During last summer’s U.S. Social Forum, MPT team had the good fortune to meet and work with Elliott Adams, the current president of Veterans for Peace (VFP). We were honored to learn that, after his having joined us on Peace Teams at that forum and his subsequent attendance at our Training for Trainers the following Fall, he had recommended us to the Veterans For Peace group organizing the October 2011 Movement events in Washington D.C. At VFP’s invitation – and with the financial support of many of you – five of us made the drive to D.C. to come and facilitate nonviolence and peace team trainings here for VFP members and others dedicated to keeping Occupy D.C. a nonviolent, well-coordinated demonstration.
It has been an amazing experience and we have been both welcomed and very well received. Our trainings have been witness to a wealth of diversity, with folks coming from nearly everywhere across this country….from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine; from Alaska to Hawaii. We even had a young woman from Sweden! For many in the group, this is their first political “action” ever…yet there were equally as many “movement veterans.” Experience ranged from having had no nonviolence training before attending our workshops, to folks who can honestly profess to being professional nonviolence skills trainers and facilitators.
Participants seemed to especially appreciate the ideas of centering as part of preparing for peace team work, utilizing “I-messages”, and the time spent mastering the CLARA technique (which was a new tool for even some of the most seasoned participants). Afterwards, attendees expressed a new feeling of preparedness in helping defuse any potential violence. One young constituent approached us afterward to say he found us to be “wicked knowledgeable”- – high praise in the Generation Y vernacular. Another participant relayed, “You are clearly in love with the work you do. It shows and makes the training really engaging.”
Folks brought stories from the Occupy N.Y. and Occupy Wall Street events that they had just come from, as did other participants from the many other “occupy” events around the country: a nation-wide movement called Occupy Together. One of the most consistent and inspiring things was the deep dedication to nonviolence we saw in these groups, crossing all age, race, and educational boundaries. People are emphasizing the importance of seeing the humanity in all of us: young and old; Republican, Communist, Democrat and Tea Party members; military veterans and college students; dedicated peace activists and seasoned police officers.
While we have been here, we have connected with former MPT International peace team member Beth Wichman-Beusher (now based here in Washington D.C.) and former MPT staff member Sayrah Namaste (who flew in from Albuquerque, New Mexico). We’ve been making new friends with each passing hour and, together, we look forward to gathering early tomorrow, Day 1 of this convergence in Freedom Plaza, to remind our politicians that – together, in one voice – we want people over profits, an end to the war machine, health care for all, the termination of corporate welfare, and sweeping environmental protections for our wounded planet.
Our deep appreciation to all who made it possible for us to be here, to train so many in the ways of nonviolence, and help empower the voice of the people to be heard.
– Peter Dougherty, Mary L. Hanna, Martha Larsen, Jasiu Milanowski, and Sheri Wander: MPT’s NV Training Team to D.C.
- Call to Action: Stop the Machine Occupation of Freedom Plaza Washington DC Begins Tomorrow (g1a2d0019c2) (ironboltbruce.com)
- ‘Occupy DC’ protesters rally in Freedom Plaza – Washington Post (news.google.com)
- ‘Stop The Machine,’ Occupy DC Gather In D.C. (PHOTOS) (huffingtonpost.com)
- “She Said We Should Expect To Be Beaten And Pepper-Sprayed” (huffingtonpost.com)
- Freedom Plaza Protest Continues Without Permit (huffingtonpost.com)
- Reflections on October 2011 and the occupations across the U.S. (playfulspirit.wordpress.com)