Good Works

Good Works are for-profit and not-for-profit ventures that
we think may be worthy of your support. Caveat emptor. Please check
them out to your satisfaction before you send them any money or
contribute your time.


The Drug Policy Foundation

This independent nonprofit, which researches and publicizes
alternatives to current drug strategies — including
decriminalization, medicalization, and legalization of presently
banned drugs — has an unofficial dress code among its 18,000
active members that runs more toward ties and jackets than tie-dyed
T-shirts and hemp sandals. Its board of directors includes an
analyst from the ultra-conservative Hoover Institution as well as
the head of the ultraliberal ACLU. The mayor of Baltimore and the
New Haven chief of police are also board members.

DPF believes that America’s war on drugs isn’t working, and the
numbers back them up: A 1993 study ordered by Attorney General
Janet Reno showed that 16,316 federal prisoners — one in five —
were low-level, nonviolent drug offenders with no major criminal
history. Yet as prisons burst at the seams, the illegal U.S. drug
business, estimated at over $40 billion a year, continues to boom.
America isn’t becoming drug free, according to DPF, just less
free.

DPF argues in its newsletters and conferences that we should
just say no to the current drug prohibition because it enriches
criminals, fails to prevent the spread of diseases, and disregards
human rights. The organization wants an open national debate about
this most contentious issue — as a first step in the search for a
rational system of drug control. Sounds like a very sober
suggestion.


For more information: 4455 Connecticut Av. NW, Suite B-500,
Washington, DC 20008-2302; 202/537-5005; fax 202/537-3007.


Weekend TV

Weekend TV, a joint project of the Fund for Innovative TV and
WYCC/Channel 20 in Chicago, produces original television
programming that combines community participation and independent
vision. In professionally done and often extremely witty 10-minute
pieces, local producers and commentators explore community issues.
A double murder involving two black preteens in Chicago’s Roseland
neighborhood that received the typical network news coverage —
cursory and simplistic — was reinvestigated by Weekend TV. A local
resident talked to both the victims’ and the perpetrators’ families
and discovered that the children involved were basically good kids
who needed some direction, not the monsters that the networks
portrayed. The viewer is shown these families coming together to
grieve and to learn from this horrible experience. Other segments
have focused on tobacco pipe?smoking contests, street artists in
lower Manhattan, and the culture of malls.

Weekend TV and its cohorts like the 90’s Channel, an alternative
cable channel that reaches more than 600,000 cable subscribers
across the nation, face an uncertain future in today’s political
climate. Those conservative politicians who fall all over
themselves in their attempts to crush ‘alternative arts’ and the
nontraditional values they supposedly promote would do well to tune
in to Weekend TV.


For more information: Weekend TV, 400 N. Michigan Av., #1608,
Chicago, IL 60611; 312/321-9321; fax 312/321-9323. The 90’s
Channel, Box 6060, Boulder, CO 80306; 303/442-8445.


Student Action with Farmworkers

There’s a lot of talk these days about the growing gap between
cities and suburbs, but the nonprofit organization Student Action
with Farmworkers (SAF) seeks to build bridges across an even wider
chasm: the one between rural and urban areas.

Every summer, SAF’s Into the Fields service-learning program
sends college students to farms and rural community organizations
in North and South Carolina, where the interns give much needed
help with child care, education, ministry, social services, legal
problems, and farm work and receive in exchange valuable life
experiences and new skills. Back on campus, SAF seeks to build a
network of campus organizations focusing on farmworker issues and
has created the Intern Referral Service, a nationwide database
linking college students with farmworker organizations seeking
assistance. SAF actively recruits students from farmworker
backgrounds, but they are by no means the majority of the
interns.

Anyone interested in learning more about current events and
programs relating to SAF, farmworker issues, and other
service-learning projects is encouraged to write for a free copy of
SAF’s newsletter From the Ground Up. In an issue devoted to migrant
education, for instance, we hear from students and activists about
the plight of migrant farmworkers and the many steps SAF and others
are taking to help migrant families get their children educated
(including SAF’s fledgling Migrant Scholarship Fund).


For more information: Box 90803, Durham, NC, 27708;
919/660-3652; fax 919/681-7600.


The Risk Report

Let’s say you’re a high-technology entrepreneur and you’re
approached by representatives of another country’s government who
want you to export a few hundred oscilloscopes or ceramic chip
capacitors: Should you do it? It’s perfectly legal.

The Risk Report, which is published ten times a year by
the nonprofit Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, is your
guide to more than a thousand U.S. companies and projects connected
to the worldwide proliferation of nuclear weapons,
chemical/biological weapons, and missiles. In addition, each issue
of the Risk Report profiles a particular country’s
weapon-making industries, reports which countries sold what to
whom, lists suspect buyers and what they’re attempting to buy,
offers tips on how to divert suspicious customers, and covers
international legislative and regulatory news to keep exporters
abreast of ‘proliferation risks.’ This is an extremely practical,
no-nonsense approach to keeping the peace, one designed for the use
of those who — although perhaps they’re not arms dealers as such
— export the component parts of weapons of mass destruction. So
the next time you get a suspicious long-distance phone call for a
dozen slewing ring bearings, phone the number below and the Risk
Report
will help you just say no!


For more information: 1701 K St.. NW, Suite 805, Washington, DC
20006; 202/223-8299.

UTNE
UTNE
In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.