This year on Tuesday, instead of Interest Groups, we have the special gift of hearing from three Quakers who will be sharing their journeys and understandings of Quaker truths: Oskar Pierre Castro, Paula Palmer, and Andrew Tomlinson.
Oskar Pierre Castro is an artist/analyst/non-violent activist/father & husband with over twenty-five years of service in the non-profit sector working on youth development, career development, peace activism, decolonization work, and labor rights. Oskar’s Puerto Rican roots drew him to learn more about the island he longed to see when he was a child and in doing so, he became more aware of the political implications of being Puerto Rican. Oskar’s activism around decolonization began while attending Rowan University where he majored in law & justice studies. The human rights part of the curriculum stimulated his belief in working for social justice when it is absent and he focused on the injustice and irony of Puerto Rico’s colonial status under the flag of the United States.
Oskar’s non-profit experiences include things like leading a national office program at the American Friends Service Committee and helping talented youth-of-color navigate corporate America with INROADS, Inc. He currently serves with Quaker Voluntary Service as the Philadelphia City Coordinator and the Director of Community & Inclusion. A member of Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, Oskar is married to a like-minded soul, has two daughters, the best dog ever, and a cat.
Paula Palmer's work with Indigenous peoples began in Costa Rica, where she helped Bribri and Afro-Caribbean peoples write and publish books of their own history. For 17 years as director of Global Response, she conducted international campaigns to help Indigenous communities defend their rights and protect their lands.
Paula Palmer's ministry, "Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples," is under the care of the Boulder CO meeting. She created and facilitates experiential workshops that demonstrate the historical and ongoing impacts of the Doctrine of Discovery. With scholarship support from Pendle Hill and Swarthmore College, she researched the role Friends played in the forced assimilation of Native children by means of the Indian boarding schools. In response to a recent workshop, one participant beautifully expressed the goals of Palmer's ministry, writing: "I can feel the Mother energy rising up from below to inform, smile upon, and bless these initiatives so we may hear, remember, heal in truth together, so we may return to our wholeness and relatedness."
Andrew Tomlinson is Quaker United Nations Representative and Director of the Quaker UN Office (QUNO) in New York. The Quakers have been active at the UN since 1947, upholding the UN’s work on peace and justice through facilitation and quiet advocacy. The New York office is focused on the issues of peacebuilding and the prevention of violent conflict, and connects with partners doing peace work on the ground and at a policy level around the world. In 2013, QUNO was named as one of the most influential global actors in armed violence reduction.
Andrew will be speaking on the topic "Love without borders: a call to action for global peace, justice and inclusion." Friends’ concern for peace has always been a universal one: distance does not lessen the impact of violence and injustice on those who suffer them. In today’s complex and connected world, Quaker insights and methods still have much to offer when we move beyond outdated paradigms of aid to embrace an equal partnership with our sisters and brothers around the world.
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