By Kelly Benson
Students in the Society and Sustainability capstone course and members of the Justice Club joined Professor Brennan Lagasse on a field trip Nov. 19 to meet with members of the Nevada County Peace Center.
This trip gave students the opportunity to see first-hand how the topics of justice, peace, and equality could transfer from classroom discussion to real world examples. For several hours different members of the Peace Center spoke on their topics of interest, ranging from climate change, GMO labeling, activism in the form of non-violence, action through artistic expression, and changes in policy. It was evident that the speakers were very passionate about their work, and excited to share with a group of young, motivated students.
Samantha Van Ruiten, a student in the capstone course shared, “I’m inspired by the actions and knowledge of the ladies at the Peace and Justice Center in Nevada City. I think it is important to see and interact with those type of organizations, because it’s one thing to discuss this in class but another to meet and talk to people who are involved and a part of these social movements.”
While hearing from these speakers, we all experienced a range of emotional reactions, from surprise and shock to anger and frustration to feeling inspired and excited, which mirrored how we oftentimes feel in the classroom and confirmed that social justice is always a dynamic topic.
Throughout discussions, we were given tools for empowerment, cooperation and collaboration and ways to help us find our place within the world of activism. A common feeling among Social Sustainability students is a sense of frustration that as a single person the problems that our world faces are too large to tackle. But this trip was able to ground us in a way that made activism approachable and fun, and gave us a better grasp about how we can contribute to the world in meaningful ways.
Rachael Blum, member of the Justice Club said, “I thought the trip was inspiring, eye opening, and motivating. People are making a difference right around the corner.”
This field trip was a perfect culminating outing to tie all of our semester-long topics together and to bring the relatively small group of Social Sustainability students at SNC into one group discussion. The connections made and tools acquired will be immensely helpful in the growth of the Justice Club and will no doubt inspire many of us to go out in the world and share what we’ve learned.
Emalee Clair Stover, a student in the capstone class said “the field trip to the Peace and Justice Center in Nevada County was both enlightening as well as inspiring. It revealed how many social justice issues we discuss in a largely academic context can be appropriated into action and affect real change. Making connections with this community is also encouraging to those of us concluding our undergraduate career and seeking pathways to continue working for equality and sustainability in other realms.”
As a final note, I have included the vision statement for the Nevada County Peace Center because I believe it is perfectly aligned with the goals of the Justice Club and capstone Sustainability course, and may hopefully inspire others to join our cause, “We envision a world of justice, peace, equality and freedom. This vision includes community where differences are respected, conflicts are addressed peacefully, supportive structures are developed, and people are empowered and live in harmony with the earth, nurtured by diverse traditions that foster compassion, solidarity and reconciliation.”