Spreading Nonviolence in Cambria, CA
Ruth Ann Angus, who organizes our Nonviolent Cities Project in Morro Bay, CA holds monthly nonviolent discussion groups - one in Morro Bay and one in Cambria, called Yes We Can Peacebuilders. See her previous post here.
For five weeks I held Talk Around the Table discussions with a group in Cambria. This is a town that I would say is rather conservative. The sessions were stimulating and sometimes tense. But somewhere along the way the mood altered. I found some of the participants saying that now they talk about nonviolence with other friends and family. One man said he was spouting off about it with his bowling league! This particular group has been meeting for a few years. They formed a bimonthly dinner fellowship that met and had a program each time. Reminded me of Rotary. My cohort with Peacebuilders, who is a minister herself, said she never could get them to actually do anything -- to take any action. Well, after five weeks I expected them to say, "Gee thanks, we'd love to have you come back sometime." Instead I heard them say that our sessions were the best thing they've ever experienced. Well, gee whiz, I thought!
So, at the last meeting I told them they weren't done and that they HAD to do an action. I didn't care if it was just a peace vigil at their meeting near to Peace Day, but something, and I would not take no for an answer. They all hesitated but then the coordinator said they would at their next meeting do a planning session for an action for Peace Day. They decided it would have to be September 24th so everyone could be there. I told them I would join them but would not help them plan as I felt they needed to do that themselves. A week ago I received an email from one of the members and she told me that they have planned an event and have invited other faith communities and others they know to join them -- and their plans are to organize the Cambria Peace Coalition to continue to work on nonviolence principles and spread the message. I was over the moon when I heard this!
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would have that kind of an outcome to these sessions. And you know I am using the Engage study course to do these. This past Labor Day at the Pinedorado Parade in Cambria, California some of them gathered on a prominent street corner with their signage out for everyone to see! I'm attaching a couple of photos for you to see. It works! We can make a difference. So on to San Luis Obispo for my next new group. For me, this is a big deal.