What We Are About


Narrative Description 



The Class of 1969 Project (the "Project") was formed by certain members of the 1969 graduating class of Amherst College (the "Class of 1969"). These individuals believe that their class contains a number of talented individuals, and that the collective talents, energies and resources of such individuals could be a force of change in this country, and the world at large. It was felt that the best way to accomplish this would be to focus on a few select issues at a time, which might be of interest to a broad number of alumni from the Class of 1969.

Three initial issues have been selected. The first is an outreach program to the Muslim community, designed to broaden the awareness of non-Muslims about the traditions, culture and values that form a part of the Muslim community, and improve relations with the Muslim community. Discussions have been held with the Imam of the local mosque in Amherst, Massachusetts, as well as with professors of religion, to discuss ways to break down the barriers and misunderstandings that exist between non-Muslims and the Muslim community.

As a result of these discussions, the Project will provide people with a list of responsible books and DVDs about Islam, sponsor meetings at mosques to enable non¬Muslims to observe the prayer service and interact socially with worshippers, and sponsor education seminars featuring teleconferencing sessions with religious leaders and professors, all designed to enhance understanding of the Islamic faith and the Muslim people. Copies of the recorded interviews and literature will be made available, free of charge, to interested parties, and contact with individuals in other colleges will be made, to try and encourage the establishment of similar programs in their communities, and suggest ways that understanding and cooperation among non-Muslims and Muslims can be encouraged. Members of the Class of 1969 will also be encouraged to serve as mentors to Muslim students, to encourage such students in their roles as leaders of the Muslim community, with the hope that these students will continue the process of building bridges between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

The second issue selected is the promotion of smart energy use, including alternative sources of fuel, as a way of helping protect our environment. The Project intends to sponsor inter-active seminars and distribute literature, explaining and giving examples of ways to save energy, and encouraging a decreased reliance on traditional sources of energy. 'The seminars would be recorded, and put on DVD, and then distributed free of charge to individuals interested in learning more about smart energy use. One of the goals of such programs and literature will be to encourage the individuals reached to then go out and promote smart energy use concepts in their own communities.

The final issue that has been selected is working on a one-to-one basis with college students and other young adults. Amherst College has been awarded a $13 million grant by the Argosy Foundation to develop a Center for Community Engagement. This would provide opportunities for students to work in public interest jobs. Members of the Class of 1969 would act as mentors to various students and young adults, helping guide them in the selection of college courses and careers, and assisting them in finding jobs and lodging. One of the goals of such activities would be to develop the students and young adults into activist leaders of their colleges and communities, who would then, in turn, encourage similar conduct in others.
Possible future activities planned by the Project to help implement these issues are the following:

1. Conferences with alumni, students, religious leaders and the imam of the local mosque, to explore further understanding of the Islamic faith and cooperation with Muslim people.

2. Hiring college film students at Amherst to do a documentary of the class project, highlighting the specific projects being undertaken, to be disseminated to alumni, students and others, as a means of mobilizing others to take action in the areas chosen, and to contribute their energies and resources to furthering the activities being undertaken by the Project.

3. Promoting the idea of a class project to alumni of other colleges and universities, as a way of encouraging other alumni groups to use their collective talents, energies and resources to benefit society.

4. Contacting various news media to publicize the idea of using an alumni group as a force of change in selected areas, and to promote the specific issues selected by the Project.
After these projects have been implemented, and as the expected involvement of the Class of 1969 continues to grow, the Project intends to look for other concrete ways that the members of the Class of 1969 can continue to make a positive contribution to their communities and world.

The names, qualifications, and duties of the initial directors are as follows (the number of hours to be devoted by each to the Project will vary, depending on the needs at any given time):

Justin P. Grimes has been serving as the point person on the Project. He is a trial attorney, with over 30 years of experience, and has been active previously in community organizing and lobbying activities.

Richard Aaronson, M.D is a nationally known physician in the public health field, who was named as the "Best Pediatrician in Wisconsin." He has received a number of national awards for work in public health, and is involved on a volunteer basis in organizing meetings for Future Search, to resolve societal problems.

Gary Forester, M.D. is a physician and member of the faculty at New Jersey College of Medicine.

All three directors will be involved in actively promoting and administering the Project.