Updates-A Story of Realistic Hope

The Many Faces of Nonviolence - A Taste of Palestine

Written by Sandy Zumbi

As I started my journey with NVI, I realized how little I knew about the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel. For decades Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has created systemic human rights violations against Palestinians, resulting in the displacement of communities, restrictions on freedom of movement, home demolitions, and unequal rights issues, to name a few (Amir, 2021). For someone who is always looking for ways to stay hopeful in the midst of chaos, I was met with disbelief. Yet, I could not stop there. I started looking into organizations and volunteerism that went towards providing aid to Palestinian communities. 

It was quite a relief to see the amount of organizations that partner with local communities to alleviate the stress and despair that the occupation causes Palestinian communities. They also help raise awareness of the horrors these communities face, including the daily impact of life under occupation. 

For several years now, NVI has worked with Hebron International Resource Network (HIRN) to reunite families by giving them a home and by working on renovation projects to keep families on their lands. HIRN has recognized the importance of building and preserving communities and has tirelessly been aiding communities to become self-sufficient in collaboration with neighborhoods and other organizations. NVI, currently being the U.S fiscal sponsor of HIRN, works to ensure that the organization's projects run smoothly. Another organization that helps HIRN in its fight to preserve Palestinian communities is Amos Trust

Amos Trust is a nonprofit organization in London, United Kingdom that works with grassroots partners in Palestine, South Africa, Nicaragua, Burundi, India, and Tanzania to promote and build sustainable rural communities. In addition, Amos Trust works toward finding creative ways to equip and support people and organizations to push for change through nonviolence, reconciliation, and peace. Among the various projects the organization undertakes is Amos Travel. Each year, the project organizes guided eleven-day trips through Nablus, Nazareth, and Galilee for people to meet different partners in Palestine. 

As I reflect on this nonprofit’s work, I could not have asked for a better person to speak to than Nive Hall. Nive, a social activist and the community engagement partner at Amos Trust from the UK, gave me a perspective as he recounted the program’s course.    

Amos Travel program started 20 years ago as the organization wanted to offer an alternative to Christian pilgrimages to the holy land/sites from the bible. The pilgrimages were mainly organized by Israeli travel companies with Israeli tour guides, drivers, etc.., which according to Nive did not include the narrative of Palestinians. What they were offering was aimed at the same market, but to the more socially liberal, socially justice centered churches who wanted to go and explore some of the politics of the region as well as meet and hear the stories of the Palestinians. But after four years of going on these trips, Amos travel decided to diversify itself some more into what it is today.

The program started offering trips with various aims. First, it attracted people who wanted to travel to that part of the world for other reasons and who wanted to have that experience of seeing the political situation for themselves. Second, they organize an annual trip called “Taste of Palestine'' which explores Jerusalem and the West Bank with the overall heading of food. Not only do they get to interact with farmers and providers on these trips, but they also help promote palestinians’ artistic culture. Third, it served as a resource for those who were engaged in the struggle for equal rights and those who wanted to show their solidarity on the ground practically. As a result, Amos Travel added a home rebuilding program to their trips to the West Bank. So far, they have organized six home rebuilding trips in the past 10-12 years by partnering with other organizations on the West Bank on homes demolished by Israeli occupation authorities. The project would, however, not be possible without fundraising and devoted teams of volunteers. These incredible human beings step outside their comfort zones every other year to help families and the community actually rebuild demolished homes. I was thrilled to find out that NVI is actively one of the many supporters that stand and advocate to make sure the homes being rebuilt are not demolished again. Nive notes, “That’s the kind of real boots on the ground activism thing which is really great.”

Nive also mentioned how rewarding these trips are to them but mainly to their local partners. Local partners are given a platform to tell their stories and a platform to meet individuals from other places. This is important to their partners because their opportunities for travel or communication are restricted due to the Isreali occupation. They also really appreciate people coming to stand shoulder to shoulder with them on the ground offering solidarity. “We always receive a vast amount more than we give in terms of hospitality, welcome, and more. There is something intangibly magical about it that is hard to describe in words. Actually, standing alongside a family putting the concrete blocks for their rebuilt house can’t say in words how much that means on both sides.” This is shared joy for the volunteers because these experiences are life-changing and for the families receiving a new home. “Solidarity is the key word here”.

Nive also shared that creativity is something they talk about a lot at Amos Trust. The organization strives to find creative ways to engage local communities and the people they reach. One of the phrases they use is “When words fail, art speaks.” They believe that art speaks to the heart and words speak to the head. And you can see a reflection of that throughout the different projects they undertake. This drew me to examine the song “Keep Your Head Up'' by Ben Howard on Amos Trust’s “HOPE'' Spotify playlist. The playlist was created alongside the organization’s second published book of poetry, prose, and creative writing. The book has contributions from a team of talented individuals Zena Kazeme, Arundhati Roy, Ben Okri, Cornel West, Angela Davis, Robert Cohen, Maya Angelou and one of their partners Abdelfattah Abusrour.

Keep Your Head Up” is a favorite because it resonated deeply with me. Although the song could be interpreted in many different ways, I see this song as a lesson. It reminds listeners to stand firm and be true to themselves and their beliefs. 

"Now walking back, down this mountain,

The strength of a turnin' tide.

Oh the wind so soft, and my skin,

Yeah the sun is so hot upon my side.

Oh lookin' out at this happiness

I searched for between the sheets,

Oh feelin' blind, I realize,

All I was searchin' for, was me.

Oh oh-oh, all I was searchin' for was me."

Here, he is talking about how he opened his eyes to see all the essential things in his life that he could not see before, almost like the failed relationship he was in taught him how to rediscover himself and see clearly again. Most often, happiness or good things do not look perfect. We may carry scars from past experiences, but those only make us stronger. We search for perfection but miss the point that what we are looking for is right under our nose, right in front of us, right in us the whole time. As lost as one may find themselves in the middle of whatever circumstance or situation you may be dealing with, it is crucial to keep your head up. There is always hope. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. All you need to do is look within you, and then you will find what you’ve been searching for all along.

It is hard to imagine the horrors that many communities in Palestine endure under the Israeli occupation. Yet many open their homes and welcome anyone willing to learn about their culture and hear their stories. Their stories are so powerful but yet too often ignored or misconstrued. But despite it all, I find it highly profound how these trips bring people together. The cultures of those who participate are so different from one another but point out that we are all human beings who, as citizens of this world, have the right to equal human rights. We all have a right to have a place called home and the right to feel safe within the walls of our homes. As Nelson Mandela said, “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.

On an ending note, I can only leave us with Nive’s remarks that left me inspired and reminded me of the power of storytelling.

“Hope is an interesting word. We talk about it a lot at Amos Trust. We have one of our little phrases we use all the time which is “We do hope”. I think it’s a hard time to be a human rights activist. There is a lot of threat to our human rights, like across the board. And to advocate for the rights in Israel/Palestine is a complex area to work in. And it is easy to be hopeless. Am I hopeful? Yes! We think hope is kind of a bit like love. It is something that you do. Hope is a verb for us. Hope is something we do, we must believe that there is a better world coming, otherwise we might as well stop. It is almost an imperative for us to hope.“


                 Credit: Amos Trust


Amir, M. (2021, August 6). Post-occupation Gaza: Israel’s war on Palestinian futures. Taylor and Francis Online. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/04353684.2021.1958357 

AMOS TRUST Home. (n.d.). Retrieved, from https://www.amostrust.org/

Spotlight on Nonviolence - Bruce Pearson


On this week’s Spotlight Series, Rachel had the pleasure of interviewing Program Associate and Publications Coordinator at the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict, Bruce Pearson. Bruce has been described as a “highly educated and skilled program and curriculum builder” and is passionate about bringing autonomy and power back into the hands of the oppressed. 

During our interview Bruce and I focused our discussion on three major themes: first, the influence of growing up in South Africa in the early 90s, second, the creative process behind designing and implementing training for nonviolence, & third, how ICNC uses Peter Ackerman’s text to campaign for civil resistance.

Bruce sees nonviolent action and civil resistance as effective tools that help to reshape society. He suggests that both of these are inevitable when people are pushed for change. Bruce aims to connect resources and people. He does this by helping to bring resources (ie. publications and videos) to people while simultaneously working with resistors to create even more resources for activists. His work with the ICNC team, collaboration with the Albert Einstein Institute, and many other nonviolent leaders has helped to create a checklist that asks a series of questions in order to assess people’s internal capabilities and understand their external realities. 

Bruce is informed by his own history growing up in South Africa during the Apartheid regime. His familial experience during his youth remains at the core of his worldview. He reflects on his immediate family's openness in a time of great divide and notes his parent’s wedding as a memory of multifaceted unity. This discussion opened the door to acknowledge the effectiveness of including more voices in social movements. “The greater cross-section of society that exists during a social movement the more informed the social movement will be.” 

Our discussion of resistance shifted to passions. Bruce shared his love of “anything with keys and strings.” Much like in music where tension and resolution exist to create harmonies, nonviolent revolutions mimic this pattern as they grow and gain momentum. 

Bruce left me with a message of hope. Seeing the willingness of those under oppressive regimes to collaborate and develop a sense of tactical options is incredibly inspiring, he insisted. “If people in entrenched political situations see an option to improve society and bring freedoms to more people then that option can be available for all of us.”


Bruce's Profile

The Checklist to End Tyranny

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Spotlight on Nonviolence - John Dear

I’ve recently had the pleasure of speaking with Father John Dear through NVI’s spotlight series. Reverend John Dear is a Catholic Priest, activist for nonviolence, and a prolific author, having written 35 books. He has worked with multiple nonviolent organizations, such as Pace e Bene, and its Campaign Nonviolence, which he co-founded. He has been arrested and jailed over 80 times for civil disobedience showing his dedication to actively furthering the cause of nonviolence. John’s latest work is The Beatitudes Center for the Nonviolent Jesus where he furthers the message of nonviolence by emphasizing Christianity’s teachings of nonviolence, especially through Jesus. 

Through my conversation with John, I found his stance that all major world religions advocate for nonviolence to be very interesting and an effective way to focus the importance of nonviolence for many people. John also emphasized the importance of actively participating in creating a more nonviolent world by sharing stories of his work as an activist and instructing viewers on how important it is to join a cause in some way or another and actually commit to helping with that cause. I learned a lot from talking to John and I hope that others will also be able to glean this same knowledge from the interview. 

About Page for John

The Beatitudes Center

John Writes About His Famous Arrest at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base

John Reflects on Nuclear Weapons

John's Peace Podcast

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Gaza: Cruelty Without Consequences

Dear Readers, Below is a letter about the recent (August 2022) Israeli attacks on Gaza.  NVI has long advocated for a nonviolent resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Please get involved. The status quo is horrible, particularly for the Palestinians. We must stop the violence and move to a just society where Palestinians and Israelis live in harmony.

Israel is currently gloating over its recent operation in Gaza. It succeeded by all measures: Israel initiated the conflict, first by arresting an Islamic Jihad leader in the West Bank city of Jenin and dragging him out in humiliation, as he was bitten by a dog; then, anticipating a reaction by his organization, Israel proceeded to bombard Gaza “preemptively.” In three short days, the Israeli military managed to rain death and destruction on Gaza, assassinating another Islamic Jihad leader, killing 46 Palestinians (including 16 children), and wounding 460 others.


Photos by Yousef Bassam
The United States Institute of Peace Board Should not Include Supporters of Human Rights Abuses

Edward Gabriel is confirmed to serve on the USIP board.

For those new to the topic of Western Sahara, please scroll down to learn from the many resources below. You will find decades of activism and international solidarity efforts opposing occupation all over the world including Western Sahara. This post is a bit different. Some may see this as an internal discussion only of interest to those focused on small details, but we believe small details build to create powerful reality. 

In the United States, citizen activists worked for years to build a degree granting school analogous to the major government funded colleges studying how to make war. Through legislative compromise what was eventually created was the United States Institute of Peace. 

Thanks to activist and scholar Barbara Wien for bringing Stephen Zunes’ recent piece to our attention. Please see excerpts below and read the full piece on TruthOut. 

(Please note this piece was written prior to the Senate vote. Gabriel has now been confirmed.)

Biden’s Nominee for Peace Board Is a Prominent Supporter of Human Rights Abuses

President Joe Biden has shocked the human rights community by nominating Edward Gabriel, a longtime lobbyist for the Moroccan government, to the board of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). Having an outspoken supporter of a repressive monarchy in such a position has raised alarms among supporters of the congressionally funded institute that promotes conflict resolution and prevention, diplomacy, mediation, human rights and democracy.

In one of the most egregious examples of Washington’s infamous revolving doors, Gabriel followed his tenure as U.S. ambassador to Morocco under President Bill Clinton to become a lobbyist for the Moroccan regime — essentially switching from advancing U.S. interests in the Moroccan capital of Rabat to advancing Moroccan interests in Washington, D.C.

Of particular concern has been Gabriel’s strident defense of Morocco’s occupation and illegal annexation of the country of Western Sahara.

… Putting someone with such a history of denials of well-documented human rights abuses on the USIP board threatens the integrity of USIP’s important programs in human rights and democratization. As a U.S. government-funded institute, there are certainly limits to how boldly USIP has been able challenge U.S. policies contrary to promoting its stated agenda in support of peace, human rights and conflict resolution. Despite this, its work has at times been applauded by progressive scholars and activists.

USIP’s conflict resolution programs that have addressed the Western Sahara conflict have stressed the importance of including all parties, including the Polisario Front — the internationally recognized representatives of the Western Sahara people and the governing party of the SADR — in the negotiations. Gabriel, however, insists that the Polisario is simply a creation of Algeria. This is incorrect, as the Polisario Front has origins as a clearly Indigenous national liberation movement at a time when Algeria was backing a rival independence group.

Should Gabriel be confirmed, important USIP programs addressing human rights, conflict resolution and international law would be in jeopardy. President Biden’s nomination of a spokesperson for a foreign autocratic government is a threat to USIP’s integrity at a time when more action in defense of human rights is sorely needed.

Stephen Zunes is a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco. His most recent book, co-authored with Jacob Mundy, is Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution (revised updated expanded second edition, Syracuse University Press, 2022).

Nonviolence International's History of Nonviolent Action in Western Sahara

(Mubarak Awad & Jonathan Kuttab in Western Sahara in 2015)

NVI has been concerned about Western Sahara for over 3 decades. NVI's co-founders Mubarak Awad and Jonathan Kuttab are some of the few Palestinians and Americans who have gone and done solidarity work with them in the occupied territory.

June 2022: International team co-organized by Nonviolence International, interrupts 500 day siege of the Khaya family and after 80 days of a protective presence, accompanies Sultana Khaya to Spain for medical care.

April 2022: In Nonviolent Strategies and Stories in Israel-Palestine and Western Sahara, Michael Beer and Osama Elewat speak with the Metta Center for Nonviolence on the power of nonviolence.

January 2022: Stephen Zunes writes in Foreign Policy in Focus that President Biden's refusal to reverse President Trump's policy on Western Sahara has dangerous global implications. 

Zunes piece in The Progressive warned that the threat of further Russian aggression against Ukraine was real and noted that the Biden administration is in a weak position to lead an international response.

December 2021: Khaya Family Update

March 2021: Nonviolence International is proud to make connections across boundaries that for far too long we have allowed to divide us. This NVI webinar connects those resisting occupation from Palestine to Western Sahara. We believe in the power of active nonviolence and offer this conversation as a way to celebrate brave nonviolent leaders and our shared use of creative Nonviolent Tactics and Training to make us even more impactful. 

(Video above shows Sultana Khaya - while under heavy surveillance - joining our webinar through Salka Barca. Note the 22-minute mark, at which Sultana Khaya dramatically confronts those who besiege her house.)

CNN featured Sultana Khaya’s powerful op-ed on a difficult topic that rarely gets the attention it deserves (Morocco: Western Sahara Activist Raped)

November 2020: NVI's Director, Michael Beer co-wrote this piece calling for an End to the Conflict in Western Sahara) and encouraging the US Government to change it policies towards Western Sahara. 

Nonviolence International supports international law and opposes the unlawful and violent occupations of its neighbors by Israel, Morocco and Russia.

July 2020:  Nonviolence International's statement on annexation

Resources on Western Sahara

Dr. Maria J. Stephan and Jacob Mundy. 

War Resisters International’s January 2021

Statement in the Face of War and Western Sahara Country Profile

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy's nine minute video on Western Sahara

Democracy Now's hour long documentary: Four Days in Occupied Western Sahara: Africa's Last Colony. 


Important Update: Nonviolence International Stands in Solidarity with Al-Haq

At this critical moment, Nonviolence International raises up Al-Haq and our co-founder Jonathan Kuttab

August 2022: Jonathan Kuttab has written an insightful update to the important story below. This issue has received far too little attention in the mainstream media in the US. He concludes saying, “given that multiple European countries have now resumed their funding for these groups after having conducted independent audits and finding no evidence of malfeasance, it would behoove the United States to finally clarify its position on this matter. If the US wants to continue proclaiming itself a defender of human rights and the rule of law around the world, it must do so in all countries and in all cases, not just when it serves Israeli, or for that matter, US interests.”

Read the full piece on the Arab Center of Washington, DC’s site. An Update on Israel’s Terrorist Designation for Palestinian Civil Society Organizations

October 2021: Israel's Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, has declared six Palestinian Human Rights groups to be "terrorist organizations." Nonviolence International notes that these organizations are respected leaders in Palestinian Civil Society. They have received funding and support from the United Nations and the European Union, both of which do their due diligence to ensure their funds are used to build not destroy. 

NVI's co-founder, Jonathan Kuttab, is also a co-founder of Al-Haq, one of the groups wrongly designated as "terrorists." As advocates of nonviolence, we consider the search for truth to be essential to building a just and peaceful world. Those who made this designation know better. They have taken this action not to reflect reality, but to shape it. 

The Center for Jewish Nonviolence said, "Throughout history, nonviolent leaders and movements for liberation have been smeared as terrorists by oppressive regimes. As Jews standing in solidarity with Palestinians, we see this every day, and we stand unequivocally with the Palestinian civil society organizations being targeted by the Israeli government, and we know that they are being targeted because their work poses an existential threat to the violent and immoral status quo."

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, who work closely with many of these groups, said in a joint statement:

“This appalling and unjust decision is an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement. For decades, Israeli authorities have systematically sought to muzzle human rights monitoring and punish those who criticize its repressive rule over Palestinians. While staff members of our organizations have faced deportation and travel bans, Palestinian human rights defenders have always borne the brunt of the repression. This decision is an alarming escalation that threatens to shut down the work of Palestine’s most prominent civil society organizations. The decades-long failure of the international community to challenge grave Israeli human rights abuses and impose meaningful consequences for them has emboldened Israeli authorities to act in this brazen manner.

How the international community responds will be a true test of its resolve to protect human rights defenders. We are proud to work with our Palestinian partners and have been doing so for decades. They represent the best of global civil society. We stand with them in challenging this outrageous decision.”

United Nations Human Rights experts put out a powerful joint statement which reads in part,

“This designation is a frontal attack on the Palestinian human rights movement, and on human rights everywhere,” said the experts. “Silencing their voices is not what a democracy adhering to well-accepted human rights and humanitarian standards would do. We call upon the international community to defend the defenders.”

The experts said that anti-terrorism legislation is designed for a specific and restricted purpose, and must not be used to unjustifiably undermine civil liberties or to curtail the legitimate work of human rights organisations. The United Nations Security Council, the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have all been clear about the requirement to apply counter-terrorism measures in a manner which is consistent with international law and does not violate States international obligations, they said.

“The misuse of counter-terrorism measures in this way by the government of Israel undermines the security of all,” the experts said. “The freedoms of association and expression must be fully respected in order to enable civil society to perform its indispensable work, and cannot be undermined by the manifestly egregious misuse of counterterrorism and security legislation.”

Today, we ask all who declare their commitment to nonviolence to make real that commitment by standing for truth. Please read Jonathan's powerful statement below and take the quick action steps listed at the bottom of this piece. 

Jonathan has decades of commitment to nonviolence and human rights. Anyone who suggests otherwise should study his work and consider why they would make such foolish claims. 

Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) Statement on Israel’s Labeling of Top Palestinian Human Rights Agencies as “Terrorist Organizations”

By Jonathan Kuttab

FOSNA Executive Director, Al-Haq and Nonviolence International co-founder

About 40 years ago, Raja Shehadeh, Charles Shammas, and I created Al-Haq, the first Palestinian human rights organization. After our first publication, "The West Bank and the Rule of Law," an Israeli ambassador contemptuously dismissed us as “a mouthpiece for the PLO'' and for “making a mountain out of a molehill.” We argued back through the International Commission of Jurists, which was our sponsor, that we are totally independent and meticulous about our facts and documentation. We challenged him to prove his claims or to show that ANY of our publications contained any materially incorrect facts. He never replied.

In fact, we were viewed with some suspicion within the Palestinian community because we were strictly independent and spoke the language of human rights and international law, rather than political polemics. This was new for most Palestinians. We persisted, however, and other organizations followed in our footsteps. We managed to have a positive impact on Palestinian society as a serious human rights organization. Al-Haq is now one of several world-renowned and respected human rights organizations. I am proud to say that over the years Al-Haq has meticulously maintained its high standards and, after the Oslo process, was courageous enough to apply the same standards of objectivity, independence, and defense of human rights not just to the Israeli occupation, but also to the behaviour of the Palestinian Authority, and also of Hamas.

I was therefore shocked, though not surprised, when Israel today declared Al-Haq, together with Addamir, Defence of Children International-Palestine, and three other human rights organizations to be “terrorist organizations.” This is a far cry from the polemical, false accusations thrown at us occasionally by Israeli propagandists like the NGO Monitor. It carries practical consequences, such as the seizure of assets, arrest of personnel, and the criminalization of anyone who donates to or cooperates with us in any way.

The fact that Israel is choosing now to attack all six human rights organizations is deeply troubling. It may mean that we are finally becoming effective and successful, that Israel realizes it has lost the public-relations war, and that the world now knows and acknowledges the reality that it is an apartheid state and a systematic violator of human rights and international law. The Defense minister may be afraid that the day is approaching when he and other politicians and army generals may face prosecution before the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and he decided to silence these organizations and cripple their activities.

Another explanation, I am afraid, is that Israel no longer cares about its reputation and no longer fears international public opinion, or any sanctions by the international community. The fact that it has been successful so far in avoiding accountability, and that just a few months ago it ransacked the offices of Defense for Children International in Ramallah with little or no push back emboldened it to do whatever it wants without fear of repercussions. Its assault on civil society can go on unchallenged!!

For this reason alone, it is imperative that we must act now. Our churches, first and foremost, but also our elected representatives must hear from us immediately. Israel must know that its actions are monitored, noted, and will lead to consequences. At the very least, it can no longer claim to be a democracy and be part of the Western world. It can join the likes of Saudi Arabia and North Korea if it chooses, but as long as it pretends to be a democracy and lays claim to billions in economic and military aid from the United States and preferred trade treatment from the US and Europe, it must be made to abide by international standards, and at the very least, stop its attacks on human rights organizations. 

So please join with FOSNA and others in this action.

Learn More. Take Action:

Call now and urge your church, as well as your representatives in Washington, to take action and stop this assault on human rights activists and organizations.

For those interested in learning more about Jonathan's loving, visionary, and nonviolent analysis, please consider reading his wonderful recent book that is available for free from Nonviolence International. 

Spotlight on Nonviolence - Jodie Evans

How To Throw A Better Party

Through NVI’s Spotlight Series I spoke with Jodie Evans. Jodie is the co-founder of CODEPINK: Women for Peace, co-editor of two books, and has been described as a “truly heart-centered human being." During our discussion, we touched on three main topics: 1. the cause and effect of working in politics in the 90s, 2. her role as a leader in a large advocacy organization & 3. how she reconnects to the roots of nonviolence.

We discussed Jodie’s role as campaign manager for Jerry Brown’s Presidential run in 1992. I suggested that running a presidential campaign must be the complete opposite of running a grassroots organization, but Jodie insisted that her campaign was run on one issue. That is money out of politics. This was the guiding value of the campaign because if money still existed in politics “it didn't matter what you care for, you wouldn't get it.” This bottom-up principle can be seen throughout the most successful civil resistance campaigns and remains at the core of CODEPINK. 

After our discussion about the violent nature of our current war economy, Jodie reflected on what her ancestors have done to make life exuberant and meaningful. She wonders if people have forgotten how to live. We transitioned on what brought her back to center and what made life “juicy and delicious” for Jodie. Her passion for gardening incentivized her to find a piece of land at the convergence of two rivers and open up the area to farmers. Rumi, her sweet retriever, and the rest of the community use this land as an incubator space for young farmers. 

In a final thought Jodie recommends that “if we watch what’s happening, we need to model what's beautiful.” Facing up against ugly parties can be easy. All we need to do is throw a better party.



Schumacher Center for New Economics

Jodie's Twitter

Jodie's Instagram

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Spotlight on Nonviolence - David Korten

Recently at NVI, I've had the pleasure of speaking with David Korten, the founder and president of the Living Economies Forum, which aims to reveal issues with current economic models and advance alternatives. He is also the co-founder of YES! magazine and has contributed prolifically to it. He is a current member of the Club of Rome. He previously served as a professor for Harvard Business School. He has authored many books, such as When Corporations Rule the World, Agenda for a New Economy, and The Great Turning - to name a few. 

Throughout my interview with David, he discussed the role of the current economy in altering human behavior. While humans naturally tend towards cooperating with one another, the current economic system, which David refers to as “ego-nomics”, encourages actively competing against one another at each other’s expense. David also discusses issues with the current system of education, which he believes focuses on memorization and discourages critical thinking. Furthermore, David describes the future goal of an “ecological civilization” which he believes that we should aim for, where we are able to live in concert with both each other and nature. Ultimately, my interview with David stresses the importance of aiming for a nonviolent world and how we should always strive to aim for a better, more human future.

I enjoyed talking to David and hearing about his insights regarding humanity and how our thoughts and actions can be shaped by our economic system. Our discussion really highlighted the importance of economics to me by showing how our current economic system encourages violence and selfishness, while our current education system only compounds these issues by discouraging critical thinking about this system. I learned a lot from David and hope that you also will!


David Korten's Website

"Ecological Civilization: Emergency and Emergence"

YES! Magazine

When Corporations Rule the World

Club of Rome

A few years ago we were told that computer algorithms would serve us. Now we have learned that we serve them. So, we are compelled to ask you to “please like and subscribe” to our new YouTube channel so that others will be introduced to the work you already support. 


The Movement of Movements is Taking Shape Now!

In a time of growing global crisis, the Poor People’s Campaign came to Washington, DC.

It was a powerful gathering reflecting hard work building the movement of movements many of us have been dreaming of for decades. More words below, but first some photos! 

Let's start with cute kids making key points. This shirt reads, "It Doesn't Have To Be This Way"

This sign from the West Virginia ACLU reads, "Stop Criminalizing Poverty"

The Poor People's Campaign Proudly Declares that We Won't Be Silent!

For those not already familiar with this exciting campaign please scroll down below the final photo. 

(Look closely and notice the two flags displayed here)

The most commonly heard chant on this special day was, "Forward Together. Not One Step Back!" 

Everybody Rises - Lift From the Bottom!

More and more people are coming to see that deep system change is needed. 

"Poverty is the Disease: A New System is the Cure!"

The Youth-Led Climate Movement was well represented. "Fight for a Green New Deal"

"Fund People Not War - Nuclear Weapons are Illegal"

I moved from Maine to DC in 1997 to work for the wonderful Veterans for Peace. Was great to see them out in force at the Poor People's Campaign. Note the US Capitol in the background. VFP is an organization that seeks to abolish the war system using the power and influence of those who have seen the horror of war and understand how militarism is connected to other pressing issues. 

"U.S. Militarism Fuels Climate Crisis"

Veterans for Peace says, "Fight Poverty Not Wars!"

Before the event began there was a special Sabbath service led, in part, by Reb. Arthur Waskow, of the Shalom Center. He was kind to me when I was little kid in Philly interested in all things peace. As the Sabbath ritual wrapped up, I saw the amazing Jodie Evans of Code Pink and went up to say a quick hello. Code Pink shared an office with the Institute for Policy Studies when I worked there and I hadn't seen her in years. She is a skilled organizer who gets stuff done and she immediately recruited me to march with a Code Pink sign. I picked out a nice one that linked militarism with poverty and was about to head off when Jodie said, "no, you are an educator. How about this one?" She gave me the sign above on the poverty draft and student debt. Unlike the other sign I picked this one had a QR code people could scan and upload their photos to be seen along with all the others uploaded. Jodie gave me a large roll of stickers and flyers and thus made my day even more fun. It was a thrill to see how many people were interested in taking pictures with this sign. I used the sign to engage with dozens of people and each person I spoke with was introduced to the important work of the impressive women-led peace group Code Pink. Thanks Jodie, Medea, Ariel, and all the Code Pink team. Your work inspires us all. 

Code Pink was a notable presence throughout the march. What's this photo of?  Not a war tank. We were in DC, but it is not a think tank, but Code Pink's Peace Tank with clear concise messages "Demilitarize Everything! Food not F-35s. Books not Bombs. Homes not Drones. Everybody's Got a Right to Live." 

Code Pink's beautiful Peace Tank from the other side. Sign reads, "War is Ecocide"

I started with a kid’s shirt. The final photo I'll share sums it all up. This leader's shirt reads simply, "There Comes a Time When Silence is Betrayal"

Yes, dear friends, I think we all know in our hearts that time is now. For far too long we have allowed ourselves to become numb to the totally avoidable daily suffering of precious people living in poverty in the shadow of plenty. That this suffering continues is a result of policy decisions we have made. We will not be silent any longer. At long last, when the interrelated crises are hurting so deeply, the movement of movements we need is underway. 

There are two important truths that are now finally being acknowledged. No one movement - no matter how powerful - can solve the problems facing us today. None of the movements for peace, planet, or justice have any chance to achieve our goals in isolation. But, together we might just bring some light into the world and match the moral clarity with the soul force and political clout sufficient to respond to the urgent challenges of our time. The need to come together is a gift since we realize our movements are connected in fundamental ways. In decades past, we had to debate this fact even with our friends and allies, but now many more people understand that our issues are inextricably linked and can only be solved together. 

At its radical loving best active nonviolence can play a unifying role bringing activists across movements together. Nonviolence should never allow ourselves to be misunderstood to suggest an attempt to police how oppressed people protest, but instead as the Force More Powerful we are just beginning to experiment with. We know Nonviolent Tactics are the tools of liberation (check out our recent webinar on this very topic). 

Nonviolence International celebrates the bold leadership of Rev. William Barber and the Poor People’s Campaign. We are inspired by their moral witness and join with them in solidarity asking all our friends and supporters to do whatever you can to help raise up their vital work. 

There are 140 million poor and low-wealth people in the richest country in the world. Somehow we have allowed enormous and totally unnecessary suffering to continue year after year, decade after decade. It is as if we have forgotten our moral obligation to reduce the violence inherent in the way our society is structured. We at NVI ask - how have Americans become accepting of violence in their economy? How do our actions at home and abroad impact others living in poverty? 

Those who recently lectured on how Dr. King would have felt about property destruction seemed to have missed his larger point. We must recognize the humanity of all people. That recognition requires long-delayed and bold action. The time for small ideas is over. This movement, rooted in the leadership of poor people, deserves the active support of all who consider themselves to be committed to nonviolence. 

Focusing our attention on those who are most in need has long been a central guiding principle of active nonviolence. For those interested in history, please see how Dr. King’s final campaign echoes in the work we are engaged in today. 

See our earlier post on this topic that explores Gandhi and King’s moral commitment: 


Here is the full livestream of the event. So much to love here. Great music, visionary leaders, hearing directly from those most impacted, and a spirit of revolutionary love and solidarity. Rev. Barber's energy as emcee in call and response created a powerful united flow to the program. His speech is among the best I've ever heard. Find it at: 2:01. Phyllis Bennis, the great scholar of Middle East peace (whose office was next to mine when I was at the Institute for Policy Studies) speaks at 3:49. She reminds us that budgets are moral documents and shares hard truths about how the US Federal Budget is distorted to value war above all else. As usual, Rev. Cornell West knocks it out of the park noting the importance of international solidarity. Check to out at: 4:20 or just watch the whole video and be inspired by the emerging movement of movements. As they say, this is, "A Moral Revolution of Values" and it has come to us in these crucial years. May we embrace this movement, help it grow, and claim our future. 

Spotlight on Nonviolence - David Solnit

How Art & Bodies Making Sweeping Change

Through NVI’s Spotlight Series, I spoke with world-renowned art activist, David Solnit. He has been described as “Activism’s Renaissance Man,” the co-founder of Art and Revolution, and encourages social movements with participatory activism and performance. David’s art has been used for creative and colorful resistance in Seattle’s World Trade Organization protest in 1999, the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, and the Immokalee farm workers which shut down some of the biggest restaurant franchises.

During my interview with David, we discussed the varied nature of art activism and the different forms of art someone might see during a social movement. “Arts'' can be anything from visual banners or flags to musical arts and performance art. David’s passion is deeply rooted in the belief that at the end of the day all we have to change the world is “our voice, our bodies, and the things we create with our hands.” He emphasized the idea that art created for protests can be an alternative to the propaganda and media that the government uses to alter public relations.  Instead of existing to manipulate the narrative, protest arts uplift and highlight the lives of where the art is rooted–in the people. 

David quotes Ricardo Levins Morales when speaking about art's role in creating momentum for nonviolent social movements. He suggests that “art speaks directly to the inner spaces where stories are stored.” In effect, this can create sweeping change that Festivals of Resistance use to visualize a better world. My conversation with David was colorful and engaged every one of my senses. Our time together affirmed my belief that resisters have the edge and that everyone can make art. When paired strategically, art can amplify creative struggle and create victories.   

The Oakland Institute 

David's Instagram

San Fransisco Street Murals

Climate Designers Party Program

No Pipeline, No Way!

A few years ago we were told that computer algorithms would serve us. Now we have learned that we serve them. So, we are compelled to ask you to “please like and subscribe” to our new YouTube channel so that others will be introduced to the work you already support. 


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