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Workshops at Westchester Social Forum 2020


Poor People's Campaign  2:15pm

Willie Baptist is a formerly homeless father of three who came out of the Watts uprisings and the Black Student Movement. He has 50 years of experience educating and organizing amongst the poor and dispossessed including working as a lead organizer with the United Steelworkers, as an educator and organizer with the National Union of the Homeless and as the Education Director of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union for 10 years, and as a lead organizer and educator for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.  In this workshop, he will share his work with the Poor People's Campaign in challenging systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and our nation's distorted religious nationalism. 


Climate and Conflict Refugees: What we can learn from Westchester County's Native American History  2:15pm


In this workshop, Native American historian and descendant of the Mi'kmaq nation, Evan Pritchard will guide us through a history of Native Westchester County, including the migrations of the Weequaskeck of the Yonkers area, the Amawalk and Tenkitakes who moved from Southern Westchester to Northern Westchester, the Quarropus of White Plains who moved to Wickerscreek to avoid conflict with the English and a northern tribe.  In each case the western tribes were warmly welcoming the conflict and climate refugees.  What can we learn from Native American history to better prepare ourselves for future migrations of people due to conflict and climate change?


Moving Beyond Politics and Positions – How to engage in productive dialogue when there is controversy and polarization  2:15pm

Name an issue and there are multiple opinions and strong emotions – immigration, climate change, healthcare, housing, criminal justice, the economy, abortion, and the Middle East are some examples. 


This interactive workshop will engage participants to practice listening and coalition building skills with people who have diverse points of view.  Come prepared to connect and practice using issues that are close to your heart.


Offered by Stephanie Low, the National Coalition Building Institute

 (Be prepared to practice skills that can be applied to activism and conversations with neighbors and friends.)


Housing Crisis in Westchester County  2:15pm

There is a housing crisis in this country and Westchester County has not been immune. Every day, people are evicted, displaced and pushed out of their homes due to lack of protections for many renters. The #HomesGuaranteed platform by the HJ4A (Housing Justice for All Coalition) has a platform to address this issue in our state. Please join us to learn about the housing issues that many low income folks experience in Westchester County and how this platform can address them though universal rent control, an investment in social housing and taxing the rich. Local organizations including Make the Road NY, Community Voices Heard and VOCAL NY will be part of the panel. 

The Benefits and Challenges of Running a Food Cooperative  3:45pm


Fran Sanhueza, former General Manager of the Bushwick Food Cooperative, will talk about the challenges of running a small cooperative business in New York City. Bushwick is a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.  Fran will discuss how they have dealt with this, understanding how cooperatives can be spaces that deal with issues of access and inequality, and understanding our role within the community. Hear about the Bushwick Food Cooperative’s struggles, accomplishments, and challenges that they faced over the years, how they dealt with the aftermath of the fire that damaged their store in 2019, the lessons learned from that experience and what’s next for them on their road to reopening.  Originally from Santiago, Chile, Fran came to New York to attend The New School in 2013 where she obtained her BS in Food Studies; many of her projects focused largely on food policy and social justice. 

The Fight For Reproductive Rights and Health Care Access  2:15pm

The fight for reproductive rights and health care access, particularly over the past few years, has escalated, with the impact of changing policies and access disproportionately impacting communities with lower income, people of color and young people. As various fights continue, young people, specifically, are getting lost in the conversation as their right to sex education that is comprehensive as a tenet of sexual, reproductive, and overall health is overlooked or actively resisted. Currently, New York is behind most states, in terms of providing sex education requirements/guidelines, by only requiring HIV education for young people in public schools. The negative effects of this can be seen in the high rates of STIs, worse mental health outcomes and increased rates of unprotected sex in the high school population. Join Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic to learn about sex education advocacy, the effects of a comprehensive sex education program and the fight for reproductive rights for all.

Healing in the Food System: Building Equity, Increasing Quality with local farmer Doug DeCandia  2:15pm


For 500 years, colonization has spread across this continent like a sickness, bringing with it ideologies of duality, exploitation and war that have seeped into the core of how we, as people, relate to each other and to the land. These ideologies have become the oppressive systems and institutions that surround us, none of which existed on this continent prior to European colonization.

To restore balance in this country and in the world, a change in how we grow food, and how we relate to each other and to the land, is necessary. This change not only necessitates a transformation in our systems, but also a transformation within ourselves, and within our movements.  Join a discussion on what this transformation can look like, and how the Bionutrient Food community can support those who have been most marginalized by the long history of colonialism and white supremacy in this country.

Connect the Dots on Environmental Health, Sustainability, and Climate Change and Move into Action:  3:45pm


The burning of fossil fuels pollutes our air and water, accelerates our climate crisis and harms our pets, wildlife and health.  They are also the main building blocks in the petrochemicals in many products we routinely use with damaging impacts. Learn how you and your community can make meaningful change right now using environmentally preferable products and practices at home, in schools and in our municipalities that will help protect our health, our environment and our climate. 


Ellen Weininger is the Director of Educational Outreach at Grassroots Environmental Education, which is a science-based environmental health nonprofit working in consultation with a network of leading medical and scientific experts. The mission of Grassroots is to educate the public about the health risks of common environmental exposures and provide resources, solution tools and awarding-winning programs that serve school systems, local and state governments, health professionals, organizations and individuals nationwide.

Anti-Bullying Workshop: Stereotypes  2:15pm

This is a workshop about stereotypes.  High school students who are connected to the Westchester County Youth Councils (WCYC) of Family Services of Westchester in Westchester developed it and will lead this workshop.  They believe that most existing anti-bullying interventions are ineffective because they do not address the root causes of bullying.  One of the root causes of bullying is the popularity of stereotypes which normalize hurtful statements about vulnerable groups of people.  This workshop will explore the power dynamics and historical situations that have created and sustain these stereotypes.  Participants will explore and think critically about the stereotypes that often bolster bullying.

Decommissioning 101: What you need to know about the Closure of Indian Point  3:45pm

Presented by Courtney Williams on behalf of IPSEC (Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition) and SEnRG (Safe Energy Rights Group).


Indian Point 2 shuts down in less than one month. Indian Point 3 shuts down next year. That's when the real work begins.  Decommissioning is the process by which a nuclear power plant is dismantled and the property restored to it original state. It's a multi-billion dollar process, and where there's money, there's greed. We will cover all the angles so you leave with an understanding of who the players are, what is at stake, when to take action, and how you can participate to ensure the health and safety of our community and environment.  As a cancer researcher with a PhD in molecular biology raising a family beside the hydrofracked pipeline route, Courtney Williams has been a leading activist who is deeply concerned about the threats that pipeline infrastructure pose to health and safety. Expanded compressor stations, needed to repressurize and vent gas along the route, emit more benzene, volatile organic compounds and methane, all linked to health problems, from cancer to asthma and heart disease.  New York State banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing because of the health risks it poses, but it can’t ban infrastructure that carry fracked gas through the state. Westchester County already has an F in air quality from the American Lung Association; we don’t need even more pollution in our backyards.

How to Talk about Israel/Palestine 

Led by Beth Schuman with Combatants for Peace  3:45pm


In today’s climate of intense polarization, how does one talk about Israel and Palestine? Often this is a difficult topic to approach, even within families - not to mention on the political stage. This workshop will walk you through tools and techniques that can be used to talk about this difficult topic, and introduce you to the stories of former fighters - on both sides - who have managed to put down their weapons and engage in meaningful dialogue and joint action, finding a way to work together, despite differences.


In 2006, Israeli and Palestinian former combatants, people who had taken an active role in the conflict, laid down their weapons and established Combatants for Peace. The egalitarian, bi-national, grassroots movement was founded on the belief that the cycle of violence can only be broken when Israelis and Palestinians join forces. Together they work to end the Israeli occupation and bring dignity, equality - and peace - to both peoples. Combatants for Peace is the only organization, worldwide, in which former fighters on both sides of an active conflict have laid down their weapons, choosing to work together in pursuit of a better future. They have been twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, 2017 & 2018. 


Gun Violence Workshop led by local area high school students  3:45pm

Every day, 47 innocent American children are shot. Every year, 17,155 kids will contend with bullets rather than books. Gun violence is felt all over America, but people of color account for the majority of victims. Although 90% of Americans support gun reforms the issue has become exceptionally polarized and  most attempts at reform are blocked. The time for action is now. We, the people, must make change.


Learn how YOU can help make gun safety legislation a reality. We will discuss how to pressure legislators, conduct community forums, organize grassroots organizations to spread the word, and get voters motivated about this issue.

A Walk in My Shoes: Striving for Racial Equity  3:45pm

The Westchester Youth Alliance and the Peekskill NAACP Youth Committee have joined together to combat racism through communication, understanding our history and building relationships. Racial divide happens in our everyday life. People of color experience implicit and explicit bias, as they are entangled into the justice system and our divided social construct. We are separated by the system but have a duty to work through life together. Awareness lies not only in the data but in understanding and changing how we treat our neighbor after we have received the information. Knowing better grants us the option to do better. Join us to learn more about our work and how we may all be subconsciously perpetuating racism. We will safely take you through a thought-provoking and eye-opening interactive activity and guide you through a meaningful and courageous conversation.

NY Caring Majority Campaign   3:45pm

This workshop is for everyone who cares about families, home health care, and social justice. The documentary “Care” (35 minutes) is a moving, award-winning film that follows three home care workers, Laurie, Vilma and Delores, who are lifelines for their clients and the clients’ families. It examines both the plight of these overworked, underpaid, and dedicated workers and the financial and emotional drain on the families needing their services. The film will be followed by a discussion with community leaders on the NY Caring Majority Campaign, a growing movement for a just long-term care system.   

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