As much as I hate to admit it, I’m a born and raised native Texan and I have spent all my life in Texas (unless the 2 and a half months I just spent in DC count). Being an activist in Texas often seems lonely and from what I’ve been told of the rest of the Southwest region, this sentiment is echoed by many others. As the Southwest Regional Outreach Coordinator for colleges I want to let everyone who has ever felt isolated or as if they are the only ones who seem to care, you are definitely not alone. People in all over the country care about ending genocide and yes, that counts the people in your state!
The southwest (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Arkansas) is not filled with cacti, despite being an area that tends to conjures up deserts in many minds, the southwest has been, continues to be and will forever be a fertile land for people who care. I have had the honor to chat with many of the leaders of these oasis chapters and couldn’t think of anything better to do than brag about the wonderful work these incredible people have been doing.
In Utah, many chapters worked together with community activists to hold a Dining for Darfur event in Salt Lake City. As I’m sure many of you reading this have done, they chose not allow summer to be just for relaxation, but also for helping the people of Darfur.
In Arizona, Arizona State University has taken the first steps into exploring a city divestment campaign for Phoenix with the help of the Sudan Divestment Task Force. They have chosen not only to be leaders on campus and in the school’s community of Tempe, but also the larger community surrounding their campus.
In Colorado a longstanding chapter is persuing awareness, advocacy and fundraising while also having fun and a brand new chapter is stepping up to the anti-genocide plate by helping refugees. The University of Colorado at Boulder is putting on an event called Dirty for Darfur, which is just like it sounds… a messy, fun time while engaging their campus to mobilize for Darfur. Less than an hour away, The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, a newly graduated chapter has dived into fighting genocide head first by starting their very own mentorship program for the large Lost Boy community in Colorado. While that alone is an incredible project, they are also working on expanding the project at their school and perhaps other by trying to get mentorship counted as a volunteer-study or internship credit.
And all that is just a small sampling of what STAND activists in the Southwest are doing. Together with all the efforts of activists in all the other regions and the world we are doing our part to end genocide. But almost as importantly we are doing our part to combat apathy with our actions. So when you think of the Southwest, you can continue thinking of cacti, but also remember all the great activism!
Leran Minc, Southwest College Regional Outreach Coordinator