Written by Rivera Sun
At the end of April, I spent ten days in the Pacific Northwest, planting seeds of strategic nonviolent action and growing the culture of active nonviolence as part of the 40 city Seeds of Change Tour. My goal in every community is to share tools and knowledge about how to craft strategies for change using the unique dynamics of nonviolent movements.
This part of the longer tour began in Portland, Oregon, where Students United for Nonviolence invited me to facilitate a large workshop at Portland State University. I was one of two featured presenters, the other being the incredible Sherri Mitchell, a member of the Penobscot nation, and a treaty rights lawyer and organizer.
We each offered a three-hour workshop (one in the morning, one in the afternoon), and I was pleased at the synchronicity and complementary materials we presented. In addition to strategic analysis skills, I also offered an experiential lesson on leaderful movements, using the murmuration of a flock of starlings as the metaphor for how we can use guiding principles and shared knowledge to great powerful, effective movements. Adam Vogal, Students United for Nonviolence, Tom Hastings, and Erin Niemela were all gracious hosts with tremendous insights, skills, and experiences to share, too.
The next stop was Eugene, Oregon, for a workshop at the Friends Meeting House, and a reading at Tsunami Books, organized by David Hazen, a supporter of Campaign Nonviolence and many other peace and justice initiatives. At the workshop, we examined the connections between our issues and how growing the proficiency of a culture of active nonviolence creates a populace that can pull off a strategic, self-organized, multi-nodal Movement of Movements. In Eugene, I met many wonderful, creative activists, including my Occupy Radio cohost, David Geitgey Sierralupe (whom I was meeting for the very first time in person)!
A small workshop in Seattle gave rise to an opportunity to create a series of short radio and film clips on strategy for nonviolent movements with Sharon Reigie Maynard. These clips will be recorded in June and made available online for easy access.
In Leavenworth, WA, I spend time with a local Love-In-Action Network group, speaking with a homeschooling family and friends who have read The Dandelion Insurrection. One youth, Grace Silvermoon, not only contributed drawings that appear in the study guide to nonviolent action that accompanies the novel, but also did me the honor of introducing my evening talk at Wenatchee Valley College. While in the area, I also spoke to professor Derek Sheffield’s writing class about socially engaged fiction and my own writing process as a novelist and activist. These conversations and events helped people come together and commit to regular gatherings for future actions and ongoing efforts for social change.
Everywhere I went, I found creative, wise people engaged in worthy projects, looking for hope and connection. I’d like to thank Tom Hastings, Adam Vogal and family, Erin Niemela, Tangerine Bolen, David Geitgey Sierralupe, David and Valerie Hazen, Scott Lanfield at Tsunami Books, Land Cook, Sharon Reigie Maynard, Julie, Melissa and Madi Quinn-Huffman, Grace Silvermoon, Ashley Olsen, Carol Kaylor-Smith, Derek Sheffield, Students United for Nonviolence, Portland State University, Eugene Friends Meeting House, Tsunami Books, Wenatchee Love-In-Action, Wenatchee Valley College, and many other individuals.
This trip offered a small taste of what a culture of active nonviolence looks and feels like… I look forward to experiencing more of this flavor as our movements grow!
From May 9th-31st, Rivera Sun’s Seeds of Change Tour will be in Texas, Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Find out the whole schedule here.
Rivera Sun is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, Billionaire Buddha, and Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, the cohost of Occupy Radio, and the cofounder of the Love-In-Action Network. She is also the social media coordinator for Campaign Nonviolence and Pace e Bene. Sun attended the James Lawson Institute on Strategic Nonviolent Resistance in 2014 and her essays on social justice movements appear in Truthout and Popular Resistance. www.riverasun.com. See the full list of Rivera’s tour here.