee and the State Revenue Campaign.

These are critical times for voices to be heard, time and energy to be given, funds to be raised, and strategies to be created. Activism comes in many forms but the operative word is ACT. Do what you can when you can, and as often as you are able. Join with PJALS to move these priorities further down the road.

In Peace,

Deb Svoboda