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MacKenzie Baris Interview

The Washington Peace Center recently conducted a series of interviews with local activists and organizers seeking their views & opinions on the recently released DC Principles, along with how national movements interact with local organizations/issues.


MacKenzie Baris

“It’s about trying to build long term relationships between people so that they understand each other’s issues across organizations and across parts of the city…” – MacKenzie Baris

MacKenzie Baris is the lead organizer and director of DC Jobs with Justice, a position she’s held for almost nine years. She took her first steps towards organizing in high school, working around environmental justice. She then became involved in various labor actions in college, after which she began working on community organizing.

Washington Peace Center: Could you introduce yourself and tell me very broadly how you got to where you are right now?

MacKenzie Baris: My name is MacKenzie Baris, and right now I’m the lead organizer and director of DC Jobs with Justice. I started doing environmental justice stuff when I was in high school—I was trying to organize kids at my high school around doing educational stuff and making smart choices about what we bought and doing river clean ups and tree plantings. When I went to college I got involved in labor work because I’m from a union family. I got involved in different labor things that were happening in the town my college was in—things like walking picket lines and trying to be helpful, trying to get our school paper to actually cover this stuff.

Then I got involved with community organizing. I had been teaching at a school, helping with a mentoring program as my job, and I got involved in community organizing in the neighborhood where I was working. I ended up living there for a couple of years working out of a Catholic worker house and organizing with churches in the neighborhood around vacant properties and creating affordable housing. I eventually found my way to Jobs with Justice when I got involved with trying to organize my workplace at George Washington University.

Washington Peace Center: Can you tell me a little bit about Jobs for Justice? What it’s about and what it does?  Read more

USCCB Committee Chairs Urge Congress to Protect Poor And Vulnerable as Debate on Budget Continues

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USCCB Committee Chairs Urge Congress to Protect Poor And Vulnerable as Debate on Budget Continues

March 20, 2013

WASHINGTON—The two bishops who lead the justice and peace efforts of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) urged Congress to address the moral and human dimensions of the federal budget and protect the poor, in light of the budget resolutions under current consideration.

“We support the goal of reducing future unsustainable deficits, but insist that this worthy goal be pursued in ways that protect poor and vulnerable people at home and abroad,” said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace. Read more

NRDC-Farmworker Justice: Overdue Standards Better Protect People from Human Pesticide Tests

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NRDC-Farmworker Justice: Overdue Standards Better Protect People from Human Pesticide Tests

WASHINGTON (February 8, 2013) – The Environmental Protection Agency today strengthened federal standards to make it harder for the chemical industry to use people as test subjects in pesticide research that is sent to EPA to help set health protection standards.

“This will better protect Americans from often unethical and unscientific human testing by pesticide manufacturers,” said Jennifer Sass, senior scientist in the Natural Resources Defense Council’s health and environmental program. “While the new standards do not completely ban human testing, they prohibit the EPA from considering pesticide tests conducted on pregnant women and children. They also protect people by ensuring that the EPA puts sound science in determining whether a human study can be relied upon for setting human health standards. Read more