Meet the projects and initiatives that the JustPax Fund helped launch in 2016.
The following grantees reflect community, national, and transnational interests who were awarded grants by the JustPax Fund through an open-application process in the Fund’s third grant-making year.
“Our Voices, Our Rights”
Rights & Ecology and the Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) – Washington, DC
$20,000 was awarded to “Our Voices, Our Rights,” an initiative seeking to transform the environmental and gender injustice imposed on Indigenous Lenca communities in Honduras by training community members, particularly young Lenca women, to document and expose the violations of their rights, death threats, and attacks on their communities by corporate mega-projects and military repression. The project is a partnership between the Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) which is an Indigenous Lenca organization and Rights and Economy, a new initiative of women working in partnership with grassroots organizations to document and expose human rights abuses.
JustPax Funds are directed specifically towards the training and equipping of young Indigenous Lenca community members to document in their own voices the imposition of dams, mining, and other environmentally disastrous mega-projects in Indigenous territories, along with the violence and threats that accrue to members who speak up for their rights. Ultimately, the goal of recording and documenting their experiences is to make their voices heard on an international level, in particular among the relevant banking, financial, and international structures where these projects can be addressed.
Our Community Eats
Our Community Place – Harrisonburg, VA
$20,000 was awarded to the Our Community Eats initiative, a new employment program designed to provide jobs, income, and training to community members who face a variety of barriers to participation in the mainstream economy, often including mental or physical health conditions, addiction, documentation status, and criminal records. Seeking to provide a liberative alternative to the “shadow economy” and factory farm industries, Our Community Eats will provide income, a supportive working environmental, and empowerment towards greater self-sufficiency, all through a business plan that includes light catering, a Friday lunch restaurant, and the production of a saleable product.
Our Community Eats in a start-up initiative of Our Community Place (OCP). As the parent organization, OCP is a community center that seeks to improve the quality of life of the homeless and low- and middle-income individuals and families by providing community, employment, volunteer opportunities, classes, activities, free meals, showers, wifi, laundry, and more.
Carnival de Resistance
Holy Fools Arts – Philadelphia, PA
$12,500 was awarded to the Holy Fools Arts Carnival de Resistance, planned to occur in Philadelphia, PA in the fall of 2017. As their application states, they are a “traveling arts carnival and ceremonial theater company, an eco-village demonstration project, and a social justice outreach experiment. Through the lens of faith, we address the intersectionality of ecological and economic justice with other social justice issues. Our overarching vision is to bridge the worlds of faith, activism, and art to enable communities to respond to their regional environmental and political challenges with imagination, creativity, wisdom, and courage.”
The goals of the performance are to create a “topsy-turvy space of Carnival to animate a transitory world that suspends business-as-usual to focus on sustainability and solidarity.” Begun in Harrisonburg in 2013, the sixth carnival took place in Minneapolis in 2016. During each carnival, all events are free and open to the public, local partners are drawn into the performance, and the gift economy is embodied throughout the festivals residence. While using art and sacred traditions to explore social and economic justice issues, the Carnival Village also serves as a demonstration site for alternative methods of energy, waste management, transportation, and food systems.
Learning to Live the Watershed Way: Kickstarting an Eco-Faith Movement
Taos Initiative for Life Together – Taos, NM
$12,500 was awarded to the Taos Initiative for Life Together (TiLT) initiative to incubate a “Watershed Way” movement connecting diverse communities along the Upper Rio Grande in the advancement of economic and environmental justice. Based on Wendell Berry’s quote “Do unto others downstream as you would have those upstream do to you,” the Watershed Way philosophy aims to create a parallel society existing within the dominant consumer culture of North America, living out the values of community, low ecological impact, radical nonviolence in the Anabaptist tradition, service, and Sabbath economics.
Specific goals and strategies of the initiative include a number of prongs designed to define and disseminate the “Watershed Way” including establishing a Taos eco-faith service corps, creating and implementing an eco-faith training curriculum, working with K-8 public schools, developing a TiLT demonstration house and “life laboratory,” working with secular coalitions on watershed health, and more.
Crossing the Line: Women of Anabaptist Tradition Encounter Boarders and Boundaries
Eastern Mennonite University – Harrisonburg, VA
$5,000 was awarded towards to help fund the “Crossing the Line: Women of Anabaptist Tradition Encounter Boarders and Boundaries” conference at Eastern Mennonite University, to be held in June of 2017. The conference aims to examine and make more visible the experience of a diverse range of women who claim multiple Anabaptist faith communities – each of which has traditionally tolerated, practiced, and even justified gender oppression with theological rationales. Organizers view this conference as building on the success of “The Quiet in the Land? Women of Anabaptist Traditions in Historical Perspective,” a gathering which took place in Millersville, PA in 1995 and which resulted in the publication Strangers at Home: Amish and Mennonite Women in History.
As a primary principle, the event is striving for inclusion and diversity, with commitments to equal listening to professors, writers, artists, and non-scholarly gender workers. The grant from the Just Pax Fund was addressed specifically to assist with funds for the international travel of women from the global south.
Faith in Action
Interfaith Association of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County – Harrisonburg, VA
$3,250 was awarded to the Faith in Action initiative in 2016. Faith in Action was a 2015 JustPax Fund grant recipient as well, then to build a network of Covenant Congregations to identify justice issues of local concern and to move collectively towards systemic change for justice. The group included more than a dozen different participating congregations and focused on building communication and consensus within the region’s faith community on how to address justice issues collectively and effectively.
In 2017, the JustPax Fund awarded the group a second, smaller grant as matching funds to provide anti-racism training in continuation and support of the groups ongoing mission.