Preventing a Coup: Intro to a Strategy & Structure Wednesday, October 14 7:00p - 9:00p (EDT)
As we prepared to run another round of online workshops for the fall, we learned of a growing national movement to defend the integrity of the US election from threats of disruption, voter intimidation, and other forms of voter suppression to which President Trump and other prominent Republicans had previously alluded. We decided to modify our plans and give two new workshops specific to the issues of voter intimidation and political power-grabs. Participants were briefed on the situation, the potential threats and scenarios, and the various national groups providing trainings and organizing to prevent those threats. We also prepared a resource document of the groups and resources around the country and locally in Connecticut to join.
From the original workshop description: 'Groups across the country are organizing in case of a power-grab and a constitutional crisis. This workshop will share resources and strategies being coordinated by these groups, and will teach participants how to organize their own communities to actively resist and prevent an illegitimate, undemocratic government takeover.'
Preventing a Coup: Organizing for Action and Alliance Election Integrity Information Sharing Session & Workshop Monday, October 26 7:00-8:30pm EDT
The second workshop in October was similar to the first, but streamlined and with more urgency. We also shared deescalation techniques that we had recently learned from the national workshops.
From the original workshop description: 'Last week, Connecticut State Republican Party chairman J.R. Romano sent out a call for an “Army for Trump” to become poll-watchers to “ensure a fair and honest election.” Within the context of President Trump's encouragement of violent white supremacist groups like the Proud Boys, the call sounds like one for voter intimidation.
This 1.5 hour info sharing session & workshop will address the threats to the election, and how to get involved in defending the integrity of the results. Topics will include: analyses of election scenarios and responses, examples of thwarted coups; workshop on de-escalation, staying safe, nonviolent resistance; national resources and trainings; and local efforts for central and eastern Connecticut.'
Sunday, August 23 4:30-5:30 PM EST "Stories and Strategies from the Civil Rights Movement" A mini-workshop at POWER UP - Manchester's Wake Up, Show Up, Power Up weekend event
Joanne Sheehan was invited to run an hour long workshop at the Power Up! event that included voter registration and a collection fo bikes for kids at Center Memorial Park. Vendors, community allies, and other speakers ajoined. In this workshop, Joanne asked participants about what they knew about the Civil Rights Movement, then briefly gave an overview of the nonvilent campaigns. Joanne explained what actions, campaigns, and movements are, how they interact with each other, and examples of both successful and unsuccessful ones. Joanne and Dan Park also had a literature table with Black Lives Matter materials, along with materials from War Resisters League and VPT. Several participants came by to talk and learn more.
Monday, August 3 7:00-9:00 PM EST "Learning from the History of Nonviolent Campaigns and Social Movements: Nashville" A free virtual workshop for POC & white-allies new to activism & organizin
This was our first online workshop, and with the exception of a few technical hiccups, went well. In this workshop, the participants explored one of the most foundational campaigns in the Civil Rights Movement, where John Lewis and many others learned about strategic nonviolent campaigns in 1960: the Nashville Campaign. After introductions, workshop participants watched a 25 minute documentary on the Nashville Campaign, followed by an open discussion. Participants together mapped out and strategically analyzed the situation through the use of an organizing chart. A dozen participants attended this online workshop, with Joanne Sheehan and Shateeka Phillips as the facilitators and Dan Park as the moderator.
April - May 2020
Nonviolent Social Change in the time of COVID-19
Personal Resilience, Resistance and Constructive Program
A six-week discussion series beginning April 17, 2020, 7:00-8:30 EST. Sponsored by the Voluntown Peace Trust, New England War Resisters League, and St. Francis House. Coordinated by Joanne Sheehan.
In this time of social distance and quarantines, some of us are left wondering what we should be doing in this unprecedented situation. Many of us miss participating in the world, and yearn to connect with each other. And still others are seeking out ways to make the best use of this time, to be prepared for the new world whenever this crisis comes to an end.
Normally, the Voluntown Peace Trust would host an event to raise spirits and bring the community together, but the rise of COVID-19 obviously prevents us from doing that now. Instead, in conjunction with St. Frances House and the New England War Resisters League, we have decided to host a weekly online discussion series for the next month and a half.
We will be using the same Zoom numbers for all the May sessions. The Zoom call will be open starting at 6:45. Please join by 6:55 so we can start promptly at 7pm. Call 860-437-0394 if you are having trouble connecting.
Or, you can manually log in to the meeting with the following information Meeting ID: 858 4959 2313 Password: 151041
To phone into the meeting without video, find your local number by clicking here.
Friday, May 22 7:00-8:30 PM EST "Community Economics" Economic relationships are positive or negative, just or unjust, nonviolent or destructive. Nonviolent economics are community economics. William Spademan of Common Good and Eric Bachman of Time Banks will describe the community economics projects they are involved in.
Friday May 15 7:00– 8:30pm "Principled Practical Programs" Some are drawn to constructive programs because they are rooted in principles including community control, economic justice, equality, emancipation, nonviolence and ecological sustainability. Some are drawn to constructive programs because they fulfill a need - affordable housing, food, health care, a job, etc. We come to this work through different paths, but if it is going to work, we all need to play a role.
Joanne Sheehan will use a combination interviews and storytelling to explore what we can learn from constructive program efforts and explore what is needed and emerging beyond COVID?
Friday May 8 7:00– 8:30pm "How Can We Be Effective?" Gandhi believed that the strategic combination of a personal commitment to improving our ways of living and our resilience, the practice of various forms of nonviolent action against social injustices, and constructive work are all needed for nonviolent social change. Joanne Sheehan will use a combination of storytelling and interviews to explore what we can learn from how nonviolent social change has happened and how we can use this to deal with the time of COVID and beyond.
The discussion on Friday, May 8 will be Session 4 of a six-session series. We will continue to explore this in Sessions 5 & 6, focusing on constructive work/solidarity economics/just transitions that reorganize social, economic and political life.
We will be using the same Zoom numbers for all the May sessions. Join the Zoom Meeting by clicking here. Meeting ID: 858 4959 2313 Password: 151041 Or dial-in by phone. Find your local number by clicking here.
Wednesday April 29 7:00– 8:30pm "Warheads to Windmills: The Nuclear Ban Treaty and the Green New Deal" A Webinar featuring Timmon Wallis, PhD of NuclearBan.US and US Representative Jim McGovern Amid extreme threat and great loss come an opportunity to construct a path toward a more sustainable and harmonious future. An initiative of NuclearBan.US, Timmon Wallis explains what it will take to adequately address the climate crisis and where the needed funds and scientific and engineering expertise could come from: the nuclear weapons program. "These weapons threaten our very existence as a species. And so does the climate crisis. But if we eliminate nuclear weapons, we can convert an industry of death to an industry of life. We can shift massive amounts of money and scientific talent to green technologies we need to survive -- and we can create millions of jobs." - Timmon Wallis
Organized by: The Center for Nonviolent Solutions, Worcester, MA Co-sponsored by: New England War Resisters League, St. Francis House, Voluntown Peace Trust, Central Mass 350.org, Mothers Out Front, Regional Environmental Council, Mass Peace Action "Warheads to Windmills" will be hosted over Zoom.
Friday, APRIL 24 7:00– 8:30pm "Personal Resilience" with reflections from Deacon Ellen Adams, Dan Park and Anne Scheibner
How do we take care of ourselves in a time of such anxiety? Even in the best of times we need personal practices that sustain us. Overwhelming illness and death has created a crisis resulting in fear and despair, the potential loss of a sense of purpose for ourselves and our community. Some of us are working too much, some are emotionally paralyzed by fear and lost in the isolation. We cannot collectively make this a healthier world if we are not also working to make ourselves healthier. And yet, we must also be wary of becoming too self-oriented, lest we detach ourselves from the world altogether. How can we use this time to increase our personal resilience and sense of empowerment while still staying engaged with our communities?
Please have paper and pen ready for a short exercise.
Friday, April 17 7:00– 8:30pm "Beyond COVID-19" On Saturday, April 4th, people gathered for the annual St. Francis House reading (by Zoom) of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam which he delivered on April 4, 1967, one year before he assassinated. We noticed how King spoke of the creation of a new world, calling repeatedly for “a true revolution of values,” inspiring the theme of this first session.
What do we find in MLK’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech that inspires us for today’s challenges? Dr. King spoke of the “struggle for a new world,” recognizing that “machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people.” He believed that, “Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism and militarism.” COVID-19 has made the need for us to seriously take up that call even more crucial. Joanne Sheehan will present and lead a discussion which will include members of the St. Francis House Community discussing how their Ten Principles, which are universal, speak to a “true revolution of values”.
GANDHI’S THREE ELEMENTS OF NONVIOLENT SOCIAL CHANGE A comprehensive program of nonviolent social change was viewed by Gandhi as having three main aspects. These three elements inform and guide this discussion series, as well as the other VPT activities:
Personal Resilience – individual practices to improve our lives and ways of living, sustaining ourselves and increasing power-from-within.
Resistance – the practice of various forms of nonviolent action against social injustices, violence, oppression, and domination.
Constructive Programs – community efforts to transform society, building “a new society in the shell of the old” that embodies nonviolent values.
"Building a new society within the shell of the old” starts --
in our garden and our community, in our actions and our rest, in our work and our relationships.
Trusting the power that arises when people gather to share their lives and labors, the Voluntown Peace Trust invites into collaboration those who long for a just and peaceful world.
At the Voluntown Peace Trust (Peace Trust, VPT), we are committed to those who benefit least from the current structure of society—especially people struggling against racial, sexual, gender, environmental, and economic injustice. These struggles guide all Peace Trust activities, which include retreats, workshops, summer camps, agricultural projects, community organizing, and campaign building. Our work emerges from three aspects of social transformation: personal change to find healthier ways of being and relating; political action to challenge oppressive structures; and constructive programs to foster alternatives to those structures.
The Peace Trust rests on 54.75 acres in Voluntown, Connecticut, centrally located between New York, Hartford, Boston, and Providence. For over 50 years, this land has been the site of nonviolence training and action, cooperative living, and equity-based economics. With this history, along with wooded trails and streams, gardens, and retreat and conference facilities, VPT is poised to strengthen movements and build coalitions across issues. Our experiments in sustainable living, organic agriculture, and community building invite people to explore practical responses to global and bio-regional concerns, both on site at the Peace Trust and in their own lives. Our aim is to work alongside people in movements that can persist apart from VPT.