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In addition to trying to attend various meetings and bringing updates back to our ‘Core’ group, we held a weekly breakout session at the Student Environmental Center General Gatherings on Wednesday nights, which was valuable for initiating face-to-face contact and building initial trust in our collaborative mission. This was a space where the various Student Environmental Center campaigns could connect with the Collaboration Network of ESLP, as well as potentially connect with representatives of other student organizations who we continually invited in person and through mass e-mail call-outs, to discuss possibilities for incorporating their campaigns into the ESLP course. These environmental and other social justice oriented campaigns could potentially enrich our course by either bringing a speaker to our Lecture Series based on their topic, or by sponsoring and leading an Action Research Team on ‘Waste Reduction,’ ‘Biofuels,’ or developing ‘Sustainable Food Systems’ on campus, to name a few of the environmental campaigns. The dynamic was multiplied by the visits, however few and far between in our first year, by representatives of Students Against War, announcements from the Student Worker Coalition, and interested organizers from STAND (Students Taking Action Now – Darfur) all coming to collaborate on how their concepts of the work to be done fits into the work of sustainability activists and educators and the multi-dimensional framework of participation and knowledge we were constructing from the bottom-up in our course based on the student-organizers’ perspectives. Through organizational connections maintained by ESLP core organizer Tawn Kennedy, we coordinated a class lecture from Jacob Abrahams who was representing the Ella Baker Center of Oakland’s campaign to “Reclaim the Future,” which combines an effort to give inner-city and impoverished residents meaningful jobs in their communities while improving the environmental and health conditions of those communities at the same time5. We also met organizers through side-by-side tabling and flyering efforts with other organizations on Wednesdays in the Student Union Assembly Quad at Baytree Bookstore, U.C., Santa Cruz’s most central organizing location. Further, we not only met with and coordinated contact with outside organizations, especially through tabling and the bi-Quarterly SUA “Inter-Org” dinners, but we developed inter-organizational tools of collaboration that would prolong this initial contact with the various organizations we connected with, and potentially transform these contacts into relationships that would keep the lines of communication open, and the potential for shared practical actions flowing. Through this contact, the course itself became a ‘shared practical action’ exploring multiple interpretations of sustainability, as the Students Against War, STAND (Darfur genocide awareness group), and a local homeless rights group sponsored and facilitated Action Research Team community projects for 5-units of undergraduate credit, among other non-traditional ‘sustainability’ projects as defined in the ‘traditional’ environmental sense. These included an Action Research Team on using media effectively, creating “sustainable artwork,” and transcommunal organizing and coalition building, whose community project will be detailed below as one newly emerging form of ‘shared practical action.’

One of the most important tools we developed, besides the continuously updated “Inter-Org Contact List” that was born with ‘The People’s Community Movement at Kresge,’ was the ESLP-Community Newsletter. This electronic newsletter was distributed through the e-mail listserve and reached more than 40 organizational contacts, in addition to more than 500 students and community members who had attended at least one of the ESLP Spring Lectures or other networking events. The objective of the online newsletter was to have sections for updates from ESLP, but have equal space dedicated to submissions from outside organizational contacts we had met and spoken with. The purpose of this newsletter was summarized in the Mission Statement of the Collaboration Network that we created to introduce organizers to the ESLP-Community Newsletter, which read, “The fundamental mission of the ESLP Collaboration Network is to build transcommunal coalition-based relationships with a broad diversity of campus and community organizations, student campaigns, faculty and staff committees, and sustainable local businesses. Our goal is to collaborate with their diverse range of perspectives on the interconnected local and global range of issues dealing with social justice, human rights, and global sustainability as explored in the ESLP Lecture Series and Action Research Teams” (March 15, 2006 Community Newsletter). Hence, in order to accomplish these goals with maximum success given our time and resources as bridge builders, the online ESLP-Community Newsletter served as an electronic bridge-building tool that updated nearly 1,000 people, through a click of their email or a report from their organizational contacts, of actions and campaigns happening across campus and in the town of Santa Cruz, to massive actions taking place in San Francisco and beyond. Furthermore, in some cases such as with the SUA Inter-Org dinners or the Student Worker Coalition for Justice, Ms. Sundell or myself were able to share our own experiences working with these organizations and their actions. We created and sustained a bi-weekly Community Calendar of events for all organizations with whom we were in contact to increase face-to-face contact among campus and community organizers. By creating a mass awareness of the multiple and varied campaigns among those students and organizers we reached, we created opportunities for short and long-term alliances to form and greater potential for future and larger-scale shared practical actions to flourish. Moreover, through the contact information we provided in each newsletter, both our own and that of the organizers who sent in submissions, the newsletter itself actively connected its readers, who were comprised primarily of student organizers, while spreading awareness of their events and actions.

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