More than half the federal discretionary budget goes to the Pentagon, leaving less than half for everything else, and forcing communities across the country to struggle with cuts to education, healthcare, job programs and other crucial services. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and partners from across the country are working to change these priorities and “move the money.”
Since 2011, the If I Had a Trillion Dollars youth film festival (sponsored by AFSC and the National Priorities Project) has engaged young people in creating videos to show how they would allocate the federal budget to better serve their communities. Their honest, moving, entertaining—and sometimes emotional—responses reflect the neglect felt by those cut out of our nation’s budget priorities—as well as a youthful vision of a better future.
The videos in this collection, selected from several years of the IHTD youth film festival, make a compelling case to “move the money” from military spending to meeting human needs. They are ideal for use with schools, churches and community groups.
For more resources and action opportunities to change budget priorities:
For more information on the If I Had A Trillion Dollars youth film festival (including how to submit videos): www.ihtd.org
A young Orthodox Jew declared his refusal to serve in the Israeli Army late last month. Uriel Ferara, an 18-year old Israeli, was consequently sentenced to a first prison term of 20 days. He is currently in solitary confinement in military prison, and upon his release, he will most likely be sentenced to another prison term.
Uriel joins Omar Sa’ad, a Palestinian-Druze citizen who is serving his seventh consecutive prison term amounting to more than 130 days in total.
Sahar Vardi, AFSC’s Israel Program Coordinator, had the chance to record the demonstration that took place on April 27, 2014 in front of the military base of Tel Ha-Shomer. Families and friends of Uriel Ferera and Omar Sa’ad showed up in front of this base, to express their refusal to serve the occupation and oppress the Palestinian people.
For more information about Uriel and other young Israelis refusing military service, visit: https://www.facebook.com/refusingIDF and http://972mag.com/watch-idf-to-jail-ultra-orthodox-jew-for-refusing-to-serve-the-occupation/90063/
As the daughter of a community advocate, Vera Parra developed her social consciousness at a young age, but it wasn’t until she joined New Jersey’s community of immigrant-rights advocates that she felt the power and strength to keep working for change.
While accompanying a man—father to three U.S.-citizen children—to his check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Vera witnessed ICE detain him on the spot and deport him the next day. “It was before I really had a national network that could push back,” she says. “I felt such loneliness in that moment—powerlessness, feeling like I was throwing my whole body up against this crazy system that destroys families and is driven by profits.”
Vera interned with AFSC’s Immigrant Rights Program in Newark and then spent a year as an organizing fellow there, gathering stories about local police involvement with federal immigration enforcement while building a grassroots coalition to work for change. During that time, she says, she realized that “the power to counteract that [sense of powerlessness] comes from the relationships that we have with…those of us who are committed to working together, fighting together, loving together, taking care of one another.”
In late 2013, Vera took an organizing job with a national faith-based network through which she is continuing her work with the immigrant community in New Jersey. She took with her AFSC’s vision for a just world, based on Quaker principles.
“There aren’t a lot of organizations that think outside of the current debate. The current [immigration] bill is not going to stop detention and deportation. AFSC profoundly refuses to accept the terms of the [immigration policy reform] debate, and pushes for a vision that is worth fighting for,” she says.
In this three-minute video, Katie Huerter introduces herself, her work with AFSC Iowa, and what motivates her to seek peace and justice in Palestine-Israel.
Border security tactics are extremely problematic and costly. So why then are certain members of Congress so eager to send a blank check to militarize the southern border, especially during this time of deep budget cuts?
Lia Lindsey and Aura Kanegis shed some light on the money trail by explaining how the top defense-contracting companies spent $74,250 per day on lobbying in spring 2013, when the Senate was debating S 744.
Watch the official selections for this year’s If I Had a Trillion Dollars national youth film festival.
Participants will be in Washington, D.C., from April 12-14 for a youth leadership conference, a free public screening of their videos, and a chance to meet with representatives in the federal government.
AFSC's New Orleans Peace Building and Conflict Transformation Project held its Third Annual Transforming Oppression Fashion Show Saturday on November 26, 2013 at Christian Unity Church. The show included twelve models and performances by seven local youth artist acts.
Participants attended a workshop where they got a crash course in the definition of oppression and the manifestations thereof. They also did visioning where they imagined translating their experiences w/violence, loss of young lives and lack of employment opportunities into rhetorical images to be displayed on white tees and hoodies for the show.
The Galkacyo celebration was featured on the Kalsan TV evening news.
Psychotherapist Geral Blanchard of Des Moines talks about his new book, "Transcending Trauma: Post-Traumatic Growth Following Physical, Sexual, and Emotional Abuse," with Fallon Forum guest host Jon Krieg, Communications Specialist with AFSC's Midwest Region.
Geral can be reached at email@example.com.