We are going through some exciting changes here at PCASC! After serious reflection on how to best continue our work supporting the people of Central and South America, we have made the decision to transform PCASC into an all volunteer organization in order to strengthen our commitment to this work.
The Portland Central America Solidarity Committee has been home to many people in Portland’s radical community who oppose the United States’ policies of violence and repression of the people across the Americas. Beginning with the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua in 1979, we have supported struggles, from the people’s movement in Guatemala, the FMLN in El Salvador, the Zapatistas in Oaxaca to popular movements in Venezuela, the resistance to the 2009 coup in Honduras, supporting immigrant rights within the U.S and many more!
Over the last few months, we have engaged with members, staff and board members from throughout PCASC’s history as a way to explore what our organization means to us and what the future holds. Through sharing our experiences, our hopes and our fears, we have decided that a profound transformation of the structure of PCASC was necessary to deepen our focus on international solidarity work.
In June we transitioned from having two part-time staff to a collective all-volunteer board of active members. This is a group of seven volunteers that we are calling the “CoreTeam”. The group has taken on the responsibilities of facilitating this transition and bringing together dedicated volunteers (like you!) to guide PCASC into the future as an all volunteer organization.
As a first step forward in this process, we would like to invite all of you to join us for a community building potluck at 5:00pm on September 4th in Laurelhurst Park. Please come to celebrate and honor the hard work of our last two staff people, Allen Hines and Lizz Schallert, and make yourself a part of this exciting transition. We need your input, participation and ideas now more than ever as we embark on this radical new organizing strategy.
Below you will find short bios of the seven Core Team members. We hope to hear from you soon and would love to see you on September 4th!
The PCASC Core Team
Rachel Anthony-Rachel is a Latinx community member that has been involved with organizing and healing communities for over five years. Living in Portland for a little over a year now, they found PCASC and have identified with the anti capitalist, education and solidarity model of organizing. They are always trying to incorporate anti-oppressive works into organizing. Rachel is excited about the new volunteer run changes, and is ready to grow with the PCASC community.
Kelly Baur-I got started with PCASC in 2011 and have been living in southern Chile since 2013 working with the indigenous Mapuche people, by documenting and sharing their struggle. After making a documentary following a Mapuche community’s land reclamation, I was then invited to work with university students in their efforts to revitalize their language, Mapuzugun. I am excited to begin building a deeper relationship of solidarity between the Mapuche people and PCASC. There are a lot of opportunities for us to learn from them and support them in their fight against U.S. and Chilean imperialism.
Elizabeth Gray-“Hello everyone! My name is Elizabeth Gray. I came to PCASC in 2011 on a friend’s recommendation when I moved back to Portland after an extended stay in South America (Uruguay). Before living in Uruguay, I had also spent time in Mexico and El Salvador as a high school and college student. I participated in an international elections observation mission and spent the summer volunteering at a community center. When I found PCASC, I was looking for a place where I could continue my own political education and meet other people who were interested in solidarity with the Americas. Throughout my involvement with PCASC, I have been happy to work with great teams of people in facilitating popular education workshops about the drug war and presenting educational movie and discussion nights. I look forward to what we all can accomplish together in this new phase!”
Jack Herbert-Coming to Portland in 1983, I took a nonviolent, civil disobedience training, as the practice of our spiritual calling, and joined the actions against nuclear weapons and power and US support of oppression of the people in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. PCASC and the Oregon Fellowship of Reconciliation organized these actions. I discovered deeper fulfillment and fellowship than in spiritual and religious organizations, except for those who were in our actions. In 1986 my wife, infant son, and I visited her father, retired in the Guatemalan highlands among Mayans, and we joined demonstrations of el Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo de las Familias de los Desaparecidos, who demanded that the government account for their missing loved ones. Returning, we joined in forming Metanoia Peace Community as a church because not many members of the churches we’d been in practiced the call to faithful, public witness to love our neighbors as ourselves. I have been grateful for PCASC enabling visitors from Latin America to show us communities who are truly faithful and courageous, way ahead of us in our culture of individual gratification, for organizing visits to these communities to build our common community, and for working to build public conversion to the way of community, justice, and peace for everyone.
Paige ShellSpurling-has been working with PCASC in leading the international solidarity campaign in support of the injured Colombian General Motors workers. This solidarity has meant the difference between the injured workers of ASOTRECOL being able to continue their fight for justice and the workers giving up out of desperation. In addition, Paige and PCASC have been playing a central role in challenging fraudulent foreclosures which are being used to usurp land in urban areas of Colombia and greatly increasing the number of internally displaced people.
Nan Stark-“I have been active with PCASC since 2005 after returning from El Salvador, where I lived for most of 2004, seizing the opportunity to experience the life and culture as more than a tourist. At that time, the big issue was CAFTA, which we almost defeated…Through PCASC I also became involved in CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador) and served on its National board for 2 years. I served on the PCASC board from 2007-2010, as copresidenta for two of those years, focusing on increasing capacity, fundraising and organizational development. In my spare time, I work as a city planner
in community development as a liaison to NE Portland, and watch and admire my two grandchildren who also live in Portland. I look forward to building greater capacity within PCASC and keeping the legacy of this essential organization alive and well!”
Rachael Townsend-I got involved with after the 2009 military coup in Honduras and in 2010 PCASC encouraged and supported me in going on a human rights delegation to Honduras for the year anniversary of the coup. While there I saw the results of how the United States Government and corporations use violence and repression to control, extract resources and exploit the people to gain power and profit. I have been working with my Partner along with a team of organizers in Honduras to develop support organizing projects in Honduras including in 2013 helping to build a community radio station in a community that was being threatened by a mining company. I’m excited to bring my experience and work deeper into PCASC
and look forward to supporting PCASC through this transition and beyond!