Notes from the July Nonviolent Cities Conference Call

On July 23rd we held a conference call for the Nonviolent Cities Project. We discussed the progress cities around the country are making and the steps budding organizers can take to build momentum. If you missed the call, you can read the notes or listen to the audio below. Click here for more information about the Nonviolent Cities Project.

Nonviolent Cities Project Organizing Conference Call

July 23, 2019, 5pm Pacific/ 8pm Eastern (60 minutes)

Centering Quote – Veronica Pelicaric

  • “To ‘let go’ means to let go of something. That something may be an object of our mind, something we’ve created, like an idea, feeling, desire, or belief. Getting stuck on that idea could bring a lot of unhappiness and anxiety. We’d like to let it go, but how? It’s not enough just to want to let it go, we have to recognize it first as being something real. We have to look deeply into its nature and where it has come from, because ideas are born from feelings, emotions, and past experiences, from things we’ve seen and heard. With the energy of mindfulness and concentration, we can look deeply and discover the roots of the idea, the feeling, the emotion, the desire. Mindfulness and concentration bring about insight, and insight can help us release the object in our mind.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Welcome – Ryan Hall

Updates – John Dear

  • This project is based on Nonviolent Carbondale. Pace e Bene continues to suggest becoming a nonviolent city to organizers around the country and the world, and interest is spreading.

  • There are brochures available for Nonviolent Cities Project to help promote the movement when people are out and about in the community. Simply email Ryan at and let him know how many you need. Use them to help spread the idea to other activists, community leaders, etc.

Roll Call – Ryan Hall read the list of people who were on the call and where they were calling in from.

Jim Crosby – Austin, TX

  • Hold a vigil for two hours every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during the summer with the CNV poster. Steering committee meeting coming up to discuss nonviolence training and using Engage. Expecting 18-20 people to be involved. Primary focus is getting at least monthly meetings, ramping up to have Veronica and Rivera come in for a nonviolence training. Working to get involved in other local nonviolent movements and get everybody to work together. Also taking some action for Hiroshima Day.

  • John suggests to keep focused on becoming a nonviolent city. Plan and strategize how to go about that. Jim says many people are interested in organizing against drone use, and especially in getting trained themselves. John suggests they steer the group in the direction of meeting with the city council, maybe universities and police departments and libraries as well. 

  • Use the Week of Action to promote the vision of Nonviolent Austin, and also make sure to focus on an official launch for Nonviolent Austin as well.

Ruth Ann Angus – Morro Bay, CA

  • Last year had a peace resolution with mayor and city council on 9/11. This year going to do a reprisal of that. Working with city council and police to make a police citizen action committee to improve communication between residents and homeless population. Hold a regular educational nonviolence discussion group. Engage has been wonderful to help guide these meetings.

  • Looking at the other nonviolent cities projects participants and would like to suggest that other nonviolent cities create a website or Facebook page. Important to provide useful information for people looking to get involved. Ruth Ann offered to help organizers of Nonviolent Cities create websites if you need help. This work is about more than just one action a year—it is a regular effort to create a more inclusive nonviolent community. 

  • Suggests people really consider what social media would be best to reach their people. Facebook, Instagram, website are all critical to establishing a presence and reaching out to the local community.

  • Contact Ruth Ann at 

Veronica Pelicaric

  • Has been working with Pax in Holland. Every person she talked to has been really excited about the Nonviolent Cities Project. Fires the imagination of people in a way that other actions haven’t been able to. 

Jessica Frank – Cincinnati, OH

  • Don’t have a lot of community engagement yet, so planning to create peace maps with nonviolence alliance partners for the Week of Actions. Includes a variety of activities, articles, and actions in order to unite organizers from different programs.

  • Planning a peace walk on 9/22 working with other local organizations. People are getting excited and working on spreading the word to the community.

  • Kelly Richey, also in Cincinnati, offers to work together and help apply things Fr. Harry is doing in Twin Cities NV to help take NV Cincinnati to the next level and creating something that’s powerful. Fr. Harry has written a book on nonviolence and starts by asking people to envision what a nonviolent city would actually look like. Would it mean no killings in the city? An end to gang violence? Starting with imagination is an important first step.

Claire Schaeffer-Duffy – Worcester, MA

  • Working on a nonviolent cities podcast. Have done a similar project in previous years where a high school student interviewed different individuals to see how they felt their work contributed to a world of peace. Now considering options for a podcast series that examines in what ways a city is or isn’t nonviolent. Maybe a video blog might be good too. Also looking for brochures to help promote the nonviolent cities project. 

Aggie Perilli – Lancaster, PA

  • Biannual Peace Fest coming up this Sunday put on by Peace Action Network of Lancaster. There will be speakers, musicians, tables with information about environmental work and other work towards peace.

Lauren Holm – Springfield, MA

  • Campaign Nonviolence group has been meeting for five years. Do prayer walks through neighborhoods where they have been violent deaths and watch films on nonviolence in the winter. She has just suggested Nonviolent Cities Project and gotten a city councilor involved who is very excited and energized about the project. 

  • Put together a grid with what it means to be a nonviolent city (addressing racism, environment, gangs, etc.) and people who should be contacted for each topic. Then elaborated what their goals were for each element of becoming a nonviolent city. Next month going to start with a nonviolent training, then brainstorm a vision statement for their nonviolent city, including using a brochure to help spread the word.

  • Considering splitting into two groups with separate focuses: one to focus on becoming on a nonviolent city, one to work on regular nonviolent things. John says the way to do it is to create a Nonviolent Springfield steering committee dedicated to just that purpose. Another key is getting out of your comfort zone: reach out to every sector of society, not just activists. Be public, as inclusive as possible, and led by people who are really committed to the project.

  • Asks how complete their project needs to be in order to launch publicly? John quotes Carbondale as saying to go slow and be methodical. If the core group doubts that the group is ready, there may be wisdom in slowing down and waiting until things feel more complete. There is no rush. Worth the wait to create a really powerful event with good media coverage.

Final thoughts – John Dear

  • There is another conference call coming up for the Week of Actions, which currently has over 2800 actions scheduled. Be sure to reach out to Ryan for brochures if you need them, ask for help if you need it, and keep an eye out for our next Nonviolent Cities conference call later this year.