Tag Archives: nonviolence

Senior Anita Buitrago Interns For Mission Community Council

photo by Cass Krughoff/Foghorn

photo by Cass Krughoff/Foghorn

The Mission District is a neighborhood home to artistic murals and cultural cuisine, a direct contrast to the established homelessness and street crimes for which it is also known. Mission resident and USF senior Anita Buitrago is well accustomed to the colorful culture and violent downsides of the neighborhood, but was never aware of the daily contributions made to improve community life until she landed an internship that opened her eyes to her own backyard.

Buitrago acquired the opportunity early in the spring semester to intern for the Mission Community Council (MiCoCo), an umbrella organization for 25 Mission community organizations that work together to offer programs to families, youth, working residents, immigrants and the Latino community. As an intern, she is assigned various tasks updating and emailing weekly newsletters, updating the organization’s website anything that improves the fluidity of MiCoCo’s operations.

“It’s not a typical office job where you sit at your computer all day,” Buitrago said. “We go to meetings and do different things,” including attending and supporting MiCoCo’s weekly meetings to provide community members information and hold forums on neighborhood concerns.

Within MiCoCo’s building, programs are offered that help people find jobs, provide students with after-school programs, hold classes to learn English or attain one’s GED, and even provide an accessible computer lab to the community. Encountering community members on a daily basis, Buitrago said, makes her have a different perspective on the neighborhood she grew up in.

“I lived there my whole life but I was never involved with the community because I felt like I was sheltered,” she said, “and I’ve noticed before that there’s a lot of gang violence, but the Mission nowadays is lot more justified…its a different community.”

The main reason Buitrago decided to intern for MiCoCo was because it directly helps the community in which she grew up in. “It’s where I live, and now that I’m older I’m getting to know the real, positive things that are going on in the neighborhood.”

But acquiring the job was somewhat unintentional, she said. With only retail and office experience under her belt, she applied to a couple of internships, not knowing whether she would receive a response from any of them. When MiCoCo contacted her, she said it was somewhat of a surprise.

“I was really interested just because it involves the community,” she said, “to make good connections within my neighborhood.” And the experience thus far has been a rewarding one, she said, exposing her to political issues that she was not aware of before.

“Now that I’m a part of it, I know now that’s what I wanted to do,” she said, “get that [political] experience.”

One of MiCoCo’s projects that Buitrago helped put together was the “One Mission Peace March” on Jan. 28, a rally intended to spread messages of love and peace to Mission youth by advocating non-violence as a way of life in the community. It also highlighted the efforts of organizations to prevent crime, as well their fight against the Mayor’s Office for cutting the funding to programs that serve the youth in the Mission. “I was on the committee looking up facts for the youth,” Buitrago said, referring to the poster signs that displayed youth and crime facts that rally participants hold. “Whenever they needed help I helped them, making calls or faxes,” she said.

The internship above all has given her networking opportunities, the chance to meet other people and find out their life stories, and find out what they went through to get where they are now. “The people I work with, they really love what they do,” she said, “having this job reminds me to keep in mind that, if I’m not happy with what I’m doing, then why do it at all? But I’ve learned that I really love what I do.”

To find more information on MiCoCo, visit: http://www.micocosf.org/

Peace Festival Attracts and Inspires USF Students

USF alumnus and Power to the Peaceful Fesitval founder Michael Franti performed at the 11th annual Power to the Peaceful festival, which promotes nonviolence and peace.  Photo by Miranda Spears/Foghorn

USF alumnus and Power to the Peaceful Fesitval founder Michael Franti performed at the 11th annual Power to the Peaceful festival, which promotes nonviolence and peace. Photo by Miranda Spears/Foghorn

Some 70,000 people, including many USF students, gathered in Golden Gate Park on a cold, rainy Saturday, Sept. 12,  to celebrate diversity and promote peace at the 11th annual Power to the Peaceful concert in Golden Gate Park.

As the sun came out, vendors, non-profit organizations, musical acts and yoga groups all began to gather in the middle of the park at Speedway Meadow to begin celebrating their cause. By noon, USF students packed onto Muni buses, set off on bikes, and laced up tennis shoes for the 2-mile walk to the park. Some of them carried guitars, others wore tie-dye and perched picnic blankets under their arms. Still others brought nothing but passion for peace, justice, and love.

“The mission of our festival is to inspire people to serve,” said Michael Franti, the creator of San Francisco’s annual Power to the Peaceful festival. The festival began 11 years ago when Franti put together a concert as a means to unite pacifists and build an anti-war community. After Sept. 11, 2001, Franti brought a new focus to the festival, using the terrorist attacks as a call for peace, instead of war. Franti mingled with a crowd of thousands, shook hands and took time to answer questions and give out hugs.  His music has developed an international following and his passion for peace continues to inspire.

But this is not just Franti’s show. People came to the festival for all sorts of attractions. Lindsey Wreden, a freshman at USF said, “It’s just a great day to enjoy the company of friends and focus on others in a culture that is otherwise so self-centered.” The day started with free yoga classes; people came early to lay out their blankets on the field and claim their space for the concert.

The music varied from reggae musicians like Sly and Robbie to Jamaican singer Cherine Anderson. Vendors selling hemp clothing, handmade jewelry, and political bumper stickers set up booths down the middle aisle of the festival. Food vendors sold everything vegan eats to Indian curry to cookies and ice cream. Non-profit organizations surrounded the stage area, all sending out a similar message: choose compassion over hate.

Around 3 p.m., Alanis Morissette came on stage and the crowd went wild, singing along to every word. She performed for about 45 minutes, chatting with the audience between songs, and thanking everyone for taking the time to support peace. By 4 p.m., Michael Franti took the stage. “Reach out a hand to somebody who needs a hand, and reach out a heart to somebody torn apart,” he sang. Throughout the concert, Franti made pleas for the crowd to take a stand for non-violence, and the crowd responded with cheers and shouts of support. Some fans even broke down in tears. USF freshman Kathleen Quinn said, “It was beautiful seeing such a diverse group of people all working in unity.”