The official blog of the Social Justice Living and Learning Community at the University of Denver. We're scholar-activists, working in community, to effect change in our world.
This winter, groups of Social Justice LLC students have embarked (or continued) on projects aimed at advancing social change. Here are a few of the project profiles:
The Food Justice Group:
We have talked to the University of Denver’s food service and the local Action Center in order to set up a food program. However, we discovered that our University already has a food rescue program in place and so after talking with the directors of the Action Center, we reevaluated our stance and are now planning a program that could benefit school students or low-income/homeless in our community. Our goal is to establish a food bank for these entities. We are going to talk to local businesses around the University in order to establish relations and conduct a program in which we would minimize food “waste”. Part of our goal is to educate the general public about where exactly this food goes, and what we’re doing to feed the people with the resources that we already have—recycling what we have already produced to satisfy this basic human right.
As human beings, we have a right to survive and to live during our pursuit of happiness. That being said, one aspect of human nature is to eat, and in that we are each equally given this right to have access to food. People are going hungry because there is not “access” to food, and many people cannot afford it. Food has become a luxury, in that it has become something that the “poor” do not have enough privilege to have access to food. We are trying to spread awareness on these issues, and how we are able to feed everyone on this planet without over-production and over-stimulus of the food industry. Instead, people need to be educated on what exactly nutrition is and how to treat it in that it can be accessed in wide varieties.
Our group is working to establish a gender-neutral bathroom in our residence hall, 1-3 Johnson of Johnson-MacFarlane. The establishment of this bathroom will consist of the converting of the second female restroom on our floor into a restroom open to all gender identities. So far, we have drawn up petitions, gathered information to educate the public, and organized an open-forum meeting to allow our peers to ask questions and raise their voices about this goal. Following the open-forum meeting, we will be doing door-to-door canvassing to obtain approval and spread education on a personal, one-on-one level. Our final challenge in this particular endeavor will be to gain the support of our university’s Board of Trustees.
Our action aims to create gender-equality. We hope to eliminate the systematic and institutional perpetuation of assumed gender identity and the oppression that accompanies it. Upon achieving our goal, we will go further to extend our goal to other colleges across Colorado with the ultimate goal of educating people and changing the way that our society addresses gender. We hope to create a culture of openness and safety.
The Social Justice Podcast Team:
The main goal of the Social Justice Podcast is to develop a popular format that will educate and raise awareness about social justice issues affecting the community. We have created a project that is expanding into different mediums. We intend to use these different mediums to promote awareness and achievements in the social justice realm. We will be doing this by involving the entire community of DU to promote different issues that may be unfamiliar to the average person.
Our vision will encourage participation, education, and awareness. The first steps to a more just world revolve around these three values. In order to create a more just world every person needs to be educated, aware, and be willing to participate with social justice issues. Our hope is that our podcast will serve as a vehicle for these values and work to try to promote them in people.
Stay tuned for updates and more information about the various projects the Social Justice LLC students are involving themselves in!
Every year since 2002, the Social Justice LLC has traveled to Balarat Outdoor Education Center, in Jamestown, CO, for our annual fall retreat. This year, the Colorado floods made Balarat inaccessible by road, and thus we improvised. Instead, we journeyed just a few miles north, into downtown Denver for an urban retreat.
Students spent the first morning seeking out various social services in downtown Denver, then debriefed this enlightening activity over lunch. They also spent time getting to know one another better and establishing their vision as a community, through story circles and activities exploring privilege and oppression within our own lives.
The Social Justice LLC put on its second annual colloquium: Cross-Talk 2. The Cross-Talk colloquium brings students and faculty together with Denver activists and artists to find common ground and opportunities to work for social justice together.
The day began with presentations from the LLC students, who presented the social justice action plans they were writing for class. The we spread out across Sturm Hall for constructive conversations about an array of social justice issues, joined by folks from the Colorado Progressive Coalition, the Saint Francis Center, the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, and elsewhere. The day ended with spoken word poetry and musical performances at the Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site.
Everyone’s looking forward to Cross-Talk 3!
This winter, the Social Justice LLC participated in a Service-Learning Workshop at The GrowHaus, a food justice organization located in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood. Students discussed the interactions between the food, industrialization, and poverty with GrowHaus staff, and spent some time assisting with GrowHaus projects, learning about hydroponics and the challenges of running a non-profit along the way! Learn more about The GrowHaus here.
We were honored to host a dinner with social justice activist, scholar, and teacher Dr. Vincent Harding. Dr. Harding and his wife Rosemarie traveled throughout the American South in the 1960s, working with civil rights activists there to end segregation and imagine new forms of democracy. During those years, Dr. Harding drafted some of King’s most powerful speeches, notably “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence.” Since then, Dr. Harding has taught at universities across the country, including the Iliff School of Theology, and served as the director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Center and the Institute of the Black World. He continues to work for social justice via the Veterans of Hope Project.
At our dinner, Dr. Harding led a discussion about Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” challenging us to think about what the idea of social justice means and about the legacy of the struggle for it, and helping us to connect our own histories and our own aspirations to the history of the Southern-based, Black-led Movement for Freedom and Democracy that Dr. Harding and Dr. King helped to lead. It was an inspiring conversation and humbling, and we’re grateful to Dr. Harding for visiting with us and for all his work on behalf of the cause of social justice.
This October, Social Justice LLC students piled into a minibus at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning (ok, 9 am), armed with bagels and frappucinos, and headed up to the foothills outside of Boulder for an overnight retreat in rustic cabins.
Students challenged themselves and practiced teamwork on a high ropes course, where many students were able to accomplish much more than they anticipated with the help and encouragement of their co-LLCers (see photo evidence, bottom left). They addressed some difficult social justice issues through facilitated conversations, critically examined their own identities, and teamed up to prepare delicious non-cafeteria meals for one another, choreographing their cooking though kitchen dance parties.
The Social Justice LLC fall retreat solidified students’ sense of community while helping students to think more deeply and critically about their role in the Social Justice LLC.