Des Moines Catholic Worker

Des Moines Catholic Worker Julie Brown in Guatemala with Meta Peace Team 2014 Exploratory Mission

MPT Guatemala 2014 Exploratory Teamer Julie Brown 
Posted: 20 Aug 2014 10:42 AM PDT 

My name is Julie and I am a Catholic Worker from Des Moines, Iowa.  I have been involved with Meta Peace Teams for just over two years and will be traveling to Guatemala on behalf of MPT in just a few short days. 

I will be doing research and relationship building for Meta Peace Team as part of the Exploratory process for a potential new team location. I will be participating in a Guatemala Human Rights Commission delegation.  The delegation will touch on many different tough issues that the Guatemalan people deal with on a regular basis. We will be meeting with government officials, grass roots organizations, human rights defenders, and local citizens. The goal will be to get a greater understanding of problems such as gender violence, human and drug trafficking, gang violence, immigration, corporate takeover of private lands, and many other issues impacting the citizens of Guatemala. 

I will be working to make local connections to create a pathway to foster future possible MPT Teams who would perform accompaniment and more in the area. 

I am excited for this opportunity however, I am still a bit nervous going into a new country and a situation that I have only read about. I am very thankful to be working with such an experienced group of people and am proud to be representing Meta Peace Teams on this journey. 

Julie Brown <


MPT in Guatemala August 2014! Plus other Latin America exploration. 

Posted: 20 Aug 2014 10:44 AM PDT 

MPT is working with the Guatemala Human Rights Coalition and several other local organizations to perform witness and accompaniment in Guatemala this August.  Even more importantly, folks are working to evaluate the viability of future MPT Teams to Guatemala, and development of relationships for potential partners. 

A lot of groundwork, research, and relationship building goes into exploring possible new MPT Peace Team locations. The process can take six months to two years, including one or more exploratory visits in country, before a new Peace Team can be established. 

Experienced teamer and wonderful activist Julie is on the ground now, working with GHRC and local orgs to both provide witness and solidarity, and also research for future possible MPT work. 

In addition to Guatemala, earlier this year (2014) MPT sent an Exploratory Team to Honduras to do similar work, and build on a 2012 MPT participation in a Delegation via SHARE.  We have also received invitations or suggestions for exploration regarding other Latin American countries such as Venezuala and countries outside of the Americas, such as South Korea.  Exploration for MPT International Teams is an ongoing full time project! 

MPT’s steering committee and our Honduras Team Anchor are currently working to evaluate the 2014 Team and their findings, and plan for the future.  Please watch for additional reports on both Guatemala and 
Honduras very soon. 

Share |

2014 Rachel Corrie Project Delegation to the West Bank

The Rachel Corrie Project is pleased to announce our second delegation to Palestine in January and February 2014. Julie Brown will be returning to Palestine and Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs will be traveling there for the first time.

In Palestine, Julie and Aaron will coordinate with the International Solidarity Movement (

From the ISM website:

International participation in Palestinian-led non-violent resistance is important for a number of reasons:

Message to the global mainstream media – the Palestinian struggle is far from accurately reported by the mainstream, corporate-dominated media. Israelis and Palestinians are portrayed as two equal sides which cannot live together, fighting over land. In reality, Israel’s apartheid regime challenges Palestine’s right to exist and is met with a Palestinian struggle for freedom, self-determination and human rights. It is the responsibility of the international community to demand accurate reporting.

Personal witness and transmitting information – international presence alone can offer relief of day-to-day harassment and violence, especially when documenting with cameras. International civilians joining Palestinians can bear witness and return home to talk to their communities about what is happening.

Break isolation and offer hope – the apartheid isolates Palestinians and cuts them off from the rest of the world and from each other. The presence of international citizens sends a message to the Palestinian community — “we see, we hear and we are with you”. The belief that non-violent direct action can successfully challenge the apartheid is a cornerstone of our philosophy and message.

Internationals with the ISM are not in Palestine to teach non-violent resistance. Palestinians resist non-violently every day. The ISM lends support to the Palestinian resistance to the apartheid and their demand for freedom through the following activities:

Direct action — participating in non-violent demonstrations, creatively disrupting activity by the Israeli occupation forces, accompanying farmers to their fields and residing with or near families whose homes are threatened with eviction, demolition or harassment by settlers.

Documentation — documenting and reporting to local and international media about the daily life under apartheid and countless human rights and international law violations by the Israeli military. The need for documentation is not just to show that there are illegal and unjust actions going on, but also to provide a real means of evidence for accountability to the police and courts, case by case.

Stay tuned to this website for blog updates, photos and videos from Julie and Aaron’s trip.


Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs

Julie Brown

Share |

Benefit Art Show - Paintings of Palestine by Rachel Corrie Project Member Julie Brown

Julie Brown and Eric Hedberg at Rachel Corrie Project benefit art show on November 1, 2013. Photo by Michael Gillespie.

"Zaytoun" by Julie Brown

Flickr set of Julie’s paintings

Download this story as a PDF (149 KB)

Palestinian Voices, Palestinian Stories,

by Julie Brown

I had the privilege of going to Palestine through The Rachel Corrie Project last January. Immediately upon my return I went on a speaking tour with Jessica Reznicek where we shared our experiences with as many people as we could get to listen. After the tour was done, I still had so many emotions and stories that I could not find words for that I felt were important yet still left untold. That’s when I picked up a paintbrush, after a fifteen-year hiatus, and began to paint.

The first two pieces I created were collages that reflected a lot of anger and anxiety that had been pent up. I included pictures I had taken of Palestinians with anger in their eyes as they stood toe-to-toe with Israeli soldiers, and of a farmer planting an olive tree with his bare hands as soldiers pushed, shoved, and abused him. It was these first two pieces that, after I was done, finally opened up space for me to reflect on all the joy and the wonderful people that I had met in the West Bank.

From there I decided to paint portraits of real living people and places I had been. My hopes were that each painting could tell a specific story about a person alive in Palestine today. Each painting, once in someone’s home, would be a way to amplify the issues going on in Palestine in a unique way. This would carry these people’s stories far beyond the reach of my solitary voice.

The first painting I did was of Khan Al Lubban. It is a piece of land south of Nablus where a single farm stands. On two sides of this farm, settlements have been built. The farmer who lives there is constantly in danger from the settlers around him. They dig up his crops, burn his trees and come and shoot at his house while his children are inside. While speaking to this man he said something I will never forget. He said, “People always come from America and say they love Palestine. They say they will go home and speak. They no speak. Why they no speak? But you will speak?”

I have tried my best to uphold my word to this farmer and speak to whoever will listen, and through my art I hope that others will help me to speak.

I created eight pieces in all. We hosted an art show at Ritual Cafe on November 1st where I sold four pieces and had a great night with a wonderful group of supporters. All the profits were donated back to The Rachel Corrie Project to help support Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs and me return to Palestine in just a couple of months. Thank you to all who attended and if you would like more information on purchasing a painting from The Rachel Corrie Project please contact me via email at or phone at (515) 330-2172. Peace Be The Journey

Share |

Des Moines Catholic Workers Return from Palestine


Two members of the Des Moines Catholic Worker community, Julie Brown and Jessica Reznicek, have returned from Palestine, where they spent the month of February as part of a delegation from Michigan Peace Teams.

They kept a blog throughout their trip, which can be found here:

Links to individual blog posts after the jump:

Read More

Share |

Des Moines Catholic Workers Now in Palestine

Two members of the Des Moines Catholic Worker community—Julie Brown and Jessica Reznicek—are currently in Palestine doing Third-Party Nonviolent Intervention work. Please follow their progress at their blog:

Share |

Des Moines Catholic Workers Julie Brown, Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs and Jessica Reznicek with Fr. Pete Dougherty at Michigan Peace Team


Dear Friends,

We’re writing with exciting news regarding the Des Moines Catholic
Worker Rachel Corrie Project.

DMCWers Julie Brown and Jessica Reznicek are training to join a peace
team in Israel/Palestine in late January 2013.

We will be going on a delegation with Michigan Peace Team to Hawarra
in the West Bank,

Our work in the West Bank includes third-party non-violent
intervention to provide  support to those who have invited our help.
In the past this has meant  providing accompaniment to Palestinian
children to/from school,  giving their parents peace of mind,
witnessing and documenting violations of human rights at checkpoints,
or acting as a calming presence to help diffuse a potentially violent
situation.  Sometimes team members simply model acts of kindness and
service, respect and compassion.  Our team will seek to prevent and
reduce violence on a very local and human level.

MPT has trained hundreds of people in nonviolent action, based on the
teachings of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.  You have likely seen the
media coverage of the conflict in Israel/Palestine, and the recent
escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip.  The need for this peace
work is greater than ever.

Being newly minted CWers and broke, we need help….

This four-week commitment will cost us approximately $3,500 each.

MPT is a grass-roots organization with a very modest budget.  Our team
will need to cover all of our own expenses; including plane tickets,
trainings, and food/lodging on the ground.

We would be extremely grateful for donations of any amount, large or
small.  Please consider arranging a group donation from your faith,
community or school organization.  Your organization can also support
us by inviting us to speak about this work before or after my

Please make checks out to the Rachel Corrie Project …. and mail to
the Rachel Corrie CW House, 1317 8th St., DM IA 50314

In Peace,

Julie Brown <>  &
Jessica Reznicek <>
Rachel Corrie CW House
1317 8th St., Des Moines IA 50314

Share |

The Rachel Corrie Project

The Des Moines Catholic Worker is working to begin a new ministry in honor of Rachel Corrie—the 23 year old American who was run over and killed by an Israeli bulldozer on May 16, 2003 while trying to prevent the home demolition of two Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip.

Our aim is to contribute in a regular way to international solidarity movements in Central and South America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia by sending community members on a regular basis to volunteer with nonviolent protective accompaniment organizations like the International Solidarity Movement, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Michigan Peace Teams, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Justice and Peace, Witness for Peace, and others.

Our immediate goals for the Rachel Corrie Project are to:

1) Stand in solidarity with everyday people across the globe under foreign military occupation by providing direct material support to indigenous nonviolent popular resistance movements.

2) Train Des Moines Catholic Workers in new forms of nonviolent direct action, protective accompaniment, human rights, international law, history, culture, faith, and language, and the role of US imperialism around the world.

3) Educate our local community back here at home about the human rights issues facing many of the world’s peoples.

4) Change US foreign policy by building a social movement dedicated to peace and justice and powerful enough to dismantle the US empire.

5) Provide a sanctuary for international solidarity activists from other organizations to recover mentally, spiritually, and physically after an intense, potentially traumatic experience in a warzone.

In providing a space for their healing and the dissemination of their experience through writing and speaking tours, we hope to, in a small way, make this work more attainable and sustainable.

We will roll out a full proposal by this summer and have the necessary funding in place to begin this project no later than January 1, 2013. Luckily, estimated costs are relatively low, between $5,000 and $10,000 a year.

We’re excited about the possibilities this new project offers for us to contribute in some small way to the international movement for peace and justice.

We met with Rachel’s parents—Cindy and Craig Corrie—twice this Fall to solicit feedback and input from them about our ideas.

Cindy and Craig Corrie are the founders of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Freedom, a nonprofit foundation whose mission is “to “conduct and support programs that foster connections between people that build understanding, respect, and appreciation for differences, and that promote cooperation within and between local and global communities.

The foundation encourages and supports grassroots efforts in pursuit of human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice, which we view as essential to world peace.”


Share |

Mission Statement

The Rachel Corrie Project is an effort by a small Catholic anarchist-pacifist community in Des Moines, Iowa to train everyday people in third party nonviolent intervention and solidarity models and place them with peace teams in armed conflict zones overseas, as well as to provide a sanctuary for returning international solidarity activists.

We know that nonviolent witness and resistance takes different forms in armed conflict zones and that the relationship between indigenous communities and international solidarity activists must be informed by power and privilege education and cultural awareness.

Some of our members have traveled in Latin America and the Middle East with groups like Christian Peacemaker Teams, Witness For Peace, Justicia y Paz, and the International Solidarity Movement.

We are interested in conducting more trainings and placing more of our community members in short and long-term stints with organizations like yours to global hot spots. We are also interested in exploring how we can open up our community's four Victorian homes to other international human rights workers who need a safehouse to recuperate after time abroad, like those doing long stints abroad.

The Des Moines Catholic Worker community's major program is the running of a drop-in center, soup kitchen, and house of hospitality on the near northside of Iowa's capital city, Des Moines. We also practice nonviolent resistance, prophetic witness, and speaking truth to power. The Rachel Corrie Project is an intentional effort to expand the scope of our work and broaden our ministry.

Rachel Corrie

"Follow your dreams, believe in yourself and don't give up.

I feel like I'm witnessing the systematic destruction of a people's ability to survive. It's horrifying.

Sometimes I sit down to dinner with people and I realize there is a massive military machine surrounding us, trying to kill the people I'm having dinner with.

We are protecting civilians. We are unarmed. We are no threat to you. Please do not shoot.

We should be inspired by people... who show that human beings can be kind, brave, generous, beautiful, strong - even in the most difficult circumstances."

- Rachel Corrie

Donate via Dwolla:

Donate via PayPal: