This week, DC and much of the US was buzzing with the presence of Pope Francis, tuning in to his speeches to the Congress and the UN General Assembly. This Pope has become the most popular in years, provoking dialogue among both Catholics and non-Catholics. His common sense and humane approach to many social issues that have allowed many to feel included again in the church.
Pope Francis recently made headlines when he announced that parish priests would be permitted to forgive women for abortions if they show "a contrite heart." A positive step to be sure, but one which reveals the hard line the Church maintains, even under Francis, on the question of a woman's right to choose. In Nicaragua, where abortion (even therapeutic abortion) has been illegal since 2007.
In the fall of 2014 we had two important conferences which spearheaded activities for 2015. Both followed the same participatory model. First was the goat summit: on the first day we had 12-15 staff and leaders who planned out four stations covering goat food, goat parks, goat wellness, and milking goats. On the next two days about 40 people participated and rotated among the four stations and drew up action plans.
2015 has been a productive year for our partners in Haiti as they plant trees throughout the region of Gros Morne. In addition to planting in the model forest on Tet Mon, our partners distribute trees to families and schools for dispersed planting, improving the overall health of the soil. For the last several years, we have been encouraging the planting of fruit trees which have multiple benefits: shade and decreased soil erosion as well as increased access to nutrition from fruit and a source of income for families who sell excess fruit.
Last year the Quixote Center partnered with the Federation of Campesinos (Fedicamp) to construct irrigation systems for smallholder farmers in northern Nicaragua. Construction and training happened last winter, during the dusty dry season. Farmers were selected from among the communities who are members of the Federation, and focused on those families able to put multiple acres under cultivation, and who agreed to contribute seeds to Fedicamp's growing network of organic community seed banks.
This week, the pope's encyclical on the challenge of climate change was leaked by the media. While the final version will be formally shared on June 18, the content of the draft is certainly indicative of the Pope's tone in addressing this global issue.
One of the great strengths of the progressive movements in the 1960s was their willingness to collaborate and work towards a shared goal. It was no coincidence that the civil rights movement celebrated many wins, alongside progress in the women's rights and gay rights movements. The victories gained by all these groups actually resulted in the neo-liberal pushback that sparked in the late 1970s and continues to the present.
Educators in Haiti are scrambling to feed their students after a shocking and surprise announcement from Port au Prince. Just weeks before school terms began last September the government announced that only national schools would be eligible to receive food aid for student lunches. The announcement reversed a long policy of providing school lunch assistance to all students, including those in parochial and private schools.
The Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center is a sea of green right now. That's because the technicians have successfully planted and nurtured a new crop of young trees for distribution to local farmers, the Green Schools Network, and the model forest on Tet Mon. The trees in these images are scheduled for planting between June and August of this year, when the supply of water should be most consistent.
The roots of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1993) were a surprisingly bipartisan effort to offer protection for Native American religious traditions in particular. The purpose of that act was to prevent government from burdening individuals ability to practice their religion even if that burden resulted from a generally applicable rule.
The following is a letter to President Obama written by Noam Chomsky, Eva Golinger, and Miguel Tinker-Salas, and endorsed by the Quixote Center among other organizations and prominent individuals.
Dear Mr. President: