A.J. Muste Memorial Institute: Muste Notes, Winter 1999

A.J. Muste Memorial Institute
339 Lafayette Street, New York, New York 10012, (212) 533-4335

Excerpts from

Dear Friends
New Grants, December 1998-February 1999
Grantee Nominated for Academy Award!
A Good Year for our Sponsored Groups

The most recent edition of Muste Notes can be found here

We've entered the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute's 25th year without much fanfare. We haven't generally made much of anniversaries. In 1985, we had a small celebration to mark 100 years since A.J. Muste's birth. Old associates, young activists and a few members of A.J.'s family spent a pleasant afternoon recalling A.J.'s many contributions to peace, civil rights, labor organizing and nonviolent action.

At our recent Board of Directors meeting, we had a brief discussion about commemorating the Muste Institute's 25th year. Everyone agreed that this milestone presents an opportunity to strengthen our work.

We've accomplished a great deal during the past 25 years by promoting a lively dialogue on nonviolence, and supporting activism for peace and social justice. If we significantly increase our funding base, we can accomplish even more.

The Muste Institute relies on your generosity to carry on our work. Even if you have already responded to our last fund appeal, please consider making an extra contribution this year. And if you haven't responded, it's never too late.

We'll let you know about the 25th anniversary plans for the Muste Institute. We hope you'll join us (literally and figuratively) as we celebrate our past and our future.

In peace,

Murray Rosenblith
Executive Director

Swarthmore, PA: $1,000.
Brandywine Peace Community was founded in 1977 by a group of faith-based peace activists to carry on nonviolent resistance to war, militarism and the corporate dominated war economy. Brandywine's current focus is the Lockheed Martin Corporation, the largest international arms dealer and nuclear bomb contractor in the US, and the world's largest weapons producing corporation. Our grant goes for a public campaign to press for "citizen disarmament inspection" at the Lockheed Martin facilities in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Campaign plans include a petition drive, a public education forum, a march to the facilities and other actions. The campaign is based on the 1996 ruling by the International Court of Justice at the Hague (the World Court)-- which declared that the possession and threat to use nuclear weapons is a violation of international law.

Kerala, India: $1,000.
This group, an affiliate of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, conducts courses for young people to build skills for nonviolent action for social change and develop a network of peace education trainers. This grant from the Muste Institute's International Nonviolence Training Fund will support additional training camps for peace and justice activists.

Washington, DC: $2,000.
This project emerged in 1997 as an outgrowth of DC Men Against Rape, which was founded ten years earlier. Men's Rape Prevention Project seeks to bring widespread attention to the role men must play in preventing rape. The Project gives presentations, workshops and trainings to high school and college-age people to address rape and male responsibility. Our grant goes for a Speaker Training Manual to be used in anti-rape and sexual violence workshops for men. These workshops are geared toward training young people as peer educators, so that they can recognize rape-supporting behaviors and learn nonviolent strategies for confronting them, and develop the necessary skills to engage men in discussions about rape.

MEXICO SOLIDARITY NETWORK http://www.mexicosolidarity.org
Chicago, IL: $1,000.
The MSN was formed in 1998 out of a need for better coordination between groups doing Mexico-US solidarity work. It currently has 70 member organizations. The Network seeks to facilitate international coordination and mutual solidarity among grassroots organizations from Mexico and the US, and to support the mobilization of civil society for social and economic justice on both sides of the border. Our grant goes for travel expenses of US speaking tours by Berta Luhan, a leader of the Authentic Labor Front (FAT), Mexico's largest independent labor union; and Esperanza Rascón Córdoba, a co-founder of the National Indigenous Congress in Mexico City.

Los Angeles, CA: $1,000.
NCDLJ is the national office for the National Commission for Democracy in Mexico (NCDM). http://www.igc.org/ncdm (NCDM is a member of the Mexico Solidarity Network--see above.) The Center works with NCDM's 24 affiliated local committees to provide information about the indigenous struggle for justice in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, focusing on militarization and the role of US military aid in the Chiapas conflict. Our grant goes for outreach and organizing in US indigenous and Mexican- American communities, educating people about the struggles of indigenous people in Mexico and making links to struggles in their own communities.

Philadelphia, PA: $1,000.
PA Abolitionists is a multiracial, nonviolent direct action movement that was founded in January 1997 to energize the movement against the death penalty in Pennsylvania. Since its founding it has recruited more than 2,000 individual members, organized a public rally, established a successful death row visitation project, and launched a "Caravan of Conscience" by 400 activists to spread the anti-death penalty message throughout the state. Our grant goes toward organizing a major statewide rally in Harrisburg on May 1, 1999, to demand a moratorium on executions in Pennsylvania.

Barbara Sonneborn won the best-directing prize for a documentary at this year's Sundance Film Festival with "Regret to Inform," her film about Vietnamese and US widows on both sides of the US war in Vietnam. The film's cinematographer, Emiko Mori, won the Sundance prize for best documentary cinematography. Now the film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the best feature-length documentary category.

Sonneborn's own husband was killed 31 years ago in the war: "...I felt compelled to make a film using the Vietnam War and my own experience, along with that of other widows from both sides of the conflict, to speak to the enormous issue of the ultimate futility of war," she says.

The Muste Institute gave $1,000 in 1994 for "Regret to Inform"; our grant was used for production expenses of interviewing Navajo war widows for the film. Sonneborn says that people tell her "Regret to Inform" is the most powerful anti-war statement they've ever encountered.

1998 was a record year for the Muste Institute's fiscal sponsorship program, both in terms of the amount of sponsored funds granted and the number of groups served.

Our sponsorship program allows donors to make tax-deductible contributions to the Muste Institute for the educational programs of our sponsored groups, even if these groups do not have their own charitable tax-exempt status.

Here's an update on our 1998 sponsored projects:

Africa Nonviolence Dialogues Project - Longtime anti-war activists Matt Meyer and Bill Sutherland last year signed a contract with Africa World Press to publish their book on the implications of violence and nonviolence on the liberation struggles and governments of Africa. Sponsored funds of $2,493.75 in 1998 went toward travel for Meyer and Sutherland to attend the 17th Biennial Conference of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) in South Africa, and to send a representative from Africa to the War Resisters International (WRI) Triennial meeting in Croatia.

Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants (CHRI) http://home.earthlink.net/~dbwilson/chri - This small, unstaffed group was formed in October 1997 to promote immigrants' rights and build broad grassroots opposition to anti-immigrant policies. CHRI received $3,625 through our fiscal sponsorship in 1998, including a direct grant of $1,250 from the Muste Institute; a contribution from a generous individual supporter; and a grant from Resist.

Conciliation Resources http://www.c-r.org - Conciliation Resources was established in 1994 to provide an international service to organizations pursuing peacebuilding or conflict transformation initiatives. Thanks to a grant from the Samuel Rubin Foundation, our sponsorship of $3,325 in 1998 supported the reprinting of the Spanish-language edition of Issue 2 of Accord: An International Review of Peace Initiatives, about the Guatemalan peace process.

International Nonviolent Initiatives - In 1998, members of this longstanding nonviolence group based in Waltham, Massachusetts, helped organize an anti-nuclear program and an anti-war symposium at Brandeis University, where they continue to be involved in the Peace and Conflict Studies Program. Our $1,045 in sponsored funds in 1998 went for this and other work promoting nonviolence and international cooperation.

International Peace Bureau http://www.ipb.org - Thanks to the support of the Samuel Rubin Foundation, in 1998 the Muste Institute was able to sponsor $27,075 for IPB's efforts to build for the Hague Appeal for Peace http://www.haguepeace.org, a conference of "civil society" scheduled for May 11-15, 1999. The goal of the Hague Appeal for Peace is "to plant the seeds for the delegitimization of war in the new century."

Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York http://home.earthlink.net/~dbwilson/nsnhome.html - With help from $3,097 in Institute sponsored funds in 1998, the Network has continued to publish Weekly News Update on the Americas, http://home.earthlink.net/~dbwilson/wnuhome.html and has started up the monthly Immigration News Briefs. The Network publishes a popular local activist calendar and participates actively in coalitions working on sweatshop issues and immigrant rights.

Paper Tiger Television http://www.papertiger.org - Paper Tiger TV produces alternative video news programs, challenges corporate control over the media and promotes media democracy. When the group lost its fiscal sponsor in December 1997, the Muste Institute stepped in to fill the gap. Paper Tiger received $16,910 through our sponsorship in 1998, in grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), and the North Star Fund. Thanks to pro bono assistance from Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, Paper Tiger now has its own charitable 501(c)(3) status; a 1999 grant from NYSCA for $9,025 was already in the works and will be the final one under our sponsorship.

Paradigm Productions - In 1997, the Muste Institute made a $2,000 direct grant for "Against the Tide...Those Who Refused to Fight," a documentary film about conscientious objectors during World War II. So we were glad to help when Paradigm needed a sponsor to facilitate a 1998 grant for the project from New York Council for the Humanities (NYCH), providing $7,125 in sponsored funds. The film has since received funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Independent Television Service (ITVS) for broadcast distribution, outreach and promotion on public television.

Right of Way http://www.rightofway.org - A longtime Institute supporter joined recently with other concerned cyclists and pedestrians in New York City to form this group, which raises awareness about vehicular violence and promotes safe and sustainable forms of transportation. The founders turned to the Institute for sponsorship, and in 1998 we distributed $1,971.25 in contributions for the project.

Servicio Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ) - In late 1997, the Institute was contacted by a donor who wished to make a $30,000 contribution to be divided equally between three different branches of SERPAJ, Latin America's most prominent peace and justice network. It required a bit more effort than usual-- translating grant agreement forms into Spanish and overcoming minor problems with communications and bank transfers--but we were glad to be able to help. Now the same generous contributor has arranged a donor-advised fund at the Muste Institute to facilitate future grants for work on active nonviolence.
SERPAJ - Latin America [email protected]; used the funds for its quadrennial International Assembly of grassroots Latin American peace groups;
SERPAJ - Costa Rica [email protected]; used the funds for leadership development work with residents of impoverished rural communities, focused on human rights, conflict resolution and active nonviolence;
SERPAJ - Cuernavaca [email protected]; used the funds for publications and workshops as part of a documentation and education project on social conflict in Mexico, and for a program connecting the ideas and practices of Gandhi with the current tradition of nonviolence in Mexico.

War Resisters International http://www.gn.apc.org/warresisters - From September 19 to 24, 1998, WRI celebrated its 22nd Triennial Conference, titled "Choosing Peace Together," in the town of Poreç on the Istrian peninsula in Croatia. Sponsored funds of $134.90 in 1998 went for educational activities promoting nonviolent activism, nuclear disarmament, global demilitarization.

War Resisters League http://www.nonviolence.org/wrl - WRL brought in a record $65,776.10 in donations for its educational programs through the Institute's fiscal sponsorship in 1998 as it celebrated its 75th year addressing the root causes of war and promoting active nonviolence. Anniversary activities included a conference and rally in Washington in October to mark "A Day Without the Pentagon."

War Resisters League/New England [email protected]; - The WRL/New England office was very active in 1998 with YouthPeace activities, including helping young activists develop a Connecticut YouthPeace Club. Sponsored funds of $3,015.30 were used for YouthPeace and other activities, such as providing community groups and schools with speakers, workshops and literature on nonviolence.

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A.J. Muste Memorial Institute

339 Lafayette Street, New York, New York 10012, (212) 533-4335