Sharing Our Work for Social Change: Taking Action

Join us for the first event of a series presented by The History Center in Tompkins County and the Dorothy Cotton Institute titled “Sharing Our Stories of Action for Social Justice and Transformation.”

Series Kick-Off Event:

Sharing Our Work for Social Change: Taking Action
Saturday March 19th, 2:00 – 4:00 at The History Center in Tompkins County

(401 E. State St., Suite 100 — Gateway Plaza)

“Saturday will be the first of a series of community gatherings for sharing our personal narratives, and creating an archive of oral histories so that we can build the knowledge of how people achieve justice and effect change. No story is too short.”     Dorothy Cotton Institute

“Ithaca and Tompkins County have a long history of involvement in social movements and issues.”           The History Center

This series will encourage people in our communities to share their personal stories and oral histories that highlight individual contributions for working for social change across a broad range of issues and social movements. At this event, four panelists will share their work for change and address what they had to overcome and what sustained them. After the panel, everyone will be invited to meet in small groups to share their work for social change.

Panelists:

Carlos H. Gutierrez, Former Chilean Political Exile & Labor Community Organizer
Jhakeem Haltom,
Dean of Student Life, New Roots School

Mary Milne, Fabric Artist & Local Ribbon Coordinator, 1982-85
Joyce Muchan, Former Chair of the Ithaca LGBT Task Force

There will be future events to help community members learn from one another and to highlight that we can all choose to take action. This project will include oral histories will be captured to archive the richness of action and involvement of Tompkins County residents in a variety of social movements.

Co-sponsored by
The History Center in Tompkins County & The Dorothy Cotton Institute,
The John Henrik Clarke Africana Library & Cornell University Public Service Center

The Legacy Foundation of Tompkins County provided support for the series

For more information, contact Kayla Sewell at Community@TheHistoryCenter.net
or call
(607) 273-8284 x 227

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The Human Rights Arts Competition 2015

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The Human Rights Arts Competition

The Dorothy Cotton Institute is partnering with the Office of Human Rights to co-sponsor the Human Rights Arts Competition, open to all K-12 students in Tompkins County, whether in public school, private school, charter school, Montessori, or home-schooled.

Teachers and students are encouraged to explore the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to submit students’ artwork (visual, poetry or short film) expressing their understanding of one or more of the 30 articles of the UDHR . Click the link to find out details.  The Dorothy Cotton Award will be presented by Ms. Cotton to the winning poet.

A Long Way to Go, toward the full realization of our Human Rights

On June 26th, 20 community participants attended the Dorothy Cotton Institute’s  Human Rights Workshop to gain a common understanding of the international human rights framework and how it can be applied to local social justice issues efforts they care about.

Workshop participants are working on accessible, affordable and sustainable transportation, access to affordable healthcare, human rights education for parents and caregivers, advocacy for the rights of incarcerated people, diversity and inclusion on the college campuses, the rights of  immigrants, the rights and voices veterans, the rights to healthy affordable food, fair housing, and the right to live free of drones.

Margo Hittleman and Kirby Edmonds led the half-day workshop, asking people to draw on their personal experiences of injustice and the challenges of speaking up or  intervening on your own or others’ behalf.

At one point, participants lined up on a scale of 0-100 to illustrate and discuss how well they think the rights articulated in the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, (CERD). are being upheld and fully expressed in our community.  Their assessment: sharing their perspectives and examples of discrimination and disparate impact based on race and ethnicity, it seems we have a long way to go toward compliance and protection of CERD. In some ways, our society has been moving backwards by allowing the erosion of protections against racial discrimination.

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One important action to consider: examine what our local anti-discrimination ordinance actually covers, and what kind of discrimination is left out!

Another action to consider: get into the practice of re-framing the social issues we are working so hard to transform, by

  • using the language and lens of our universal human rights, to recognize and describe social justice and ecological needs and standards,
  • advocating to meet our national and local obligations to bring our laws and practices into compliance with human rights treaties, and by
  • fulfilling our mutual responsibilities to respect and protect the dignity of all. 

Welcome to the Human Rights Movement!

visit: www.dorothycottoninstitute.org

or follow Dorothy Cotton Institute on Facebook

DCI is a project of the Center for Transformative Action

Huge Success–the Building Bridges Community Forum

On May 13, 202 people attended a Community Forum to learn about Collective Impact processes creating big successes in various communities, and possible “big results” we might want to work on in Tompkins County.

Here is a link to the presentation slides:

Building Bridges Forum CI presentation

Highlights from the feedback include:

Of the 119 evaluations we received:
41 organizations asked to be added to the Building Bridges Coalition list *
100+ new people have joined the Building Bridges Network listserve
96% of you said you learned more about Collective Impact
96% of you said that CI is a direction that we should pursue as a community
97% of you said the time was worthwhile
89% of you said you would do your work differently as a result of the time we spent together.

Once again, a big THANK-YOU to
  • GreenStar staff support, use of The Space and coffee, tea, fruit salad, yogurt and  pastries
  • MRC for the mini-bagels
  • GIAC for the cheese, crackers and cookies
  • Ithaca Bakery for the pastries
  • Moosewood Restaurant for the Brownies and Vegan Chocolate Cake
  • CCE staff for stuffing packets
  • Park Foundation for supporting this intro to Collective Impact

*If you would like your organization added, please contact Kirby Edmonds at 607/277-3401

Building Bridges Community Forum

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Save the Date!!
May 13, 2014 9am-1pm
Location To Be Announced

You are invited to a half-day Community Forum
sponsored by the Building Bridges Initiative to:

  • get an update on the activities that have been going on in the community that are moving towards the vision we developed together
  • explore “Collective Impact” as a process for achieving big results toward the vision

Much has happened in the community since the first Building Bridges gathering back in November, 2011, but we still have a ways to go.

The lists of activities and possible big results in the attached flyer are only examples of the things we can explore together as we move forward and are not meant to be exhaustive.

Please respond by April 30th to let us know whether or not you can come to the forum (email- tfckirby@aol.com, phone: 277-3401).

You are receiving this invitation because you are an important community leader.

Please note: If you forward this message to someone else you’d like to invite, please emphasize that we do need to get RSVPs so we can plan for food and materials.

On behalf of the Building Bridges Planning Group, we hope you can come.

The “Building Bridges” initiative is a collaborative effort of The Dorothy Cotton Institute, the Whole Community Project, Sustainable Tompkins, CCE Environment Program, CCE Green Jobs Program, Ithaca College Commit to Change Initiative, Groundswell, Natural Leaders Initiative, the Multicultural Resource Center,  Alternatives Federal Credit Union, Center for Transformative Action, Dryden Solutions, GreenStar Community Projects, the Sustainability Center, Get Your Green Back Tompkins, Cayuga Medical Center, Local First Ithaca, and others, to build, support and maintain a local movement in the Tompkins County region to create a “socially just and ecologically sound local economy”

Thanks for the work that you do!

DCI’s Celebration of International Human Rights Day

On Tuesday, Dec. 10, the Dorothy Cotton Institute held our first DCI Gala and Dinner in honor of International Human Rights Day, and featured the presentation of the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Award to our distinguished guests, Dr. Vincent G. Harding and Ms. Dorothy F. Cotton, with inspiring remarks by the award recipients and Ambassador Andrew Young.

Over 200 people attended the event at the Trip Hotel, enjoying good food, great live jazz by Fe Nunn and friends, and Harry Aceto and friends, and a remarkable performance by the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers. Our Master of Ceremonies was Cal Walker.

Our celebration began with a visit to the Greater Ithaca Activities Center by DCI National Advisor Dr. Harding and Ms. Aljosie Aldrich Knight, both of whom participated in the DCI’s 2012 delegation to the Israel and the West Bank. They graciously spent the afternoon at GIAC, speaking first with local activists, educators, and organizers, and then another two and a half hours with teens from New Roots Charter School and GIAC’s Conservation Corps. Their conversation with young people was truly remarkable.

All three of our speakers exhorted the audience not to wait for someone else, some celebrity or high-placed official, to lead the change we want to see in the world, but rather to rely on ourselves and take action to create the kind of world we need. Being in the presence of people whose courage, commitment to non-violence, and willingness to stay on the journey toward the realization of full human rights reminded us that we have progressed a long way toward freedom, but we still have a way to go.

At GIAC, Dr. Harding was asked by a student whether he and others in the Freedom Struggle were ever scared of the violence and danger down south. He shared that sometimes he and his colleagues were very scared, but that they never attempted to do things alone; when he was afraid, someone else would remind him that “You can do this.” They always had friends with them, and what kept them going when they felt like running away was both knowing that people had come before them in the struggle and sacrificed for his next generation, but more importantly, they knew that they had to keep going so that “you could be here today”–i.e., together, in an integrated gathering of students, sharing where we came from, what we want to be doing 20 years from now, and why, with pathways open to them that couldn’t be imagined back in the 60s.

Dr. Harding emphasized the great importance of knowing one’s background, learning our history, and becoming strongly grounded and nurtured in our own cultures and who we are, so that we can go forth into diverse, integrated settings and take leadership, sharing and exchanging our stories with people who are different from ourselves without trying to just be like them and losing ourselves.

Dr. Harding answered a question about the first time he met Martin Luther King, Jr. He described traveling to Montgomery, Alabama in a racially mixed group of 5 young ministers from his an integrated Mennonite church he founded in Chicago. They set out to test themselves as to whether they could prevail on this journey with their integrated group, meet Dr. King, and explore the possibility of establishing such a church in the south.

They looked up Dr. King in the phone book, called and spoke with Mrs. Coretta Scott King, and asked if they could meet her husband. She explained that he had just been hospitalized after being stabbed, and was now recuperating at home. She wasn’t sure he would be up to it, but that they could stop by and see. When they arrived at the door, they were invited to visit with MLK, Jr. in his bedroom. He was sitting up in bed in his bathrobe, and kept laughing and remarking that they had made it  through Mississippi.

Dr. Harding explained to the young people at GIAC that at the time, he was 27 years old, and Dr. King was only 29.  The image of these very young people who were doing extraordinary things in such violent and intolerable circumstances really made quite an impression, and challenged all of us to never do anything with our lives without knowing why.

Thanks to all of you who attended, who sponsored others to be able to attend, and who support the Dorothy Cotton Institute!

Please check out this piece from Fellowship of Reconciliation, posted before the Gala.

http://forusa.org/blogs/linda-kelly/we-shall-not-be-moved-two-civil-rights-heroes-receive-peace-award/12714

Shifting to Equity as a Preferred Driver of Economic Development

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Here is a PowerPoint show, Shifting to Equity as a Preferred Driver of Economic Development, created and narrated by Kirby Edmonds. 

NOTE: The audio volume is low, so please turn up your speakers in order to follow along.

This presentation is also available on the left-hand menu, by clicking on the page  “Shifting Structural Barriers to Eliminate Poverty”.