With Justice For All Project
The “With Justice for All” project started out with the exploration of political and moral philosophies. As a class we studied, libertarianism, Deontology, Rawls's Rules of Justice, and Utilitarianism. After learning about these philosophies, my own morals aligned with Rawls. I believe financial inequality is acceptable as long as everyone has equal access to opportunities and jobs. From here we decided to find an injustice in our community after considering a variety of issues such as, mental health, drug abuse, and environmental issues, we chose to research Durango’s population of people experiencing homelessness. Through extensive planning, we decided to host an event for all community members culminating in a meal. To understand how Durango was affected by homelessness our class listened to guest speakers from local organizations connected to homelessness, toured a homeless community, and spoke with city officials focusing on this issue.
Throughout the event, hundreds of community members came to look at student work, hear guest speakers, and eat the meal we provided. This was the most profound exhibition I have participated in my entire project-based education and have never felt more accomplished. As I served food I could connect with everyone regardless of their socioeconomic background. I have lived in Durango all my life and this was the most connected to my community I have been.
I was on the event planning committee, our role was to design and run the event. My individual role was to create a budget for the event and student work. I made a GoFundMe which raised over $1,100 to cover the event costs and reimburse students for supplies they bought. The leftover funds were donated to Manna Soup Kitchen and will provide much-needed support in feeding the Durango community. I am overjoyed by the support of our donors! Prior to this project, I had no knowledge of budgeting and I chose this role to step out of my comfort zone. I enjoyed organizing spreadsheets, working with Christine the Director of Finance, and planning the event based on our budget. Besides the budget, I collaborated with Brigid and Lydia, the project managers, and helped with other miscellaneous tasks such as refining the layout and preparing students for the event.
At the beginning of this project, I had a very fixed mindset around people experiencing homelessness. I avoided eye contact with them on the streets and thought they were all drug addicts. I remember about halfway through the project, I was driving to school and stopped at a light. A man experiencing homelessness walked across the street, instead of averting my eyes I offered a smile. I could tell he was surprised, but smiled back. From now on, I smile at people regardless of their situation. I know it's not much, but it's what I can give at this point in my life. A smile can go a long way.