“Should be required reading in every classroom.”Judith Malina, founder of Living Theater
(This post was written by staff at IfNotNow.)
In October, 30 young leaders from IfNotNow, a movement working to end the American Jewish Community’s support for the occupation in Israel/Palestine, and Sunrise, youth-led movement to end the climate crisis, came together at the Watershed Center for a Nonviolent Action Training for Trainers with nonviolent action trainer extraordinaire Nadine Bloch. The training was grounded in learning about the rich history of ordinary people harnessing the strength of their numbers and collective action as the fuel that drives social movements. Nadine and others led us through a highly embodied and participatory pedagogy that took us through theoretical frameworks for decision-making and action development, the hard skills of executing a nonviolent blockade and negotiating to hold space, and engaging in the emotional and somatic preparation to support people to take risks.
At the end of the 3-day workshop, newly-minted trainers traveled back to their home cities of Austin, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, New York, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh equipped with the requisite theory and skills of NVA to put on local trainings. Since then, local training teams have put what they learned into practice, leading preparation sessions for taking risk in disruptive actions, bringing a new orientation towards creative disruption, meaningful risk and sacrifice, and direct action craft to their escalation collectives and campaigns; and putting dates on the books for more action camps for their organizational chapters to upgrade action skills. Through this Training for Trainers, participants were able to envision a national actions program with the kind of capacity, skill, and creativity necessary to pull off the escalation our movements will need to win.
In the weeks since the training, participants have been able to call upon their new nonviolent action training to execute rapid-response high risk actions following in the wake of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting, prepare dozens of people to try new forms of creative intervention within IfNotNow’s Birthright campaign, and for Sunrise Movement, to escalate in a massive way in DC by bringing hundreds of young people to the Capitol to sit in the calls of Congress until a Green New Deal is achieved. We are excited to be part of the expansion of possibilities for the future of this work!