Micah Mandate

The Magazine of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice at Trevecca Nazarene University.

Refugees find hope at urban farm camps

Posted by admin April - 30 - 2016 - Saturday ADD COMMENTS

by Rebekah Warren

For refugee children, fleeing from war and destruction, Trevecca’s urban farm camp can bring the comfort of home.
“Many of the refugees come from agricultural backgrounds,” said Karen Shaw, coordinator for the urban farm. “They come with skills they can use to make ends meet, and that’s the connection we want to make.”
During May and June, high school and middle school students living in the Nashville area will have the opportunity to learn how to care for farm animals, build a garden and learn about healthy cooking and eating.

The goal is that the kids attending the camps will develop a basic understanding of the importance of environmental justice for their local communities as well as the world.
“We want to educate and equip the broader global community,” said Jamie Casler, director of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice.
This involves understanding the way the health of the environment is directly correlated to the health of entire populations and the potential of humans to alter the course of environmental destruction and injustice.
“We are hoping children will make the connection between the food they grow and equity for people,” said Jason Adkins, environmental projects coordinator.
In addition to the opportunity to use the skills they already have, refugee kids find the program to be healing, helping them recover from the trauma of leaving war-torn regions.
“They have all experienced displacement,” said Adkins.” We are convinced that the emotional and mental health of children is improved by being in the created world…it can be therapeutic.”

10433145_523809674411910_8622517814320953874_n Shaw recalled the students from last summer who brought growing practices with them from their home countries, many of which were in the Middle East and Africa. They were often able to share the knowledge they had grown up practicing.
“Jason always asks, ‘how do you do this where you’re from?’ ” said Shaw. “We want refugees, especially those that come from agricultural backgrounds because we can learn from them.”
To learn more about the farm camps and register online, visit trevecca.edu/urbanfarm

Barnaroo at the farm

Posted by admin April - 20 - 2016 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

Square Dancing is coming to Trevecca this Saturday. The Urban Farm is hosting Barnaroo, an event for the local community to come together and spend time at the farm.
“It’s a celebration of urban farm life, to experience the farm and have a lot of fun,” said Jason Adkins, environmental projects coordinator.
The event will feature square dancing lessons with a professional caller who announces and leads the dances.


Two of the urban farm’s goats

For some students, the event will be an opportunity to step out of their comfort zones. Tabitha Sookdeo, a Junior, is excited to try out something new.
“ I have never line danced before primarily because I’m from South America,” said Sookdeo. “I’m excited for the caller and the band.”
In addition to dancing, the event will feature a petting zoo. Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with the farm’s goats and baby chicks. There will be fire pits and smores, and a variety of food and drinks.
“We did this last year and a ton of people came,” said Amber Donat, a student worker at the farm. “This year, we’re hoping to make it even more exciting so it will be a memorable experience for everyone who comes.”

barn 3

A shot from last years barn dance

Barnaroo will take place from 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. and will be held at the barn on campus. General admission is $10.  Students pay $5 and kids under 12 are free.

Spring Break Civil Rights/ Southern Music Tour

Posted by admin April - 6 - 2016 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

On a Friday afternoon in Alabama, Julie Gant stood where Martin Luther King Jr. had heard the voice of God.
“ I was impacted by just being where he was,” said Gant. “We stood where he stood and talked where he talked to people. We were in his home, everywhere that revolved around him and his legacy.”

During spring break, Matt Spraker, associate dean of students for community life, and Jamie Casler, director of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice travelled with 12 students through Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, experiencing the civil rights and musical history of the south.
Spraker developed the idea for the trip after an important member of the civil rights movement came to Trevecca. Read the rest of this entry »

Cosmos Mutowa speaks on injustice in Africa

Posted by admin February - 18 - 2016 - Thursday ADD COMMENTS

More than 12 million people have benefitted from the work of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries (NCM) in Africa, the NCM coordinator in Africa told attendees of an on-campus social justice conference.

Rev. Cosmos Mutowa, the coordinator for NCM in Africa and a Global Missionary with the Church of the Nazarene, spoke at Trevecca’s Justice and Compassion Conference on current needs and the response of the Nazarene church.

Mutowa discussed the responsibility of Christians to be Christ-like in their empathy and question the dichotomy of self-serving sanctification.

“I loved his idea of holiness,” said Clare Cole, a social justice major. “Holiness without compassion is not holiness that God loves.”

Mutowa provided an overview of NCM’s specific approach to various issues including AIDS prevention and care, disaster relief, and child development.

“Give a man a fish you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” said Mutowa, quoting the well known adage. “We strive for self-sustainability.”

Mutowa hopes to build bridges between people, between people and the environment and between people and God, creating a strong support system that leads to healthy independence.

The undercurrent throughout the talk was one of encouragement. Primarily, encouragement for those who care about the plights of injustice and wonder how the Church of the Nazarene is contributing to crises around the world in a Godly and life-giving way.

“The Church of The Nazarene has been committed to raising up leaders throughout the world but not being colonialist about it,” said Dr. Tim Gaines, assistant professor of Religion. “There is an African leading African ministries and that often does not happen.”

Advancing the global nature of the church is no small feat, and despite the ever-present challenges of injustice, Mutowa’s ministry is founded on a central idea.

“We want to love and value people,” said Mutowa. “ We want to love and value them the way God loves and values them.”

Nazarene General Superintendent speaks in chapel

Posted by admin November - 2 - 2015 - Monday ADD COMMENTS
Dr. Gustavo Crocker visited campus on Thursday, October 29.

Dr. Gustavo Crocker visited campus on Thursday, October 29.

By Christy Ulmet

Students who want to make a change in the world must have a sense of urgency and be discontented with the status quo, said Gustavo Crocker, General Superintendent for the Church of the Nazarene.
“We have to be willing to do things that are currently unacceptable to the world, but are acceptable to Jesus,” Crocker said. “We need to be able to ask ourselves, ‘What is not right?’ At times we will have to speak for the voiceless—that’s not popular. At times we will have to challenge the status quo—that’s not popular, but Jesus will honor that.”

Read the rest of this entry »

La Fille Mal Gardee Large 121

By Bailey Basham

Nearly 100 ballerinas will be on Trevecca’s campus this weekend.

The J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice will host “The Art of Justice: Using Creativity to Change the World,” a weekend-long celebration to highlight youth organizations in Nashville who use art to do social justice in youth communities.

The keynote event will be the Rejoice School of Ballet spring recital.

Among the other youth art organizations are Courage UnmaskedHarvest Hands Humphrey Street Coffee Company, local artists and a local community theatre company. These organizations will have booths set up to give out information about their organizations.

“I see many individuals who use different forms of the arts, whether it’s therapeutic writing, painting, or ballet. People use creativity to address social issues,” said Iris Gordon, Nashville business management consultant and adjunct professor in the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice. “I don’t think many people think about the power of creativity, so the goal of the event is to put that on display, heighten the awareness of what is being accomplished, and spark new ideas and interests in how people can utilize their creativity to also address or manage social issues.”

Rejoice School of Ballet is a non-profit dance school in East Nashville. The school, celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, serves nearly 100 dancers a year from diverse backgrounds. All students pay incomer-based fees for training, dance wear, and costumes.La Fille Mal Gardee Large 134

The goal of Rejoice is to serve dancers from diverse backgrounds by hiring professional faculty to teach students who otherwise wouldn’t have access to quality ballet training, said Patricia Cross, executive director of Rejoice.

Rejoice is a client of The Neighborhood Empowerment Program, which is an initiative of the Center for Social Justice that seeks to equip and empower local nonprofits to maximize their work in serving our neighbors, said Jamie Casler, director of the J.V. Morsch Center of Social Justice.

Gordon has been working with Rejoice for about a year through the NEP. She consults with the board of directors, sets up committees and counsels Cross on business methods and efficiency.

“I have seen real impact on how businesses can address social injustices that exist in our world and have a positive effect just in restoring people to wholeness- both in individuals and the community and at large,” said Gordon.

She has energized the board members to do great work to support and promote Rejoice, said Cross.

“Trevecca sends Iris out in the community to walk alongside nonprofits who otherwise couldn’t afford that sort of help, and to have someone with her expertise and knowledge is an amazing gift,” said Cross. “Iris has brought in other local ministries that are using art to promote social justice, so we feel the event is going to be a great way to open people’s eyes to the importance of the arts and promoting social justice in the community.”

The event is open to all Trevecca students, faculty and staff, and neighboring community members.

“It would really serve as a positive exposure on how different arts are being used to empower and address social injustice and could broaden a student’s perspective on what they might be able to do to use their creativity to help address social issues as well,” said Gordon.

“The Art of Justice” will be on May 2 at 6:30 p.m. and on May 3 at 3 p.m. in Boone Business Building. Tickets are $8 and may be purchased here.

Students work to aid in global water crisis

Posted by admin April - 16 - 2015 - Thursday ADD COMMENTS

By Christy Ulmet

Last fall, five Trevecca students were given the task of creating a clean water project idea. The team, led by Stephens Hiland, senior communication studies major, prepared a model for a fundraiser, which will support Nazarene Compassionate Ministries’ Global Clean Water Fund.

Every Nazarene university and college was able to submit an entry for the project, but Trevecca’s group ended up winning, which gave them the funding needed for the school’s idea, which they titled “Drop by Drop.” Read the rest of this entry »

PBS Documentary showcases hidden part of Nashville

Posted by admin February - 6 - 2015 - Friday ADD COMMENTS

By Bailey Basham

A PBS documentary aired last week on sex trafficking which included a lengthy report on trafficking in Trevecca’s neighborhood.
As part of a three-part PBS documentary series, New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof explored the issue of sex trafficking in the U.S. which brought him to Murfreesboro Road.
The series, A Path Appears: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, focuses on investigating the struggles women face in the United States and abroad in regards to sex trafficking and profiles the individuals working with the victims to create effective solutions.
“We wanted to take a closer look at the efforts being made for the victims to escape and rebuild their lives,” said Kristof in A Path Appears while reporting on Murfreesboro Road.
The first episode of the three-part series aired on Jan. 26 and uncovered one of the harshest forms of gender-based oppression and human rights violations currently being faced in the U.S.
Shana Goodwin, a survivor of the Nashville sex trafficking ring who tells her story on the documentary, remembers first being sold to a pimp by her mother when she was just 12 years old.
“My grandfather was my trafficker when I was a little bitty girl. You can look at trafficking in any sense that you want to, but really it’s a manipulator” said Goodwin in the documentary.
Like many others, Goodwin was a victim of sexual abuse when she was very young.
“The women who come into the program share a common story, and the story goes something like their first rape between the ages of 7-11, and on average, they hit the streets between 14 and 16 years old,” said Becca Stevens in the documentary, founder of Magdalene and Thistle Farms in Nashville. “All of these women carry the issues of sexual violence on their backs. The roots are in trafficking, and the roots of trafficking are in vulnerability and childhood trauma. It’s all connected.”
One woman Kristof interviewed shared that she didn’t realize what was being done to her was wrong.
“It happened so much that it seemed natural, like it was supposed to happen. When your mom is teaching you stuff, you just assume that it’s right,” said Sheila McClain in A Path Appears.
Actress, activist, and victim of sexual abuse Ashley Judd investigated alongside Kristof for much of his time with Goodwin on Murfreesboro Road.
“I think shedding the shame of child abuse is the fulcrum to speak openly and confidently, giving the toxic shame back to the perpetrator; getting it externalized and putting it back where it belongs,” said Judd in the doucmentary.
One major issue in the alleviation of the problem is that many people aren’t aware of how seriously it is plaguing their own communities.
“It’s interesting to me that trafficking is an issue that is predominantly under the covers. Much of the general public doesn’t know much about it at all. Out of sight, out of mind,” said Ron Maurer, professor of social work and organizer of last semester’s sex trafficking seminar, Current Issues in Human Traffickng: Policy and Treatment.
Goodwin drove Kristof and Judd around Murfreesboro Road, pointing out the hotels she frequented and stopping a couple of times to talk to pimps waiting for the women to return with their money or to check on the women that were working.
“When I was out here [Murfreesboro Road], I had every kind of client: pillars of the community, everyone from A-Z. I would stay down around the hotels because you can get the men who are coming in from out of town,” said Goodwin in the documentary. “And then there’s the famous Drake Motel. Home of the stars?” She laughs. “Home of the drug dealers and prostitutes.”
Raising awareness, educating the public on what sex trafficking is and how the women become involved, and helping make connections to local support and treatment organizations is crucial, said Maurer.
“One part of the issue is that there are a number of people that don’t see the women as innocent victims the way they see the children [that are being trafficked] as being innocent victims,” said Maurer. “People think ‘Well they’re adults, they can make their own choices and decisions, they could just get out of that lifestyle.’ They the victims are the ones responsible for being trafficked.”
As a part of the series, Kristof not only worked to uncover the injustices at play in regards to sex trafficking in Nashville, but also to shine a light on resources and organizations for women who find themselves to be victims of trafficking.
Founded in 1997 by Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest on the campus of Vanderbilt University, Magdalene is a two year residential community for women who have survived trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. This local organization provides housing, food, health care, counseling, and educational and job opportunities free of charge for women who were victims to sex trafficking.
Thistle Farms is a bath and body product company that is fully operated by graduates of the Magdalene program. While working at Thistle Farms, graduates learn skills in manufacturing, marketing and sales, and administration that they can continue using in the workforce.
Goodwin and McClain are now graduates of the Magdalene program and are working for the Magdalene and Thistle Farms team.
“I’m just grateful. Every night when I lie down in my bed, I think of those nights of sleeping under a bridge. I never want to forget. My next thought is that there’s still a girl under there now. I feel it in my gut – the desire to help the woman who is still out there,” said Goodwin on the Thistle Farms blog.
Episode 1Episode 2, and Episode 3 are available on the PBS website until February 17th.

Current Issues in Human Trafficking: Policies and Treatment

Posted by admin December - 2 - 2014 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

By Bailey Basham

On Friday, Nov. 14th, Trevecca students, local professionals, and members of the Nashville and Middle Tennessee communities gathered in the Boone Convocation Center at Trevecca Nazarene University for a conference on human trafficking.

“Current Issues in Human Trafficking: Policies and Treatment” was designed to bring local agencies together to educate students, practitioners and members of the public on human sex and labor trafficking as a local issue rather than something that only happens in faraway places.

“This is a real issue, not some fictitious thing in a book. This is a real problem, and it’s happening to real people, right here in our community,” said Ron Maurer, director of the social work department.

Trevecca partnered with  End Slavery Tennessee to raise awareness on the issue and what resources exist in Nashville to help.

“Being in Nashville gives Trevecca access to different agencies and government bodies to connect and work with. We hope to work with those agencies to integrate more into the community and let the Nashville area see that Trevecca really cares,” said Maurer.

The conference was divided into two sections: the first covered laws and policies, and the second dealt with therapy practices and treatment for victims.

Educating social workers and local agencies on the issue and how to handle current cases is crucial in the relief of the problem.

“The majority of the time, it’s the social service workers that are identifying these cases of sex trafficking,” said Peabody College research analyst Jill Robinson.

In 2011, 85 counties in Tennessee reported at least one case of human trafficking.  In Davidson County more than 100 cases of minor trafficking were reported in the same year.

Founded in 2011 by Assistant District Attorney Antoinette Welch, The Hannah Project is a program that provides resources and education opportunities for women who have been victims of human trafficking. With about 10 opportunities per year for these women to participate in the program and almost 800 women in the past three years, Welch said that Nashville is serving as a model for the rest of Tennessee.

“It’s really easy to convince yourself that it doesn’t happen in Nashville, but it does. This is a reality,” said Welch.

Similar to the Hannah Project in regards to an educational opportunity for those involved in human trafficking, Nashville’s John School is a program that focuses on sharing the stories of the victims and how they are affected by their experiences in the trafficking circuit with the men who were arrested for solicitation.

“The goal is to shock them with the facts. After that, we hope that they will be informed enough to teach their sons and educate their brothers. They need to know that this is not okay,” said Welch.

In the courtroom, the fight against human trafficking looks a little bit different.

While the numbers of victims and cases of trafficking in Nashville are very large, seldom is there a professional who is willing to take on the prosecution of these crimes and work toward a conviction.

Immigration attorney Dawn Gerhard spoke at the conference about how, oftentimes, those coming to the states from different countries can be victims of human trafficking without even realizing it.

“There is no such thing as domestic violence in some cultures because it is the job of the man to make sure the woman is obedient; some don’t know what’s being done to them is wrong,” said Gerhard. “It’s the job of people like me to be aware of the resources and services to help them.”

Participants said they learned a lot.

“The conference was really eye opening on what human trafficking currently looks like and how we are beginning to stop it by intervening with victims, offenders, and potential offenders as well as educating the community on the issue,” said junior social work major Annah Hite.

Current Issues in Human Trafficking: Policies and Treatment

Posted by admin November - 14 - 2014 - Friday ADD COMMENTS

By Bailey Basham

Trevecca Nazarene University is partnering with End Slavery Tennessee to host a training workshop on human trafficking in Nashville.

The community is invited to join the conversation Friday, Nov. 14 in Boone Convocation Center.

The goal of the program “Current Issues in Human Trafficking: Policies and Treatment” is to serve as a catalyst to create dialogue both on campus and in the community, to raise awareness for the issue, and to educate students, community members, and professionals on the policies and treatment concerning human trafficking.

Speakers at the workshop will include Jill Robinson of Vanderbilt University, Matt Dixon of the Metro Police Department, Antoinette Welch from the District Attorney’s office, intervention specialist Sheila McClain, Lizedny De la Rosa of End Slavery Tennessee, and founder of Freedom’s Promise, Amber Barron.

To reserve your place at the workshop, register here. This event is free for all Trevecca students, $10 for all non-TNU students, and $35 for professionals looking to earn CEU credits.