Ending the Tragedy of Gun Violence--Sparking Civil Activism at School

A Peacemaking Project by Jing-Jing S. and Jeremiah A.

What is the injustice we are solving?

I hope to start a club at my school that revolves around us becoming engaged civil activists and leaders who initiate projects that can benefit the school, the community, and beyond. Too often we see that young people want to create change--whether it be hosting a clothing drive for those less fortunate or beginning an environmental campaign for zero waste--but don't know where to start or how to realize those aspirations; something which described me. In launching this club I hope to rally together a family of diverse, compassionate, and selfless leaders who can come together, explore campaigns of interest (political, social, environmental, etc.), and engender a lasting impact through our efforts. The first injustice we shall solve is one of the most pressing of our time--ending gun violence, especially in schools. Through our efforts, we will strive to rally our school together to contact our representatives about gun control legislation via signing petitions, writing letters, et cetera. We will mail these letters to our reps, organize meetings to promote awareness and set up presentations to share with our school and our community.

Our Compassionate Solution:

To solve this injustice of Curbing gun violence, especially in our schools. This will be one spark towards a broader movement of promoting civil activism at our school.
we will address The need for stricter gun regulations, to protect the lives of students and staff in our schools and beyond.
by organizing events for anyone interested at our school to come together, sign petitions, write letters and notes to our state representatives and government officials demanding more stringent and comprehensive gun control legislation.

Our Project Plan:

Goals

  • To rally members of our school and community together to voice our concerns about gun violence.
  • To promote in students the recognition that we all can impact and transform injustices we notice, large or small, near or far.
  • To ignite a conversation about gun violence and other pressing injustices we face as human beings today.
  • To reach out to our local, state, and national representatives and request legal action be taken to protect lives from gun violence.
  • To inspire ourselves and each other that together, progress is possible and powerful.

We will increase my / our compassion by...

We will always be cognizant of the fact that gun violence is a tragedy that should not be a reality. Through our meetings, we will discuss the issue of gun violence with sensitivity. Even if we have differing opinions or points of disagreement, we will promote an environment of listening and understanding, acknowledging and reconciling our diverse perspectives. We will reach compromises, tweak our solutions, and build off of each other; we seek a productive conversation and meaningful collaboration. Through reaching out to our representatives, we will address them with respect but urgency, and we will remember that only by cooperation can we all achieve this objective of ending gun violence and establish ourselves as empathic and kind civil activists. One sub-project I hope we can embark on is to create an art mural at our school to commemorate lives touched or lost to gun violence, and also how we, as civil activists, can honor these individuals. We can discuss ideas further at our meetings, but for now, I imagine even something as simple as a mural of multicolored post-it-notes or an art-board with messages to individuals affected by gun violence or quotes about how we can rally together to spark change. Following our efforts to ignite a conversation and effort to combat gun violence at our own school, we will be open and ecstatic to identify other injustices and pursue these objectives. For instance, later I hope to start a shoe drive to collect shoes for those in need, especially the homeless or those in poverty, in greater Cleveland (the city where I'm from) and beyond. Additionally, I seek to initiate a zero-waste campaign at my school, with the goal of reducing landfill waste and instead promoting composting and recycling among ourselves.

How will you show courage?

In spite of any doubt, skepticism, or derision we may face from our peers or others due to the magnitude of our desired impact, we will not falter. We will continue this movement. If individuals express objection, we will gladly listen to any concerns or suggestions they have, and in turn grow and improve our efforts. We will proudly showcase our support of promoting safety in schools and beyond with making banners to post and buttons to wear. Despite setbacks or challenges, we will maintain our grit, and grind forward! Activism is about pursuing positive action for social change, and even with friction, our wheels must continue turning in order for us to progress forward.

How will you collaborate with others?

The entirety of this project and effort will be a team one. I have a group of friends and teachers who are supporting this endeavor. Many of my friends have already volunteered to help me make posters and spread the word about our meetings, and I've bounced my ideas off of several teachers. We will promote our efforts and our meetings via our school network, social media, and other means of connecting with our peers. Furthermore, we will keep our attendees updated with news and our progress. Our endeavor for diminishing gun violence involves our representatives, whom we will reach out to with firmness but respect, and we will be perceptive that this is a nationwide effort that requires all of us to be understanding and listen to each other. Also, we will encourage everyone to write letters/notes and express their opinions, but we will foster group conversations to inspire ideas or thoughts. Anyone who wants to is welcome to help us mail off these letters; afterward, we will submit ideas for future activist pursuits!

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

Following our meetings, we will ask anyone interested to complete a brief survey so they can describe their experience at the meeting and tell us of any improvements they would like to see for future meetings. We will also host a suggestion box so people can drop off ideas for future activist projects, and we can discuss these at later meetings and pursue them! We see this activist project as ongoing and hope it will be long-lasting. Tackling gun-violence as a community is our first pursuit, but it will definitely not be our last. We will always remain dedicated to doing whatever we can to be a part of positive change in our community and world, in whatever direction this dream may take us. :)

Key Steps

  • Research how we can rally together to ignite this activist movement (already done)
  • Put together a presentation about how we can all add our voices to this movement (already done)
  • Compile a list of contact information for state and national reps (in progress)
  • Obtain approval from school teacher(s)/faculty member(s) to host students in their classroom during these activist meetings (already done!)
  • Make/design posters, flyers, banners to promote these meetings. Obtain permission from the school to put these up, and then hang these up around the school. (in progress)
  • Share/Present my presentation with the school body to encourage adoption of this activist effort.
  • Invite anyone interested to my meetings through talking to fellow students/faculty, posting on social media platforms, spreading the news via word of mouth
  • Obtain paper, stationery, poster board, pens, envelopes, stamps, etc. for students to use to write and send letters and notes to our representatives. Also, buy snacks for students to help fuel their thoughts.
  • Collect student letters/notes and place stamps on the envelopes, then mail these out to the desired recipients (state or national reps, etc.)
  • Request meeting attendees complete a brief survey to tell us of their experience, and let us know of any suggestions they have for future improvements.
  • Thank students for their efforts via a thank you card, and encourage them to stay tuned to further activist efforts to come...
  • Establish an anonymous suggestion box where anyone can submit ideas for future activist projects they would like to see us pursue together
  • Continue further and future activist pursuits! :)

Reflection:

How did the project deepen your team's understanding of the injustice?

Through doing this project, we conducted a lot of research, about the causes, the means, and the effects of gun violence on individuals, schools, and communities, as well as how we can come together to end this national epidemic. I put together a slideshow presentation to share at our meetings, which let me learn about the most effective way to present the issue--with stark statistics and figures, clear identification of the problem, and a list of several potential solutions. I learned that there are a complex history and national identity that is related to gun ownership and use, but that gun violence as an injustice does not come from guns themselves but rather the abuse of guns. By pushing for legislative measures such as mandatory education and training programs as well as universal background checks for all gun purchases, we can ensure that guns are used in a secure way and prevent shootings from occurring. The injustice of gun violence arises from individuals who abuse guns, therefore we can counter this and push for change via advocating for gun safety. I witnessed firsthand the power of student voices when many more kids than I expected showed up to our meeting to write letters to our representatives. We have the initiative to end this injustice, and by amplifying our voices, we can change the narrative of gun violence.

How did your community change as a result of your project?

I saw our school--students, teachers, and faculty alike--become more active. People came to our meetings and wrote such heartfelt yet firm letters to our reps demanding for change, demanding for action to end gun violence.

How many people were impacted by your project?

200

Explain how you came up with the number of people impacted by the project?

I included the students and teachers who participated in our meetings to write letters to our reps; the students and teachers who signed our poster petition; and the representatives and leaders that we wrote to. This number would not include the people whose lives would ideally be impacted by our efforts--students and civilians who are no longer threatened by the prevalence of gun violence

How did your team learn more about the people affected by the injustice?

We researched news stories, interviews, social media posts, articles, statistics, and more about the effects of gun violence on students, on parents, teachers, civilians, city officials, representatives, and leaders. We did research online and also talked with fellow students and teachers to gain a broader perspective. We looked at sister movements like the March for Our Lives organized by the students at Parkland and we also studied current petitions and activist efforts run by organizations such as Everytown for Gun Safety. Really, virtually every citizen is affected by or has heard of the horrifying reality that gun violence poses to our safety, and we were able to see that gun violence is truly an issue that can affect anyone.

What did your team learn?

We learned to work together, to be courageous, to take risks. We weren't sure of what to expect from conducting these meetings, we weren't sure if people would want to come, we weren't sure if we could encourage people to actively participate. However, we witnessed firsthand that any one of us can have an impact, but when we speak together, our voices are the loudest. We are the people, and we do have the capacity to drive change.

What challenges did your team overcome?

There were some individuals who thought that our mission was pointless, that our actions such as writing letters and signing petitions and hosting meetings would not amount to anything, because we were not powerful or influential enough to change the opinions of reps. This mentality of doubt was one that we refuted and we continued regardless. Additionally, some individuals did not want to write letters but still wanted to contribute, so I found a compromise in having them sign the poster petition. That way they could still join the movement to express concerns about the gun violence epidemic while not necessarily having to write letters.

How have you involved others in designing, carrying out, or expanding this project?

I invited anyone interested to come to our meetings, write letters, and/or sign the poster petition. I talked with friends, teachers, and classmates about their opinions regarding the issue of gun violence. I presented my slideshow presentation to teachers and our principal to solicit feedback. I asked our student activities coordinator to print out posters advertising the meetings which I hung up around the school, and I also posted the flyer on my social media accounts and in my group chats to encourage everyone to attend. The day prior to the meeting I actually went around to tables during lunch and invited fellow students to come to our meetings and get involved. I worked with my economics teacher Miss O to set up the meetings in her room and work out how we were going to execute everything. At the meetings, I gave my presentation and then took questions from students and teachers. I went around the room helping people figure out what they wanted to write about and had each one of the meeting attendees as well as anyone interested to sign our poster petition. I took suggestions from friends and our meetings were featured in the school newspaper too. Evidently, activism is a team effort, and I'm proud to have been a leader of such a worthwhile project.

What advice would you give to someone starting a peacemaking project?

Believe in the power that you possess. Never give up.

Our Updates:

Presenting my slideshow presentation at our #NeverAgain Meetings!

Jing-Jing S. 30 May 2018 15:04 This is a picture taken by our school newspaper editors of me giving the presentation I made regarding the gun violence epidemic to the attendees of our meetings. At this meeting, I went over the history, the causes, the facts and statistics, and the effects of gun violence on communities and individuals, as well as how we can come together to call for action from our reps, leaders, and ourselves to ensure that such a tragedy never occurs again.

Caption: "By speaking up we can actually push for change," Shen said. "Writing letters is something small yet impactful that anyone can do, and it shows that we care. We want change." Photo by Nakita Reidenbach

Flyer for #NeverAgain Meetings

Jing-Jing S. 30 May 2018 15:07 This is the flyer I made for our meetings. It features the hashtag #NeverAgain and the logo for the March for Our Lives to acknowledge the action sparked by students after the Parkland shooting.

Meeting In Action!

Jing-Jing S. 30 May 2018 15:16 Here is an image of students and teachers writing letters to our reps on postcards and signing the poster petition!

 







My Letter to our Reps!

Jing-Jing S. 30 May 2018 15:19 This is the letter I wrote to our Senators, Representatives, and Governor. 

Our Efforts Featured in the School Newspaper

Jing-Jing S. 30 May 2018 15:21 The article is available here! https://bcomber.org/news/2018/05/19/students-take-action-against-gun-violence/ 

It was also published in our print school newspaper.

Our Poster Petition

Jing-Jing S. 3 June 2018 22:39 Our poster petition to Congress to take action to end gun violence. Students, teachers, and more signed it.

Comments:

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 19:00

Sounds good! You'll do well and you'll do good!

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:59

Alright, thank you so much for all of your help, Jeremiah! My school starts soon so I am very excited to start up these ideas and let you know how they go! I will keep you updated.

Thanks again! -Jing

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 18:46

Honestly, that's your call. You know your school better than me. If you think one way will raise more funds, do that.

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:45

Oh yeah! I know for student council I organized several Chipotle and Ben & Jerry's fundraisers. I like the "culmination" idea, like a chain of events that are unique and encourage people to contribute in a variety of ways. Maybe first (1) the school-wide #PowerOfCHANGE coin drive, then (2) some restaurant fundraiser, and (3) the karaoke/lip sync #OurVOICE contest...

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:44

Thank you! So if we do the lip sync/karaoke contest (and I love singing, so I really want to!), would you recommend directly/openly advertising the event as benefitting the UNDP, or just having the proceeds go there but not actually listing the event under that name. So instead of "OurVOICE: Karaoke and Lipsync Competition (to Benefit the UNDP)" going with something like "OurVOICE: Karaoke and Lipsync Competition" (and then have the beneficiary of the fundraiser listed in a smaller font). The reason I ask is that I don't want people to feel obligated that if they attend this, they have to support this cause. Rather, I would like to encourage people to attend, and appreciate the impact they can have; but if they don't want to help out, they are by no means forced to if they participate.

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 18:43

You, of course, have to do exactly 0 of that, but I just wanted to encourage you to think big and think wild.

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 18:43

If you can get teachers to do it, it would be an even bigger draw. Don't forget you can also get your community involved. You can get local eating places to say "Hey if you come in, we'll give part of the profits to the fundraiser" that way there's a buy-in for your peers. Perhaps that's part of the campaign. Maybe that campaign culminates in a big event. Maybe that big event is the karaoke thing.

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:40

I agree! I think that the karaoke/lip sync competition could be that "cool thing" to do. You don't have to rock at singing as long as you're enjoying yourself and realizing the impact and voice you can have!

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 18:40

Yes! You're on a roll with great ideas!

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 18:39

I suppose this is easier said than done, but a free way to give people a personal motivation outside of altruism is by making your work the "cool thing" to do. There's groups called Dance Marathon at a lot of colleges and high schools. They raise money for cancer, offer absolutely nothing to their attendees, but attract hundreds to thousands of people at each of their events. If there's a way of making your fundraiser more than just a fundraiser, a way to make it THE THING to do, do it.

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:38

Yes, you read my mind! So besides the #PowerOfCHANGE coin drive, I actually had the idea that we could have a more "fun" event like a karaoke or lip sync contest...students/faculty could buy tickets to get in, and then contribute extra to actually sing/lip sync to their favorite songs. I really like punny hashtags, so this could be something like #OurVOICE where we are actually metaphorically raising our voices about this cause and hoping to support it.

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:35

The only question I have is what we can offer as motivation for classes to chip in. Obviously, the humanitarian and altruistic factor will move people, but there are others who might desire some personal benefit. Like, a pizza party or something like that... I want to make this about helping other people and students stepping up to do just that, not about what kind of personal rewards you receive. However, I am aware that this sort of desire for "personal gain" exists...

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 18:34

Great success! Don't be afraid to think out of the box too. Be bold! Heck you can have pizza eating contests or something if you can find a way for it to help your work.

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:32

Alright, that makes sense. Thanks! I think I'll start with the #PowerOfCHANGE idea, post about it on social media, make flyers/posters to put up around the school, tell people about it via word of mouth, visit lunch tables similar to how I introduced people to the gun violence meetings. I definitely want to employ the strategy you mentioned with having some visual representation of what daily life with those in poverty/developing communities looks like. I also think the UN makes statistics posters saying things like "X amount of dollars" can do enough to "supply clean, potable water to a community for one day." I believe that if we present donors with facts about how their contribution can actually have a tangible, explicit impact, people will be more open and willing to join in and do so...

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 18:29

By what you're telling me, UNDP. I will say, there will be people who dislike what you do no matter what you do.

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:28

Hmm, I'll need to think about that a little bit. Which one would you recommend starting with, (UNHCR or UNDP), if we had to choose?

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:27

Yes, I definitely like all of these ideas! I think when you put reality in front of people, and they face it, it fosters more empathy, understanding, and conversation...

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 18:27

Both are great, but if you feel UNDP would be the better way to introduce your yearly plan to your school, then go for it.

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 18:26

Those are all great things! Another thing to maybe keep in mind is physical representations. You can have a baggie of rice (or another food) that shows how much food an average refugee has to eat, maybe a cup of water that's colored to show how poor water quality can be, etc. I've even heard of people building a makeshift model of a typical refugee living arrangement. Just stuff to consider, you don't actually have to do any of that.

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:25

I agree with picking just one to do at a time. So for the beginning of the school year, I wanted to focus on either the UNHCR or the UNDP. I feel like even if we explain the humanitarian side of the UNHCR, people may interpret this as controversial (even if this is not the intention). Would you recommend going with the UNDP instead? Their objectives are arguably less controversial at this time--ending poverty, fighting climate change, creating jobs...

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:23

Thanks for explaining these. I think that our school would do better with option 2, with more of a competitive style. Some students say our school needs to amp up school spirit, and I think this could be a way to do just that...
So I know that a lot of students, including myself, can empathize more with something if we confront it. I was thinking about not just having students hear about (inspirational) refugee stories--people who have been working tirelessly to lift themselves up out of the lowest period in their lives--but also having them imagine what it is like. I have actually already gotten in touch with a representative for the UNHCR (refugee agency), and I asked if they had any materials I could give out to donors. She said she could send me stickers and postcards. Something students can maybe take with them and think about, even longer after they've contributed to the cause... of course we would also have the standard flyers, posters, social media posts, videos...

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 18:20

I think it would be best to pick one, do it, take a break and do other projects, then do the other one. Sometimes people get burnt out with fundraisers and the drives lose their effect.

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 18:19

This is far from the most important part of your fundraiser but I've heard of two main ways to do coin drives. You, of course, can pick either or neither.
Version 1: Whichever grade raises the most money wins. Everyone puts in quarters, nickles, dimes, pennies and it's standard counting.
Version 2: Quarters are positive points, nickles are negative points, dimes are negatives, pennies are positive. In this version, you put the nickles and dimes in the jars belonging to other years and you put the positive coins in your own grade's jar. Whichever year has the most net "points" wins.
Luckily, refugees are a relatively very easy group to empathize with. What are some strategies you had in mind with connecting with the student body and making them epathize?

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:17

Yeah, I really like how you frame that: "a humanitarian stand." So, would you recommend I just start with picking either UNHCR (refugee agency) or UNDP (Development Programme) first? Run the #PowerOfCHANGE fundraiser for maybe 1-2 months, and then switch over? I actually had a whole timeline for events for the entire year, but I thought I'd focus on the beginning ones first...

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 18:14

That's a very good thing to keep in mind. There's a million different things I could tell you about getting negative feedback, but I'll just say this: Make sure people know that you aren't taking a political stand, you're taking a humanitarian stand. There's a ton of refugees in the world sadly, but people only talk about certain groups of refugees. We can talk about what happens if you get negative feedback even still later if you want.

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:12

Hmm, could you elaborate on those ideas that you have heard? I agree that the people who enjoy helping others would be a good target group, but I also recognize that for this to be a truly active and successful fundraiser, we are going to need as many people as possible to contribute. I think that boils down to the fact that we need people to be able to empathize with the cause of the fundraiser--make it visible on a more personal level. But I'm not quite sure how to do this...

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:11

Yes, I would like for it to be in between classes. I would like to set up large jars for every class and people would just drop off their change/donations during lunch. The event would last for maybe a month or two. My only concern is that some people have brought to my attention that if we make the fundraiser to benefit the refugee agency, this may be a (politically) sensitive issue, and we may face some backlash for this. While I am not afraid of people proposing these concerns, I do want to make sure that our efforts do not incite an inflammatory or hurtful dialogue towards refugees or those who support them. I've done my research and I know that the refugee crisis is a global one. Our objective would not be to take a political stance--we are just trying to help out refugees all across the world...

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 18:11

Well, I suppose you have a target group: The folks who like helping others. How can you maximize their efforts? How you can get them to spread your great ideas into their respective friend groups? In response to the coin drive idea, I have heard multiple different ways to make it a competition.

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:08

There are some volunteer organizations that students participate in, and many students have confessed to me that they do this because they like helping people (and also students get hours for this). In other clubs or charity drives, there are sometimes other incentives such as food, potential to get extra credit, gift card prizes, etc...

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 18:07

Both are fantastic organizations and that sounds like a great fundraiser! Either way, the money you raise will help so many people. What a great idea to make it a competition! Would it be a between classes, lunchtime, or before/after school situation?

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:05

For example, one of the objectives I am looking at is organizing a school-wide fundraiser to help out either (or both!) the United Nations Refugee Agency or the United Nations Development Programme. The former assists refugees worldwide and some of our planet's most vulnerable individuals. The latter has several goals including ending poverty, creating jobs, and combatting climate change. My idea was to organize a #PowerOfCHANGE (it's a pun!) fundraiser where we encourage each grade of our school to collect spare change (coins, dollars, any other donations) and make it a competition of sorts, and then we would donate these funds to either the UNHCR (refugee organization) or UNDP (Development Programme)...

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 18:03

I love that commitment! Do you think a similar strategy would encourage participation in further endeavors? What are groups in your school and community that a lot of young people participate in? Why do they participate in them? How can you use components of what makes those organizations attractive to your peers in your own peace making work?

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:02

However, now that I'm looking at continuing the civil activism portion of the project, I would like your feedback on some of the causes/ideas I'm thinking about and your advice as to how I can make these events successful!...

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:01

As in, with the gun violence project: I put up posters around the school, I had school-wide emails sent out, I posted on social media, I went around talking to individual tables at lunch, I sat at the front of the cafeteria and introduced my poster petition to students. I think that was successful--many people who showed up at our meetings and signed our petition were students/teachers that I had just talked to and I had not expected them to come!

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 18:00

Hmm. I'd say that there are peers at my school who are very enthusiastic about these activities, and there are others who are not as much (which I understand). But the major issue we have is that not much of our student population might want to participate...

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 17:59

Fantastic! Great job already! So how can I help?

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 17:58

Still, once we've got more of a project agenda going, I think making these activities and events into a club would be a good idea!

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 17:58

Do you think your peers are galvanized to your liking or does more work need to be done there? What are the obstacles between you and raising money for charities hosting school-wide zero-waste challenges, donating shoes/clothes/food to local charities? Or, if there are no obstacles: How can we maximize your efforts?

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 17:57

Although the meetings were successful, I didn't want to transform it into a "club" too soon. At our school, clubs can be kinda chaotic--sometimes our administration tells us in order to be "official" they have to exist for at least two years, other times you can just make unofficial clubs. So for now, these are just mini-activist-endeavors I've been leading, not full-out clubs...

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 17:56

For instance, the gun violence meetings and letters were just the first step of the project. I also wanted to try other activities like raising money for charities (United Nations Development Programme, Make A Wish, etc.), hosting school-wide zero-waste challenges, donating shoes/clothes/food to local charities...

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 17:55

That's amazing! Did you start the club you wanted at your school?

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 17:54

Cool! So I essentially completed my original goals with the gun violence portion of the project. I presented my powerpoint, organized the meetings and discussion, and sent out the student letters and petition, posted on social media. Now I'm looking at other parts of the greater "sparking civil activism" project...

Jeremiah A.
4 August 2018 17:51

I'm online now too! Why don't we start? I know this is a general question, but how can I help? I've read your responses to the Peace First questions, but since those were answered a bit ago: what has changed and what input would you still like?

Jing-Jing S.
4 August 2018 17:49

Hi Jeremiah, Just wanted to let you know that I am now online! (I know I'm a bit early.) I'm not quite sure how chatting on this would work--we just comment with each other, I guess.

Thanks, Jing

Jing-Jing S.
3 August 2018 21:47

Yep! EST

Jeremiah A.
3 August 2018 19:42

6 pm tomorrow works perfectly. EST?

Jing-Jing S.
2 August 2018 23:06

Hi Jeremiah, Could we do like 6PM on Saturday?

Thanks, Jing

Jeremiah A.
2 August 2018 18:19

Jing,
I can do any time after 6:50 PM EST tomorrow. I can be free any time during the weekend as well.

Jing-Jing S.
1 August 2018 22:37

Hi Jeremiah,

How about Thursday at 5PM?

Thanks,
Jing

Jing-Jing S.
1 August 2018 22:36

Hi Adrian,

Thanks for understanding. Jeremiah and I are going to be chatting soon!

Thanks,
Jing

Jeremiah A.
1 August 2018 14:55

Jing,
Both Thursday and Friday work great for me! What time should we start chatting on here?

Adrian B.
1 August 2018 10:30

Hi Jing,

Sad to hear you can't make it! Thanks for letting us know. How's your project going?

Best,
Adrian

Jing-Jing S.
31 July 2018 19:40

Hi Adrian,

Thanks for the comment! As much as I would love to attend the event, I do not think I will be able to make it that day. However, thank you very much for the invitation!

Best,
Jing

Adrian B.
31 July 2018 15:52

Hi Jing-Jing!

I wanted to check in and make sure that you knew about the first-ever Peace First Summit happening on September 16th in New York City. This event will lift up the stories of young people who are changing the world, right now.

We are flying out five young people who completed the Peace First Challenge to share their stories of change onstage, connect with Peace First fellows, get advice from a Brain Trust, and receive peer mentoring from a Peace First Fellow.

We want you (or a member of your team) to apply to be featured at the Summit! You can start your application right here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd6X9fTrSTC6PoXjLpVUtNlJgZHbd5QdB6-hgxlC-d7DBlK_g/viewform You must submit your application by tomorrow, Wednesday, August 1st. If you have any questions, please let me know!

Warmly,
Adrian

Jing-Jing S.
31 July 2018 0:02

Hi Jeremiah, Sure! Does Thursday or Friday this week work for you?

-Jing

Jeremiah A.
30 July 2018 23:34

Whoops! I can't reply to your comment either. This is the medium we'll be using for communication so how about we set a time up where we can comment and converse here?

Jing-Jing S.
24 July 2018 20:51

Hi Jeremiah,

Thank you for the comment, and I am excited to work with you, too! I apologize for the late response--I wasn't able to see your comment up until just now and was trying to figure out what was going on. I think we can chat any weekday this week; maybe after 5PM? Please let me know if this works for you. (P.S. I'm not sure if you'll be able to see this comment as I couldn't reply to yours...)

Thanks!
Jing-Jing

Jeremiah A.
18 July 2018 16:34

Love your work! I am so lucky I get to be your mentor. Let's set up times to meet. We can meet as often or as little as you want, just let me know what times work for you!

Fish S.
30 January 2018 15:42

Hey Jing! Awesome to see you create your project! Thanks for sharing your vision for this group. I think this is awesome and super needed -- a space for young people to get together and work on taking action, creating projects that address issues they care about. (Here's the great news -- we can support ALL those projects with tools and funding.)

What are your next steps? Do you have a group of people who will help you create and lead this club? How can we help?

Jing-Jing S.
31 January 2018 19:43

Hi Fish,

My next steps would be to outline exactly which injustices I want to help solve through this club. I hope to organize a clothing and shoe drive (at my school) for those less fortunate in the downtown Cleveland area; host a fundraiser for refugees and natural disaster victims; and promote a campaign for zero waste at my school.

I have friends who would support me through this and I hope to recruit more people. I would greatly appreciate it if you had any advice to guide me through this. Once I have an idea, do I independently contact outside organizations (like UNICEF or city food banks) so we can send them the items and money we collect through drives, or is it better to try to do so on our own?

Thanks so much.
-Jing

Fish S.
1 February 2018 14:48

Hi Jing! Sounds like you have a lot of ideas -- awesome. What's your plan for deciding which one to focus on first?

Sounds like you have a lot of folks involved, too. I'd start by getting your friends together for an initial planning meeting, then asking each of them to bring additional friends to the next meeting -- and reaching out to folks you know are interested in social change at your school! Let people know the purpose of the club and what you hope to do -- as you've just told me.

I think generally it can be better to work with local organizations to distribute the materials you collect, because sending things internationally can have a high cost and you'll be able to impact your own community. But you should send out the resources you collect in whatever way makes sense for you!

Adrian B.
2 February 2018 9:29

Hi Jing!

Wow--you have so many great ideas! I love your enthusiasm and initiative, and how you're already thinking about each step of your plan. That will help you out a lot as you get started and see your project through. It's also great that you have a bunch of people ready to help out and support this work--I'm impressed!

Peace First has many tools that can help you create a successful project. The first step is deciding what injustice you want to focus on for your first project. You have so many great ideas, and it's helpful to pick one to start. We have a number of tools for deciding what you want to focus on. If you go to peacefirst.org/resources, you can check them out--try some of the "choose" tools, and, if you're working with a more cohesive team, see what they want to focus on first.

Once you've decided what you'd like to focus on, we'll move to the next part of the process. :) Let me know if you have any questions, or if I can help in any way!

Best,
Adrian

Bonnie B.
11 March 2018 21:14

Jing,
Hi there! I see you’ve already been exchanging with other members of Peace First. I'm also a member of the Peace First team and wanted to provide you with some feedback on your Compassionate Insight. We encourage you to use this feedback as you continue to progress through the Planning phase. If you apply for a mini-grant, your Insight will be one of the things we consider.

I cannot think of a more important time for your project and congratulate you on a wonderful idea. My suggestions are to clearly focus your objectives – this will help a great deal as you move in to Planning.

For example:
• “What is the injustice you are solving for?” I love what you wrote – because you are creating the vision for what you want to accomplish. I suggest that what’s written isn’t exactly the injustice itself. I think you’ve written this below, in the Compassion Solutions section when you address that you want to protect the lives of students and staff in your schools. I suggest that maybe this is the injustice you are solving – that schools are not safe for students and staff and that is what you want to address. You can talk a bit about this in this section. Why are the students and staff not safe?
• “To solve this injustice of” creating safer environments in our schools you will……What specifically will you do? I suggest you select from much of what is already written (because it’s here) and this will provide real clarity.
• “We will address”…..if gun regulation is your goal, than I encourage you to be specific around how you will accomplish this in the “by” section. For example, you might sync your activities with some of the other mobilization efforts going on around the country.

Good luck! I think this is an important and very timely project!

Best
Bonnie

Fish S.
26 March 2018 10:51

Hi Jing!

We're excited to hear more about your ideas to address this important injustice! I wanted to let you know about an opportunity -- if you are interested in getting some funding for materials that you need to carry out your project, you can apply for a mini-grant of up to $250.

The deadline to submit your Project Plan and Mini-Grant Application is March 31st if you want to remain eligible to apply to attend a Peace First Accelerator.

As you craft your plan, be sure to consider the feedback we gave you on your compassionate insight, and check out our project planning tools for help turning your insight into a concrete action plan: https://www.peacefirst.org/plan-your-project

Then, through your dashboard you can make any changes you want to make to your "compassionate insight," record your plan in "Make a plan" and then "Apply for a mini-grant" for the materials you need.

Let us know if you have questions or if we can help in any way. We're looking forward to supporting your project!

Jing-Jing S.
31 March 2018 22:23

Hi Adrian!

I just saw this message. Thank you for all of the advice! I've decided to focus my project first on one of the most pressing pursuits of our time--gun violence. As civil activists in school, our first objective will be voicing our concerns to our representatives and promoting awareness of the issue at our school.

This is our first goal, but it most certainly won't be our last. I hope to have many meetings for future activist pursuits, from a shoe-drive for those in need in greater Cleveland to a zero-waste campaign at our school, to any other ideas proposed by our students and faculty! I'm excited to see what directions our ideas will take us :)

Cheers,
Jing

Jing-Jing S.
31 March 2018 22:26

Hi Fish,

I just saw your message; thanks for all of the advice! I'm in the midst of organizing a presentation and meeting for us to pursue our first (but definitely not last) objective of voicing our concerns about gun violence to our representatives.

I think this is a decent first step towards outreach, and with future projects, I hope to start local (as you suggested!) such as with a shoe drive for individuals in need in Cleveland (the city where I live) and then expand outwards from there. Also, I'd like to initiate a campaign for zero-waste at our school and see if we can grow that movement to other schools as well.

I will be sure to take into account all this advice!

Cheers,
Jing

Jing-Jing S.
31 March 2018 22:30

Hi Bonnie,

I just saw your message! Thank you for all of your advice. I revised my project based on this insight and hope it better reflects our objectives now...

Thanks again!
-Jing

Adrian B.
2 April 2018 11:35

Hi Jing,

Very exciting! Love all your ideas. What are ways you think gun violence should be addressed?

Best,
Adrian

Fish S.
2 April 2018 14:15

Jing, this sounds like an amazing plan. How can we help?

Jenny L.
5 April 2018 15:01

Hi Jing!

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:
This is a really strong plan and you've clearly put a lot of time and thought into how to set your project up for success, by listing out in detail all the steps you need to take along the way, and beginning the process of engaging supporters and allies within your school community. I also love that you are thinking about how to reach beyond your school to engage with political representatives in a practical way to advocate for change. One of the things I'm most excited about is that you are both focusing on a specific current issue (gun violence) as well as planning to build out a longer-term project that enables young people to be more civically engaged and will prepare you all to take action on a whole range of issues in future.

Things to consider:

One thing to consider is how your work on the issue of gun control can be supported by the broader gun control movement. There is so much awesome youth-led work being done on this issue right now – perhaps there are ways you can connect up with other groups and initiatives to learn from each other’s experiences and amplify one another's efforts. I also wondered how your work around the issue of gun violence might be strengthened by finding ways to listen to and incorporate the personal experiences of survivors of gun violence.
Finally, I encourage you to think about some concrete measures of success you could set for yourself over the next couple of months (the period covered by your Peace First mini-grant). There are a range of measures you might want to consider, for example, the number of sessions you hold, the number of students who attend your activities, number of letters sent to representatives, etc. These are just thought-starters - building on your feedback box idea! - which could help you to make sure that you're staying on track.

Congratulations and best of luck with your project!

Jing-Jing S.
30 May 2018 14:49

Hi Jenny,

Thanks for this message! Now that I've finished my project (although I like to think it is still ongoing), I want to say that I implemented some of your suggestions, and the project was really successful beyond what I had previously expected.

Thanks for this awesome feedback,
Jing

RaulPF C.
30 May 2018 16:23

Thanks for sharing your updates and your reflection. It is great to see that you were able to get some attention in the school and the fact that you also learned more about how to present your idea in a more compelling way.

Jing-Jing S.
30 May 2018 20:06

Hi Raul,

Thanks for the comment! It was definitely a valuable and awesome experience. I hope to do similar projects in the future!

-Jing

Kelsey T.
6 June 2018 17:25

Congratulations on finishing your peacemaking project! I’m on the Peace First team and wanted to say thank you for your amazing work and for taking time to share about your work.

Below you will find some feedback based on your Reflection, which we hope will help you to celebrate your incredible accomplishment and reflect on how to grow and develop your project in the future:
Great work carrying out this project! I see strong courage, compassion, and collaboration in your work -- I am particularly impressed by the way that you worked to hear a wide range of perspectives on the issues, involve a range of stakeholders, and the research you did to understand the issue of gun violence more deeply -- to better inform your efforts to reach out to decision makers. It seems that you have approached this -- difficult -- topic from a place of compassion and a willingness to deeply listen to different viewpoints -- which is so important as a peacemaker! As you continue this work, I encourage you to keep doing this and to keep asking questions! You shared that gun violence is an issue that truly can affect anyone -- and that is absolutely true! However, I'd also encourage you to think about which groups or communities might be disproportionately impacted by gun violence and why? This may help you to build a movement that is as inclusive and impactful as possible.
Keep up the INCREDIBLE work! Your perseverance is so important -- it is a great testament to your courage as a peacemaker that despite voices telling you that this might be impossible, you want to keep at it.

We hope you will stay in touch and keep us up to date as you continue your work to create change!