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A multitude of intellectual discourses will be shared at the upcoming ASA Annual Meeting that appropriately addresses this year’s theme, Toward a Sociology of Citizenship: Inclusion, Participation, and Rights. However, this richly sociological theme is already embraced in all its potential application under the roof of a dilapidated old boarding house in Atlanta’s infamous drug market. It is here where a staff of five and a fluid number of volunteers put the lofty words "inclusion," "participation," and "rights" into action. Informed by years of harm reduction research, empowered by concerned professionals, and motivated by their awareness of the need, the grassroots movement known as the Atlanta Harm Reduction Center (AHRC) continues to address the needs of some of the most vulnerable populations in Atlanta. AHRC is an HIV/AIDS prevention and wellness program dedicated to empowering marginalized, at-risk individuals by addressing the health disparities of intravenous drug users (IDUs), multi-substance users, sex workers, and homeless transient people engaged in high risk behaviors.
In December 2008, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) celebrated its 60th anniversary. Soon after, scientific disciplines—under the auspices of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)—launched a new Science and Human Rights Coalition (SHRC), of which ASA is a founding member (see January 2009 Footnotes, p. 2). ASA staff and representatives from other science disciplines, helped conceptualize the Coalition’s mission and map out its goals and activities. (See details in the November 28, 2008, Science magazine editorial co-authored by sociologist Mona Younis.)
Beginning in early 2009, ASA Public Affairs Director Lee Herring became co-chair of one of five SHRC working groups. The group, "Service to the Scientific Community," aims to raise the scientific community’s awareness of human rights issues and to enhance the well being of people around the world through access to science (e.g., science education, science-based products, technology, processes), in accordance with Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
Frances Fox Piven
Former ASA President Frances Fox Piven often receives requests from students who want to interview her about her political theories and activism. So when Kyle Olson phoned her, told her he was a college student in Michigan, and asked if he could videotape an interview with her about her recent book, Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America, Piven agreed.
Temporarily housebound after an auto accident, Piven invited Olson to her New York apartment. On February 1, for about an hour, Piven and Olson sat at her dining room table and talked about everything from the founding fathers to Fox News, while his friend videotaped them.
"Students these days use cameras to ‘write’ term papers," Piven said later. "It didn’t seem unusual that he wanted to use a video."
Sociologists often need to juggle professional and personal lives and attending the Annual Meeting can often be a part of this issue. The Annual Meeting is a big tent and has a mission to include the small children of the meeting attendees within the community.
Whereas active membership in the ASA entails attendance at the Annual Meetings of the Association, and such activity should not be incompatible with the responsibilities of parenthood. –ASA Council, September 2, 1970