Chat for Change- Cobb County Townhall

A Peacemaking Project by Abbi S.

What is the injustice we are solving?

Chat for Change is a student coordinated town hall seeking to tackle the on going argument around gun violence. On April 14, 2018, we will gather in conversation in attempt to better understand what the best choices are for the community. We will also be giving individuals the opportunity to register to vote if they need to do so. As more information is released, you will easily be able to find it here!

Our Compassionate Solution:

To solve this injustice of Gun violence within communities, especially in regards to schools.
we will address Common sense gun laws and school action against gun violence.
by Unifying youth around the nation to urge congress to institute change.

Our Project Plan:

Goals

  • EMPOWER the youth of Kennesaw
  • Force Congress to stop their inaction towards gun control
  • Create and maintain a safe learning environment throughout Cobb County and the greater Atlanta area

We will increase my / our compassion by...

We will listen. We will listen to the voices of those who may have never been listened to before. We will promote a peaceful environment for people to speak, be silent, and most importantly- to walk. We will become a unified group with all who are willing to walk, and together will will EMPOWER each other.

How will you show courage?

We will walkout regardless of pushback. We as leaders of the movement will make sure we walk. We will not let those who want to walk remain stationary anymore.

How will you collaborate with others?

We will work with graphic engineers, artists, writers, news anchors, and students from around the school to create a face for our movement. We will work together to brand our mission and share it not only with each other, but with the whole community.

How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)

We know we are heading in the right direction when we get text messages saying "thank you!" and "I'm so glad someone's helping us do this." We know we're heading in the right direction when we see the number of RSVPs rise, and hear people talking about it in the halls. We will move in the right direction until we are marching March 14.

Key Steps

  • Inform students, staff, and allies about walkout
  • Communicate and coordinate plans with Dr. Trach (principal)
  • Create campaign plan with flyers, collaboration with school television/newspaper etc
  • Inform students, staff, and allies about official plans for walkout
  • Create posters, speeches, and walkout material
  • Inform and invite the community to walkout with us
  • Walk.

Our Updates:

Winter Break

Abbi S. 23 February 2018 3:16 Hello everyone!

It has been less than 48 hours since the RSVP has gone live on ActionNetwork and I am so excited to say we have gained a solid amount of enthusiasm and momentum! I have emailed Dr. Trach and plan to meet with him when we are back in school. He seemed receptive to the idea of the walkout, and I hope to inform him of what it is you all have to say!

 

I am working so hard to make sure your voices are heard, and look forward to when I can give you more details!

 

-Abbi

KMHS Walkout update 2.1-2.3

Abbi S. 25 February 2018 19:25 Hello students, staff, and allies! I have been overwhelmed with happiness and excitement with all the support and feedback I've been getting! I know things can't be 100% finalized since we're on break right now, but I still want y'all to know that I'm going to make sure you get your walkout and that you're heard! 

 

I am talking to students from schools across Cobb County and throughout the state and we are actively discussing the precautions we can take to keep these walkouts peaceful and keep all participants from any harm or punishment! 

 

Remember to RSVP to show how much the walkout means to us, and remember that when I am able to get definite plans I will be able to contact you all via your RSVP email! You can still find the RSVP link in my Instagram bio, linked to my Snapchat/Facebook/Twitter posts, and you can even ask me for it if you want! That's all I have for now, thank you for the support!!

-Abbi

** KMHS Walkout Update 3.0 with Community Note

Abbi S. 26 February 2018 11:26 Good morning Kennesaw. I am thrilled to hear of so much support from students, faculty, and allies! The events to take place March 14th are truly going to say something on behalf of every individual who can't vote but deserves to be heard. I am awaiting a planned but unscheduled approach from the principal of the school, and will make sure to announce what the exact plan is when I can.

 

Switching gears, it is unfortunate for me to hear that Cobb County School District superintendent Chris Ragsdale announced a plan to institute unscheduled, unannounced code red drills across the county. He deemed this plan as  being "absolutely uncomfortable" but necessary in order to garentee the safety of students and faculty around the nation. 

 

At Kennesaw Mountain High School, a new system (AlertPoint) has been installed. This system has falsely set off code red alarms at least five times and the results have just been scarring. Just from talking to a teacher and individuals this morning, reactions to these false alarms have inhibited our ease of mind for hours following the false alarms and overall struck fear and anxiety throughout the faculty and staff.

 

Although drills, tedious planning, and a fully developed understanding of the roles of students and faculty in the event of a real code reds are necessary, I do not want to see my friends and teachers anxious and upset anymore than is necessary; necessary being never. 

 

I would like to express my opposition to Mr. Ragsdale respectfully. I strongly believe revisions to all county and school code red protocols is an absolute necessary. However, I believe that creating fear among the community through experience should not be the plan of action. I do not want another student, teacher, or family to ever even falsely believe there is a chance of losing a life again under the circumstances of an active shooter on campus. We should continue the training we have, create stronger plans, and unite to create an effective change throughout Cobb County.

 

I am proud to be apart of the community of Cobb County, and hope to see more respectful and considerate plans take place in lieu of what Mr. Ragsdale has suggested. I urge everyone to open up conversation about these plans, and listen to one another to fully understand where we stand as a community on this topic. I thank everyone who continues the conversation on gun violence and school safety, and know that everyone is working to make sure schools are the safest place for students once again.

-Abbi

 

Walk for Talk

Abbi S. 14 March 2018 13:57 Hello everyone,

I admit that I have been delayed updating this project. I wanted to make sure that the people I am now working with have developed a mission and a plan for what is to come.

 

I along with students from Kennesaw Mountain High School want to give students from Cobb County a voice with no punishment. We want to get people to make educated choices and we want the adults and students to listen to one another as we move forward.

 

We have decided to hold a Cobb County town hall. We will be allowing students, teachers, parents etc to speak on the topic of gun violence and making sure their voices are heard. As of right now we have a lot of updating to do to make this project turn out well, but we are optimistic and prepared as ever.

 

Another opportunity participants will have is to register to vote if you have not already. We will have stations available for anyone who wants to do so.

 

The date is set as April 14th, a month from today. We will be releasing location and time information as soon as those are available. I will be updating the details of this project as I have already gotten some advice from people at Peace First.

 

-Abbi Stickels

Comments:

Akila S.
8 June 2018 10:34

Dear Abbi,

We're checking in because you haven't submitted your reflection yet. Reflections were due on May 31 as a part of your mini-grant award. Please submit your reflection as soon as you can. We're looking forward to hearing about how your project went!

Here is the link to the reflection: https://www.peacefirst.org/projects/kennesaw-mountain-high-school-empower-walkout/dashboard/reflection

Akila  

Adrian B.
14 March 2018 15:21

How was the press conference at the State Capitol and the rallies down there? Glad you're continuing with this work. Looking forward to more updates! :)
 

Abbi S.
14 March 2018 14:05

This morning I went to the State Capitol to observe the press conference and the rallies that went on. Seeing as students did not collectively want to walkout at Kennesaw Mountain HS, and that we have recently changed the objective of this project, I thought my efforts were to be heard more clearly by finding alternative ways to voice my opinions. We do have an event in the works for April that will be open to all Cobb County students so keep an eye out for updates!  

Lauren B.
14 March 2018 12:39

so the word is Abbi didn’t even come to school today  

Tom B.
9 March 2018 8:09

Hi Abbi,

Thank for all for the work you have done so far and for posting your updates. You have clearly put a lot of work into this, which is fantastic to see.

Congratulations! Your project has been selected to receive a Peace First Challenge mini-grant. We will be in touch soon with details about this payment.

The mini-grant process is also a space for you to get feedback on your peacemaking project. We hope you will use this feedback to further strengthen your project. Please see the feedback on your mini-grant below.

Strengths:
I love the passion and commitment that is coming through in the way you have written about the issue. Passion is an essential piece of the peacemakers’ toolkit - it is a great way to influence/motivate others to join with you.

The plan shows a lot of courage - speaking truth to those in power and not being bowed by others.

I also really like the idea of creating an brand/image/face for your campaign. A visual identity which holds this together will help to create/maintain a sense of scale, make it attractive to the media and make it stick in people’s minds.

Things to Consider:
I still think that your compassionate insight could be stronger. Your project would really benefit from you talking to others and deepening your understanding of the root cause of your injustice. It would be great to get a range of perspectives on the issue - teachers, parents, school administrators, etc and especially those that have a different perspective to your own (those you would not consider to be allies). We have a range of tools that can support you through this work: https://www.peacefirst.org/understand-through-compassion.

A the project develops, I would like to see more specificity in your project plan. There is lots of great rhetoric in here but I’d also like to see some more specific commitments. E.g. How will you listen to others? How will you promote a peaceful environment for people to speak? - will you create forums / events / channels for people to speak? When will they take place? What materials will you need? How much will they cost?
Also, what (specifically) will be your ask to Congress in order for them to create/maintain a safe learning environment?

Good luck with it. I can’t wait to read about how it went.  

Kelsey T.
27 February 2018 16:53

Hi Abbi. Thanks for posting your compassionate insight! We provide insight feedback to help teams further strengthen their ideas as they head into the plan and act phases.
Thank you for standing up on this important issue and being a leader in the movement. Your work is so important! Your insight is good, but I'd encourage you to rephrase the middle section -- Although I can see your logic and agree that your project will help in the cause of getting "Common sense gun laws" in order to address the wider injustice of gun violence, what we are looking for here is for your to identify a root cause of the injustice that you are addressing. It could be as simple as flipping around your language so that you list the root cause as "a lack of common sense gun laws," but you could also make your insight even stronger by continuing to dive into the root causes (our Problems & Solutions tree tool can help with this if you haven't already explored it!). I can tell you understand some of the most important reasons that gun violence persists, but this process of deepening our understanding of the issues we are addressing is an ongoing one -- so I encourage you to continue to explore this as you go through the process of implementing your project and future actions!

Keep up the incredible work!  

Fish S. Peace First Staff
23 February 2018 15:29

Hi Abbi-- thanks for having the courage to start this project. You're right -- everyone deserves to feel safe in school. And you're right -- young people do have power, and deserve to be heard -- you have rights and need safety, just as much as anyone else.

Sounds like you're frustrated and ready to fight back. We're right here with you. Three things to think about that might help you figure out what to do next:
(1) following what other young people are doing around the country,
(2) talking to the people you disagree with - and seeing if any interesting ideas come out of those conversations (ways you can change their behavior, and
(3) talking to friends and classmates who have the same concerns you do, and seeing what they want to work on.

The next step is to share your Compassionate Insight -- your thoughts on the injustice and your big idea for making change -- with us by Feb 28th. You can do that on your project dashboard. From what you've shared with us, sounds like you're almost there.

We've got your back on this. How can we help?
 

Brennan L. Peace First Staff
11 October 2019 21:27

Hi Abbi,

My name is Brennan, and I'm a Fellow-in-Residence here at Peace First.

I hope you're doing well! How are things with your project? We'd love to see any updates that you have to share. Please remember to submit your reflection as well when your project goals are complete.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Best,
Brennan