As we move further into the New Year, a sense of hope and enthusiasm is building within the campaign for a U.S. Department of Peace. During the past few moths, we have had many successes including ranking number two on Change.org and sending over 1000 Valentines to our Representatives and Senators. For many of us, this passion and drive stems directly from the lessons and inspiration SPA Legislative Director Rob Atkinson shared with us during his time with the campaign.
As I sit compiling the first newsletter since his passing, I cannot help but smile and remember all the fun times we shared together and all that Rob taught me. Today, I view my work with Student Peace Alliance as a celebration of Rob and the remarkable life that he lived.
Rob touched so many lives and was always willing to extend a helping hand. As SPA Executive Director Aaron Voldman so elequantly said, “Rob’s unique capacity to express what was alive in him, to be so in tune with the essence of his being, and his ability to move beyond fear inspired so many of us. Rob simply loved life and wanted to experience as much of it as he could.”
As we continue to work towards the establishment of a Department of Peace, I know Rob will be in all of our hearts and minds. Let us all remember the lessons and inspiration Rob shared with us and continue to celebrate his amazing life.
In appreciation for the part you play in this campaign,
Miranda Fisher, National Field Organizer, and the Student Peace Alliance Coordinating Committee
Valentines Day Action- You did it!
This year for Valentine’s Day, students asked Congress member to extend their compassion by co-sponsoring the bill to establish a Department of Peace. Students wanted to raise awareness to the fact that the United States must be more proactive in its approach to confronting violence and that a Department of Peace would serve as a cabinet-level position that would find nonviolent solutions to conflicts both domestically and internationally. This year over 1000 valentines were delivered or sent to Members of Congress, and 114 people reported their work on this action. If you haven't reported, please email
and let us know about your work.
This year, Western North Caroline Student Peace Alliance sent 300 valentines to Congress. They sent 100 to their representative and 200 to their senators. Congratulations to the WNC SPA chapter for their incredible committment to peace.
Going the Distance for Peace
Written by Jake Hoy-Elswick
This spring Student Peace Alliance will be ‘Going the Distance for Peace’ by running half and full marathons around the country to raise money for the Department of Peace campaign. It’s easy and fun! Click here to learn more about how to assemble a team and raise money to support SPA. This is a great opportunity to make the world a healthier and a more peaceful place for all of us. Sign your team up today. Good luck!
Don’t forget to check out National Finance Coordinator Jake Hoy-Elswick’s training blog by clicking here.
Peace Takes to the Movies
Written by Bria Anderson
Gang violence continues to be one of the most prominent forms of youth violence in our country. Student Peace Alliance and the Department of Peace Campaign have consistently worked to focus our legislators attention on the need for preventing and reducing gang violence. We must continue to look at how to best prevent this type of violence, but also how to ensure that youth have other opportunities, especially jobs and school, to pursue outside of gang life.
With that these issues in mind, Eric Tollar, a senior at Emerson College in Massachusetts, produced a film called “The Street Crusade,” that addresses what different organizations are doing to help gang members establish a healthier lifestyle. “I was a Political Communications student advocating for civil rights and human rights. About half way through I realized that the system was broken. So, I took a class from Professor Greg Payne, and he said to make a documentary and submit it to a local film festival. I decided to make a documentary about gang violence. Rather than present about scary gangs, I wanted address the work that is all ready being done,” said Tollar.
The documentary specifically points to the Department of Peace as a way to address these problems and directs people to The Peace Alliance website. Check out the production website at http://tollarproductions.com/, or watch the documentary online here.
Some of the groups highlighted in this film are Teens Against Gang Violence (TAGV), Gang Peace, and Street Peace. TAGV is a group of teenage students that promote peace and social justice through nonviolent means. It is a youth-lead volunteer organization that teaches violence prevention, intervention, and education to youth service providers and families.
Gang Peace’s mission is to “develop and practice methods for bringing about the total rehabilitation of those who are active in gangs, or youths who are known by the organization to be at risk.” Gang Peace provides various programs such as outreach to people who are considering joining a gang. Music internships with Berkley School of Music are also available to help ex-gang members regain control of their life.
Street Peace was established in June 2008 as a result of the skyrocketing violence rate in Boston, Massachusetts. Similar to Gang Peace, Street Peace “strives to create a safe environment for Boston communities by providing events and resources to the public that allows them to gain violence awareness and come together for a common good-peace.”
What About Peace?
Written by Sara Birkenthal
What About Peace? is an international art contest where youth, ages 14-20, can express ideas and thoughts about peace. What About Peace? asks entrants to respond to the question, “what about peace?” and prompts them to “tell us what is in your mind and heart.” Entries were due on February 15th, 2009 and could fall under one of the following categories: poetry, video graphic/poster/comic painting/collage, essay short story, photo, or music.
The contest is sponsored by www.whataboutpeace.org, a website that “invites youth, worldwide, to think outside the box, offer new ideas and constructs for peace.” The organization aims to “encourage and reward the clear thinking and powerful ideas of our young people.” The organization is offering a grand prize of $1000; a first prize in each category of $300; a second prize in each category of $150; a third prize in each category of $50; and an honorable mention, the number in each category at the discretion of the judge. Additionally, winners’ work may be shown in various communities.
A display of What About Peace? winners from 2006, 2007, and 2008 was at the gallery of the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art in Novato, CA in June and at the College of Marin, Emeritus Division, in August. What About Peace? is a joint program of Global Exchange and Jadetree Three. For more information about the 2009 International Youth Arts Contest, visit www.whataboutpeace.org.
In the News: Student Peace Alliance at the University of Pittsburgh
The Original Magazine, a student publication in Pittsburgh published the following article about Student Peace Alliance:
The University of Pittsburgh’s chapter of the Student Peace Alliance (SPA), initiated by Emily Wilson last January, is an offshoot of the National Student Peace Alliance. The goal? To establish a U.S. Department of Peace (as introduced by Dennis Kucinich in the bill H.R. 808). According to Savannah Fisher, the business manager of Pitt’s SPA chapter, you can be a member of any political party and this peace-loving organization at the same time. “Peace is something that’s supposed to rally us together, not keep us apart,” she says. Intrigued? Send an e-mail to
Register Now for the 2009 Peace Alliance Conference in Washington D.C.
Peace Within Reach:
People and Politics Partnering for our Common Security
The 2009 Department of Peace Campaign National Conference in Washington, D.C.
March 20-23, 2009
Now is the time -- A new Congress, a new President, a powerful air of possibility. This is the time, at the beginning of the 111th Congress, when we have the maximum potential to influence the legislative agenda. It's up to us to turn out in historic numbers to inspire our Congress to establish a new priority -- making peace a strategic policy and funding objective.
Conference Agenda -- Participants will enjoy the enriching and inspiring program our conferences are known for, with Riane Eisler, Rita Marie Johnson, Azim Khamisa, Ocean Robbins, Rich and Yvonne St. John-Dutra, Lisa Schirch, Bob Koehler, Dot Maver, Michael Shank, members of Congress, the comic stylings of Swami Beyondanda and more.
Get a taste of living the world of our dreams as you learn and share about:
- Innovative and effective violence reduction and prevention programs
- The big picture of peacebuilding
- Peacebuilding in the Federal government today
- Grassroots organizing excellence
- Speaking and being "Peace"
- Savvy lobbying strategies
- And much, much more!
Become a Student Peace Alliance State Organizer
SPA State Organizer Positions Available
Interested in actively supporting and engaging members of the Student Peace Alliance in the grassroots movement? Apply to be a state organizer today.
State organizers are members of the Student Peace Alliance National Organizing Team and consist of all youth under 30 years old.
Their responsibilities are:
- Establishing and/or sustaining a state-wide SPA network
- Creating a state-wide team to organize the network
- Attending Conference calls with National Organizer Team, National All-Calls, National Actions
- Supporting current SPA chapters
- Recruiting new SPA chapters
- Organizing state-wide conference calls and listserve
- Speaking engagements around the state
- Creating state-wide events
- Building relationships with other organizations around the state Creating and maintaining a SPA state Facebook group
- Overseeing statewide legislative research and action
- Overseeing peacebuilding and community service work
For more information, please contact the Student Peace Alliance National Field Organizer at
Join the Newsletter team
The Student Peace Alliance E-Newsletter is quickly becoming one of our best ways to share YOUR amazing work! Are you interested in writing for the newsletter? We are looking for a few dedicated individuals who will join the national team and help craft articles for our newsletter.
If you have experience with journalism or a particular interest in writing and communications, please contact
The Student Peace Alliance
1730 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Suite 712 | Washington, DC 20036 | Tel 202-296-1187
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