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“I would have loved it as a gift when I was a teenage rebel … “

Jon Lockwood, Peace News

Training for Trainers of Nonviolent Action

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“Amazing. Tons of new exercises, approaches, songs, games. A greater sense of comfort when in front of the room. Lots of in-depth look at the intricacies of the work we are all doing. Leaving with some clarity and tenderness for the folks walking alongside of me.”

—Training of Trainers participant

On March 9th, Beautiful Trouble gathered together 33 people for a Training for Trainers of nonviolent direct action (NVDA) workshop. Already folks are putting into practice what was learned from each other — and  lots more is on the way. The training gathered experienced activists and trainers, some of whom were lapsed trainers of NVDA looking for a refresher course, as well as experienced facilitators who were looking for NVDA content-specific training.


The overall Beautiful Trouble training program, under whose auspices the Training for Trainers was organized, came together a few years ago in response to popular demand: After 70+ activist-artists collaborated on writing the Beautiful Trouble book, requests for trainings based on the lessons of the book jump-started the formation of our training network. Focusing on trainings like these is a strategic choice for Beautiful Trouble. We are dedicated to fostering effective creative action that supports progressive activist movements to wield collective power to challenge and transform oppressive systems. We focus our energy on nonviolent action and on people power, as history shows nonviolent movements have been twice as effective as violent ones — and training is key to effectively wielding nonviolent action.  


Since the 2017 election, we have seen a massive increase in requests for training, training of trainers, and support for returning NVDA trainers, and we feel fortunate for the generous support of the Bertha Foundation, Watershed Center, The Solutions Project, and Colombe Foundation, which made it possible to offer this four-day workshop for trainers of NVDA to sharpen and expand their skills. Training trainers leverages our ability to respond appropriately and at increasing scale, since each of the participants goes back to their community to share what they’ve learned in further NVDA trainings. 

“SO GREAT to be able to present and get feedback — I wish we had a structure for that kind of learning, experimentation, and feedback in all our work. Most practical T4T I’ve ever been to.” 

—Training of Trainers participant

The diverse crew of 33 people assembled in Millerton, NY, for a deep dive into content and pedagogy, along with plenty of skill-sharing, network building, and peer-review practice sessions. Participants came from a wide diversity of groups, including Million Hoodies, UnitedWeDream, SaneEnergy/FrackAction/Resist Spectra, BlackYouthProject100, DARE (RI), If Not Now, Cosecha, Momentum, District 13, Ayni, Make the Road NY, #AllofUs, Ironbound (NJ), BLM:DC, Baltimore Bloc/BYP100, Ruckus Society, Millennials for Revolution, Take Back the Land Rochester, and Jews For Racial and Economic Justice (NY). This breadth of participation across movements and issues contributed significantly to supporting strategic movement building in this critical moment, increasing activist capacity to leverage strategic nonviolent action with a broader support network.



Participants gave us the feedback that we met our stated goals: to identify and dig into essential components of current NVDA trainings, and to understand strategic costs and benefits of NV action, parameters of those actions, and formation of support structures as we assess the escalating risks of action.

“I learned from both the content and pedagogy. On the content side, I just learned a ton about the various practical considerations necessary to prepare people for NVDA. I appreciated the integration of a systemic analysis of oppression and power with a civil resistance orientation; it was a great balance of affirming values/analysis with practice and tools. Also, even though the emphasis of the training was not on strategy, I think some broader strategic wisdom was brought in through discussions of past movements, the choices they made and the impact they had. On the pedagogy side, it was truly marvelous to see how you taught nonviolence, nonviolent action, controversies around property destruction, etc. and how you also used popular and experiential means of getting people oriented to power and prepared to take risks.”

—Training of Trainers participant

Beautiful Trouble Trainers Nadine Bloch and Shani Smith

Beautiful Trouble Trainers Nadine Bloch and Shani Smith


Want to learn more about Beautiful Trouble Trainings and find out how you can bring this crew of Troublemakers to your community? Click here!