Thursday, December 17, 2009

Seattle Against Slavery

Despite its relatively recent origin, Seattle Against Slavery (SAS) has already begin to harness significant grassroots support to comprehensively fight slavery in the Seattle area and beyond. Recognizing that ending slavery will require a range of efforts that engage multiple sectors, SAS has built a collaborative community of 33 local and national partner organizations. One of SAS's founders, Alex Sum, describes the coalitions as a "no-drama, non-politicized community of abolitionists." The impetus for SAS was a conference hosted by the Freedom Initiative Team in May, 2009, which partnered with International Justice Mission.

According to SAS's website, "Whether the work is local, national or international, rescuing victims or providing services to survivors, prosecuting perpetrators or creating new anti-slavery and anti-trafficking laws, we seek to connect all Seattle area individuals and organizations in a grassroots community with a vision to expand our network across the nation" [emphasis added]. Anti-trafficking work demands such a holistic approach to address the facets of the problem, from the myriad of needs of victims and survivors to the challenges of policy and prevention. Moreover, given the horrific nature of anti-slavery work at times, such a community is vital to the well-being of those on the frontlines.

Nevertheless, while broad efforts with diverse areas of expertise are necessary for addressing slavery in a community, pulling such a team together is easier said than done. Thus, the diversity of SAS partner organizations is particularly impressive. Partners range from victim care and rescue organizations in the Seattle area - such as the Asian and Pacific Islander Women & Family Safety Center, the Seattle Police Department, and the Washington Advisory Committee on Trafficking - to awareness and/or fundraising organizations - such as Climb for Captives and Film, Faith & Justice. SAS also works with other coalitions, like the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE).

If you are interested in getting involved, SAS and its partner organizations offer a variety of volunteer opportunities, from project management to public speaking to events coordination. You can email SAS at for more information or visit them on Facebook.

Like many anti-trafficking groups, SAS's vision is "Ending slavery in our lifetime;" the organization focuses on starting locally, "one city at a time starting with Seattle." SAS's efforts and vision reflect a belief that local efforts, when leveraged with grassroots support and multi-sector collaboration, can create global change.

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