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Arts and Organizing!
On June 11th, 2016, Las Vegas artist Denise Duarte and the Left of Center Art Gallery welcomed PLAN and its volunteers to their space to host PLAN’s Arts and Organizing Workshop for Environmental Justice. The community came together to create posters and banners that were then brought to Reno for the Keep It In the Ground Rally that happened on June 14 to protest the Bureau of Land Management’s auctioning of public lands. There were more than 25 attendees that got their hands dirty with paint and talked about environmental justice issues. As a group, we decided to focus on the message “People Planet First”. With volunteers as young as 9 years old to whole families in attendance, volunteers created a community banner that represented our resolve to build a community that puts our families, the people, and the planet first over corporations and profits.
On June 13th, Reno also held an Arts Organizing workshop, in connection with the Keep It In the Ground Rally. The Reno workshop was led by David Solnit, an arts organizer with the organization, 350.org. PLANista’s from Las Vegas, members of environmental organizations, and community members came out to learn how art can be an important component in social justice and environmental movements. In addition to guiding us in making some amazing art, David also led a discussion on his work and explained how art can be a big help in getting messages across.
Defending water and land: Hundreds protest the BLM oil and gas lease auction in Reno
On June 14th hundreds of Nevadans took to the streets to demand an end to the leasing of public lands for dirty oil and gas exploration PLAN is proud to have lead the organizing effort that saw a diversity of participation including the Battle Horse Drumming group from Pyramid Lake, members of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, the Potentialist Workshop, Fight for $15 workers from Las Vegas and many more. And while the Bureau of Land Management still managed to lease $31,000 of our land, we sent a strong and clear message that we will not sit idle while our public resources are auctioned off to the highest bidder. PLAN’s June 11th and June 13th Arts Organizing Workshops in Las Vegas and Reno respectively, provided an important space to unify our struggle for climate justice using art and creativity. Check out some of our favorite photos from the Reno art build.
But we aren’t done yet! We are energized and ready to continue demanding a just transition to 100% renewables. Join us for a rally on July 27th at the Governor Sandoval’s New Energy Task Force meeting in Carson City. RSVP here to reserve your spot in the carpool.
Reno Summer Citizenship Fair!
Our first Reno, summer citizenship fair was on June 11th! The fair was held at the RISE, Academy for Adults Achievement building. A whopping 40 volunteers gave their time to make the fair a success, and we also had six lawyers who gave their time to help us in our efforts to naturalize our communities. Over 100 people filed applications to start the process of becoming citizens! We were so excited to serve our communities in Reno, and can’t wait to plan the next one!
DAPA/DACA Court Decision!
On Thursday, June 23rd, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) handed down their decision on DAPA and DACA+. These measures would help millions of undocumented families be able to live without fear by giving them a work permit and a deferred deportation status. While these means are not temporary, they would have brought much needed relief to our communities struggling under the shadow of an uncertain future.
Unfortunately, SCOTUS reached a 4-4 tie in Texas v United States, Nevada was one of the 26 states with an Attorney General or Governor who was involved in the lawsuit. While the decision was a blow to our community, the fight continues as this decision does not set a precedent and can be brought up at a later time when the bench is full, or a new President is elected.
Our PLANistas in Las Vegas made sure that our disagreement with the decision was heard by the man who signed us up for the frivolous lawsuit, Attorney General Adam Laxalt. PLANistas as well as members of other community organizations gathered at the office of Attorney General Laxalt to host a press conference on Decision Day. Families and children spoke about their fear and what it means to be living without documents in the United States. Community members then walked into Attorney General Laxalt’s office and demanded a meeting with him. After initially being told Mr. Laxalt was unavailable, we discovered that he was doing media interviews while our distraught families were waiting to hear from him.
Later in the evening we hosted a community forum in which we gave information about the next steps in this process as well as legal guidance from our friends, American Immigration Lawyers Association – Nevada Chapter. We were accompanied by a group of people affected by the decision as well as members from our member group, Planned Parenthood and various other resource tables. A stand out moment was when 11 year old Karla and 10 year old Yovanna stood before the crowd, and spoke about the fear that they live in. As United States citizens they have the right to be with their parents who are Undocumented.
In Reno, PLANistas let their voices be heard as well. A press conference was held at the Reno PLAN office the morning after the decision was given. Community groups, faith leaders, legal advisors, activists, and members of the community effected by the decision all spoke up and explained how this decision impacts them and their city. After the conference, PLANistas along with other members of the community, drove down to Carson City to speak to Attorney General Laxalt in person. We were told he was away, but a representative would speak to us. After waiting 15 minutes in the lobby and being greeted with nothing but stares of disapproval, we decided to have a silent sit in. No one ever came to meet us, but we were greeted by police while leaving. Read more about our response to the decision here!
PLAN presents new report on the effect of open-pit gold mines on Nevada’s water
This June PLAN traveled to Elko and Lovelock to present a new report by Dr. Tom Myers about alarming effects of open-pit gold mining on Nevada’s water. Dr. Myers addressed interested college students, faculty, members of the mining industry, and farmers in two community forums regarding the medium and long-term effects of mine dewatering and pit lake formation in the Humboldt River basin. Read local news report from the meetings in the Elko Daily Free Press and Lovelock Review-Miner. You can find Dr. Myers’ full report and presentation on the website or check out our simplified summary here.
Pro-Bono Citizenship Clinic!
On Saturday June 25th, PLANistas helped host the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Annual Pro-Bono Citizenship Clinic. Through our collaboration with our local AILA – Nevada Chapter, we were able to assist applicants who are eligible to Naturalize. The event was held at the Linq Hotel and Casino, just a few blocks away from the National AILA conference taking place, at which our own Astrid Silva participated in a panel about DACA students. Through partnerships with other community organizations, PLANistas have helped over 2,200 finish their Naturalization application or get on the path to doing so in the past 10 months. This work would not be possible without the help of every single volunteer. One of the major reasons that many Permanent Legal Residents do not apply for the Naturalization process is because of a lack of resources and access to the information. Through the work of PLAN, we are able to tear down an obstacle so that our applicants become engaged and motivated to participate in the political process.
A diverse community attend the fair! Applicants from Laos, Spain, Mexico and many other countries were attended by our volunteers, and had an opportunity to talk, one on one with an immigration attorney. This service is invaluable to making sure that every application that is sent, has the best opportunity to be approved. One of the highlights of the day was a family of three who were all processing their documentation, father, mother, and daughter. We know that through this work we will be successful in helping as many of our neighbors Naturalize as possible.
On Saturday June 18th, PLAN attended the Juneteenth festival in Reno! The annual festival was put on by NNBCAS, Northern Nevada’s Black Cultural Awareness Society. The Emancipation Proclamation freed slave on January 1st, 1863, but the last state to hear about this was Texas, on June 19th, 1865, a whole two years later. This day is celebrated by African Americans all over the United States as their day of independence! PLAN was excited to be part of this event and celebrate with the community. PLANistas shared about PLAN and also registered folks to vote.
PLAN attended the Nevada state fair in Carson City June 9th through June 12th. In addition to enjoying the fun with Nevada residents from all over the state, we were also able to share all the important work PLAN’s been doing with the community. PLANista’s signed up folks interested in volunteering, educated people on the importance of voting, and registered many first time voters!
PLAN Las Vegas is out registering voters Monday-Saturday by attending community events and going to supermarkets like Cardenas. This past week, while at Cardenas we met Don Jesus Vazquez, a U.S. citizen who wasn’t registered to vote. After hearing that our staff members, Astrid and Dulce couldn’t vote, he registered and promised to go out and vote for them. Don Jesus shows us that it’s important to take voting seriously and show up for everyone out there who isn’t eligible to vote!
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So long until next time!
Special thanks to AJ Buhay, Astrid Silva, Ellen Moore, Dulce Valencia, Karla Rodriguez, and Rosa Molina for their contributions to this issue of the Planista.