Teach-In Aids

For a day and a half, hundreds of local activists will try to shape a small corner of Arizona State University into the world they wished existed.

For many who attend Local to Global Justice's Teach-In this weekend, that vision includes driving cars powered on pure vegetable oil and eating vegan food using biodegradable forks made out of corn.

The fourth annual Teach-In includes workshops, speakers and art exhibits where you can learn about belly dancing, issues regarding the U.S./Mexico border, and anarchy, all in the same place. Teach-In participants will also erect a pine "peace pole" covered in "sacred decorations." Members of the Teach-In are welcome to add their own adornments to the pole. Who knows? They might let you dance around the pole nekkid.

But if a weekend gathering of activists sounds like an excuse for hippies to smoke weed and continue not bathing, think again. When was the last time you saw hippies spinning hip-hop on turntables or jamming to punk music?

Teach-In coordinators Beth Blue Swadener and Luis Fernandez say it's hard to stereotype the hundreds of people interested in the event into one category.

But, Swadener says, "The one thing that unites these people is that they have a sense of social justice. They are civically engaged, and if you come, you will get the chance to hang out and learn from them."

Last year, more than 500 activists from all over Arizona flocked to the Teach-In where the now-infamous University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill spoke.

"Many activists in the community are trying to do phenomenal, idealistic things," Fernandez says. "When you are trying to change the world, it is very difficult, and the Teach-In is that one moment where a lot of the activists in the community can feel like they are not alone."

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Lynh Bui