Activism for the 21st Century

In the 20th century, activism took on various forms as people from all continents struggled for political and personal freedoms. These great efforts continue today, sometimes altering in form, approach, and focus without losing the yearning for deeper and more meaningful change.

Fall 2008

Monday, September 29 – Political Activism and New Technology

Zephyr R. Teachout, visiting assistant professor at Duke Law School, is an internationally recognized expert on the impact of the Internet on electoral politics and government. She was director of Internet organizing for Dean For America in 2004 and co-authored Mousepads, Shoe Leather, and Hope: Lessons from the Howard Dean Campaign for the Future of Internet Politics.

Professor Teachout writes, “Turning people out to vote—and turning them on—is often more fundamental to a politician’s success than persuading voters on issues. As politicians start seeking voters in every nook and corner of the country, they are increasingly aided by technology. Complex databases and corporate sorting tactics now identify voters with ever-greater precision. Online, campaigns are already reaching out to nonpolitical communities, but we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. Fan sites for TV shows, gaming sites, pornography—wherever people are, politicians will go there. Meanwhile, citizens are developing new tools to track their politicians—and each other. This talk will cover some of the not so pie-in-the-sky fantasy political tools of the near future.”


Tuesday, October 7 – Arts, Activism, and Inspiration

…  If you’re paying attention at all, then putting on clean socks and underwear and eating a good breakfast and tying your shoes and getting out the door and doing the long, slow, hard, painstaking, uphill work of tending the world can be a challenge. If you’re paying attention at all, then making good art and cultivating real hope and believing in positive change and valuing your contribution to the world can be a challenge. …

Kathryn Blume (BA, Yale University) is co-founder of the Lysistrata Project, the first worldwide theatrical event for peace. She toured The Accidental Activist, her critically acclaimed one-woman show about Lysistrata Project, to more than 30 cities in the U.S and Canada, receiving an Austin Critics Table Award nomination. Her new solo show, The Boycott, earned an Outstanding Activist Award from the member organizations of the Vermont Environmental Action Conference. She has had essays published in MoveOn.org’s 50 Ways To Love Your Country, Code Pink’s Stop the Next War Now, Outcry—American Voices of Conscience Post 9/11, and 365 Ways to Change the World.


Monday, November 10 – The Tibetan People and Their Ongoing Struggle

Tibetan people have suffered under the oppression of the Chinese Communist regime for more than 50 years, while sharing the dream of an autonomous Tibet. Global support for the Tibetan cause was shown this year through supportive non-violent actions on six continents, including in New Hampshire. Monadnock Friends of Tibet chair Michelle Bos-Lun will speak about the challenges faced by the Tibetan people, their determination to continue their struggle via peaceful means, and the role of Tibet activists and supporters around the world.

Michelle Bos-Lun has been a Tibetan activist for eight years. Bos-Lun plans and leads programs that give American youth opportunities to experience life in Tibet and in Tibetan exile communities in India, and in other regions in the Global South. She has taught Chinese and Tibetan Studies and Globalization to secondary students in New Hampshire and Vermont, and is director of The China/Tibet Programs and Admissions for Global Learning Across Borders, a nonprofit study-abroad provider.


Spring 2009

Tuesday, February 24 – Local Food Activism in Our Region and Beyond

Lisa Johnson, Valley Food and Farm director at Vital Communities, is passionate about bringing people together to enjoy and benefit from local agriculture. “Concerns about sustainability, health and rising food prices have brought welcome attention to the issue of local food in the last few years. Engaging with others in the community can be the most rewarding of the many benefits of choosing local food. Knowing the farmers in your neighborhood, spending time with others at a farmers’ market, and celebrating a community’s agricultural assets are examples of how quality delicious food feeds us on
multiple levels,” Johnson says.

Johnson served 11 years as general manager for retail food co-ops, building relationships between consumers and farmers in both New Hampshire and Vermont, before moving to Vital Communities eight years ago. She is skilled in translating between groups of people who don’t normally communicate with one another, and helping them envision and achieve goals together. Vital Communities in White River Junction, VT, is a 15-year-old non-profit organization that serves the greater Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire by engaging citizens in community life. Johnson holds a graduate degree in community economic development from Southern New Hampshire University.


Tuesday, March 24 – Immigration and the Infamous Border Fence

Guadalupe Luna says that contrary to constitutional dictates of equal treatment and due process, immigration law is further engendering harsh and arbitrary sentiments against immigrants whether in the U.S. lawfully or in an undocumented status. “Rather than seek viable alternatives, Congress continues to adopt an increasingly slippery slope of punitive measures that are difficult to reconcile with domestic law and international human rights principles. The border fence will impact the rights of those who have owned property for more than 200 years. Erecting such a barrier will also impact a host of environmental laws without regard to the natural habitat of protected species in the region.”  Guadalupe T. Luna is interim associate dean and professor at Northern Illinois University College of Law, with primary teaching in the areas of property and agricultural law, remedies, and jurisprudence. She practiced immigration and employment law for four years with the Mexican American Legal Educational Fund. She also served as a law clerk for the Hon. Theodore McMillian, U.S. Court of Appeals, for the Eighth Circuit. Her scholarship interests target the intersection of property law with the 1848 peace treaty that terminated the U.S. war with Mexico, immigration law, and the nation’s food agenda that extends to farm laborers.


Tuesday, April 14 – A Change in the Weather: Why Nuclear Power Still is Not the Answer

The nuclear industry is poised for a global comeback in new reactor construction. Abating rapid climate change is central to the industry’s argument for why it should receive hundreds of billions of dollars in new government subsidies and liability protection. Gunter says that a recommitment to an increasingly costly and dangerous nuclear resurgence will divert and squander resources from more effective and affordable renewable and efficient technologies. Simultaneously, a relapse to the 20th century’s failed atomic technology threatens to accelerate the global proliferation of nuclear weapons, burden future generations with mountains of unmanaged nuclear waste, create more radioactive targets around the world, and increase the risk of more unacceptable Chernobyl-like catastrophes.

Paul Gunter is director of the reactor oversight project for Beyond Nuclear at the Nuclear Policy Research Institute, where he assesses all aspects of the nuclear fuel chain, with a special focus on reactor operations. He served 16 years as director of the reactor watchdog project for the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, an information and networking center on nuclear issues. He is a lead spokesperson on nuclear reactor hazards and security issues, and serves as the regulatory watchdog over the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the nuclear power industry. In 1976 he co-founded the antinuclear Clamshell Alliance to oppose the construction of the Seabrook, NH, nuclear power plant through nonviolent direct action.