As we approach our 15th anniversary year of 2012, we thought it was especially important to share with you some of our significant experiences in the Project over the past year. At the same time, we want to acknowledge gratefully the many ways in which our magnificent friends and collaborators, like you, have continued to reach out and offer your support in so many ways.
We begin our reporting this way: At the opening of this year the Project was able to work with a fascinating variety of individual and institutional partners here in Denver to share the hope and possibilities we see for the good of our communities, our nation and our world. In February 2011 we worked with more than 20 community organizations to bring Professor Michelle Alexander (author of The New Jim Crow) to share with Denver her passionate call for dismantling the destructive system of mass incarceration in America. During her three-day visit, Professor Alexander offered challenges to faith communities, educational institutions, young people and elders, including a community-wide gathering of some 800 persons at Park Hill United Methodist Church.
Alexander’s visit struck a deep chord with us at the Project and we found many natural connections between us and our sister’s important work. We are currently exploring ways in which we can continue collaborating—including the ongoing development of a Post-Michelle Alexander action groups that seek to carry on work related to the issues of mass incarceration.
Also, during the winter of 2011, we launched our third Veterans of Hope DVD series, consisting of interviews with the powerful graphic artists John Biggers and Tom Feelings, with the magnificent poet and human rights activist, Sonia Sanchez, and the Native American griot, organizer and legal scholar, Vine Deloria. Sister Sonia, the only one of this quartet of veterans who is still living, joined us in Denver for the official launch in February. Deloria’s friend and co-worker, Tink Tinker, of the Iliff faculty also participated in the launch occasion. Call 303-765-3194 to order our DVD products.
In another mode, Vincent travelled to many cities throughout the year, facilitating what he calls “democratic conversations” as dialogical replacements for traditional lectures, sermons and speeches. The settings included such places as St. Sabina’s Church in Chicago, the Kellogg Fellows Forum in Washington, DC and a panel setting with the Dalai Lama and Sister Helen Prejean (author of Dead Man Walking) at the University of Arkansas. In Richmond, VA, he received the Carter G. Woodson Medallion for “life-time achievement” from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and a special panel was held there to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the publication of his classic historical work, There Is A River.
Working with some of his co-workers from 20th century justice and peace movements (such as Dolores Huerta, James and Phil Lawson, John Fife, Nelson and Joyce Johnson and Zoharah Simmons), Vincent worked this summer and fall to begin to organize a national Council of Elders. Their organizing work happened to coincide with the rise of the “Occupy” movements, and the Elders began immediately to offer their support and encouragement to the young people who are shaping the Occupy groups in their various manifestations.
Early in the summer the Project helped to gather in Detroit our co-workers in the developing “Network of Hope” (Seven cities—Chicago IL, Greensboro NC, Philadelphia PA, Detroit MI, Santa Cruz CA, Santa Fe NM and Jackson MS, who are nurturing young people in the work of advancing social justice in their respective communities) to sit with Michelle Alexander and with our elder sister, Grace Lee Boggs. We spent the two days exploring the ways that Michelle’s work could be aided by and related to the Network, especially opening our young people to an issue that has already affected many of their lives. This summer we also honored Vincent’s 80th birthday on July 25th with well wishes from those who donated to the project at the request of our friend, Danny Glover. Also in July we moved our headquarters from the Iliff School of Theology’s residence hall to its main building.
In September 2011 the Project took a group to Pojoaque, New Mexico for the Tewa Women’s 15th annual “Gathering for Mother Earth.” The group attended sunrise and sunset services, workshops and presentations on ways to care for the earth, our health and the environment. Organized by our dear friends, Kathy Sanchez and family, the Gathering for Mother Earth celebration was the model for our Welcome Table celebration a few years ago. Also in September two new Veterans’ interviews took place in Washington, DC with Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund and our dear friend, Julian Bond.
We end the year with an interview with our dear sister dancer, Cleo Parker Robinson. As we move forward into 2012 we are working with a wonderful organizational consultant, M. Carmen Lane, who is helping us to strategically plan our next steps. Stay tuned.
Thank you for your support and encouragement to the Project over the past 14 years. As we look forward to continuing our work with our powerful elders, with our young Ambassadors and with a constantly expanding set of collaborators, we urge you to consider a financial contribution to the work of the Project. As you probably know, we are an independent 501 c 3 non-profit organization and gifts to us are tax deductible. Please also consider exploring with your employer the possibility of a “matching funds” donation. Your gift is crucial to the life of the Project, especially in these difficult economic times. Please send your check made payable to the Veterans of Hope Project at 2201 S. University Blvd, Denver, CO 80210. Call 303-765-3198 for more information. Your gift will be acknowledged and greatly appreciated.
On behalf of the Project, we thank you again for your continued support of our work.