We would welcome the opportunity to make a presentation in your classroom, workplace, place of worship or with your civic group. Our presentations include interactive exercises and discussion. We can make a presentation in class periods as short as 40 minutes but prefer 50-90 minutes.
Environment, Human Rights and Cultural Preservation
In solidarity with communities protecting their communal lands and self-determination, we have prepared a presentation that educates others about big development projects (like mining, logging, oil drilling, industrial agriculture [e.g., sugar, palm oil], tourist resorts and infrastructure [e.g., highways, ports, hydroelectric dams]) and their harmful impacts on the natural environment, human rights and traditional cultures in southern Mexico, Central America and Colombia. Corporations and governments are making land grabs and even using armed violence to take over ancestral lands of indigenous, peasant and Afro-descendant communities. To protect their homes, culture and way of life, communities are resisting forced displacement. They invite us here in the US to see how our consumer behaviors and political advocacy can, in fact, promote human rights and help protect the environment.
Navigating Nonviolence, Promoting Peace
In this interactive workshop, we outline and discuss types of violence (interpersonal, institutional) and responses to violence (avoidance, accommodation, counter-violence). We engage participants in identifying violence in the language and culture around us. We introduce nonviolence both in theory (MLK’s principles of nonviolence) and in practice (exercises). Participants learn about nonviolent conflict resolution and practice nonviolent interpersonal communication techniques. Participants see how nonviolence has been used as a successful strategy in both historical (e.g., farm workers, civil rights) and current day social movements.
Global Inequality, Exploited Labor and Human Rights
Understanding how consumer choices, corporate practices, working conditions, and the global economy are intertwined is essential to protecting human rights. At IRTF, we strive to raise awareness of how these areas intersect and of the roles we play in this global network. In this presentation, we discuss the meaning of political, civil, and economic rights. We illustrate the global distribution of wealth and its consequences and discuss how various trade policies and corporate practices contribute to wealth disparity. We also present several case studies of corporations and their labor practices in Latin America, including Coca-Cola and Chiquita. We conclude by encouraging participants to think critically about how they can take collective action to support economic systems that value the rights of workers and promote cultural and environmental sustainability.
Fair Trade: Good for People, Good for the Planet
Our faith teachings tell us that all people have the right to a basic quality of life: food, shelter, healthcare, education, and employment. In a world where thousands die each day from poverty, fair trade offers a way to ensure a dignified life for the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America. In addition to paying living wages and promoting self-determination, fair trade also helps us to be good stewards of creation. Fair trade producers use replenishable resources—such as native grasses, seeds, and wood—to create beautiful handcrafts and clothing. The canopy of fruit and nut trees that create the shade for gourmet coffee bushes also provide a habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife. And since most fair trade products are organic, workers are not exposed to harmful pesticides, and fewer chemicals enter the land and waterways. Fair trade offers consumers a way to shop with a conscience and helps protect our planet for future generations.
Food Justice: Tomatoes
At IRTF we teach consumers the role we can play in mitigating human rights violations. In solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, we have prepared a presentation that educates others about the Fair Food Campaign, emphasizes the power of fast food companies, and demonstrates what consumers can do to help the farmworkers of Immokalee, Florida, who pick our fresh tomatoes. This is especially important for us in Ohio. Of all the top 5 fast food chains, Ohio-based Wendy’s is the only one that has not signed a Fair Food Agreement with the farm workers. The presentation illustrates the strenuous labor the farm workers are forced to perform, the poverty wages they receive, how it affects their lives and their families, and how the public can demand a change.
Food Justice: Bananas
At IRTF, we have made it our mission to teach others about human rights violations and what people can do as consumers. We have created a presentation that looks at banana consumption in the United States and the environmental and social harms that occur because of the production and employment practices of large corporations like Chiquita, Del Monte, and Dole. In the presentation, we promote fair trade as an alternative. Fair trade contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to (and securing the rights of) marginalized producers and workers. We conclude by encouraging everyone to promote public awareness and to think critically while shopping the produce section of their grocery stores.
Cross-Border Alliances: LGBTQ Rights & Challenges in Ohio and Latin America
We are at a crucial point in US history. LGBTQ people are being recognized as full citizens for the first time. But in most Central and South American countries—although not illegal to be LGBTQ—it is certainly dangerous and not accepted in many families and social circles. LGBTQ people in Latin America suffer extreme violence, including forced disappearance, torture and assassination. This presentation explores the parallel paths of discrimination, anti-discrimination laws and violence, contrasting the law with the reality. Examining the challenges faced by LGBTQ people in Latin America illuminates similar challenges in the US. To strengthen LGBTQ rights both in Ohio and in Latin America, we are sharing strategies and building networks of mutual support to promote broader societal inclusion.
In November we traveled with more than a dozen IRTF friends to the US-Mexico border in Arizona to stand with thousands of people from across the Americas to call for an end to repressive foreign and military policies that force too many families to flee their homelands in order to survive. We stood at the border wall –a wall that is meant to divide us—and together told stories, sang, prayed, and demanded changes in policies to better reflect our country’s humanitarian and welcoming spirit to people from around the world seeking refuge and a better life.
Our delegation participants have put together a slide show about the Border Encuentro that addresses not only what migrants are facing when they reach the US border but the structural issues in their home countries that cause them to flee. Please let us know if you would like one of our Border Encuentro delegates to make the presentation at your school, congregation, or community group.