The Topanga Peace Alliance Holiday Party at Corazon Performance Center on Friday, December 14, was packed and jammin’ with all the peace lovers of the canyon up and dancing to great music from Tommy Teeple’s band, Quantum Hitchhikers, and a rocking set from Jim Crawford and The Hot Toddies.
The night started with a mostly vegan potluck and TPA members sharing and celebrating the good they are doing in the world. Raising their voices in what else but a Pete Seeger sing-along and some chants for peace, they followed with a nod to traditional songs of the season but with altered lyrics such as, “God Praise Ye, Merry Activists.”
About an hour into the party, TPA leaders Julie Levine and Michael Adler described the strategies that Topanga Peace Alliance has actively promoted throughout the year.
Levine humbly stated that “Michael Adler does the brunt of the work keeping TPA going so we can continue the important work we do throughout the year.”
“On the first Friday of the month, we show documentary films around issues related to peace, justice, and the environment, and bring in the filmmakers and activists to address the issues and discuss action strategies. Building coalitions is important to what we do at TPA,” she said.
“We also do an Opt-Out drive every year, where we reach out to seven or eight high schools—Palisades High and schools in the San Fernando Valley—to give students information about alternatives to the military including education and scholarship opportunities.”
Under the No Child Left Behind Act, high schools are required to provide personal information on juniors and seniors—home phone numbers, parents’ names, etc.—to military recruiters who are on the school grounds all the time, according to the TPA.
“We provide them with an opt-out form and information, so kids know that there is an alternative to the military and that there are a lot of scholarships available and great jobs,” said Adler. “We talk about both internships and jobs available with California conservation groups and so on.”
“Finally,” said Levine, “in addition to the opt-out information we give the students, we include ten questions and their answers, questions that we believe military recruiters would not want students to ask, such as: Q: ‘What is Stop Loss? A: It is a policy that has been in place since 2004 that can involuntarily extend service members beyond their active-duty contractual terms of service.’ Someone can sign up for two tours of duty and then not have the right to go home afterwards,” Levine explained.
“We also talk about the issue of sexual abuse in the military because not a lot of people realize how prevalent that is,” Adler said. “Not to mention PTSD concerns. So many young vets come back with psychological issues that aren’t being treated by the VA.”
“We do have an impact on students,” said Levine, with a smile. “We get a lot of calls from them afterwards. Three of the high schools where we have done our Opt-Out drive now have student-organized peace and justice groups. In those schools we’re allowed to bring veterans from Veterans for Peace and other groups to come and speak to the students to tell them what the real experience is.”
“A great entrée for people who want to join TPA is our First Friday Film Nights,” Adler said. “The next one is on January 4. Information is listed in the Messenger Mountain News calendar, ‘Around Town,’ and on our Facebook page.”
“It’s a great feeling,” said Levine. “Being a part of TPA makes us all feel more hopeful, knowing that we’re being part of the solution.”
For more information and to join, visit their Facebook page.
About Topanga Peace Alliance—TPA is a secular, nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting peace and justice on a local and global level. We are committed to seeking peaceful means of dispute resolution throughout the world; preserving life and defending basic human rights at home and abroad; and advocating practical, nonviolent alternatives to war.