Workshop Number: 25
Leaders: Eileen Flanagan, Carolyn McCoy
Who May Register?: Open to All
Experiential Activities: 35%
Who May Attend?
only full time attenders (participants should attend all week)
Whether your work is around climate justice, racial justice, defending elections, or some other concern, this experiential workshop will teach you the theory and practice of nonviolent direct action, drawing on the experience of earlier Quakers, the Civil Rights Movement, and Earth Quaker Action Team.
Facilitated by leaders from Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT), this workshop will teach Friends how to use spiritually grounded nonviolent direct action as a method of making change. Sometimes described as “people power,” “disruptive action,” or “peace force,” nonviolent direct action exerts pressure on decision makers directly and nonviolently. It is a strategy Friends have used in many eras, even before the term was coined, as when early Friends refused to pay tithes, even at the risk of imprisonment.
To ground us in what makes this kind of approach effective, we will share theories like the pillars of power and the four roles of social change, illustrated by stories from a variety of nonviolent struggles. The facilitators will also share their own experiences and learnings from working with EQAT’s three campaigns, including our current effort to pressure Vanguard to stop investing in climate destruction. Participant discussion, both in small groups and with the larger group, will be a vital part of this experience, as will participatory exercises.
Each session will begin with half an hour of worship. (We may hold additional worship in a public place to give participants an experience of staying grounded in worship outside of the meetinghouse, worship being something EQAT has done many times in bank lobbies, shareholder meetings, and most recently in front of the Vanguard CEO’s home). We will discuss the advantages of an ongoing campaign that builds pressure over time and conduct role plays and participatory exercises to teach specific skills, like dealing with the police or an angry bystander. We will also discuss how race and other identities affect people’s experiences playing these roles, and how BIPOC-led movements have addressed these issues. Given that Oregon has a rich history of activism, we hope to coordinate a field trip to practice nonviolent direct action skills in an action that supports a local campaign, perhaps including other Friends at the Gathering.
Our goal is to empower participants to bring greater courage and skill home to their ongoing work, whether it is for climate justice, racial justice, election protection, or some other concern. Complementary reading will be suggested but not required. All you need to bring is an open heart.
Eileen Flanagan has led interactive workshops and trainings for over thirty years, including at the Gathering, Pendle Hill, several yearly meetings, and for many non-Quaker organizations She was the Trainings Coordinator for Choose Democracy, which trained 10,000 people in nonviolent strategies to stop a coup prior to the 2020 election. As clerk of Earth Quaker Action Team for five years and now as one of its co-directors, Eileen has taught the material in this workshop many times, including for multi-racial groups.
Carolyn was a founding member of Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) in 2010, and has been active in all phases of nonviolent direct action–planning, training, leading, skill-building, debriefing–ever since. She has committed civil disobedience numerous times and has been arrested three times. She serves as current co-clerk of EQAT.