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A Spark of Nonviolence

Posted by Ryan Hall

Part of A Retrospective Series on the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions 2014 as we approach the Week of Actions 2015.

by Rivera Sun for Campaign Nonviolence

Wilmington, DE March 2014

Once a year, Campaign Nonviolence invites thousands of people to light a spark of active nonviolence in communities nationwide. This spark is then nurtured and fed year-round to build a light of nonviolence that shines brightly in our world. Through classes, films, speakers, actions, campaigns for change, this fire of nonviolence can be tended into a central hearth for a whole community, growing a life-changing force that helps humanity evolve.

CNV Wilmington, DE March for Peace (8)

Many faith-based and community organizations from the city and outside the city joined together, The t-shirts on the poles represent those killed by gun violence in Wilmington from 2013.Over 40 groups co-sponsored this effort.

One powerful example from Campaign Nonviolence’s first year occurred in the city of Wilmington, Delaware, which had been shattered by thirty-nine gun related homicides from 2013-2014. A coalition of over forty organizations came together to address the situation, intentionally connecting the predominately inner-city African-American communities with the predominately white suburbs. The coalition used a two-fold, oppose and propose strategy: March to End Gun Violence/March for a Culture of Peace. The simultaneous messaging proved effective: the march attracted hundreds of citizens, presenting relevance, timeliness, and vision all at once.

As the march wove through the neighborhoods singing and chanting, people stepped off their porches to join in. Citizens carried banners and tee-shirts on poles to represent the lives lost to gun violence. The diverse group included youth and elders, church groups and civic organizations. A month later, many of these attendees would gather again for a forum on how to address the complex roots of structural and physical violence in their community. Over the course of the year, another march, workshops, forums, talks, meetings and more would occur on a monthly basis.

ainsley flier

Pharmacy flier

This September, the coalition will be taking action again, continuing to work to build a culture of peace in their community. The marches are the visible symbols of the less noticed, but deeply important conversations, meetings, policy shifts, advocacy and outreach work. As this takes place, the interconnections between cultural, systemic, economic, political, and social violence are revealed from institutionalized racism to income inequality to the lack of nonviolent conflict resolution alternatives promoted throughout our culture.

Recently, a young woman who owns and runs a pharmacy in Wilmington showed up at their kick-off meeting and gave a donation. This pharmacy is part of B Corporations (B Corps are a new type of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems).

Part of the budget for the pharmacy is to set aside money each month for Peace. Here is what they are doing. First see the flier they have in their pharmacy (right)–they are donating 5 cents of every purchase during September to the Wilmington March, and second is the billboard (right) that is going up in 4 great locations in Wilmington.

ainsley billboard


Part of the intention of the nationwide Campaign Nonviolence movement is to connect the dots between the issues, and build a culture of active nonviolence that can address these widespread problems of violence. The September Week of Actions uses the solidarity of thousands of people to light sparks in local communities. Each action is locally self-directed and organized, following the Campaign Nonviolence framework of using nonviolent actions to address war, poverty, the climate crisis, and all forms of violence. As the coalition in Wilmington, Delaware has demonstrated, a spark of an invitation can grow into sustained, year-round action that can transform our world.Wilmington flier 2015

Thousands nationwide will be engaging in nonviolent action during the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions Sept 20-27th, 2015, to end war, poverty, the climate crisis and all forms of violence. You can participate and join with others in your local community! Learn more, find a local action, or add an action here.

Author/Activist Rivera Sun is the social media director for Campaign Nonviolence and Pace e Bene. She is the author of three social protest novels, The Dandelion Insurrection, Billionaire Buddha, and Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars. She is the cohost of Occupy Radio and the cofounder of the Love-In-Action Network. Her essays on social justice movements appear in Truthout and Popular Resistance. Rivera Sun lives in an earthship house in Taos, New Mexico.

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