About East Point Peace Academy

 

Founded in 2013, East Point is more than just a nonprofit organization. We are a community of practice and exploration, training and education, healing and resistance.
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    A Tax Day Letter to the IRS

    April 15, 2022

    To Whom It May Concern at the Internal Revenue Service:

    Please find my enclosed 1040 form for tax year 2021. I’m including this letter in order to explain why payment for my calculated 2021 tax of $1970.00 is not also enclosed. 

    Since 2000, I have refused payment of my taxes because US law does not provide a means for me to ensure that my tax contribution will not enrich our nation’s military-industrial complex, prison-industrial complex, immoral immigration system, or our government’s treacherous compact with oil corporations, which continue to wage an unfettered—and ultimately suicidal—assault on the natural world. Because the tax system provides no legal way for me to avoid supporting these things, I find no conscientious choice but to withhold payment entirely as an act of civil disobedience.

    Conscientious objection to the payment of taxes and the redistribution of such funds to humane alternatives represents a longstanding nonviolence tradition. Tax resisters choose different methods. For example, some—like myself—file tax forms while withholding payment, some don’t file at all, and some live below the taxable income level. Some are content with resisting quietly as a personal practice, while others resist in a public way to raise awareness about our government’s misuse of tax income and to outwardly demonstrate the moral power of civil disobedience. 

    I am not opposed to taxation in principle. I know that tax dollars fund many things that are life-serving. In order to contribute to the general welfare of our society and the world, I have offered the full amount of my calculated taxes since 2000 to support humane efforts to build a more just society and world community. In recent years the majority of the taxes I've redirected have been offered as long overdue reparations to Black and Indigenous-led groups working for their own liberation. If and when our nation transforms its spending priorities to genuinely reflect a commitment to healing, justice, and ecological responsibility, I will be happy to pay taxes to the IRS.

    I send this letter with all due respect for the individuals who work at the IRS. My objections to the role your agency plays do not obstruct my care for you as human beings. In fact, my tax resistance is as much on your behalf as it is on my own.

    Sincerely,

    Chris Moore-Backman

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    "Mourning the Gap": Ukraine, nonviolence, and the wider context

    Ukrainian soldiers take cover from incoming artillery fire in Irpin

    The day Russia invaded Ukraine, East Point’s core team member, Luis Miranda, sent an email to the rest of our core team. It began like this:

    I’m feeling powerless… I don’t know if there is anything appropriate for us to do or anything to do at all.

    Luis’s honest admission of powerlessness opened the door for the rest of us to give voice to our own versions of it. Our replies included phrases like “speechless and confused”; “helplessness and heartbreak.” We felt that some kind of solidarity statement from East Point might be meaningful, but we also struggled with the way such statements, when they aren’t combined with concrete actions in defense of life, can actually reinforce feelings of inadequacy and impotence. 

    Expressing solidarity with words is a pale substitute for our heart’s deeper longing for justice. As important as it is, the same can be said for sending money in support of relief efforts, for those of us in a position to do so. As thousands of people are being killed and millions displaced in this new and utterly unjust war, we wish so badly that there was something we could do to actually stop the senseless death and destruction. We want the suffering to end.

    This speaks to a kind of reckoning that nonviolence-oriented activists and organizers often shy away from. But we owe it to ourselves to be brutally honest: When it comes to countering extreme violence with nonviolence we are horribly unprepared. Nonviolence has undoubtedly made remarkable strides in the realms of community organizing, restorative justice, direct action, mass protest, and moral public accountability. As painful as it may be to admit, though, when these efforts come up short and the bombs start dropping, we and nonviolence are almost unequivocally left without anything approaching an adequate answer. 

    It’s a strange and somewhat disconcerting experience as a flagbearer for nonviolence to feel so deeply inspired by Ukrainian people and volunteer fighters from around the world taking up arms to defend what they love. In the face of such extreme violence, absent an adequate response from the world of nonviolence, what else can we do but pray for their safety and hope that against all odds they somehow manage to hold the line.  

    To add to the complexity, alongside our reality check about the inadequacies of nonviolence, we are also witnessing the paradox/irony that nonviolence may yet still be a primary driver to end this horrific war.

    Nonviolent action is already playing a huge role. In Russia people are showing up to the streets, confronting the dominant, violent, hegemonic Russian state, and being arrested in mass because of their moral convictions. Many Ukrainians have also been demonstrating the power of nonviolence: in the way they’re crafting their narratives, in the ways they are engaging the so-called “enemy” from an unwavering stance rooted in the kinship between peoples, appealing to the humanity of the Russian soldiers and their families.

    This is all to say that while our global nonviolence community may not yet have what it takes to stop a military invasion of this magnitude, it may still prove to be the Achilles Heel of the imperialists. We watch with such hope as courageous and creative practitioners of nonviolence steadily chip away at the impetus for war.

    Meanwhile, though, the horror continues, and the seeds of the wars of the future are sown.

    In her work as a facilitator and organizer, our friend Miki Kashtan often encourages groups to practice “mourning the gap” between what they have capacity to achieve and what they wish they had the capacity to achieve. This is vital, Miki argues, when a group’s work must proceed, even though some important need remains unmet. I think this practice has profound relevance right now for those of us committed to nonviolence.

    Grief, it is often said, is the measure of our love. If this is true, and I believe that it is, “mourning the gap” holds great power for us right now. Along with our statements of solidarity and whatever we’re able to offer in support of the heroic relief work currently being done in and around Ukraine, may our mourning be a catalyst for deeper expressions of commitment. May it move us to support and wherever possible join with those experiments in nonviolent resistance that reveal the sacredness of life in the midst of war. May it also move us to double down on the hard work of developing our collective capacity to meet extreme violence with extreme nonviolence.

    Another deeply important layer of this historical moment begs to be named. The humanitarian crisis in eastern Europe is of a monumental scale. In a matter of weeks nearly 6.5 million people have been displaced inside Ukraine, on top of 3.2 million refugees fleeing the country, and the belligerent megalomaniac who launched this war stands at the helm of a superpower more than capable of nuclear armageddon. As real and terrifying as this situation is, it is critical to remember that what is happening to the people of Ukraine is a continuation of a deeper wounded, traumatized human community reeling with its demons. 

    Alongside our immense grief over this war, we at East Point are nonetheless disturbed, though not surprised, at the way this new crisis has taken center stage over all the other crises that non-white People of the Global Majority are facing, and have been facing over the past many years: seven coups and coup attempts in African nations during the past year and a half, for example; the continuing refugee crises in Syria and Venezuela; the ongoing war and escalating hunger emergency in Yemen; Israel’s comparatively slow motion, yet ceaseless conquest of Palestine. Not to mention that fossil fuels and greenhouse gasses continue to ravage our climate and create sacrifice zones for marginalized peoples across the globe. 

    So it is that I close by saying to our brave and beloved siblings of Ukraine and of all places where people are standing against oppression and imperialism: Our hearts and prayers are with you.

    ~

    If you are able to offer financial support to aid the people of Ukraine, we encourage you to consider contributing to SLOT, a grassroots Polish organization helping Ukrainians fleeing the violence.

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    2021 Year End Financial Statement!

    Click Image to See/Download Full Budget

    We've just completed our financial statement for 2021 and wanted to share them with you as part of our commitment to financial transparency! We're sorry this took us a little while this year. With many of our staff being away and us integrating laura onto our team, it's been a busy start to the year.

    As always, as an organization that relies on the Gift Economy, we are so grateful for all of your support. Not only grateful, but we are constantly in awe of your generosity, and the generosity of the universe. We see everyday that when we are aligned with our true purpose, the universe supplies us with abundance and sustainability. 

    Here are a few summary points for the year:

    • In 2021, we raised a total of $222,462.67!!!! That is amazing, for an organization with no fundraising staff, no fundraising events, and very little effort put into fundraising! This is the power of the Gift Economy. We are so grateful to each person who contributed!
    • We spent a total of $191,763.87. That leaves us with a net of $30,698.80!
    • As you may know, we practice what is known as "emergent budgeting." We do create budgets, but use them as VERY loose guidelines, knowing that there is no way for us to anticipate what might happen throughout the year. We make very little effort into making sure that our spending or fundraising is aligning with our budget, knowing that they were just guesses that we made at the start of the year.

      Instead, we focus our time, energy and human resources on our programs, and have faith that the work we are meant to be doing in the world will be supported and sustained. 
      • This means that throughout the year, we often times have expenses or income that was unanticipated at the start of the year. An example of this are the three delegations to the Line 3 struggle that we supported early in the year. This accounts for the majority of the $23,252.22 we raised through crowdfunding. The expenses are accounted for in Honorariums and Stipends for the delegates, Housing, Transportation and Travel Expenses. 
        • Honorariums and Stipends also includes payments for our Core Team members who are not on staff as well as facilitators and trainers throughout the year.
    • Another new thing you may notice in our budget is both income and expenses for the Possibility Alliance. The PA are friends of East Point and one of the founding organizations for the Fierce Vulnerability Network, and are now under fiscal sponsorship with East Point. This means that donations made to the PA come to East Point, after which we send it to them as a grant. 

     

    If you have any more questions as you look through our budget, please feel free to contact us! We are only able to do our work because of your support. This means you deserve to know anything and everything about how your money is used!

    With infinite gratitude,

    The Core Team and Board at East Point Peace Academy

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    East Point's Public Workshops

    You may have noticed that we have not been offering as many public programs recently. This is because we've been having a lot of exciting internal conversations about reimagine our work moving forward. Our Core Team will be engaging in a revisioning process in the coming months, after which we will have a better sense not only of what programs we will be offering, but why.

    Over the years, our work has expanded a lot, from simply offering Kingian Nonviolence workshops to offering a wealth of workshops and programs. Not only have our programmatic offerings expanded, but we have shifted from becoming just a training organization to a community of practice - gathering together and putting into practice the tools we are learning in our workshop spaces. 

    As we move forward, we will continue to put resources into this community of practice - largely through our commitment to the Fierce Vulnerability Network (formerly the Yet-To-Be-Named Network). We want to build a powerful movement of healing and resistance working at the intersection of racial healing and climate justice.

    As we gain clarity as to what that looks like, we will design programs that support that vision. This will mean launching a series of trainings to support engagement with this Network, hopefully later this Spring. 

    In the meantime, you will be seeing a few workshops here and there from us. But please be on the lookout for bigger announcements soon about the future of our work! We can't wait to share them with you!

    On Behalf of the East Point Core Team,

    Kazu

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