<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
 English | Español August 15, 2018 | Issue #67

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A Training Camp For Community Organizers And Journalists

The school teaches the importance of recognizing and respecting the leadership of communities fighting for their own change

By Alex Mensing
School of Authentic Journalism 2013

March 7, 2017

Have you, too, been hearing the question “what can I do?” a lot recently? “How can I help? What is the most effective way to organize?”

It’s amazing and encouraging to hear friends, family members and colleagues in the United States suddenly express interest in social justice organizations, and even in the nuts and bolts of organizing itself. In reaction to recent events, millions of people participated in a Women’s March. 25,000 people listened to a phone call about the tactics the Tea Party used to influence the US Congress. People donated $24 million to the American Civil Liberties Union in a single weekend.

Alex Mensing during the School of Authentic Journalism 2016

Many people, however, seem to be looking for a magic bullet. Who do I donate to? What organization should I volunteer for? Which office should I call? All of these are good questions. But how can we convert our collective enthusiasm into collective power? I certainly don’t have all the answers, but when I respond to these questions I often turn to the lessons I’ve learned at the School of Authentic Journalism.

The School of Authentic Journalism is a training camp for community organizers and journalists. Each year at the school, people from all walks of life and from all over the world come together with a single goal: to get better at winning the battles they are fighting alongside their communities.

If you’re imagining a lot of theoretical discussions about counter-hegemonic neo-marxist resistance, then think again.

The school participants who I’ve learned from in past schools include Oscar Olivera, spokesperson for the 2000 movement to end water privatization in Bolivia, Johanna Lawrenson, an organizer of Save the River! who fought an Army Corps of Engineers project that threatened the St. Lawrence River (remind you of NoDAPL, anyone…?), and Mkhuseli Jack, an organizer of the boycott that helped end South African apartheid.

Did I mention that all of those movements achieved concrete victories?

At the School of Authentic Journalism I’ve learned about nonviolent civil resistance training workshops that I’ve put to use while supporting actions led by undocumented Central Americans in Mexico. I’ve improved my writing skills, learned tips for better audio recording, and attended Greg Berger’s famous 15-minute film school (which, to be fair, is slightly more than 15 minutes, but which is incredibly useful).

Alex Mensing during the School of Authentic Journalism 2016

I first attended the school four years ago. The next time I expect the school to come in handy is…as soon as I’m done writing this letter, because I will be editing a video which will benefit not only from techniques learned at the school, but from the steadfast community of support that I am honored to be a part of.

So if you are wondering what YOU can do, keep the School of Authentic Journalism in mind. Consider participating if you want to learn through experience. Consider supporting if you want the people struggling for change to have access to training.

The school teaches the importance of recognizing and respecting the leadership of communities fighting for their own change. In this day and age, that overwhelmingly means respecting the leadership of women and people of color. The School of Authentic Journalism is a diverse school. One of the ways it ensures its diversity is by charging NO tuition to students. In order to do that, the school needs your financial support.

So if you want to know where to direct your next donation and make it count, please consider donating to the School of Authentic Journalism. Then maybe think about reading up on the history of successful social movements. We have a lot to learn, and we have a lot to do. But we aren’t the first ones to do this.

Donate to the School of Authentic Journalism 2017.

-Alex Mensing, School of Authentic Journalism Class of 2013

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America