Read the Notes from the Latest Nonviolent Cities Project Conference Call!
Posted by Erin Bechtol
On November 7th we held a conference call for the Nonviolent Cities Project. We discussed the progress cities around the country are making and the steps budding organizers can take to build momentum. If you missed the call, you can read the notes or listen to the audio below. Click here for more information about the Nonviolent Cities Project.
November 7, 2017, 5pm Pacific/ 8pm Eastern (60 minutes)
Welcome – Ryan Hall
Opening Quote – Veronica Pelicaric
“I urge you to see people you find amazing as an indication of your own potential and a promise of a future in which each person’s unique brilliance contributes to the co-creation of a beautiful world. It is in you and in me. Once you know it is there, you will have a burning desire to rekindle it. That is the desire that will change the world.” – Charles Eisenstein, The Ascent of Humanity
Roll Call – Ryan Hall read the list of people who were on the call and where they were calling in from.
Updates – John Dear
Movement started with the city of Carbondale Indiana looking at the future of their city and deciding they wanted it to be nonviolent. NV Carbondale started to organize and set the path for other cities. Check their website for more info: http://www.nonviolentcarbondale.org/
Have been working on NV Cities Project for about a year and a half and now have 50 cities involved. At this point we are looking at what is most useful for organizers. On this call we will talk to organizers who have been at this for a little longer to share their insights on the project with other aspiring nonviolent cities. Will have a short Q&A with these established leaders. Everyone is doing good work, and it’s important to connect the dots and unite people in their efforts.
Sister Andrea – Cincinnati, OH
Started because she was intrigued by the challenge extended by Pace e Bene and CNV to become a nonviolent city. Cincinnati is plagued by nonviolence. Has incredible resources, but is one of top three cities in the nation for children living in poverty and associated violence. One catalyst for becoming a NV city was an 8-year-old boy who hanged himself one day because he was so bullied at school. Building a NV city seemed the best way to address these problems for children and everyone in the city.
Decided to try to involve as many people from the community as possible in the project. Sr. Andrea works for a nonprofit called Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center used an event featuring their annual report to announce the launching of Nonviolent Cincinnati called “Pursuing Peace in Cincinnati.” Gave out awards to acknowledge two local lifelong peace activists who have been involved in the community. They each spoke about what it meant to them to be peace advocates. Also had a sponsor drive with three levels of sponsorship to reach out to people across the region to get them to invest financially and emotionally. The next day they invited people interested in the NV Cities Project to come talk about how to get started.
Meeting about launching NV Cincinnati established a steering committee. They have been working on building a clear vision and mission statement. Another subcommittee has been working on the name — landed on NV Greater Cincinnati — to be inclusive of everyone who wants to be involved. Still working on naming their purpose.
Showing the documentary The Narrow Path: Walking Toward Peace and Nonviolence with John Dear and using the Engage curriculum to help introduce people to nonviolence and start to dig into the work of nonviolence.
John asks if they have planned farther into the future, a year out or so.
Have not yet planned farther than the film screening and beginning the workshop with Engage in January. There is still good energy from getting the project started, and lots of people who are directly affected by violence want to get involved and make a change. Hopes for more progress once their steering committee clarifies their vision.
Jim Weber adds that they have to decide what they are going to do. Are they going to work on specific issues, or are they going to serve as a coalition to bring many groups together in pursuit of nonviolence? Must determine their structure before they determine the next steps of action.
Kendra in California asks more about the event that they planned, since it took a year.
Event was designed to showcase all of the work that had been done in the previous year. The two awards involved a nomination process that highlighted a lot of people doing great work in Cincinnati. Choosing the winners got their whole circles involved. The sponsor drive pushed the organization out into the community. The three levels of sponsorship were Peace Promoter, Peace Builder, and Peace Advocate. Were hoping for three or four major sponsors, but ended up with 11. Found that people were really invested in creating a nonviolent city.
John notes that allowing a full year to plan was helpful, and scheduling it to coincide with the CNV Week of Actions helped capitalize on the movement.
Jane in Massachusetts asks if there are any cities on the international scene that had an impact on NV Greater Cincinnati.
Sr. Andrea said they were focused more nationally than internationally
Laveda in Delaware asks how they identified stakeholders and if those stakeholders were involved in interfacing with the mayor.
The stakeholders were other nonprofits or interfaith groups, including the American Islamic Group, the local Jesuits, the local Catholic high schools/colleges/universities, etc. Also invited the city council, the vice-mayor, the superintendent of the schools, and the police department. Reached out to everyone they could think of and only got a fraction of them involved.
Patty in Ohio asks about linking with sister cities across the globe to share the nonviolent goals globally. Also asks about the 12 week program focusing on the tenants of nonviolence, when and how is it going to be spread in the area.
Have sent the information out to hundreds of people and have information available on the website. They will be offering classes twice a week based on the curriculum developed by Pace e Bene. Ask people to come every week, but if they can’t they can follow along in the book.
Dave in Minnesota asks about their experience with the police department.
Nobody from the police department attended the event, but they have maintained communication with an outreach officer who wants to get the department involved.
Andrea notes that it sounds daunting, but there is a lot of potential and it is exciting to see the movement gaining some energy
Dave Gagney – Minneapolis (and St. Paul), MN
They have been meeting for about 8 months. Began calling people together to talk about what a vision for Twin Cities Nonviolence would be. Invited 40-50 people to talk about the vision. Also developed a list of potential collaborators — peace groups, anti-gun groups, etc. — while learning from Carbondale that this was a long term goal. Have been methodical about creating their mission, vision, and strategy. Have a steering committee. First major public meeting is scheduled for January 9th to talk about a vision for a week or 10 days of action for the fall of 2018 (maybe the spring of 2019 if the timing doesn’t work out). Have created a website and facebook page to get people involved. There is a lot of excitement for this movement. The twin cities have a lot of gun violence and are very unequal. Assuming that they will start small and will continue to grow the way Carbondale has.
John asks when they will officially launch their program and get the media involved.
Dave says they are planning on fall 2018. Jan. 9 meeting is to broaden the steering/planning committee. Right now they are only 10 people, and they are hoping to recruit more then. Jan. 9 will be when most people find out about the group and what they are doing.
Envision themselves as dropping seeds for a while. Committee of 13 people includes a judge, a councilman, and some professors. Town is only about 17,000 people. There is a huge problem with heroin in their town, which is what the five churches involved and others, are focusing on. Have had six meetings so far, meeting once a month. At the committee meetings they have decided that they want to deal with at risk individuals from schools and from the recovery units. Defer to youth who have already been sucked into drug culture to reach at risk or drug-addicted individuals. Trying to elevate the dignity of each individual and reach out, distribute information throughout town. Hope to launch officially in May with art projects throughout town empowering individuals to take action against the drug problem.
Laveda – Wilmington, DE
Have just gotten the core group together. Have been working with the Attorney General on some youth and recovery projects. This is their first conference call. Grateful to have John come to visit and help raise interest in nonviolence. Working hard to eliminate their reputation for violence and murder.
Ruth Ann Angus – Morro Bay, CA
NV Morro Bay is expanding to NV Central Coast, California. Enjoying a lot of momentum. Currently involved in educational projects, expanding into the schools to teach students about basic human rights that were established in 1948. Trying to combat bullying, human trafficking, etc, working with rotary clubs and schools in 4-5 different cities around the central course. Are looking forward to starting Engage training and helping people become nonviolent communication trainers.
Final thoughts – John Dear
Urges everybody to use the word nonviolence and to incorporate Kingian language into their work in order to connect the dots and mainstream nonviolence. This is all about organizing, reaching out, and connecting. For those on the call who have had some successes and made some progress, please help those getting started by writing up something about the work you’ve been doing to share with everybody.
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