Gustavus Adolphus College’s student-led social justice group Building Bridges will be hosting their 22nd annual Conference on Saturday, March 4, beginning at 10 a.m. in Christ Chapel. The topic of discussion this year is “Uprooting Injustice: Fostering the Growth of Grassroots Movements” and will explore the necessity for grassroots activism. Tickets are available at gustavustickets.com
Noted Minnesota activists Dr. Nekima Levy-Pounds and Winona LaDuke are the keynote speakers of this year’s conference.
In addition to Levy-Pounds and LaDuke’s lectures, the conference will include a highlighted workshop and an interactive walkthrough meant to encourage the audience to bring about social change within their own communities.
The emphasis on grassroots efforts and organizations across many issues is intentional, the Building Bridges group says. “This conference is where you’ll get some of the tools that you need to take whatever you’re passionate about and put it into action,” Building Bridges co-chair and Gustavus junior Liza Long said.
Levy-Pounds, a civil rights attorney, will start off the conference following the welcome in Christ Chapel. She received the Distinguished Service Award from the Governor’s Commission in 2016 and has been named one of “40 Under 40” by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Formerly a law professor at the University of St. Thomas Law School, Levy-Pounds has also served as president of the Minneapolis NAACP and recently announced her candidacy for mayor of the City of Minneapolis.
LaDuke, a two-time vice presidential candidate with Ralph Nader, has worked on issues of sustainable development of renewable energy and food systems as program director of Honor the Earth. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2007 and is founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, one of the largest reservation-based nonprofit organizations in the country. A Harvard and Antioch University graduate, LaDuke has also written five books. Her keynote session will take place at 6:45 p.m. in Christ Chapel.
Social arts activist Naomi Natale will also lead a workshop that is new to the conference this year. Natale is the founding artist behind One Million Bones, a large-scale social arts practice that fuses education and hands-on artmaking to raise awareness of genocide. “She uses art as her form and that’s not a common theme that a lot of people see,” said conference co-chair and Gustavus senior Gabe Grosshuesch.
Building Bridges welcomes attendees to explore the dynamic role of grassroots action in bringing about social change. “This conference and its speakers and workshops will further educate our population on how to be members of a globally diverse world,” added Grosshuesch.
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