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What’s Happening With Nonviolent Cities?

Above Photo: Rev. Carolyn Morton and friends hold up peace banner, 2019. (Nonviolent Opelika/Rev. Carolyn Morton)

The Nonviolent Cities Project is uniting communities around the country working to bring nonviolence to schools, buses, and everyone in their neighborhoods.

What an exciting time for the Nonviolent Cities Project! For years, Pace e Bene has fostered the vision of communities that promote nonviolence in schools, businesses, cultural events and more. We organize with local cities/towns to implement nonviolent solutions and alternatives to physical violence as well as systemic, structural, cultural and other forms of violence. From Nonviolent Carbondale, Illinois, to Nonviolent Springfield, Massachusetts, groups are working to transform their communities. Here’s what’s happening in this ever-expanding effort.

We’re welcoming new groups in Nonviolent Opelika, Alabama, and Nonviolent Rochester, New York. We’re celebrating inquiries from Salford, in the United Kingdom; Cleveland and Cleveland Heights, Ohio; Lakewood, Ohio; Gresham, Oregon and more. We are cheering on the amazing efforts of our long-time organizers and sharing their stories nationwide so their successes can show us all what’s possible.

On a nationwide level, Pace e Bene’s article, “The architecture of a nonviolent city,” led to several radio interviews, including one in India. Nonviolent Cities Project coordinator Rivera Sun spoke at the Shanti Sena Summit about how we’re collaborating with peace teams across the country to support Nonviolent Cities in training their communities in active bystander, de-escalation and violence prevention skills. Pace e Bene trainers offered a six-week training in “Growing A Nonviolent Community” that introduced the concepts behind the Nonviolent Cities Project to both new people and long-time organizers. Nonviolent Austin, Morro Bay, Owensboro, Prescott, Little Rock, and Tiffin co-sponsored the For Goodness Sake Music Festival on Aug. 21 and raised funds for their work and the broader movement.

On the local level, here are some of the many exciting events, actions and organizing projects happening in Nonviolent Cities.

Nonviolent Opelika is a new addition to the project, led by Rev. Carolyn Morton. With her community, they organize to end gun violence, holding regular marches, vigils and rallies. They train the community in the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, and even make T-shirts with nonviolence messaging. Read more about them here.

Nonviolent Rochester is another newcomer to the Nonviolent Cities Project. Their efforts are organized by the staff of the M.K. Gandhi Institute, which has a decades-long track record of infusing nonviolence throughout the city. They not only have conflict resolution trainings with thousands of local youth, they also put bus-sized nonviolence ads on the sides of public transit buses, on billboards, and put hundreds of nonviolence-promoting yard signs in people’s front lawns.

Twin Cities Nonviolent, working with EMERGE and Nonviolent Peaceforce, ****trained a group of young, unarmed peacekeepers. Four of these peacekeepers now have steady jobs providing unarmed security and conflict resolution at the local Ascension Catholic School. At a Pace e Bene webinar on cop-free schools, they spoke about how they’re trying to expand the program. Watch the recording here.

Nonviolent Austin, Texas, held an online music festival last year — then they went on to help Pace e Bene/Campaign Nonviolence organize a nationwide and international virtual music festival all about nonviolence! They also hold weekly peace vigils, joined the March for Democracy with the Poor People’s Campaign, participated in a rally for voting rights, and organized cohorts to attend nonviolence trainings together.

Nonviolent Wilmington has trained more than 50 people using the “Engaging Nonviolence” curriculum. The workshops, which began in-person during January 2020, were interrupted by the pandemic, but resumed on Zoom in fall 2020. The online format proved to increase attendance throughout last winter and spring. Workshops and other activities will resume this fall under the auspices of Pacem in Terris. They have become a program of Delaware Pacem in Terris to continue this good work.

Nonviolent Morro Bay offered an introductory training in June for people curious about how to get started with the Nonviolent Cities Project. Watch the recording here. Their newest endeavor is collaborating with the Lumina Alliance to promote a booklet produced by young high school artists on how to end sexual violence. They are working to advance the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and are planning to offer a full school curriculum to area schools about basic human rights.

Nonviolent Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is working with Peace Action Lancaster to get their city council to divest $150 million worth of city funds from weapons and fossil fuels. They are also hosting an event on the moral injury of war on the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21.

Nonviolent Prescott, Arizona, launched an anti-racism effort and educational campaign to accompany the placement of a Harriet Tubman sculpture in their city.

Nonviolent Owensboro, Kentucky, is introducing the concept of a “Nonviolent School” to their community, inspired by the work being done in public schools in Rhode Island by the Nonviolent Schools Project.

These stories show what the Nonviolent Cities Project is all about. In large and small ways, people are standing up to make a difference. They’re collaborating with campaigns and groups across the country to end violence, promote change, and foster a world of nonviolence. If you’re curious to learn more about the Nonviolent Cities Project, check out our website here.

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