Exploring the Wheel of Integral Nonviolence
Building Community and Political Witness
The first session of CPJC’s Everybody’s Revolution program was held September 14, attracting a crowd of 25 to discuss “building community.” After hearing about the aims of the program from Jim Anderson, about CPJC’s outreach efforts from Aramenta Hawkins, and about the basics of a nonviolent life from Justin Lin, the group engaged in an SWO analysis—Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities—of our Chico/NorCal community, as both a geographical unit and, more important, as a source of engagement, culture, and inclusiveness.
Among the strengths identified by the group were Chico’s geography, the presence of nature, interest in the out-of-doors, and our lack of skyscrapers! People see ours as a relatively safe community (no bars on windows) with wide political and social diversity and opportunity for discussion as people share resources and show concern for “the good, the bad and the ugly.” Agriculture is seen as contributing to our town, including a variety of farmer’s markets. We value the art scene—music of all genres, plays, exhibits, often provided free to the community. Last, but certainly not least, is the wealth of community nonprofits (including CPJC and its community partners), as well as the strengths offered by Butte College and Chico State.
But the participants also perceived a number of weaknesses—problems, issues, and threats that divide us or hamper evolution of our common concerns, goals, and values. These include segregation, racism, and cultural divides (despite the strength of inclusiveness mentioned above). There is a lack of connection between the college students and the community, and too often college students are seen as transient population. Homelessness, bias against the homeless, and the visible and invisible consequences of homelessness are huge issues with no immediate solutions. Participants also voiced concern about police/community relations, a distrust of the police and the need for more police transparency. A number of people were critical of “businesses being spoiled, an ownership ideology, and feathering the nests of those in power.” Social services are sadly underfunded and too often left to nongovernmental organizations, with the city and county unable to provide needed support. And despite our wealth of nonprofit organizations, there is lack of unity and communication among them, with single-issue organizations and campaigns that fragment effectiveness.
What to do? What constructive actions could draw on our strengths, take advantage of opportunities and overcome some of the weaknesses? Among the recommendations of participants were: affordable housing first, advocating for mental health outreach, developing education programs on cultural/racial issues, going to City Council meetings, helping to develop farmers’ markets, opposing big box store expansion, participating in nonviolence and anti-racism workshops, developing inclusiveness among activist groups, working more closely with Chico PD, holding community town halls, and working to make our activism measurable: How many people were engaged? What changed?
Everybody’s Revolution is a year-long project of the Chico Peace and Justice Center: educating, motivating, mobilizing. The next workshop will be held 2nd Wednesday, October 12, 6-8 pm at the Center. The topic will be “Political Witness: Nonviolent Direct Action,” exploring ways to withdraw support from violent systems and institutions, build nonviolent alternatives, to register political witness, and participate in nonviolent action. All are welcome; you don’t have to have participated in the previous workshop to join in this one.
This ongoing CPJC program presents military veterans who are willing to speak the truth about the nature of military experience, providing an antidote to the propaganda spread by our military recruiters. The program includes time for audience discussion.
Many readers know Phil as Senor Felipe, host of LA Sounds on KZFR, Tuesdays, 7:30 pm. Phil is a marvelous storyteller and this promises to be an entertaining evening even as it elevates the discussion of nonviolence and military monopoly. There is no charge for admission.
Career Builders Receives AJ Muste Grant
The A. J. MUSTE Memorial Institute Social Justice Fund has awarded CPJC a grant of $3,406 to develop our Career Builders Program. “The A.J. Muste grant means we’re not alone in our peace making efforts!,” says Charles Withuhn, Career Builders director. “The grant inspires us to bring new energy to our program of offering alternatives to military careers.” Funding will support outreach to approximatley 300 Butte County young people, providing them with career building activities and trainings. Funding will support program supervision by Executive Director, Aramenta Hawkins and funding for a Career Builders Coordinator as well as ancillary support for printing, travel, and production of a DVD by BCAC community television.
Community Partner Chico 350.org
Takes on Oil Bomb Trains
It’s been a busy month for Chico 350 and we’ve got some great victories to report! We met with County Supervisor Doug Teeter, as well as fire and emergency services officials to discuss our concerns about transporting oil by rail through Butte County. The meeting went well and a few days later the county unanimously approved sending a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration requesting they find an alternate route for trains carrying hazardous materials through the Feather River Canyon.
The next day we held a rally in the city plaza in support of the Standing Rock Sioux, one of the brave indigenous tribes blocking the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. The event drew about 150 people and featured songs, prayer and speakers from numerous Northern California tribes. It was a beautiful demonstration of solidarity and several local news sources ran the story, further spreading word of the injustices happening in North Dakota and the need to “Keep it in the Ground”.
The following day we sent representatives to the CalSTRS Board of Directors’ meeting in Sacramento to give public comments encouraging them to divest from fossil fuels. The board is responsible for the retirement savings of most of the teachers in California worth about $193 billion. They seemed moved by our comments and afterwards asked for a copy of one of our presentations.
Finally, we spoke at BEC’s “Stop the Oil Trains” training event in late September. The night featured talks from Stand.earth, Butte Environmental Council, and Chico 350 and was held to inform folks about the dangers of oil trains traveling through our area. Presentations, brainstorming sessions and community building were followed by some tasty music from Ava Rose Moon and Smokey the Groove. It was a wonderful and inspiring night of activism!
We certainly hope you’ll join us in our efforts to preserve this beautiful planet we call home. Sign up at Chico350.org or find us on Facebook to learn the latest news around climate change and see how the people of the world are rising up to fight it. The time to get involved is now!