Every year, finding and choosing our grant awardees represents the chief calling and highest challenge of the JustPax Fund. We are pleased to announce the organizations and initiatives that received JustPax funding in 2015.
Faith in Action
Interfaith Association of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, Harrisonburg, VA
$7,700 was awarded to the Faith in Action initiative to build a network of Covenant Congregations that will identify justice issues of salient local concern and move collectively toward systemic change for justice. With a dozen different congregations participating at the time of application, and as many more moving through a process to formally join Faith in Action, the initiative is focused on building communication and consensus within the region’s faith community about how to address justice issues collectively and effectively.
Says their application, “Our faith traditions are also calling us to deeper relationships and actions that create systemic change. This kind of change relies on the positive power to open minds and transform complex governmental, economic, and social systems.” The initiative will use a consensus and participatory model to first listen to the justice concerns of the congregational members, including already voiced concerns such as alternatives to incarceration and restorative justice, living wage, community integration and diversity, and more. The funds will then be used to build relationships between congregations, empowering and encouraging emerging leaders, and identifying and focusing attention on systemically addressing one key justice issue per year across congregational participants.
The Mennonites: A Documentary
Buller Films, Harrisonburg, VA
$15,000 was awarded towards the creation of a documentary film titled, The Mennonites, designed for national broadcast. The documentary will examine the Mennonite experience in the USA and its relationship to the broader culture, exploring how culture and faith intertwine using the Mennonite experience as the laboratory. The JustPax Fund grant will specifically fund portions of the documentary that touch on gender justice and environmental sustainability.
In the arena of gender justice, the film will examine the role of Mennonite women in Civilian Public Service and beyond. While designed to fulfill young men’s alternative military obligation, these CPS camps impacted women in several profound ways, including the accelerating the acculturation process of women who heretofore had lived largely isolated lives in Mennonite communities bounded by restrictive religious and cultural beliefs and practices. In the areas of environmental sustainability, the film will question whether Mennonites immigrating to the USA have impacted the sustainability of farming practices, asking whether the response to economic pressures, combined with a theological calling encouraging intensive production to feed the hungry, been at the expense of long-term environmental health.
The Orange Band Initiative
The Orange Band Initiative, Harrisonburg, VA
$10,000 was awarded to the Orange Band Initiative, an outreach and education program that begins with the question, “Can justice be achieved without listening being present?” The Orange Band initiative was originally a college-based effort to signal an orange band wearer’s willingness and openness to engage in civil and respectful dialog on important social issues. Expanding from its initial efforts to encourage open discourse, the new initiative is focused specifically on cultivating listening skills and places of reflection and hearing on social justice issues.
The initiative will create a free 10-module training course curriculum for starting Orange Band Chapters for college and high school students. Additionally, 10 podcasts episodes of Orange Band Radio will be produced, focusing on ways in which listing breaks down in gender, environmental and economic justice discussions. Finally, the organizer Kai Degner will coach three new Orange Band Chapters into implementation.
Women’s Peacebuilding Leadership Program
Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA
$19,741 was awarded to help expand the Women’s Peacebuilding Leadership Program (WPLP) of Eastern Mennonite University, with a focus on countering violent extremism. WPLP is a graduate certificate program at Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. WPLP believes that women’s involvement and leadership at all levels of society is critical to addressing the interconnected challenges of peace, security, governance and development. However, in many parts of the world, the visibility and impact of women peacebuilders is missing. WPLP seeks to close this gab by using practice-based methodologies to educate strategically-placed women in the theories and practice of conflict analysis, prevention, and transformation – with the end goal of establishing regional networks of women leaders equipped to respond to conflict and build peace. The grant will fund travel and relationship building within Somalia, Nigeria, Iraq and Jordan in order to form and fund a new cohort of 20 female participants, as well as monitoring and evaluatory work for past participants in the program in Kenya. WPLP is designed to allow women with family and job commitments to participate in formal peacebuilding training and curriculums by crafting a 19-month program with only a short-term, six-week, residency requirement.
WMRA News and Information Initiative
James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
$10,000 was awarded to the public radio station affiliate WMRA-FM, hosted at James Madison University, for the production and airing of environmental and social justice investigative reporting programs. Under the grant, professional, independent, local journalists will identify the region’s most salient, topical concerns, and then they unravel both sides of the story in long-form, radio reports that spark informed conversations about the environment and our future on this planet. Stories are broadcast in WMRA’s nine-county broadcast range around the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia during drive-time news magazine programs such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and they are amplified through social media outlets such as the Internet (WMRA.org), Facebook, and Twitter. In addition, they are freely available in the WMRA.org archives to anyone seeking more information about topics covered. Stories also are offered to other public radio outlets for broadcasting, with a goal of expanding the reach of environmental and other stories beyond Virginia.