January 2015 Newsletter Summary

Dear ACTION Friends and Supporters,

Happy New Year and welcome to our first issue of 2015! We trust that you were all able to have a replenishing break over the festive season, and have entered into 2015 refreshed and renewed for the year ahead.

In this issue we share information with you about our plans for the coming year, as well as the final events and outcomes of 2015, such as the Local Peace Committee Awards Ceremony which rounded off 2014 for us and our community partners. We are also pleased to announce that our biennial report is now available, as is the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum report, which document various aspects of our work over the past years. Finally, the minutes from the General Members Meeting held last year are now available, and have contributed to the ASC plans for this year, including the process of establishing the new Steering Committee.

In early January the ASC team took 2 days away together for teambuilding and a strategic planning meeting, during which we discussed and consolidated our plans for 2015. We are excited to share with you what our anticipated developments are this year, and encourage you to get involved in our various activities. Applications for the Applied Conflict Transformation course in April are already open, and we are calling for contributors for our next issue of Drums of Change.

The upcoming Drums of Change issue will focus on the Post 2015 development agenda. As 2015 is now finally upon us, the discussions that are underway across the globe must be consolidated into the plans that will shape the development landscape for the next 15 years. Meetings on Post 2015 have already begun, which you can read more about in the article about SALOs meeting on National, Regional and International Consensus on the Post 2015 Development Agenda, as well as the International Policy Conference in Turkey.

Alongside the optimism and energy moving into the new year has been the challenge thrust before us by the violence, looting and xenophobic sentiment that has broken out around Johannesburg, South Africa. In collaboration with the Local Peace Committees, immediate action was taken to address the violence and start implementing strategies to promote solidarity, peaceful solutions and long term plans redoubling efforts to promote dialogue and understanding in local communities. A solidarity event will be held on the 14th of February to call for peace and unity in communities, and a meeting was held with the Somali embassy to discuss how to strengthen work with the Somali community, especially given recent events. There have also been continuing discussions on Zimbabwe, which are of relevance to our solidarity work with the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum. As we seek to build solidarity and peace in our communities and in the region, we also remember the contribution that activist Mam Florence Kwashu made in our letter of condolence to honour her passing.

Finally, the work that we have been conducting in partnership with MAVC has swung into action, with a workshop, Community of Practice meeting, and a series of 3 blogs that describe in depth the research project being undertaken, and the implications for technology and communications in early warning-response systems.