JusticeNOW Does Coffee

One thing that never fails to unite the Phillips Academy community is coffee. The community service club, JusticeNOW capitalized on this reality for its annual coffeehouse. “[The coffeehouse] has a dual purpose,” said Community Service General Coordinator Victoria Wilmarth ’09. “One is to get people involved in social justice issues—this year we moved towards malaria, and the other half of it is to provide a fun, entertaining event for people and spread awareness about what JusticeNOW is.” Hanna Gully ’09, JusticeNOW President, said, “JusticeNOW was formally called Center for Global Justice but we’ve reworked the entire thing. Each term has a theme—this term the theme is justice in the news, hence JusticeNOW. We’re focusing on current events…the conflict with Israel and Palestine, Obama’s inauguration and the Bush administration.” Gully said that JusticeNOW was more aggressive with fundraising this year. “Donations came from Starbucks, Brueggers and Boston King Café. The board baked the rest [of the food].” The notable aspect of this is that all raised funds were donations, which differed from previous years’ Center for Global Justice coffeehouses. Every ten dollars donated covered the cost of a bed-net treated with insecticide, the most cost-effective form of malaria prevention, from to a third-world country. In addition, the ten dollars paid for education on malaria and malaria prevention for the recipients. “In the time that we’ve been here, we’ve already saved ten lives,” announced one of the emcees, Thor Shannon ’09, after the third act. “[JusticeNOW] decided to work with NothingbutNets because we thought it was a really good organization, and it’s a good cause that we haven’t been involved in yet,” said Wilmarth. Additionally, NothingbutNets tied in with JusticeNOW’s theme from fall term, epidemics. Aside from involving the members of the club in the fight against malaria, JusticeNOW also successfully involved both the audience and the performers. There was a variety of student talent showcased, predominantly poetry and music. A cover of Iron and Wine’s “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” by Dominic Chang ’11, Julian Danziger ’11 and Charlie Danner ’11 was the perfect accompaniment to coffee-sipping and cupcake sampling in Underwood, while Joel Gonzalez, his sisters and his friends brought a livelier vibe with a soulful performance of “Impossible” by Christina Aguilera. Veronica Faller ’09 and Stephen Levy ’09 lightened the mood of the evening, reminding the audience of the impending Gelb Dance and launching into an acoustic rendition of Orson’s “No Tomorrow.” Casey McQuillen ’11 and the team of Avery Stone ’10 and Lily Shaffer ’10 performed original songs on guitar. “I Have So Much Love to Give,” a poem by Charlie Walters ’10, reminded the audience of the importance of living fulfilling and loving lives. “Victoria’s Secret is that she’s shallow,” read Walters, urging the audience to stop subscribing to selfish, sex-driven or materialistic philosophies. In an improvised performance by Under the Bed, Patrick Brady ’11 and Will Adams ’11 created a scene inspired by the word “justice.” Their cries of “Justice when? Justice NOW!” only reinforced the urgency of the coffeehouse’s cause. While past coffeehouses have been sandwiched between the Gelb Dance and the Dance Open, this year’s JusticeNOW coffeehouse took center stage in Friday night’s itinerary. “Underwood was packed. It was so full that people were standing in the back the entire time. People started flooding in at 7:15 and by 7:30, the shows’ [start-time], the house was full,” Gully said. This schedule change certainly allowed more students to stop by, listen to their peers’ music and poetry and give money to help prevent malaria—all while enjoying fresh coffee. JusticeNOW succeeded in raising $500 and saved 50 lives. Not bad for a Friday night’s work.