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My Seventeenth Newsletter

7 September 2002

Ok - This is a long overdue newsletter (since New Year's!!!!) and ok, there were some sighs of relief but, others have wondered where it had gone. There are new subscribers through the TPP website, several from outside the United States. Welcome all.

Yes, it has been a year of sad dramatic news in the United States and in the world. Our sense of stability is weakened as regimes shift, economies rise and fall, as human rights shiver through a growing winter of repression and prejudice, and nature reacts to human interference, and now, the possibility of more war.

Yet, like many of us, I have been caught up in everyday concerns that, plus the unease of 9/11, cause me to wonder how to remain politically aware, active and still have a life? Students understand even better than I do how this can be overwhelming. But we must try to remain somehow connected so that when the occasion arises, those articles we have read, those websites we've checked in on, those thoughts scurrying around in our brains will have readied us to think and act clearly.

In truth, this year of news is not that dissimilar from others. It is only that our horrific domestic tragedy has heightened our awareness and made us viscerally conscious of our own security. Perhaps for you, as it definitely is for me, that time to act clearly is now when so many join again to not only honor those lost on 9/11/01, but hopefully to seriously engage in the debate surrounding the aftermath.

We have had our surge of patriotism. We have discovered many heroes in "ordinary" people in this past year (BTW, dog lovers check out "9/11 Canine Search & Rescue Tribute" Honor them by ensuring that patriotism and pride engenders strong interest in what is really going on with the serious decisions with respect to our administration's position of first strike on Iraq, on continued balancing of "homeland security" measures against our treasured constitutional freedoms and, ever so many other national and global concerns.

Our safety and balance rests with us as it did, in fact, even before 9/11. Read carefully these words from the Slate article "Sept. 11 Goes to School: Patriotism and psychobabble in the civics classroom" " We ought to take a different view of today's students, one that regards them as moral beings in progress, apprentices in public life, people capable of seeing themselves grow (or shrink)."

My take: Honor the intelligence and maturity of youth. If we are to progress, it is you who will effectuate change. Take these words to heart. Read the whole article AND the comments from readers. Then, let's go on.

So, as stated so eloquently by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the title of the book from which I lifted that powerful non-violence quote last 9/11: "Where do we go from here?"

My answer:
1. Stay aware that social, political, economic and justice concerns are totally intertwined and affect each other in terms of progress.
2. Stay aware of news for most of it affects each of us, whether we think it does or not.
3. Do not accept platitudes for action by any government, especially when couched in emotional words such as "9/11." Search deeper and read opposing opinions to understand the major decisions of those who represent us so as to ensure that our voices are part of the discussion.
4. Get to know each other. Revisit resources from Newsletter No. 15 and my TPP website "9/11" section

For 9/11: PLEASE LISTEN to the live programs and archives at NPR (National Public Radio) or your member station this week to hear the two programs I am listening to as I finish this newsletter this Saturday, September 7:
1. "Sonic Memorial" - an emotionally edited program of voices chronicling the World Trade Center and its neighborhood. Special live broadcasts on September 8, 9, and 10th.
2. "Living with Terror: The World Speaks A Year After 9/11" - a live global radio call-in program produced by the BBC World Service and NPR, "enabling people from around the world to [voice opinions] relative to the events of 11th of September 2001 and its repercussions.". (not yet online as of this writing)

For we in the United States, it is imperative that we hear voices such as ones asking why our tragedy - however deeply felt by all - is any more important then say, the recent deaths in Rwanda? Or global opinion concerning the Middle East and the strong possibility of the escalation of violence in the region.

We have a lot to learn as we inhabit this world together. A moving European-based website is "The Miniature Earth." Stay until the end. (You will need Flash, which can be downloaded from the site).

For those new to this newsletter, I am the author of TEEN POWER POLITICS: MAKE YOURSELF HEARD, an issue-oriented book for young Americans on civic and political activism. Engagement is integral to our democracy and youth and young voters - citizens and residents already - definitely have the voice, power, intelligence, sense of justice, passion and energy to give the benefit of their participation right now. Updates and resources for change are provided on and my periodic newsletters

Coming back from a hiatus, this newsletter is concerned with larger scale issues. More specific youth concerns will be discussed soon. In the interim, check into sites like Wiretap for youth-oriented, youth-written perspectives.

A. Some Current News & Concerns.
B. Youth Activism & Opportunities
C. Contests and Awards
D. What I am Reading & Visiting
E. TPP awards and notice!
1. WAR?????? Right now there is talk of a U.S. first strike against Iraq, supposedly part of the war on terrorism. In the next weeks, during the 9/11 memorials, be aware of how the administration, and others use this to position themselves for war.

Use your media resources (newspapers, magazines, radios, TV, public forums, websites, and chats - even classrooms!) to enter this discussion. On the eve of the 9/11 memorial, we do not want to precipitously rush into yet another potential tragedy. I will try to be non-partisan in upcoming issues, however I do feel I must start with:

  1. United For Peace with additional websites taking a strong position against further violence, including those of families whose members died on 9/11.
  2. A comprehensive gathering of opinions, history and essays concerning impending war.

If you would like to state other views, I would welcome email and will post them in a subsequent - or a special - newsletter. The more discussion the better.

In the interim, think about:

  1. What would this action accomplish?
  2. Can the United States accomplish this alone?
  3. What is world opinion and support?
  4. If successful, how will/can we administrate Iraq thereafter?
  5. How would this invasion affect our everyday lives, nationally and globally?

Since the United States is entering yet another election cycle (Tuesday, November 5th!!!) where members of Congress (House of Representatives and some Senators) are up for election and state governors, mayors, school bond, juvenile justice, environmental and human rights issues may be on your ballots, here is what we can do, voting age or not.

These elections choose those making major decisions for domestic and foreign policy. They determine money allocation in your state and your community for the schools, skateboard parks, and other opportunities you want. Yet hardly anything so far in the press! Worse, few voters for primary elections held this past Spring.

Let's get involved. Contact candidate and ballot campaigns. Research or start non-partisan discussions of ballot measures. Learn the registration guidelines of your state (each is different and deadlines are nearing!!!!). Get out the vote (GOTV)!

  1. Always good resources: Project Vote Smart Youth Vote Coalition at Generation Vote Rock The Vote, for those important registration deadlines, online registration, and voter qualification Southwest Voter Registration Project (GOTV Latino vote) Black Youth Vote
  2. It is a good time to use TEEN POWER POLITICS: MAKE YOURSELF HEARD. Although not yet updated re our unusual 2000 election and some links (although many are, through the newsletters online), the "Elections" and "Community Service" chapters provide an overview of the election process and how to get involved.
  3. Mock Elections. A great way to make your voice heard, if only for your own community! It is early enough in the school year to persuade a teacher or a principal that a mock election should be held at your school or in your town. If you place candidate and measure information on the ballot, there is nothing stopping you from placing as well your important youth or student concerns! Legislators are very aware of your future vote potential and may react to your mock vote opinions right now.

    Kids Voting USA, where students accompany their family members to the polls and actually vote themselves in a prepared ballot that, even if the votes do not count for the formal election are recognized by their community. National Student/Parent Mock Elections (2002 mock election date:1 November 2002) League of Women Voters, with PTA's, teachers and students

  4. Election reform: Apparent since the 2000 presidential election where the vote is not clear to this day, election reform concerns include registration, the ballot, and the means of determining how a vote is counted. In this election season, review the voting structure in your own state and think about what needs change.
    (1) Check out pages 73-74 in TPP for an overview of election reform.
    (2) A petition sponsored by many groups, including the National League of Women Voters:
    (3) Center for Voting & Democracy, has guides to voting reform, and an example of how Instant Runoff Voting works by voting for ice cream!
    (4) Reform America, Inc.
  5. The first European Union Student Vote this past Spring to see how youth in other countries are handling their voice.

3. EDUCATION AND JUSTICE. Two articles remind us of the disparity that still exists in our educational system. There is no easy answer nor one factor to blame, only resolve to provide everything possible to give all students equal opportunity to learn.

  1. "Top-Notch School Fails to Close 'Achievement Gap' " September 4, 2002
  2. "Prisoners Over Pupils " which leads: "Incarceration is now more common than higher education, at least where African American men are concerned.... [Says Vincent Schiraldi, Justice Policy Institute president]: 'If we had just completed a study showing that we added three times as many white men to prisons as universities, any president would declare a state of emergency in America. ... These policies would not exist if they affected white, middle class people in the same numbers."'


  1. From Earth Justice, a petition opposing H.R. 4840, a bill to amend the Endangered Species Act.
  2. An environmental success story: Years of environmental activism have indeed resulted in cleaning the Los Angeles harbor and bringing back sea life. "Good Tidings at Port"

BTW, when I give links to various newspapers, be aware that (1) many call for your registration, even if free and (2) many archives are free for a limited time (usually a week for papers). Each newspaper and online magazine has a different policy.

1. September 21-28 is Banned Books week. Read a banned book and you will do more than most who desire to ban them. Did you know that HARRY POTTER was on top of the list????

2. It is the start of a school year for middle, high school and college. Send in concerns or events being discussed on campus and those you would like mentioned here. The strength of this newsletter: real news. You are at the forefront of everyday reality.

3. . Two teenage mayors took office this year in Pennsylvania. Read about Christopher Portman, age 19, now Mayor of Mercer, and Jeffrey Dunkel, or Mount Carbon.,1004,522,00.html

4. Petitions:

  1. As always, the ACLU website encourages petitions and online discussion on a variety of civil rights concerns. Whether or not you sign one, reflect on concerns that the ACLU considers dangerous.
  2. There is always an interesting support/petition opportunity and issue discussion at

5. New Opportunities at Participate America, including GOTV (Smackdown is doing a tour right now!)

6. Generation Vote. Their Viewpoints column seems to welcome writers and feedback.

1. Posted late but still open (October): Youth Action Net, part of the International Youth Foundation is awarding small grants to youth leaders and their emerging projects that promote social change and connect youth with local communities.

2. To introduce "Adbusters TV" ("The next time you ... organize a street party, liberate a billboard, shoot an indy documentary, or throw a pie into the ugly face of authority, we want people worldwide to catch it the next day at".), check out the ABTV Contest" (deadline December 31), looking for video, audio, and animation in three categories, with $3,000 to divvy up among the winners.

1. YOU MAY NOT TIE AN ALLIGATOR TO A FIRE HYDRANT: 101 REAL DUMB LAWS (Free Press), written by recent high school graduates Andy Powell and Jeff Koon, who "gathered various federal, state and city laws through research online and in magazines and newspapers and posted them on their original website,

2. A terrific novel in poems. Just nominated for the BBYA award: April Halprin Wayland's GIRL COMING IN FOR A LANDING (Knopf). Check out her website, with links to "Where a Teen Writer Can Get Published."

3. Experience the journalistic process in times of crisis in two books by New York Times editor Wilborn Hampton: MELTDOWN: A RACE AGAINST NUCLEAR DISASTER AT THREE MILE ISLAND (A Reporter's Story) and KENNEDY ASSASINATED: THE WORLD (A Reporter's Story). (Candlewick Press)

4. Although well into the 3rd millennium, here is a thoughtful book: HEAR THESE VOICES: YOUTH AT THE EDGE OF THE MILLENNIUM by Anthony Allison. (Dutton)

5. Beverley Naidoo's, THE OTHER SIDE OF TRUTH. Politics in everything we do. (HarperCollins Juvenile Books)

1. Since my last newsletter, TEEN POWER POLITICS was selected for the very prestigious New York Public Library's annual list of "Best Books for the Teen Age"

2. In her editorial to this Spring's celebratory issue of VOYA's 25th year, Cathi Dunn MacRae reflected upon why the magazine is called "Voice of Youth Advocates" and what "youth advocacy" means. I am honored that she then describes her goal to introduce youth advocates to her readership and used TEEN POWER POLITICS, me, my website and newsletters as her first example! BTW, check out the VOYA Nonfiction Honor List at

3. A lovely profile on me ran in the Winter newsletter of Creative Coalition, members of the arts and entertainment communities who lobby, among other issues, for arts in education and first amendment concerns.

Check out TEEN POWER POLITICS: MAKE YOURSELF HEARD and, guides for service, advocacy and activism.

Again, PLEASE let me know of a concern or activities to discuss here. And send this on to others. They (or you) can e-mail me to be added to (or removed from) this list. If you received this twice, please let me know as I refine my list. Thanks for taking the time to read this!

Sara Jane Boyers
A Millbrook Press/Twenty-First Century Book
ISBN: 0-7613-1391-5 paper, $9.95
ISBN 0-7613-1307-9 hardcover,$25.90
VOYA's Nonfiction Honor List/BankStreet's "Best Books of 2001"
-LIFE DOESN'T FRIGHTEN ME Stewart, Tabori & Chang
A Publisher's Weekly "Best Book" of the Year, NYPL "Best Books for Teens", ALA "Book for Reluctant Readers", AIGA "50 Best Designed Books"

2002 Sara Jane Boyers