Steven Brion-Meisels Peace Fellowship

Cultivating the Next Generation of Peace Activists

rsz_1stevenThe Steven Brion-Meisels Peace Fellowship is dedicated to our 30-year leader and board chair, who continually insisted on the importance of of bringing youth and Peace Action together, and who we lost to cancer on March 9, 2014 only two months after our board approved this project, which Steven did so much to shape (read about Steven’s life here). Steven continually insisted on the importance of of bringing youth and Peace Action together. He modeled for all of us an inclusive embrace of the energy and insight of the young people who have worked with us and encouraged them to leadership of Massachusetts Peace Action. His vision is very much embodied in this Fellowship which he led the Board to adopt. 

Challenge:

The peace movement is old.  Massachusetts Peace Action, the largest peace organization in the Commonwealth, reflects the aging demographics of other peace groups around the country, with most of its members and leaders over 60.

Age has brought experience, but we must also replenish our ranks.  If we do not bring the younger generation into the peace movement in numbers within the next 10 years, the voices for peace will grow faint, and the voices for war will grow ever louder.

Unless today’s youth play a larger role in the peace movement, the result over time can only be more overseas military interventions, more money for the Pentagon and more likelihood that nuclear weapons will be used.

Opportunity:

Boston’s metropolitan area is home to more than 100 colleges and universities and 250,000 students, and the rest of the Commonwealth hosts many other schools. Each campus is a garden in which we can plant the seeds for the next generation of activists.  Today’s students are not idle — local campuses are hotbeds of activism on climate change and for justice in Palestine, among other critical issues. 

Our organization has solid experience with our internship program, which works with 12 students a year, and our student board members.  We also have strong relationships with peace-minded faculty and peace studies programs.

Action:

This fall, Massachusetts Peace Action will launch “Cultivating Peace,” a new initiative to attract, inspire and equip the next generation of peace activists. Cultivating Peace will focus on the region’s many college campuses, and will build on lessons from the successful program to build campus chapters of Peace Action of New York State (PANYS).

Planned activities from March 2014 to August 2015 include:

  • Identify existing student peace groups, potential student leaders, faculty contacts and progressive student groups with overlapping agendas on at least 20 colleges in Massachusetts
  • Identify five colleges for priority attention and assistance to existing peace groups or initiation of new peace groups
  • Make 60 on-site visits by Peace Action organizers
  • Sponsor a statewide meeting of campus peace activists to learn, share resources and build community
  • Sponsor six on-site training workshops on topics such as lobbying, event organizing, publicity and nonviolence
  • Support students in organizing campus based meetings, speaker presentations, or film screenings on topical issues
  • Support student organizers in establishing club status under each college’s guidelines
  • Produce professional organizing materials suitable for use by all campus groups
  • Award mini-grants to campus groups to pay for supplies, printing, office basics, refreshments for meetings
  • Award stipends for key student organizers at five colleges
  • Award travel stipends to six representatives from campus groups to Washington for annual Peace Action conference/ lobby day on peace and justice legislation
  • Launch and cultivate an online networking forum for students and campus groups
  • Launch a student peace essay or art contest to stimulate engagement and identify more potential contacts

Timeline:

  • March-August 2014 – Preparation.  Hire organizer, debrief PANYS, identify and meet with 30 key contacts at 15 campuses
  • Sept 2014-Jan 2015 – Initiation. 30 onsite visits, hold meetings or events on at least 5 campuses, begin stipends for key organizers
  • Feb-May 2015 – Consolidation. 30 additional onsite visits, support and sustain embryonic groups, support student organizers, carry out DC lobby day and statewide meeting
  • June-Aug 2015 – Evaluation.  Summarize lessons, replan and prepare for next year.

Budget: (18 months)

        Staff – half time organizer (recent graduate) – $25,000

        Stipends – 5 campus leaders (current student) – $6,000

        Mini-grants – $5,000

        Travel stipends – $3,000

        Printing and materials – $3,000

        Office/rent/online services – $3,000

        Total – $45,000

How to Donate

Donations to the Steven Brion-Meisels Peace Fellowship can be made payable to the Massachusetts Peace Action Education Fund and mailed to 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA02138.  Write “Steven Brion-Meisels Fellowship” on the memo line.  Or, you may donate online using the button below.  To use a credit card, go to the lower left where it says “Don’t have a PayPal account?”, or call the office at 617-354-2169 to give your credit card number. Either way, your donations are fully tax-deductible.