Workshops at Westchester Social Forum 2020


Poor People's Campaign

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


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

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

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 Fight For Reproductive Rights and Health Care Access

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


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:


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.

How to Talk about Israel/Palestine 

Led by Beth Schuman with Combatants for Peace


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

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.

Restorative Justice in Westchester County (description forthcoming)

The Solidarity Economy (description forthcoming)

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