Archive for October, 2010

GroundSpark Welcomes New Executive Director



By | Latest News

On behalf of GroundSpark’s board of directors and staff, I am delighted to announce we now have a new executive director! Please join me in warmly welcoming Susan Mooney to GroundSpark, where she will work in partnership with our board, staff, and founder, Debra Chasnoff, to lead the organization into our next exciting chapter.

Susan brings to GroundSpark a unique blend of skills and experience in fostering change in organizations, groups and communities. A leader in the Violence Against Women movement for many years, Susan was instrumental in adding sexual assault prevention as a core component to the first Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), passed in 1994. Over the past 12 years, Susan has focused on supporting progressive organizations undergoing changes in leadership, direction and vision, including Chinese for Affirmative Action, Asian Law Caucus, California Labor Federation and Center for Domestic Violence Prevention. In this capacity, Susan has enhanced the effectiveness and impact of organizations working on a range of civil rights issues including immigrant rights, LGBTQI rights, domestic violence, workers rights and tenants rights. We are thrilled to have Susan’s values and expertise to help lead GroundSpark into the future.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to recognize the amazing work and dedication of Debra Chasnoff. For close to 30 years she has been at the helm of this organization, wearing multiple hats as executive director, filmmaker, producer, lead fundraiser and spokesperson. Debra has made exceptional contributions to the field of documentary filmmaking, the LGBT family rights and safe schools movements, and the environmental justice movement — just to name a few. Her passion, commitment and vision have been extraordinary. With Susan coming on board, Debra, in her evolving role as president and senior producer, will focus on developing new creative projects for GroundSpark and expanding our ability to bring the messages of our film-based campaigns to an even wider audience.

This is an important moment in the life of GroundSpark and we invite you to join us for our next exciting chapter. Your continued support is vital at this time as we transition GroundSpark’s leadership and prepare ourselves for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

If you’d like to send Susan your own personal welcome, you can reach her at smooney@groundspark.org. And thank you, as always, for being part of our work to create visionary films and dynamic education campaigns that move individuals and communities to take action for a more just world.

Sincerely,

Ruth Borenstein
Chair, GroundSpark Board of Directors

Addressing LGBT Bullying?
We Can Do Better



By | It's Elementary, It's STILL Elementary, Latest News, Let's Get Real, Respect For All Project, Straightlaced

As news of five suicides committed by youth who were targeted with homophobic harassment has spread across the country, GroundSpark has redoubled our commitment to helping communities do a much better job of addressing anti-LGBT bias, particularly in school.

We are making some of our tools available for free for the next two months
in an effort to get them out far and wide during this time of intense public awareness.

But we need your help. And I don’t just mean by sending a donation.

We need your help in shaping the public conversation and getting GroundSpark’s powerful tools into the right hands.

Click on this “spark” to share our resources and analysis with everyone you know who works with youth. We’ve made it very easy to insert in an email, post on Facebook, Twitter, or any website.

There is a lot of talk right now about more stringent laws and punishment for bullying. We definitely need strong, federal and state anti-bullying legislation. The full solution, though, involves much more than tough laws and rules.

We need to go deeper and address the underlying ignorance and stereotypes that contribute so painfully to the bullying epidemic. We need to build a culture of empathy and compassion. We need to get everyone on board—every student, every parent, and every adult who works with youth.

In recent days, many excellent new initiatives have popped up to support LGBT-identified students and their allies. GroundSpark is building on the good work of our sister organizations by sharing what we do best: sparking the transformation of whole schools from places of conflict and alienation to communities of respect and support.

We know from experience that people get inspired and motivated when they can see moving examples of honest, caring discussion about tough issues like bias-based harassment.

That’s what GroundSpark—through our films, curriculum guides and trainings—can provide. So for the first time our curriculum guides are available for free online and parents and students can stream our films for free into their homes.

Talking about how all students are negatively affected by anti-gay bias, no matter how they identify, is not easy. Nor is talking about stigmas regarding gender norms, race and class. But we have been doing this work, thoughtfully, and with great success for close to fifteen years.

To do our job well, though, particularly at this moment, we need you to help us spread the word.

You can help us reach out to the parents of the youth who do the bullying, the parents of youth who are scared to death to speak up on a classmate’s behalf for fear of being targeted themselves, and the parents who don’t know what to do when their own kids are harassed.

You can help us reach the science teachers, baseball coaches, janitors, and school bus drivers so they understand that it is an important part of their job descriptions to model how to respond to anti-gay slurs.

You can help us give administrators and guidance counselors support and tools to launch in-depth dialogues and school-wide commitments that address bias and prejudice in serious, constructive ways, and not just through discipline.

Please take a moment to share GroundSpark’s Respect for All Project with everyone you know who cares about youth. We’ve brought together our best tools on addressing bias, particularly homophobia. All we need now is you to join our team and spread the word.

Just click here and you’ll see how easy it is to get started.

We’re committed to change. Join us.

Debra Chasnoff
President and Senior Producer