The University Record, October 2, 1995

DuBois, Moore, Walker to discuss community service

By Jane R. Elgass

Paul M. DuBois, Frances Moore Lappe and Rebecca Walker are among the speakers lined up for a conference on community service later this month that also features several members of the U-M community.

“Working Together for a Better Community: Community Service and Learning—A Lifelong Experience” will be held Oct. 16–17 at Washtenaw Community College.

U-M speakers include Regent Philip A. Power and student Andre Hewitt of the Black Volunteer Network, who will give addresses at the opening plenary session; Jeff Howard of the Office of Community Service Learning; Graham Mercer of the School of Business Administration’s Global Citizenship Program; and Barry Checkoway, director of the U-M’s AmeriCorps Program.

Power notes that “community service is a fantastically powerful learning experience. Participating in it changes one’s entire life.

“When I was an undergraduate at the U-M, I was part of the group that originally conceived the idea that young Americans would be interested in voluntary service abroad. That idea ultimately became the genesis of the Peace Corps, which has contributed so much to so many countries abroad and to the lives of so many Americans. Looked at in this way,” he adds, “community service is a stone which, tossed into the pond of life, will produce enormous and wide-ranging ripples.”

Howard will be a panelist discussing “Community Service as a Requirement or Mandate” and will be among the facilitators describing a new service learning volunteer matching project involving the U-M, Washtenaw Community College and Eastern Michigan University.

Mercer will moderate a session on “Employee Involvement and Corporate Responsibility.”

Checkoway will moderate an open forum on community service and learning—A Call to Service—7–9 p.m. Oct. 16 that will include DuBois, Lappe and Walker, as well as Michelle Obama, director of Public Allies, Chicago; Stephanie Mills, author of In Service of the Wild; and members of the audience in an evening of “sharing experiences, personal reflections and future visions.”

The program is being presented by several sponsors, including the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, NEW (Nonprofit Enterprise at Work), Great Lakes Bancorp and the Ann Arbor News, with support from Washtenaw Community College, Briarwood and the Office of Campus Life, Eastern Michigan University.

The conference owes its origin to a task force appointed by President James J. Duderstadt that resulted in a first conference last spring.

That meeting, says NEW’s Judith Cawhorn, “indicated there was interest in continuing a community-based discussion and in developing an ongoing network—a group that would meet regularly to discuss community service, an important resource in the community but often unacknowledged.”

The conference—one approach to continuing the discussion—is designed for a “broad representation of the community, including the academic environment, volunteer leaders, business organizations and employee service groups,” says Judith Cawhorn of NEW, an organization that provides services for non-profit organizations and agencies. “It’s also designed for those who are participating in community service to perhaps find new and better ways of carrying out their activities.”

“Community service and learning,” conference planners note, “involves building bridges of many kinds—across sectors, age groups, socioeconomic strata, racial and ethnic groups. How we talk and think about community service and learning, especially in this era of federal funding cuts to nonprofits, will affect the quality of life for everyone.

“This second conference is an opportunity for participants to see models of successful community service initiatives, develop the skills necessary for creating a positive service environment and join with others in the community to form working partnerships.”

Husband and wife DuBois and Lappe will deliver the Oct. 17 keynote address at 1:30 p.m. on “What’s Working: Lessons from Americans Bringing Democracy to Life.

The two direct the Center for Living Democracy in Vermont, with a goal of providing a training program for democratic social change.

Their recent bestseller, The Quickening of America: Rebuilding Our Nation, Remaking Our Lives, stresses effective citizen participation as a key to solving public problems and is shaping debate nationwide.

The two focus on stories of democracy in action, highlighting examples of hope and positive action by everyday Americans. They do believe, however, that effective citizenship must be learned, thus the Center.

Walker will deliver the Oct. 16 keynote at 1:30 p.m. on “Identifying Our Power and Engaging Our Resources.”

An activist involved in women’s and multicultural issues, Walker founded Third Wave Direction Action Corp., a national nonprofit organization devoted to empowering young women through voter registration and literacy. In its first project, 20,000 low-income female voters of color were registered.

Walker, who is the daughter of author Alice Walker, writes about feminism, domestic violence and civil rights, and has hosted a television forum on pregnancy and drug abuse.

She was recently named by Time magazine as one of the 50 future leaders of America.

Registration, $50 for both days, $35 per day, is due today (Oct. 2) and includes meals. On-site registration is $70. To register, contact NEW, 1100 N. Main St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Credit card registrations may be faxed to 998-0163.

For information, call 998-0160.