Homeward Bound

Phew….. After a long and fulfilling trip, I’m finally on my way home

And as I think about being able to sleep in my own bed tomorrow night, I am also pondering the idea of “home.

Kazu & Jeremiah

Kazu & Jeremiah

Right now, I am on my way back from San Diego, where I just had dinner with my friend and Peace Warrior Jeremiah. Jeremiah was one of our inside trainers at Soledad State Prison, where we just recently surpassed 500 men who have gone through our workshops.

After helping us lead many of those workshops in the tail end of his 20 years of incarceration, Jeremiah came home in January!!! I’ve been talking to him on the phone regularly since his release, but this was the first time I’ve gotten to see him and give him a hug. And it felt awesome.

Jeremiah talked to me about how important it is to have positive programs inside the system. Programs like Barrios Unidos, Kingian Nonviolence and other opportunities that allow men to go deep and transform out of a culture of violence.

Will you donate $10, $25 or $50 to help us sustain and grow these types of programs inside, and continue to support men like Jeremiah?

It’s been amazing keeping in touch with Jeremiah, hearing the joy in his voice, and now seeing the joy on his face as we sat down over some barbeque. Hearing about what he has been able to do now that he’s home – spend time with his family, enjoy the sun and the ocean, share his inspiring story to “at-risk” youth in the San Diego area – was so inspiring and a great way to end my trip.

We are looking forward to him coming up to Oakland to help facilitate our two-day Kingian Nonviolence workshop in July!!!

Oxnard Nonviolent Organizing Workshop

Oxnard Nonviolent Organizing Workshop

After an amazing two-day workshop with new (and one old) friends in Oxnard, I also got to visit some friends in Los Angeles. Paul Engler, co-author of the new book, “This Is an Uprising,” (highly recommended reading for everyone) and I talked about the need to build nonviolent movements. Lori, Kingian trainer who not only trains but spreads nonviolence through her incredible music, played me some of her new songs which are about to be released. And Vishnu, who I met through nonviolent communication work, and I had great conversations about diversity, conflict and more.

I feel blessed to be surrounded by so many incredible peacemakers, each contributing to Beloved Community in their own ways. And I feel blessed that each of you are part of that community!!!

Paul's book "This Is An Uprising"

Paul’s book “This Is An Uprising”

We are still running our three-week fundraising campaign, and I will continue to send short updates as our work continues. I will be back in San Quentin tomorrow, our work in the county jails continues this week, and I am excited to speak at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center for the first time after another two-day workshop in Soledad prison.

Please consider supporting our fundraising campaign by donating $10, $15 or $25. Your contribution will go towards supporting all of our programs, on the inside working with men like Jeremiah, and on the outside supporting communities like the one I was just at in Oxnard, with new activists learning how to build powerful movements.

Thank you all for everything that you do in the name of peace!!!

Until next time,

Kazu Haga
Coordinator

Budding New Activists Build Emerging Movements For Justice

A few months ago, I received a call from a young woman named Gaberila about the possibility of us coming down to her region in Southern California to do a training.

Gaberila

Gaberila

“I’ve never been an activist before, but after Trump’s election, I knew that I needed to do something,” I remember her telling me at the time.

“I started looking online for trainings so I can figure out what to do,” she went on. “It started with a selfish tone, because I didn’t know a lot about activism and I wanted to take a training that would help me. But as I started talking to people, I realized that A LOT of other people were feeling the same way – wanting to do something but not knowing what.”

So today, I am driving down to Oxnard, California for a weekend-long training on Nonviolent Organizing. Will you consider donating $25 or more to help more trainings like this?

Gaberila has been a tour de force since our first conversation. As someone who has never organized before, she quickly found funds to cover our travel, found a training location, and began building relationships with organizations all over her region.

The registrations started to trickle in, and we are now looking forward to a packed audience of new and old activists from all over Ventura County and beyond.

Gaberila told me that when she was little, “My mom would always put on movies about the holocaust and other social injustices. People look back at those times and say, “that’s terrible, if I were around in that time, I would have done something to fight it.” It’s easy to say those things in retrospect, but while those things were happening, too many people sat around and did nothing. I told myself that if I were ever in that situation, that I would do something.

My dad is Palestinian, and even though I saw him face discrimination, it was still easy to live in blissful ignorance. But when Trump was elected, I knew millions of people were in danger, and I had to do something.”

There are people like Gaberila – budding leaders in an emerging movement for justice – all over the country. As an organization grounded in a Gift Economy, money will never be a reason why we can’t work with people like her.

But that means we also depend on people like you to make our work possible. Please consider becoming a monthly so we can continue to work with all of the Gaberilas of the world.

I look forward to updating you about this workshop after the weekend is over. In the meantime, please continue to share our updates with your friends, communities and networks so that we can continue to expand our Beloved Community.

In Peace,

Kazu Haga
Coordinator

500 Peace Warriors & A Story of Reconciliation

Beloved Community,

Last Friday, we surpassed 500 men who have gone through a Kingian Nonviolence workshop in Soledad State Prison!!! It was an inspiring milestone, especially since the majority of those men went through a workshop facilitated by their peers.

unnamed (1)The men who were present were treated with a special surprise, in the form of a visit and presentation from Carmen Perez, an old friend, advocate of Kingian Nonviolence, executive director of the Gathering for Justice and national co-chair of the Women’s March. After a morning workshop filled with incredible stories, Carmen’s speech left the 50 men in awe.

Will you donate $25 or more to help raise $500 this week to celebrate our 500th participant? Your support will help us reach the next 500 men!

I also want to share an incredibly inspiring story shared to us by one of the 500 men we’ve worked with at Soledad, one of our inside facilitators, Chris Diep.

“In October of 2000, four days after my birthday, my best friend whom I had known since I was 5 was murdered. I am currently incarcerated for a retaliation murder.

In 2013, I was transferred to Soledad. When I got here, I found out that the person who actually murdered my friend was here 

For the first several weeks, I was completely stressed out. I was feeling angry, frustrated, worried and conflicted. I wanted to take revenge, and felt that if I didn’t do something, my peers would look down on me. At the same time, if I did take revenge, I knew it would affect my family.

For a few years, I avoided him at all costs. I didn’t do anything, but inside I was filled with anger and hatred. But I wanted a chance to eventually go home, so I just kept my distance.

When I started to learn about Kingian Nonviolence, I realized how that anger was affecting me, and how avoiding him was only creating a negative peace. Kingian Nonviolence helped me accept my friend’s death, and move towards forgiving the person who took his life. I learned that holding onto anger was an act of violence I was doing to myself, and the importance of reconciliation.

I reached out to him. Now, I am able to sit and talk to him, about our purpose in life, about the type of men we want to be when we go home. He was actually in the room today as I was facilitating.”

This is the type of work that your donation of $25 or more will support. Please donate to support our three-week campaign to raise $5,000!!!

Peace requires reconciliation on a personal level like Chris embodies, and it requires communities to resist violence and injustice, like the participants in our workshops last weekend in Oakland and this coming weekend in Oxnard.

Please consider supporting our work, supporting Chris and the rest of our relatives on the inside, and communities throughout California that we are working to empower.

I look forward to sharing more exciting updates later this week.

In Peace,

Kazu Haga
Coordinator

2016 First Quarter Financials

As part of our commitment to fiscal transparency, we release our financial statements each quarter for everyone to view. We’re a bit late this time around, but the finances for our first quarter of the year are now available online.

As always, we try to save money wherever we can, and not spend it just because we have it or just because it’s in our budget. We know that we rely on your support, and we owe it to you to make sure that we are spending every penny wisely.

We were able to save some funds this quarter with a volunteer who has been helping us out with our administrative tasks. We went a little over budget on the travel line items, but that’s actually a good thing because it means that our work is spreading even more!!! We’ve recently conducted workshops and presentations in Boston and Chicago, and set up a regular workshop at CTF Prison in Soledad. Between that and our regular work in San Bruno County Jail and San Quentin State Prison, we’ve been on the road a lot.

We came in under on the income side as well, but we typically get a lot more donations in towards the end of the year, so we anticipate that we will make that up with your help. We are also working hard to secure at least one more large grant (so far we only receive one large grant a year, from the people at the Lakeshore Foundation). The good news is that people have been so generous in our workshops that we’ve exceeded our budgeted amount there! Thanks to everyone who has supported us.

If you have any questions about our finances, please feel free to contact us at any time and we will try to get back to you as soon as possible. In the meantime, we thank you again from the bottom of our hearts for investing in peace!!!

Fiscal Transparency: 2015 Numbers

2015

As many of you know, we take the issue of fiscal transparency very seriously.

We live in an era of secrecy, and a culture of fear when it comes to talking openly about money. We continue to hear about financial mismanagement or outright scandals, even in nonprofit organizations. Living in an individualistic culture and under a capitalist system, we’re taught to hide our numbers and our accounting, which creates a culture that is ripe for greed.

Financial TransparencyAt East Point Peace Academy, our work is not simply about changing a policy here and there, or inspiring individuals here and there. We are trying to change paradigms. We are fighting the culture of fear, mistrust, greed, violence.

It is with this thinking that we commit ourselves to true financial transparency. For us, this is also part of our commitment to the principles of Gift Economics, another way we try to change paradigms around money.

Each quarter, we post our financial statement on our website for all to see. It’s not hidden in the dark allies of our site. It’s one click away from our homepage. Everyone can see how much money we’ve raised, and how every penny is being spent – including how much each individual makes at East Point.

We rely on your support to keep our work going. You deserve to know how your support is being spent.

Our 2015 financial statement has just been posted, along with a proposed budget for 2016.

Last year, we spent just $80,978! And with your help, we were able to raise over $104,000!!! Of that amount, a whopping 67% came from our individuals and small community partners, with the rest coming from foundations!!! That’s amazing!!! When we say we rely on our community, we really mean it. THANK YOU ALL!!!

This also means that we have some reserves going into 2016, which will help us sustain our work. As an organization that relies on Gift Economics, our funding is never guaranteed, so this is important to us.

With just under $81,000 spent, we were able to reach 2,000 individuals across the nation last year! This includes people inside our criminal justice system, middle school, high school and college students, activists and community leaders, movement organizations and many more. We certified 20 new trainers (including some inside a county jail), worked in 5 states and 2 countries and provided over 500 hours of training. That’s a lot of work for not a lot of money, all made possible with your support.

And we want to do even more in 2016. We are currently planning to launch a new program, “Empowered Straight.” This program takes an alternative approach to the failed “Scared Straight” model of bringing young people into prisons to scare them. Instead, we will be bringing students in to work with our inside Peace Warriors, to learn about nonviolence from the inmates. We believe that hope and inspiration is a much better motivator for peace than fear and intimidation.

We are also continuing our work in San Bruno County Jail, San Quentin State Prison, and the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, where we have teams of nonviolence trainers. We are opening up our Friday meditation circles to more people from the public. We are also excited to launch a series of ongoing advanced workshops for graduates of our two-day intro workshop.

We want to thank each and every single one of you who was part of an amazing 2015 – our second full year of programs! And we hope you can join us to make 2016 an even bigger year.

Please consider supporting us to help sustain and grow our programs!

We look forward to seeing you soon! Onward toward Beloved Community!

In Peace,

East Point Peace Academy

 

 

2015 Financial Statement

CLICK HERE FOR 2015 BUDGET TO ACTUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT

As always, as part of our commitment to fiscal transparency, we are releasing our financial statement for the year 2015. We are so grateful to every single person who played a part in supporting us!

Transparency isn’t just about numbers. It’s also about our story, so let us share a few things about what we experienced last year that puts more context to these numbers.

First, as you can see, we only spent 65% of what we budgeted. That’s largely because we only raised 79% of what we budgeted. Some of it was due to our limited capacity as a small organization, so we were able to do less in some areas than we had hoped. For example, we were not able to organize a fundraising event, which is why we only spent 25% of what we budgeted for Development. We also struggled to receive support from foundations.

Another reason though, is that we simply don’t believe in spending money because we said we would. This is a common end-of-the-year practice in many businesses, government agencies, and even nonprofits.

There’s also some great news in these numbers. For example, we raised almost three-times as much from our community than we anticipated!!! Thank you all so much for believing in our work!!! We also received our second $25,000 grant from one foundation that we believe will be a long-term commitment. So while we didn’t meet our goal for grants this year, it’s only going to go up from here.

Plus, because of our frugal spending, we have a nice surplus moving into next year. As an organization that relies so heavily on faith, this is a nice cushion.

A few more things:

  • We didn’t need to hire any contractors because of some amazing volunteers we’ve had throughout the year. THANK YOU ALL!!!
  • It took us a while to find the right grant-writer, so we only spent half the budgeted amount.
  • Almost all of our trainers and guest speakers donated their stipends and honorariums back to East Point, which is why we spent less than 5% of those two items combined.
  • Thanks to our partners who believe in us, we didn’t have to spend anything on site rentals this year!
  • We also spent much less than anticipated on travel. This is because our local programs have really taken off, and we’ve really invested in building those up.
  • We were going to invest some money into brochures and other publications (graphics design and printing), but because word was getting out so much about our work without them, we didn’t feel like it was necessary.
  • We did go over budget on equipment because our laptop was unfortunately stolen during the year, which was an unforeseen expense…

Click here to see our financial statement. If you have any questions about any our finances, please feel free to email us at info (at) eastpointpeace.org.

Again, thank you to each and every single person who supported us in 2015, and we’ll see you in 2016!!!

East Point Peace Academy

Welcome our 2015 County Jail Peace Warriors!

Check out images from the graduation ceremony of our Peace from Within Advanced Training-of-Trainers, held October 1st inside the San Bruno County Jail. These graduates received their certification as Assistant Facilitators in Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation after undergoing an intensive 6-month training.

Thanks to all of the guests who made it in to celebrate with us! It was great to breaking bread, sharing stories, laughter and tears with all of you!

Check out the images below, click here to be taken to our Flickr gallery or here to see them on Facebook.

Letter from Sean Yokota

Sean receiving his certificate for completing his Kingian Nonviolence Training.

Sean receiving his certificate for completing his Kingian Nonviolence Training.

My name is Sean Yokota. I am a third generation Japanese American, born and raised in San Francisco. I rebelled against the “model minority” stereotype in my mid-teens by running with an older tougher crowd. I soon became enamored with the criminal lifestyle and quickly adopted many of the habits and social norms that go with it. [Read more...]