Friday, January 23, 2015

Reminder: It's Time to Become an Action Corps City Organizer!

Hello Everyone!

Let's talk about Action Corps: it is awesome. Period. No two ways about it. And luckily, it is once again that great time to join this amazing group of individuals as an Organizer!

Check out our page for more information about our locations in 16 different cities, the job description, and the application! And look below at what other Organizers have said about their experiences...

"This is leadership in practice. You can't just read a book on leadership. You have to put it into practice." --Jill Mizell, Researcher, New York

"Oxfam Action Corps has given me a ton of confidence... Gaining knowledge and being able to speak to people about the issues." --Amy L., Business Operations Analyst, Des Moines

"This has become one of the best parts of my life... I can't express enough how satisfying it is to be organizing with people who are just as committed and dependable and passionate. It is so great to have the support from the Oxfam America staff, and I've been really impressed by their accessibility, competency and friendliness." --Isaac E., Educator, New York City

Ready to join them? Apply to be an organizer or if you aren't ready yet, consider volunteering with any Action Corps in efforts to help Oxfam fight hunger and social injustices! Remember, Oxfam is here to Right the Wrong so come join us! 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Local action. Global change. Become an Oxfam volunteer!

It's time for annual recruitment of volunteers for the Oxfam Action Corps. If you are a new or returning volunteer, sign up is now available online - apply now. Applications are due on February 1.
For current organizers, I've pasted a letter from Brian below. Please feel free to copy and spread the word.

Letter from Brian:
Each day, I work with Oxfam volunteers, supporting community efforts to create global change through local action. Now is your chance to get involved!
Our Oxfam Action Corps volunteer leaders are based in 16 cities across the country and, in just the last year, they have helped change the world by:
  • Delivering reports and petitions to big food companies like Kellogg and General Mills to push them to stand up for farmers rights and fight climate change;
  • Visiting Congressional offices – in DC and in their hometowns – to advocate for poverty-fighting foreign assistance, lifesaving reforms to food aid policy, and more;
  • Mobilizing marchers at the People's Climate March in New York City;
  • Hosting Oxfam America Hunger Banquets, World Food Day Dinners, and other events to raise awareness about the global fight against poverty, hunger, and injustice;
  • Recruiting hundreds of new Oxfam supporters at concerts, music festivals, and other events;
  • ...and so much more.
We're looking for skilled volunteers of various ages and backgrounds for our free national training in Washington D.C., April 24-28, 2015. We also provide online training and opportunities to meet other volunteers in your city. If you have some organizing experience and a passion for global justice, we want you! This is a great opportunity to develop your leadership skills with support from Oxfam staff and to take meaningful action locally to help change the world. Apply now >>
Our volunteers include people of all ages and backgrounds, including moms and dads, professors and students, nurses, pastors, bank tellers, tech experts, retirees, food workers, musicians and, yes, even rocket scientists! Here's what a few of them have said about their experiences:
"This is leadership in practice. You can't just read a book on leadership. You have to put it into practice." – Jill Mizell, Researcher, New York
"Oxfam Action Corps has given me a ton of confidence...Gaining knowledge and being able to speak to people about the issues." – Amy L., Business Operations Analyst, Des Moines
"This has become one of the best parts of my life...I can't express enough how satisfying it is to be organizing with people who are just as committed and dependable and passionate. It is so great to have the support from the Oxfam America staff, and I've been really impressed by their accessibility, competency and friendliness." – Isaac E., Educator, New York City
If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me.
Thanks so much, and we looking forward to hearing from you.
Brian Rawson
Senior Advisor, Community Organizing
Oxfam America

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year activity

The end of one year and start of the next holds significance in many cultures across the world. As a child I enjoyed the television broadcast of New Year's celebrations as midnight occurred in sequential time zones. I also enjoy the start of a new year as a time to reflect on the last year and prepare for the next.

Recently the NYC Oxfam Action Corps held a potluck meeting with a New Year's activity. The post below was written by Elizabeth to share this activity with other Action Corps volunteers. 

NYC Resolutions

Submitted by Elizabeth Tillman

As the year draws to a close, it is important to look back on 2014 while also looking ahead to 2015. At our end of the year potluck celebration, our NYC Action Corps members were asked to do just that. They each reflected on this past year and took turns writing down their favorite Oxfam memories and highlights from 2014. They then set 2015 Oxfam Resolutions, all the things they’d like to either accomplish themselves (i.e. attend more meetings, be more involved this year) or help the group to accomplish (i.e. recruit more members).  We were then able to step back and see everyone’s praise recreate and illustrate the successful year that we’ve had, reminding people of all that has been accomplished and helping them to remember some points and events they may have forgotten. It’s our own Action Corps yearbook, a collage of what impacted us the most over the past twelve months. But no reflection would be complete without next turning attentions to the future. Each 2015 goal came together to help us map out a coming year, that hopefully, will far surpass this closing year. And even as the chalkboard is erased and our potluck celebration becomes just another Oxfam event past, we’ll have those highlights and goals to keep us on track and remind us of the work that we want to accomplish for Oxfam.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Connecting global and local issues

One of the challenges for Oxfam Action Corps outreach is to bring focus to the issues of hunger, poverty, and food at the global level. One approach is to make connections between local food-related advocacy and Oxfam's global work. An example of this was written recently by guest blogger Samantha Wittrock on the Oxfam Action Corps Des Moines blog (below). Samantha shares her experience at the Women, Food and Agriculture Network’s Annual Conference. This conference had many sessions highlighting the important roles women have in local and national concerns regarding food, agriculture, and the environment. These are the same important roles women around the world share.
On November 14th and 15th, I was fortunate to attend the Women, Food and Agriculture Network’s Annual Conference in Fairfield, Iowa. As I am interested in every aspect of the food system and my mom is considering a venture into sustainable farming, it was the perfect opportunity for us to meet and learn about women who are already deeply involved in this movement.

Read more on the Des Moines OAC blog here.

Monday, December 8, 2014

One voice can make a change

One of the purposes of this blog is to share personal experiences and stories of Oxfam Action Corps volunteers. I found this post written by Christine to be a fitting follow-up to the previous post on the collective power of the people.

International Women’s Day

Submitted by Christine Ellersick

I joined Oxfam in the belief that any person, including empowered women, can create change in this world. Oxfam Boston’s International Women’s Day celebration is always an inspiring event, but this year, it was especially wonderful. First of all, I had the honor of introducing Emiliana Aligaesha, an Oxfam “Female Food Hero” who had founded a successful farmer’s cooperative in Northwest Tanzania. She taught herself to farm and helped found Kaderes Peasant Development, a cooperative that supports hundreds of small-holder farmers. It was an honor to meet her, to speak with her and to present her with the Boston Oxfam Action Corps’ “International Women’s Day Women’s Leadership Award”.

As part of the celebration, a Hunger Banquet was held. If you’re unfamiliar with a Hunger Banquet, it works this way: everyone present is arbitrarily separated into 3 groups. There is a High-Income Group, a Middle-Income Group and a Low-Income Group. Food is divvied up according to your income group. The High-Income Group is served at a neatly set table with fancy, fabulous food on good dishware. The Middle-Income Group sits in chairs without tables; they serve themselves fairly good food, like beans, rice and drinks. The Low-Income Group is served only plain rice and some water that’s been colored with food coloring to make it look dirty.

I have always harbored a secret wish that someone would turn the Hunger Banquet upside down, but as an organizer, I had always felt like this couldn’t be me. As an organizer, I ensure that people follow the rules. 

As someone who wasn’t raised with great means, this always made me feel uncomfortable and conflicted. Here I was – one of the Hunger Banquet event organizers – and I always wanted to subvert the process. The point of the exercise is that people grow to understand that it’s arbitrary where you ended up in this world, and staying within your assigned “Income Group” gives you the experience of understanding the situation of “less fortunate” people.  I had always wanted to stand up and say, “We’re not going to take this. Let’s just share.” But I felt that I couldn’t.

But this day was different. This was the day that I had been waiting for, after being involved in many, many Oxfam Hunger Banquets. After the rules were explained by one of the organizers, something happened that I will think about for a long time. 

A woman stood up, voice shaking just a little: “We don’t have to follow those rules. We can all join together and share with one another. Let’s vote on it. Raise your hand if you think we should all share.”  

Some people didn’t raise their hands, but the majority did. This was unprecedented; perhaps people were startled. This brave woman, whose name I never learned, taught me a lesson and inspired me. She was expressing what Oxfam America and the Boston Oxfam Action Corps truly stand for: equality and justice. And so we all ate, together, except for some of the people at the High-Income table, who had the really good stuff. But, isn’t that always the way?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Power of the People: Calling All Oxfam Action Corps

Are you ready to be a part of people power?

For the first time in the history of the Oxfam Action Corps, all Action Corps cities, organizers, and volunteers are joining together for a big action. We decided to challenge ourselves by showing our collective power for change by raising money for Oxfam America's fund for the Ebola crisis. We have less than a month to raise at least $11,000.

For me personally, this idea of each person giving a little to collectively make a difference really resonates with me. Not only is it the reason why I joined my local Action Corps, it's also why this year I decided to make a donation each month to a different organization or cause. Some months I decided to give to one of my go-to organizations, while other months I added funds to a friend's fundraising activity (a run or bicycle ride) or helped a friend with medical or funeral expenses.

What excites me about the Oxfam Action Corps' challenge is how this power of the people act displays the collective voice of concerned individuals and shows that working together creates change. Often volunteers of the Action Corps see small improvements in their local communities for building awareness to global poverty and hunger. But the reality is that together the Action Corps cities make a substantial impact, including effects on governmental and company policies at national and international levels. And this challenge to raise money for the Ebola response is an opportunity to show we are a united and powerful force.

I will be making my donation for the month of December to Oxfam Action Corps' collective action for the Ebola response. Will you join me by adding your voice and chipping in whatever you can?