Strategic Planning Meeting This Wednesday

pius libraryThe Amnesty International St. Louis group will be holding its 2016 strategic planning meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 10, starting at 7 p.m. Instead of meeting at Hartford Coffee Company, we will be meeting at Saint Louis University’s Pius XII Library (pictured) in room 101C. The reason for the location change is that Hartford closes at 9 p.m., and this meeting may run longer than two hours. Pius is also more conducive to this type of meeting, and with an Einstein’s Bagel Bros. located inside, the coffee should be just as good.

What’s the Strategic Planning Meeting?

The Strategic Planning Meeting is a chance for the group to determine what human rights issues we’d like to work on, what types of events we want to have, and what we want to prioritize in 2016. If you want to have a say in any of these things, then it would be great if you attend the meeting!

You don’t have to have previously attended an Amnesty STL, or have experience working with human rights and/or Amnesty International, to attend the Strategic Planning Meeting. If you have ideas about what human rights issues we should work, or some great event ideas, or if you simply want to get started in human rights activism, then please join us!

Here are a couple of things to think about to prepare for the meeting:

  • What human rights issues should Amnesty work on this year?
  • What should we prioritize as a group i.e. membership, human rights awareness, fundraising, recruitment?
  • What kinds of events should be have to accomplish our goals?
  • What should our goals as a group be for 2016?

Meeting Details Recap

  • Who – Amnesty STL and fellow human rights activists
  • What – Strategic Planning Meeting
  • When – Feb. 10 from 7 p.m. to ~10 p.m.
  • Where – Saint Louis University’s Pius XII Library, Room 101C
  • Why – To figure out what we want to do for the rest of 2016

Hopefully we’ll see you there!

 

First Meeting of 2016!

amnesty business meetingWe’re 12 days into the new year, and most people have probably broken their resolutions by now. However, if your resolution is still intact, and involves one of the following:

  • Being more active in the community
  • Learning more about human rights
  • Doing more for others
  • Serving non-profits and/or other organizations working on social issues

Then tomorrow is the time to start! The Amnesty International St. Louis group is having their first meeting of the year Wednesday, Jan. 13. If you want to uphold your resolution this year or simply get involved with human rights and a vibrant community group, then here’s your chance. Below are the details of tomorrow’s meeting:

  • Who: Amnesty Local Group #105 and anyone interested in human rights
  • What: Amnesty Business Meeting
  • When: 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
  • Where: Hartford Coffee Company at 3974 Hartford St, 63116
  • Why: To start preparing for another year of activism and to learn more about human rights issues happening domestically and abroad

You Don’t Have to Be a Human Rights Expert to Attend!

If you don’t know a lot about human rights and haven’t been involved in anything like Amnesty International before, then that’s okay! We’re constantly learning ourselves, as the different issues change regularly and we learn more as Amnesty and other organizations continue to do human rights research.

So, don’t let that stop you! We’re happy to answer any questions you may have! If you’re also interested in working one or two specific human rights issues, then that’s great. In fact, if that’s you, then you should definitely attend this meeting as that’s part of what we’ll think and talk about. We haven’t made any decisions for what we’ll do or what issues we’ll work on in 2016, so please attend if you want to have a say in our human rights activism for the year.

Hope to see you tomorrow!

Our Next Book Club Book is on Rwanda

Rwanda bookSince the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda recently passed, our chapter has chosen We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda as our next book club reading. Fortunately, this one is much shorter than our previous choice, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield.

We will be discussing the Rwanda book at our June meeting, which is scheduled for Jun. 11 at 7 p.m. Please make an effort to attend if you plan to read the book with our chapter. It’s okay if you don’t read the entire book, as you can still attend the meeting if you don’t finish it. However, we can’t guarantee that we won’t give away any spoilers.

Book Summary

This summary was taken off of the book’s Amazon page if you’re interested in learning more about our book club choice.

In April 1994, the Rwandan government called upon everyone in the Hutu majority to kill each member of the Tutsi minority, and over the next three months 800,000 Tutsis perished in the most unambiguous case of genocide since Hitler’s war against the Jews. Philip Gourevitch’s haunting work is an anatomy of the war in Rwanda, a vivid history of the tragedy’s background, and an unforgettable account of its aftermath. One of the most acclaimed books of the year, this account will endure as a chilling document of our time.

Don’t Forget: We Have a Meeting Tonight

If you’re more interested in “bringing human rights home” and focusing on human rights issues in the United States, then please attend tomorrow’s Amnesty business meeting if you can (details are below}. During tomorrow’s meeting, one of our members is giving a presentation on Amnesty International’s recent report, “Chicago & Illinois: A 10-Point Human Rights Agenda.” The report outlines 10 human rights issues in the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois, and many of these issues are also relevant to St. Louis and Missouri. Please come if you can (sorry for the late notice)!

May Business Meeting Details

Who: Amnesty International members, chapter members, and human rights advocates

What: A meeting to discuss the human rights issues facing Chicago and Illinois, as well as any other matters affecting our chapter.

When: May 14 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Hartford Coffee Company, on the corner of Roger and Hartford, located in the Tower Grove area. We will meet in the front dining area.

Why: Because there’s much to talk about and much to be done!

April Business Meeting Wednesday

Amnesty Business Meeting aprilIt’s April! This means spring is finally here! It also means that our monthly business meetings are moving from the second Tuesday of the month to the second Wednesday of the month. We made this change to allow those who have Tuesday commitments, but still want to be involved with our chapter, to attend at least one of our meetings each month. The time and place of these meetings are the same. So, if you are available this Wednesday at 7 p.m., then consider coming to our upcoming business meeting.

Did You Miss Our Annual General Meeting?

Amnesty International’s annual national human rights conference took place over the weekend, and a few of our members were able to attend. Most of the meeting will be spent updating everyone on what happened during the conference, which includes session recaps, any important information regarding the national organization, and anything else that’s noteworthy (Edward Snowden made a surprise appearance by video, which I think is pretty darn awesome). Besides Snowden, one of the things that the group will be updated on are the resolutions the members voted on during the final day of the conference. These resolutions dictate organizational direction and policy and are created by members during the regional conferences.

Another point of business for tomorrow’s meeting is that we will be deciding our next book club meeting. Every few months, our chapter chooses a human rights book to read. We give ourselves about two months to read the book, where we discuss the contents of our choice at an upcoming meeting. If you want to participate in our next book club discussion, then please come on Wednesday so that you know which book we will be reading. Below is a list of the titles that have been suggested so far, and we be among the choices:

(1)  Phillip Gourevitch, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families — about the Rwanda genocide – Full Summary & Reviews
(2)  Death to the Dictator! – A Young Man Casts a Vote in Iran’s 2009 Election and Pays a Devastating Price by Afsaneh Moqadam – Full Summary & Reviews
(3)  Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon – Full Summary & Reviews
(4)  Iran Awakening by Sharin Ebadi (Nobel Peace Prize Winner) — a short and engaging book about the impact of the Islamic revolution in Iran on women’s rights and free speech – Full Summary & Reviews
(5)  Until My Freedom Has Come: The New Intifada in Kashmir – edited by Sanjay Kak — a collection of writings by Kashmiris telling their own stories about the 2010 uprising in Kashmir – Full Summary & Reviews

April  Business Meeting Details

Who: Amnesty International members and human rights advocates

What: A meeting to discuss our upcoming events, as well as provide a recap of the Annual General Meeting that took place over the weekend.

When: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Hartford Coffee Company, on the corner of Roger and Hartford, located in the Tower Grove area. We meet in the front dining area.

Why: Because there’s much to talk about and much to be done!

photo credit: Sorin Mutu via photopin cc

Reminder: March Business Meeting Tomorrow

amnesty monthly meetingTomorrow is our third business meeting of 2014, and there is much to discuss! The primary thing we will be planning is our upcoming trip to the Annual General Meeting in Chicago. The human rights conference takes place from Apr 4-6 at the JW Marriott Hotel. This year’s theme is, “Bringing Human Rights Home.”

Important Note Regarding the Annual Conference

We will be conducting a final headcount and organizing our travel plans, so if you want to come with us, then you NEED to attend this meeting. You are welcome to make your own travel arrangements and meet us there, but if you want to utilize the chapter’s transportation options, then you need to attend tomorrow so that we can include you and arrange accordingly. The conference is less than a month away, so we have to make our plans now so that we can ensure that we can accommodate everyone and not have to scramble at the last minute to put everything together.

Also keep in mind that this is the last time our business meetings will take place on the second Tuesday of the month. Starting in April, our business meetings are scheduled for the second Wednesday of the month. This is subject to change. Please pay attention to our blog posts, our Facebook group, and our email reminders for any changes and any other upcoming events.

Other than that, the meeting details are below. We hope to see you at the meeting tomorrow, or perhaps even at the conference as well. Please contact us at amnestystl (at) gmail (dot) com if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.

March Business Meeting Details

Who: Amnesty International members and human rights advocates

What: A meeting to discuss upcoming events and current affairs.

When: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Hartford Coffee Company, on the corner of Roger and Hartford, located in the Tower Grove area. We meet in the front dining area.

Why: Because there’s much to talk about and much to be done!

Updates and Upcoming Events for 2014

Amnesty International events 2014The next two months have a lot going on, so pay attention! We have several events coming up in the next eight weeks, including two movie screenings and our annual conference in Chicago. If you haven’t been to a chapter meeting recently, or even if you have, then below is everything you need to know about what’s happening in March and April regarding human rights activism. We hope that you join us for at least one event or meeting.

Dirty Wars Screening

In partnership with the Peace Economy Project, the Instead of War Coalition, and Webster University, we are hosting a screening the Oscar-nominated documentary Dirty Wars. The documentary is based on a book by the same name, discussing the US’s covert war on terrorism and its use of unmanned drones in countries where the US has not declared war. Below is the information regarding the movie screening:

  • When: Thursday, March 20, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Webster University Library Conference Room
  • Address: 101 Edgar Rd, St. Louis MO, 63119
  • Cost: Free

Besides the screening, Rafia Zakaria of DAWN, a Pakistani newspaper, will be attending the event for a post-screening discussion. The discussion will involve the content from the documentary as well as Pakistan’s involvement and coverage of the issue.

No Fire Zone Screening

Exactly one week from our Dirty Wars screening is another moving screening at the exact same location and at the exact same time. This movie screening is hosted by the Webster University chapter of Amnesty International and will feature the documentary No Fire Zone. This human rights documentary talks about abuses in Sri Lanka.

  • When: Thursday, March 27, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Webster University Library Conference Room
  • Address: 101 Edgar Rd, St. Louis MO, 63119
  • Cost: Free

Annual General Meeting

April 4-6 is the annual general meeting, or the yearly national human rights conference for Amnesty International. This year’s theme is “Bring Human Rights Home” and the conference is in Chicago at the JW Marriott Hotel. Our chapter is attending, so we really hope that you’d like to come with us, or at least see us there at some of the great seminars.

On the agenda for this year’s conference:

  • Redefining Justice: The State of Criminal Justice & Human Rights in the US & Around the World
  • How Social Media Helped Abolish the Death Penalty
  • Activism Through Arts
  • Defend Human Rights by Learning About Fundraising
  • The Time is Now! Making Women’s Rights a Global Reality. Focus: North Africa – Egypt and Morocco
  • LGBT Rights are Human Rights: Getting to Know the Movement

We will be discussing transportation at our upcoming March business meeting (details below), so if you are interested in attending you don’t have to go by yourself. Please stop by so we know that you’re interested and can include you in our plans.

New Tentative Meeting Schedule

To allow more members to come to more meetings, we are making a slight change to our meeting schedule so that we can accommodate those who have Tuesday night commitments and could never make it to a meeting. Our new tentative meeting schedule, which will take effect in April, is as follows:

  • The business meeting will be moved to the second Wednesday of the month. So, our April business meeting is Wednesday, April 9.
  • The letting writing meeting will remain scheduled for the fourth Tuesday of the month. The April letter writing meeting is scheduled for April 22.

Hopefully, this change will allow you to attend at least one of our meetings per month. This change also allows more members to facilitate meetings. Please let us know if you have any thoughts on the proposed schedule or if you are willing to help facilitate either a business meeting or a letter writing meeting.

Next Amnesty International Meeting

To clarify, the March meeting is still scheduled for March 11, which is the second Tuesday of the month. April is when we make the change to the second Wednesday of the month. The March business meeting is especially important to attend if you want to come with our chapter to the conference in Chicago, but it’s always great to attend our meetings if you’re interested in human rights activism at all. Below are the meeting details:

Who: Amnesty International members and human rights advocates

What: A meeting to discuss upcoming events and current affairs.

When: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Hartford Coffee Company on the corner of Roger and Hartford. We meet in the very back past the patio.

Why: Because there’s much to talk about and much to be done!

3 Things to Do Besides Tomorrow’s Meeting

Amnesty meeting cancelledTOMORROW’S AMNESTY BUSINESS MEETING IS CANCELLED!

Our February business meeting scheduled for Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. is now cancelled due to scheduling conflicts with our members. If you still feel the need to engage in human rights work, then consider the following activities to do instead tomorrow evening.

Sheryl WuDunn’s Lecture at Washington University

Sheryl WuDunn –  “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide”
7:00 p.m., Feb. 11, Graham Chapel: Washington University Danforth Campus

Sheryl WuDunn studies and writes about the economic, political and social forces affecting women throughout the globe. She is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and author of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. But Half the Sky is more than a book; it also is a powerful social justice and economic movement that is positively affecting millions of womens’ lives. A book signing will follow.

Think About Human Right as You Watch the Olympics

Although most of the focus for the Sochi Olympics is now on the athletes, let’s not forget the human rights issues that plague Russia and these games. The most prominent of these issues is the anti-gay law and the crackdown on those who are not only “explicitly homosexual”, but also those protesting the law. Take action today to help end the crackdown and to tell Russia that these actions are not within the spirit of the Winter Games, or human rights.

Pussy Riot, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and the Greenpeace protesters may have been released from prison, but there are still many more prisoners of conscience and political activists that need to be freed also. One of them is Yevgeniy Vitishko, who was charged with “petty hooliganism” after swearing at a bus stop. It’s believed that he was arrested for his connection to the Olympic Flame Rally earlier this week, as well as he previous environmental activism. Take action now to tell the Russian government to drop the charges against him.

Write a Letter or Two On Behalf of Prisoners of Conscience

Of course, writing a letter is always a good thing to do, especially as you watch the Olympics. You don’t really need to pay attention to the commercials, right? Below are a few recent cases about prisoners of conscience around the world that need your help! Here’s a link to a letter writing sample in case you need help with crafting your letter to these governments.

Photo Credit: the justified sinner via photopin cc