Category Archives: North America

Global Human Rights Movement Issues Travel Warning for the U.S. due to Rampant Gun Violence

… . HUMAN RIGHTS … .

An article from Amnesty International

Amnesty International today issued a travel warning calling for possible travelers and visitors to the United States to exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the country due to rampant gun violence, which has become so prevalent in the United States that it amounts to a human rights crisis. It aims to hold up a mirror to the U.S. using the model of the United States Department of State’s travel advice for U.S. travelers to other countries.

“Travelers to the United States should remain cautious that the country does not adequately protect people’s right to be safe, regardless of who they might be. People in the United States cannot reasonably expect to be free from harm – a guarantee of not being shot is impossible,” said Ernest Coverson, campaign manager for the End Gun Violence Campaign at Amnesty International USA. “Once again, it is chillingly clear that the U.S. government is unwilling to ensure protection against gun violence.”

The travel advisory addressed growing gun violence, mostly hate crimes, including racism and discrimination, highlighting that the traveler’s race, country of origin, ethnic background, sexual orientation or gender identity may place them at higher risk after recent attacks linked to white supremacist ideology.

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Question(s) related to this article:

What is the state of human rights in the world today?

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

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The action called attention to the extent to which all aspects of life in the United States have been compromised in some way by unfettered access to guns, without comprehensive and uniform regulation of their acquisition and use. By prioritizing gun ownership over basic human rights, the U.S. government is willfully and systematically failing on multiple levels and ignoring its international obligations to protect people’s rights and safety.

Amnesty International has been calling for common sense reform regarding the use and possession of firearms, including comprehensive background checks, national regulations for registering and licensing firearms, required training, a ban on high capacity magazines/assault weapons, and mandatory safe-storage laws. Amnesty International USA’s campaign to end gun violence has focused efforts on passing S.42., the Assault Weapons ban, and the Disarm Hate Act.

Background

A report by Amnesty International, “In the Line of Fire: Human Rights and the U.S. Gun Violence Crisis” examined how all aspects of American life have been compromised in some way by the unfettered access to guns, with no attempts at meaningful national regulation.

Last month, Amnesty International published a report examining how survivors of gun violence in the United States suffer years of trauma and pain due to a destructive combination of government policies which ignore their needs.

Done with violence?

. . . EDUCATION FOR PEACE . . .

A blog by KEN BUTIGAN for Pace e Bene

In 1989, a handful of friends found themselves mulling on how they could promote a culture of nonviolence – a culture where people everywhere could let go of a deep-seated belief in violence and, instead, could live the power of nonviolent options. Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service was the result. Taking its name from a greeting St. Francis of Assisi used in his own time meaning “peace and all good,” Pace e Bene set out to contribute to a growing movement for nonviolent alternatives. I joined a year later.

In the wake of the horrific mass shootings this past weekend in Texas and Ohio, I’ve been reflecting on what Pace e Bene has learned over these three decades, and how these lessons are needed now more than ever. Thirty years of experience, action, reflection, writing, publishing, and programming – including leading a thousand trainings – have increasingly convinced us of the liberating power of creative nonviolence.

This was a slow process, in which we gradually came to see how nonviolence is a powerful force, an active method for change, and a thoroughgoing way of life. We slowly saw that nonviolence is not a “non-word” but a path with heart confronting violence without using violence and, at the same time, fostering transformation, justice, and the well-being of all. Step by step we realized that, what started out for most of us as a tactic of protest, was in fact a universal ethic. The paradigm of violence is harsh and pervasive, but there is a qualitatively different operating system available to us, one on which our survival depends.

The killings this past weekend (compounding the tsunami of violence – direct, cultural and structural – that washes over the world daily) are the consequence of the uncritical allegiance to the violence paradigm, a system of domination and threat that projects itself as reality. “This is how the world is,” it teaches us in countless ways from the moment we are born. But it is not reality. It is a highly sophisticated script that weaves together our worst tendencies —our fear, our anger, our greed, our small self—and creates a culture of violence and oppression in which we are conscripted and for which we are expected to live and die.

Fortunately, there is an alternative. We know this from a long lineage of sages who have tipped us off to the nonviolent option, but also from commonsense. If violence were the default, the human species would have destroyed itself long ago, with the retaliatory and escalatory logic of violence spinning out of control and into extinction. It is the secret history of nonviolence that has – hour by hour, day by day, year by year, century by century – kept this from happening. As Gandhi said, “Nonviolence is as old as the hills,” but he also stressed that this history has largely been ignored and undocumented. Over the last century – largely sparked by Gandhi’s modern adaptation and application of the ancient Hindu term ahimsa [“nonviolence”] in leading movements for freedom in South Africa and India – people throughout the world have explicitly excavated and applied this “third way” beyond violence and passivity.

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Question for this article:

Can peace be guaranteed through nonviolent means?

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Nonviolence is an intrinsic tendency that all human beings have – and this latent power of love in action can be tapped to deal with conflict and violence more effectively than the other options at our disposal: retreat, accommodation, or counter-violence. But if this power is trivialized or suppressed, we won’t access it. We will go on tapping the power of violence – and reinforcing the self-fulfilling prophecy of violence. We will continue to be caught in the violence trap.

Sometimes, though, there are moments where the search for the alternative beyond violence and passivity becomes so urgent that nonviolence—as a paradigm of the fullness of life, as a universal ethic—can suddenly be glimpsed as an option. The stereotypes that have long dogged nonviolence (that it is ineffective, passive, weak, utopian, naïve, unpatriotic, marginal, simplistic, and impractical) can peel away long enough to see that a nonviolent culture in its most robust and comprehensive sense is the only practical solution.

This may be a moment for just such a new direction.

The mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton (number 27 and 28 in the US this year, according to one count) demonstrate the bankruptcy of the violence paradigm. But, ironically, they also illuminate that the nonviolent operating system is also present, as seen in the reaction to these horrendous events. The public has recoiled against the “normalization” of such slaughter. Between the lines of this outcry is the bedrock assumption that violence is anti-human and that a culture free of violence should be the default.

What’s largely missing, though, is the way to get there. That’s where active, creative and relentless nonviolence comes in.

Nonviolence is not an end goal – it is a process. It is a process of envisioning an alternative, re-framing our thinking to foster this alternative, and living our way into this alternative. It is a way of being – but also a way of building a culture where, in effect, it is easier to be nonviolent. It is both what we can call “soul work” and “society work.”

What would our “soul work” entail in light of massive gun violence, for example?

First, we must once and for all tell ourselves that we are done with violence. Enough is enough. If we have been trained in violence, then we must get “un-trained.” This begins with making a solemn pledge in the secrecy of our heart that we are letting go of all the ways we support violence. This fundamental re-orientation can lead us to learning, healing, taking stock and taking action. A long process of secret confession and transformation may await, but it can start today.

And what of our “society work”? We must join grassroots movements laboring to create laws, policies, structures, and cultures where the lives of human beings have priority over the absolutization of guns. The sanctity of existence takes precedent over unrestricted access to guns. As we saw this weekend, guns were used to enforce and perpetuate the violence system (and, in these cases, its preeminent value of white supremacy). Our long-term “society work” will not only lessen the threat that guns represent, it will transform the cultural assumptions on which they rest.

To do both our soul work and our society work, we encourage you to go public with a call for a society free from violence and everything that feeds it. One option is to join Campaign Nonviolence in taking action in cities and towns across the US September 14-22, where we will mobilize for a culture of active and liberating nonviolence. Currently over 2800 nonviolent actions are planned.

But you don’t have to wait. You can do something today.

We’re done with violence. Together we can plunge into the difficult but powerful work of mainstreaming nonviolence for a more just and peaceful world.

U.S. students walk out again to protest gun violence

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article by Keith Coffman in Reuters (reprinted by permission)

Demanding an end to gun violence and tougher restrictions on firearm sales, thousands of students again walked out of classes across the United States on Friday in hopes of putting pressure on politicians ahead of November’s midterm elections.

Timed to coincide with the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, students left classes at midmorning, many waving placards with slogans including “I should be worried about grades, not guns,” and “Enough is enough.”


Students gather for a rally in Washington Square Park, as part of a nationwide walk-out of classes to mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School mass shooting, in New York City, U.S., April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Organizers said students from more than 2,600 schools and institutions were scheduled to take part, but that was fewer than participated in a similar walkout last month. In some places, demonstrators even met with resistance from school administrators.

“Today is about being proactive and being empowered and really funneling all that energy and anger we have as young people into some productive change,” one of the student organizers, Lane Murdock of Connecticut, told Reuters.

Olivia Pfeil, a 16-year-old sophomore from a high school in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, held a sign bearing the names of mass shooting victims. “We’re expecting change or come next election cycle we will support politicians who are listening to the voices of the youth,” she said.

It was the second student walkout since the Feb. 14 massacre of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the emergence of a national student movement to end gun violence and toughen restrictions on firearms sales.

Many of the demonstrators wore orange, a color that has come to represent the movement against gun violence. A 13-second silence was observed in honor of the 13 killed at Columbine.

At the Texas statehouse in Austin, about 1,000 students, many waving signs and chanting anti-NRA slogans, demanded stricter gun control measures.

“Because we can’t vote, this is the only way we can make our voices heard,” said Graeclyn Garza, a second-year student at McCallum High School in Austin, who waved a sign reading “Enough.”

Outside the White House, protesters sat in silence while they listened to the names of gun violence victims read aloud.

“It happened like 20 years ago,” said Ayanna Rhodes, 14, a student at Washington International School, referring to Columbine, “And we are still getting mass shootings in schools.”

Two gunman went on a shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, leaving 12 students and a teacher dead before killing themselves in a massacre that stunned the nation. But since then, school shootings have become commonplace.

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Question related to this article:

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

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Even as students prepared for their protest on Friday morning, news broke that a 17-year-old student had been wounded in a shooting at a high school near Ocala, Florida. A suspect was arrested soon afterward, police said.

The latest gun violence unfolded about 225 miles (360 km)northwest of the Parkland high school, where two months ago a former student killed 17 people in the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history.

Despite widespread revulsion over the school shootings, the issue of gun control remains sensitive in Colorado and across the country, where the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms.

‘OPPOSE THEM AT EVERY STEP’

Dudley Brown, president of the Colorado-based National Association for Gun Rights, said the gun-control movement seeks to have the government take away constitutional rights.
“The main objective of these students is to ban firearms completely, and confiscate the firearms of law-abiding Americans,” Brown said. “We will oppose them at every step.”

In some conservative school districts, administrators told students they could face disciplinary steps if they walked out.

In suburban Dallas, a dozen students dressed in orange chanted “End gun violence!” as they huddled in a parking lot across the street from North Garland High School.

Freshman Victoria Fierro, 14, said school administrators blocked the doors when about 50 students tried to leave, so a small group exited through a side door.

“They told us we would get in trouble if we walk out, and we told them it was a peaceful protest, we’re not causing any damage,” Fierro said. “This is over a serious topic that people are pushing aside.”

The principal declined to answer questions from Reuters.

It was not immediately clear whether Friday’s turnout matched those of earlier protests. More than a month ago, tens of thousands of students from some 3,000 schools participated in the #ENOUGH National School Walkout to demand tighter gun control regulations.

On March 24, “March For Our Lives” rallies in cities across the United States were some of the biggest U.S. youth demonstrations in decades, with hundreds of thousands of young Americans and their supporters taking to the streets.

On the evening before the walk-outs, Colorado gun control activists rallied near Columbine High School.

Carlos Rodriguez, a 17-year-old junior from Marjory Stoneman, traveled to Columbine for the anniversary and said he found a sense of solidarity in the outpouring of support.

“That’s the only thing that’s keeping us Douglas students alive right now: the distraction of fighting for our rights and advocating for our lives,” Rodriguez told Reuters.

There was no walkout on Friday at Columbine, which has not held classes on April 20 since the massacre. Students were encouraged to take part in community service instead.

Additional reporting by Lacey Johnson and Ian Simpson in Washington, Zach Fagenson in Miami, Lisa Maria Garza in Garland, Texas, Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, and Edgar Mendez in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Dan Grebler

The Americas are preparing for the second World March for Peace and Nonviolence

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article from Pressenza (translation by CPNN)

North America

United States

A tribute to ML King was given in Helen Park. The core team will go through New York and San Francisco. A visit to the United Nations is planned for a possible reception by the Secretary General. The presentation of the documentary “The Beginning of the End of Nuclear Weapons”. Through the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, a line of work for collaboration and convergence was opened under the program 2030 of the United Nations. Contacts with the United Nations Secretary-General on the theme of the refoundation of the United Nations and possible macro-consultations on the subject at the March.

Canada

Canada participated in the march for Earth Day with the message “Non-violence is ecological: without war, there are no dirty weapons”. A press release is being prepared to request spaces for the invitation to organize activities for the passage of the march. On Saturday, 27/4 we attended the Spring of the Alternatives event to find contacts.

Mexico

The World March is invited to participate in the Nobel Peace Summit to be held in Merida on 17 and 23 September 2019. During the visit of the core team, there will be an event at the border with the United States and a tribute to the Treaty of Tlatelolco.

Central America

Guatemala

Alliances have been formed between individuals and organizations to strengthen the group of promoters. Among these, different sectors are represented: Civil society organizations, DiverArte, Organizations related to community communication, Student organizations, National University: students of the University of San Carlos de Guatemala, Municipalities: Municipality of Mixco

Honduras

Formation of the school 60 which will lead to the construction of the symbol of peace. It will be realized by the children of the schools located in the border zones of Honduras and Guatemala, at the reception of the March. The association of medical students of the National University UNAH and two private universities organizes the accompaniment of the March during its tour in Central America. The municipalities of Omoa and San Pedro Sula, decide to participate in the March with a massive mobilization of the population. Conducting three simultaneous conferences at San Pedro Sula Universities on topics related to world peace.

Cuba

Contacts are ongoing with some Cuban organizations.

El Salvador

Activities will be launched from Andrés Bello University. Probably in several cities of the country: San Salvador, San Miguel, Chalatenango, etc.

Costa Rica

We presented the campaign of the global plan of action for non-violence at educational centers 11 – 22, July. The teacher training plan begins the third week of July. Meetings with government authorities, the municipality of San José and organizations to propose activities on the theme of non-violence. Meetings every two weeks on Wednesdays at CAP from 5p.m. Celebration with artistic activities, human symbols of the International Day of Peace 21 / 9. Celebration of the day of non-violence 2/10 and departure of the March. Participation in the labor day march, distribution of flyers and transport of the March cover. Declaration of Cultural Interest of the March by the Government of Costa Rica. During the March, 27 and 28 in November are expected to participate in the International Forum on “The Role of the Armies in the 21st Century”. Activities with 1000 children on the esplanade of the Children’s Museum. Concert for peace in the park of democracy. Realization of human symbols at the passage of the March and some cultural reception events.

Panama

Last year, a forum was held at the Inter-American University. Between the end of September and the beginning of October 2019, we will organize a forum at a local university (location, date and time to be confirmed). As part of the second Global March for Peace and Non-Violence, we invite stakeholders to participate in the forum “Culture of Peace, Non-Violence, Respect for Children and Nature for a Better Panama” . They can, in this environment, share information they deem relevant on actions, contributions and projects in this regard.

South America

Colombia

In Bogotá: Work with the 40 schools that supported us during the South American march. We will hold workshops on active nonviolence, murals, drawings, flag raising, stories and writings, symbols of peace in the area and parades. The symbol of peace will be held in the Plaza de Bolívar, inviting 5000 people. Realization of a great concert for peace and non-violence. In Barrancabermeja: There will be a conference in Unipaz and SENA. A walk through the city to gather 2000 people. Contacts will be established with the human rights entities we worked with during March. We will close with a great symbol of peace at Kolibri Park. In Medellin: Carnival of culture, conferences in a university on peace and non-violence. Contact government entities responsible for human rights and related organizations. In other cities of Colombia: (Cali-Popayan-Pasto-Cartagena-Tunia-Cucuta-Bucaramanga-Ipiales-Armenia-Neiva). Peace marches and symbols will take place. Contact with schools. Discussions on non-violence in universities and institutes.

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(Click here for a French version of this article or here for a Spanish version.)

Question for this article:

How can we be sure to get news about peace demonstrations?

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Ecuador

In Guayaquil, letters were sent to universities for forums. National schools that verbally communicated their interest were contacted. Contacts have also been established in other cities such as Manta, Ámbato and Quitó. In Guayaquil: Activities are planned at the University of Guayaquil and Casa Grande University. Inter youth sports club championship. Some colleges and the municipality of Guayaquil. On the cover: Activities are planned for the passage of the 2ª March in coordination with the Pan-American Round Table and the University of Manta.

Venezuela

Appointments every Sunday with personal development work and organization of the March. A diptych has been developed, institutions contacted. We were interviewed on the radio. And,the March was advertised in the Sao Paulo Forum through the women’s sector. We continue to contact people and institutions that support the March There will be forums with videos to advertise it.

Brasil

In Sao Paulo – SP: Meetings for the dissemination of the March and the formation of a group of volunteers to participate in the organization and dissemination of the March in Sao Paulo. Production of explanatory material on how to organize the symbols of peace and other global activities in schools and universities. In Cubatão – SP: Meeting with the director of education to create human symbols in schools in the region. In July, 22 met the directors of 75 to make human symbols in various schools in the towns of the Santos coast. Presentation of the March on July 23, this time to the directors and coordinators of the first years (1º to 5º degree). There was a very good positive energy, we encourage schools to achieve the symbol of peace at the launch of the World March, during the week of non-violence from 2 to October 4. Participation in the March for culture of peace to be held in August In Caucaia – SP: Presentation of the March to representatives of different religious groups of the city.  Participation in the March for the Culture of Peace, to be held in August by the Ministry of Sport and Culture of Cotia in collaboration with an interfaith commission. In Paraisópolis – MG: In August 29, we will have a meeting with all the schools of Paraisópolis to inform of the world March and propose activities. During the visit of the base team, an activity is planned with the children in the message room of the silo south of Minas Gerais. Em Salvador – BA: Trip to Bahia to broadcast the March, contact with Bom Fim Brothers in Salvador, Bahia, with the proposal to create a community of nonviolent resistance in the city. In Recife – PE: The meeting with the Ministry of Education of Jaboatão dos Guararapes took place in July 17. The 12th of August will be held as part of the training of the project on non-violence in schools with schools 30 of the metropolitan area of ​​Recife. In Curitiba – PR: We are planning a visit to the Lula Libre camp. We are trying to organize a base team visit to Lula to deliver the book of the South American March for Peace and Nonviolence.

Peru

Prevention and anti-violence workshops with prospective teachers and mothers in schools in Comas District, Lima. Prevention and fight against violence among school teachers in the district of Cañete. We have promoters in every city. We are coordinating to promote the activities at each point. We have a central location in Lima, provided by the University Ricardo Palma.

Bolivia

In La Paz: Activities focused on the printing and delivery of invitation letters to secondary and primary schools in the Sopocachi region of La Paz. Since July, workshops for teachers and students from the same region have started. In Cochabamba: Activities carried out at the University Mayor of San Simón during the peace march in South America to 2018. In Santa Cruz: The Silo Study Center began with the dissemination of World March activities . Beginning of dissemination activities in July.

Chile

We are starting organizational meetings with new people to fit into the activities. We are planning a tour of all regions of Chile to promote the formation of grassroots groups. They will rely on the production of materials of all kinds to cover the actions. The idea is to integrate people to continue the March in future editions. Also in Chile, we will strengthen support for the NPT (Nuclear Weapons Treaty). Progress has already been made with parliamentarians, we will now expand our action to municipalities. Contact in Chile with the Mexican environment Alicia Bárcenas (ECLAC) who has access to the UN and the governments of the region. The organizer of WOMAD offered to collaborate with the March in Chile for the realization of a mega symbol of peace. At the Latin American Humanist Forum of 11, 12 and 13 in May, the March for America was discussed at the Teatro del Puente. We will have a discussion of the network of teams for the March at the Americas level in July 27.

Argentina

There are promoters in the 8 provinces : Salta, Jujuy, Tucumán, Cordoba, Mendoza, Rio Negro (El Bolsón), Bueno Aires (Tigre and Mar del Plata) and recently in the CABA (autonomous city of Bs. will be two main events in the country: Recognition of the mothers and grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo as heroes of the nonviolent struggle. Tribute to Silo [Mario Luis Rodríguez Cobos] . In the process of organization In Buenos Aires: Dissemination activities in Parque Lezama, Buenos Aires Province and CABA. The rest is under development. In Cordoba: The team of promoters of the city was formed and organizational meetings were organized. The March has already been declared of educational interest by the province of Córdoba. The application for membership of other institutions to the municipality and the chamber of legislators was presented. The following have been programmed: Work in Schools, The Making of a Wall Campaign, The Screening of the Documentary “The End of Nuclear Weapons”, A musical musical festival among other actions. In Jujuy: A small action is planned for the delivery of the book of the South American March, to Miracle House. Draft to declare week 1 of October the week of non-violence of 2019. In Salta: The Community for the human development and members of the General Direction of the community organization of the municipality presented to the Human Rights Commission and the constitutional guarantees of the Council of deliberation the plan to declare the week 1 of October the week of the nonviolence of 2019 and the Place of the Peace and Non Violence is inaugurated. Make a calendar with activities (1 per month) of diffusion: Cinema debate on the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons, Marathon or bike ride, Human symbols, Closure with a cultural festival. In Mendoza: In July 19, there was a workshop meeting with social organizations adhering to the 2MM. At the 02 of October, there will be marches of Las Heras in Centro de Mendoza. Symbols of peace of the students of the school of Mendoza. In Punta de Vacas: Celebration of the 10th anniversary of the First March on 02/01/2020.

The Americas prepare for the world march

Despite economic, social and political difficulties, each in his own way should try to participate in the project. If this is the case, you can do this by facilitating contacts of individuals, personalities or NGOs in the above-mentioned countries or in other countries through this e-mail address. .

Friendship – a Pathway to Peace

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

By Irene Kai and David Wick, co-founders of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission

A foreign language professor at the Southern Oregon College (currently SOU) took a group of students on a bus trip to Guanajuato Mexico to learn immersion Spanish and the Mexican culture every year in the 1960s. In 1969, Señora Chela established a sister school relationship with the Southern Oregon College and the University of Guanajuato. She also established the sister city relationship with the Mayors of Guanajuato and Ashland. The Amigo Club was born. During the fifty years Ashland has formed a wonderful and close relationship with Guanajuato. Students flow between the two universities, faculty and city officials visit both cities, there are marriages between students, and some of Señora Chela’s students from Guanajuato went on to become a Governor, Minister of Economics and officers of the Mexican Government.


World Peace Flame ceremony in Plaza de la Paz, the Peace Plaza
(click on image to enlarge)

In April of this year, a delegation of fifty people from Guanajuato with their Mayor, City Council members, faculty from the university and the president of the Peace Commission visited Ashland. During their stay, they visited the World Peace Flame Monument at the Thalden Pavilion. The Mayor from Guanajuato was so inspired by this iconic symbol of Peace in Ashland that he asked if Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ACPC) would assist him to install a World Peace Flame in Guanajuato. This would be the first World Peace Flame in Latin America. He invited us to visit Guanajuato with the Ashland delegation the following month to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Sister City relationship.

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Questions for this article:

How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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When we arrived in Guanajuato, we were embraced as if we were family members. The instant warmth, open heartedness was immediate. During our stay, we learned so much about the beauty, history, art and the culture of the people and the city, especially the heartfelt closeness of the 50-year relationship everyone held dear. Wherever we went, we were serenaded by music and showered with genuine affection. The week-long celebration was packed with programs from 8am to 11pm daily. One of the programs that was requested by the Mayor of Guanajuato was having a peace ceremony conducted by ACPC at the Plaza de la Paz, the Peace Plaza in the center of the city, in order to set the intention to bring the World Peace Flame to Guanajuato in the very near future. Irene brought the candle she lit from the original World Peace Flame in Wales and gifted it to their city. The mayor lit the candle with a young school girl, a symbolic gesture of passing peace to the next generation. Most nation’s history is recorded by periods of war, at this gathering, we were writing history for our next generation, our commitment to peace. Ashland proclaimed itself a City of Peace on 5/16/2017. We also guided Guanajuato to join the International Cities of Peace after the ceremony.

Why is friendship important? As we know, long term friendship builds a strong bond, especially one for 50 years. We see each other face to face, share our joy and challenges of our children, grandchildren and life in general. Inspire and lift each other up when times are tough and go out having a grand time just enjoying each other as well. There is no difference between personal friendship and a sister cities relationship, it’s only in a different scale. As with most things of value, this is an investment with a Return On Investment on many levels. Strong bonds between cities may become a saving grace in the world.

The University of Guanajuato and SOU share knowledge and encourage students to immerse in different cultures. When they are exposed to something new, they tend to be open to learning in a safe environment instead of being fearful and lash out. They will become better global citizens with a bigger capacity of tolerance. When city officials share ideas on how to manage and govern, through open dialogue of friendship, the conversations become instructive and valued.

At this time, there is such a lack of civility in our daily interactions on all levels, personal attacks become the normal course of dialogue. The deep friendship between Guanajuato and Ashland deserves to be nurtured and cherished, like in any family, we are teaching our children how to build good relationships.

When Guanajuato installs the World Peace Flame, Ashland and Guanajuato will be the first Sister Cities in the world with sister World Peace Flames.

Michael True – Peacemaker

. . FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

A notice on thewebsite of the Center for Nonviolent Solutions

Dear Friends and Supporters;

We will not forget April of 2019, a month that brought the departure of two significant peacemakers here at the Center. On Sunday, April 28, fourteen days after board member Paul Ropp died, Center co-founder Michael True passed away. He breathed his last at sunrise which was perhaps fitting for a man who loved the morning.

Professor, author, poet, peace researcher and activist, beloved husband and father, a good and true friend to many, these varied titles only partially describe the enormity of Mike’s marvelous life. The man who taught English at Worcester’s Assumption College for many years has been aptly described as “the heart and soul” of the city’s peace community. His co-founding of the Center with Bill Densmore is merely one initiative in a long list of local peace efforts dating back to the Vietnam War. Mike supported the city’s interfaith draft counseling center, participated in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience at nuclear weapons facilities, joined a coalition to prevent the introduction of JROTC in Worcester high schools, and attended countless peace vigils and wrote countless op-eds in opposition to our countless wars.

This incomplete list reveals nothing about Mike’s extensive work promoting peace education and research nationally and internationally – his active membership in the Peace and Justice Studies Association and the International Peace Research Association; his teaching trips to India, China, North Korea, and Colombia from which he would return full of stories about peacemakers and nonviolent initiatives unknown to us. One of his great joys was to witness the flowering of peace studies – from fledgling discipline to more than 400 programs worldwide – over the course of his lifetime.

Mike was the Great Encourager, the tireless advocate of people power. He believed deeply in the capacity of ordinary folk to effect social change, and expressed that conviction in his many books, lectures, and personal support for a myriad of campaigns. He had a lifelong interest in finding a language that precisely articulated the vision of peace and the means to achieve it. Poets, he thought, told the “whole truth.” When the UN came out with its Culture of Peace documents, he was ecstatic, because finally an international body recognized what he had known all along, that individual initiative, nonviolent direct action, and people power matter. That peace really does begin with each of us. [Editor’s note: Here is an article about the initiative by Michael in 1997 in collaboration with the CPNN coordinator who, at that time, was charged with the UNESCO program.]

An invaluable mentor, Mike was also one of my most important friends. I loved his curiosity, his humor, his capacity to marvel at the abundance of goodness in the world even while bemoaning the horrors, and his remarkable attentiveness to all whom he encountered. His departure leaves a distinct loneliness.

Mike frequently recited Denise Levertov’s poem “Making Peace,” a line of which became the title for his book An Energy Field More Intense Than War. For many of us, he was “an energy field,” a friend who animated courage and hope. Perhaps our best act of gratitude for his good and generous life is to be that energy of peace for others.

A Celebration of the Life of Michael True will be held June 1 at Worcester’s Mechanics Hall. More details forthcoming.

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Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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BY  DENISE LEVERTOV

A voice from the dark called out,

             ‘The poets must give us

imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar

imagination of disaster. Peace, not only

the absence of war.’

                                   But peace, like a poem,

is not there ahead of itself,

can’t be imagined before it is made,

can’t be known except

in the words of its making,

grammar of justice,

syntax of mutual aid.

                                       A feeling towards it,

dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have

until we begin to utter its metaphors,

learning them as we speak.

                                              A line of peace might appear

if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,

revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,

questioned our needs, allowed

long pauses . . .

                        A cadence of peace might balance its weight

on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,

an energy field more intense than war,

might pulse then,

stanza by stanza into the world,

each act of living

one of its words, each word

a vibration of light—facets

of the forming crystal.

Washington, DC: Peace Activists against NATO

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article by  Martha Andrés Román from Prensa Latina

Moving the United States away from the culture of militarism and fighting for peace was the purpose of activists this week [April 6] in Washington DC against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
 

F The foreign ministers of the controversial alliance held a meeting in this capital on Wednesday and Thursday in which they discussed issues such as the increase in the bloc’s budget, the increase in the military presence in the Black Sea and the confrontations with Russia.

The meeting coincided, in addition, with the commemoration on April 4 of the 70th anniversary of the organization, a fact that was highlighted by the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, and the North American Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

This date is also the two important events for many sectors of American society: on April 4, 1967, the civil rights activist Martin Luther King delivered a memorable speech against the Vietnam War, and that same day of the following year he was assassinated. in Tennessee.

For members of groups such as World Beyond War, Black Alliance for Peace, Code Pink and Veterans for Peace, it was an insult that the block commemorated its seven decades of creation on the same day dedicated to honor a figure who spread a message of peace and equality.

Kevin Zeese, co-director of the Popular Resistance organization, told Prensa Latina that when they learned about the NATO meeting here on the date linked to the Reverend, they prepared a whole week of activities to oppose the 29-member alliance.

The actions included a demonstration last Saturday in front of the White House, where in addition to condemning what they consider NATO abuses at the international level, they expressed solidarity with Venezuela and criticized the interference in that Latin American country.

Likewise, on April 3 and 4, they developed an initiative called the No to NATO-Yes to Peace Festival, which included mobilizations in various parts of the city, such as the Freedom Plaza (Plaza de la Libertad) and the vicinity of the Senate, where Stoltenberg delivered a speech before Congress on Wednesday.

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Questions for this article:

Can NATO be abolished?

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During the afternoon and evening of that first day the festival participants gathered at St. Stephen’s Church to hold workshops on non-violent actions, enjoy musical performances and prepare with posters for the protests of the following day.

On Thursday, protesters gathered near the State Department, where the ministerial meeting sessions took place, and then moved with their message to the Martin Luther King Memorial, to pay tribute.

Actions like that, Zeese explained, have not only a political purpose, but are focused on changing the culture of the United States built on militarism and high investment in weapons, including nuclear weapons.

According to the activist, that was what Luther King called in his speech on April 4, 1967, ‘to get away from the culture of war and get closer to a culture of peace.’ 

Similar criteria expressed to this medium Margaret Flowers, also co-director of Popular Resistance, who recalled that in that speech the Reverend spoke out against racism, militarism, war and economic injustice.

‘A nation that continues to spend year after year more money in military defense than in programs of social progress is approaching spiritual death,’ said the man who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

To say of Flowers, in the United States there is an expanded belief, even among people who claim to be progressive, that NATO is a positive force in the world.

‘We are trying to change that narrative,’ he said of the organization accused in many parts of the world of violating international law in countries such as Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya.

He also criticized the calls made by US President Donald Trump to the members of the bloc to carry out more defense spending.

If we want to have security in the world, we must use the resources to meet the needs of people, such as housing, education, work, access to clean water and food, this is how we create global stability, not investing money in weapons, estimated .

All of us who lived in 1968 remember the murder of Dr. King, a leader for peace, justice, against militarism, racism and poverty, said, in turn, the singer and political activist Luci Murphy.

Murphy criticized that, contrary to those ideals, NATO and the US government take taxpayers’ money to build military bases and provoke wars. Military adventures are destroying countries, changing the climate, destroying the Earth, he said.

The resurrection of Dr. King

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

An essay by John Dear for Waging Nonviolence

Over the last fifty years, there have been thousands of nonviolent movements for peace and justice that have made huge strides, and at the heart of every one of those movements stands the life, death and teachings of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the global apostle of Gospel nonviolence.

Because of his legendary work in the Civil Rights movement, Dr. King’s stand against systemic poverty, institutionalized racism, permanent war and nuclear weapons, and his steadfast insistence on Gospel nonviolence as the best methodological tool for political change and the bottom line for human decency, thousands of nonviolent movements have sprung to life around the world. Dr. King’s courageous life and life-giving death have born tremendous fruit around the world in new unparalleled breakthroughs for justice and peace.

Yet few know this. Few understand it. Few realize the global debt we owe to Martin King. Few see the transformative power of global, bottom up, grassroots people-power movements of active nonviolence.

Long ago, Jesus said, “Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it cannot bear good fruit.” Apparently, this is the way positive social change happens. When people give their lives in nonviolent movements for justice and peace, the spirit of nonviolence gets unleashed and becomes contagious. Anything can happen, even peace.

From Jesus to Dr. King, those who give their lives in the nonviolent struggle for justice, disarmament and peace, even though they appear to fail, bear tremendous good fruit in the long haul. That’s the way nonviolent change happens. That’s the lesson of Martin Luther King, Jr. That’s the undertaking we’re all called to support. That’s the path ahead.


I grew up in Washington, D.C. in the late 1960s, where my father was a leader of the National Press Club. Though I was a boy, I was extremely politicized. I understood the evils of the Vietnam War and the hope of the Civil Rights movement. When Dr. King was killed, and two months later, Robert Kennedy, I knew then and there, that the world had changed for the worse, that the powers that be had destroyed the best voices for hope and change.

From then on, I saw a direct line from the U.S. killings of MLK and RFK to Nixon, Vietnam, Reagan, the Central American Wars, the Bushes, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the blatant fascism of the Trump Administration, and with them, a new sick world of permanent war, systemic poverty and racism, nuclear weapons and environmental destruction.

For years, I pondered the lives of Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy. In college, I felt that the best response I could make after their assassinations was to give my life to Jesus, become a priest and then, a public peacemaker.

In the 1980s, I lived for a while in El Salvador, and worked in a refugee camp in the war zone, under the direction of the Jesuits who were later assassinated. During those difficult days, people around me spoke in hushed tones about Archbishop Romero, as if he were alive. They had a vibrant theology of resurrection, which inspired their steadfast commitment to justice and peace. They knew he lived on in them, and because of his courage, they too spoke out.

Romero is now canonized as a saint, and its easy to see his power, but back then, even the mention of his name was risky.

I have never heard anyone speak of Dr. King that way. No one speaks of the resurrection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Unlike the suffering people of El Salvador, we have no theology of resurrection. We do not yet understand how our saints and martyrs have risen and continue to inspire us to work for a new culture of peace and nonviolence. Yet that is the way resurrection works.

Martin is alive and well and risen, and continues to inspire us to practice nonviolence, organize for justice and peace, and give our lives for God’s reign of peace.

Over the past forty years, I have been involved full time in the global grassroots, bottom up, people power movements of nonviolence, inspired by Dr. King. Along the way, I have befriended many of Dr. King’s friends and colleagues—Coretta Scott King; Jim Lawson; Vincent Harding; John Lewis; Dorothy Cotton and Bernard Lafayette. All of them, along with thousands of others, have continued Dr. King’s work of teaching and promoting active nonviolence as our one last hope, as our last ditch effort, our best way out of the madness, the best methodology for positive social change, the way of the nonviolent Jesus.

I think the time has come to claim Dr. King’s resurrection as the power beneath our active, creative, organized nonviolence, just as we claim the resurrection of the nonviolent Jesus as the basis for our very lives.

When the nonviolent Jesus rose from the dead, he remained as gentle, loving, nonviolent and determined as ever. He was not bitter or angry, vengeful or retaliatory. He did not get mad at the disciples for abandoning him. Instead, he blessed them with his gift of peace, breathed the holy spirit upon them, and sent them forth to carry out his mission of active nonviolence into the culture of violence.

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Questions for this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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In other words, the risen Jesus was the embodiment of peace and nonviolence. As I reflect on that, I conclude that resurrection means having nothing to do with death, which means having nothing to do with violence, which means, resurrection is all about nonviolence.

If we want to get ready for resurrection, and follow the nonviolent Jesus, we practice resurrection by trying to be as nonviolent as possible—to ourselves, to every human being we meet, to every creature on earth, to Mother Earth, and through our participation in the local/global grassroots movements of nonviolence for justice and peace.

The night before the government killed him, Dr. King told thousands of people in Memphis this short summary of his life’s work: “The choice is no longer violence or nonviolence; it’s nonviolence or non-existence.”

That’s where we are today, on the break of global destruction with permanent war and systemic poverty and racism, nuclear weapons and catastrophic climate change, a whirlwind of global violence that infects every aspect of society, in every corner of the world.

Dr. King’s core message was the wisdom and way of nonviolence. His daily call was a passionate plea for us to become people of creative nonviolence who work for a new nonviolent world without war, poverty, racism, sexism, nuclear weapons or environmental destruction, a whole new culture of nonviolence which he understood as the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth. He said we do this no matter what, that we keep going no matter what, that we struggle for justice and peace and never give up.

From the Montgomery Bus Boycott through the Freedom Rides and the Birmingham Campaign to his March on Washington and Selma March through his organizing projects in Chicago and the Poor People’s Campaign and his public denunciation of the Vietnam War—Dr. King lived, breathed, taught and modeled Christian nonviolence.

“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the one who wields it,” Dr. King wrote. “It is a sword that heals.”

If we want to take Dr. King seriously, I suggest we start studying, teaching, practicing, organizing and renewing nonviolence in our lives and communities. The more we promote and practice nonviolence, the more Dr. King rises among us, just as Oscar Romero continues to rise in his people.

“I’m committed to nonviolence absolutely,” Dr. King said about a year before his death. “I’m just not going to kill anybody, whether it’s in Vietnam or here. I’m not going to burn down any building. If nonviolent protest fails, I will continue to preach it and teach it. I plan to stand by nonviolence because I have found it to be a philosophy of life that regulates not only my dealings in the struggle for racial justice, but also my dealings with people, with my own self. I will still be faithful to nonviolence.”

As we go forward in these difficult times, we can let Dr. King rise in us, if we dare, by daring to rise to the occasion, and becoming the people of active nonviolence he hoped for. Let’s do it.

Last September, Pace e Bene organized our fifth national week of action, from Sept. 15-24, 2018, with over 2650 events, marches and actions across the USA, involving a hundred thousand people, speaking out for a new culture of nonviolence. We were trying to put nonviolence into action, to get the grassroots movement moving. 

On top of this, we gathered in Washington, D.C. at the Dr. King statue, and marched past the Lincoln Memorial to the White House for a vigil against war, racism, greed, nuclear weapons and environmental destruction. Ten of us committed civil disobedience, holding out signs right at the gates. It was daring, public, exciting, and meticulously nonviolent, for we walked in silence, in prayer, in peace, like Gandhian satyagrahis. We tried to step up to the plate and carry on the witness of Dr. King, in our own turbulent times, come what may.

That’s not all. Our group, www.campaignnonviolence.org  has called for cities around the nation to become “Nonviolent Cities,” where every aspect of civic society is nonviolent, so that people are not hungry or impoverished, there are no guns and killings, no violence or racism, that the schools teach nonviolence, the churches preach nonviolence, and the city councils and mayors work for a nonviolent society. We think this takes Dr. King to a new level. It can’t be measured, but it’s happening, and with this quiet grassroots organizing, Dr. King rises and so do we.

On top of this, some friends and I have been working with the Vatican over the last few years to ask the Pope to write an encyclical on nonviolence. During our historic April 2016 conference on nonviolence at the Vatican, we took turns speaking about Jesus’ way of nonviolence and the need for the universal Church to advocate nonviolence. After the conference, Pope Francis wrote a world day of peace message calling for nonviolent alternatives to war and violence. It was the first statement on nonviolence in the history of the Church. What a sign of hope!

Around the world, there are many signs of hope, signs of resurrection—the Black Lives Matter movement, the #MeToo movement, the Plowshares movement, the Parkland Students’ “March for our Lives,” resistance to the Trump administration, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the environmental movement, the anti-death penalty movement and so forth. In particular, I take heart because for the first time since the early days of the church, Christians are beginning to discover the nonviolence of Jesus and make it a central aspect of their own lives.

How did Dr. King carry on in the darkness around him? As he arrived in Memphis, in the weeks before the U.S. government killed him, he gave us his answer. One night, he told the crowd his definition of hope. “Hope,” he said, “is the final refusal to give up.”

That’s the path to resurrection, the way forward. We are not going to give up. We are going to keep practicing nonviolence, resisting systemic violence, speaking truth publicly and organizing the grassroots movements for positive social change. As we do, Dr. King rises among us, as does Jesus, and we experience the breakthroughs of God’s reign in our midst. Hope indeed!

Kids on strike for the climate in New York

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

by CPNN Coordinator

I had a chance to go to the march and demonstration of school students in New York against climate change on Friday, March 15. There were a series of demonstrations ending up with a big enthusisastic crowd at the Museum of Natural History.

The average age was under 20. I’d have to back to the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s to remember big demonstrations with majority youth. Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?


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Here are some of the chants that they sang out loud and clear :

Stop the pollution; We have the solution!

Show me what democracy looks like; This is what democracy looks like!

Hey Hey Ho Ho, Fossil fuels have got to go!

We speak for the trees; we speak for the trees!

What do we need: a system change; When do we need it? NOW!

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Question for this article:

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

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Here are some of their colorful, hand-lettered placards :

There is no plan(et) B

One people One planet

I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something. Then I realized I was the somebody!

“I want you to act as if the house is on fire – because it is! – Greta Thunburg

It’s not nice to frack with Mother Earth

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that ceated it – A. Einstein

Respect existence or expect resistance !

Dear T-rump, climate change will get you too ! (with the image of a Tyrannosaurus dinosaur)

Break the climate silence !

Youth strikes harder when climate change strikes !

Change is coming whether you like it or not !

And here’s one from the next generation:

Marching with these kids becuse I’m too scared to have children of my own.

Mission Statement of American Youth Climate Strike

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

Statement on website of the Youth Climate Strike Campaign

We, the youth of America, are striking because decades of inaction has left us with just 11 years to change the trajectory of the worst effects of climate change, according to the Oct 2018 UN IPCC Report. We are striking because our world leaders have yet to acknowledge, prioritize, or properly address our climate crisis. We are striking because marginalized communities across our nation —especially communities of color, disabled communities, and low- income communities—  are already disproportionately impacted by climate change. We are striking because if the social order is disrupted by our refusal to attend school, then the system is forced to face the climate crisis and enact change. With our futures at stake, we call for radical legislative action to combat climate change and its countless detrimental effects on the American people. We are striking for the Green New Deal, for a fair and just transition to a 100% renewable economy, and for ending the creation of additional fossil fuel infrastructure. Additionally, we believe the climate crisis should be declared a national emergency because we are running out of time.

Our Demands

Green New Deal

*An equitable transition for marginalized communities that will be most impacted by climate change


* An equitable transition for fossil-fuel reliant communities to a renewable economy

* 100% renewable energy by 2030


* Upgrading the current electric grid


* No creation of additional fossil fuel infrastructure (pipelines, coal plants, fracking etc.)


* The creation of a committee to oversee the implementation of a Green New Deal

. . That has subpoena power


. . Committee members can’t take fossil fuel industry donations


. . Accepts climate science


A halt in any and all fossil fuel infrastructure projects

* Fossil fuel infrastructure disproportionately impacts indigenous communities and communities of color in a negative way


* Creating new fossil fuel infrastructure would create new reliance on fossil fuels at a time of urgency


All decisions made by the government be tied in scientific research, including the 2018 IPCC report

* The world needs to reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2030, and 100% by 2050


* We need to incorporate this fact into all policymaking


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Question for this article:

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

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Declaring a National Emergency on Climate Change

* This calls for a national emergency because we have 11 years to avoid catastrophic climate change


* Since the US has empirically been a global leader, we should be a leader on climate action


* Since the US largely contributes to global GHG emissions, we should be leading the fight in GHG reduction


Compulsory comprehensive education on climate change and its impacts throughout grades K-8

* K-8 is the ideal age range for compulsory climate change education because:

* Impressionability is high during that developmental stage, therefore it’s easier for children and young adults to learn about climate change in a more in-depth manner, and retain that information


* Climate change becomes a nonpartisan issue, as it truly is because it’s based solely on science from the beginning


Preserving our public lands and wildlife

* Diverse ecosystems and national parks will be very impacted by climate change, therefore it’s important that we work to the best of our abilities to preserve their existence


Keeping our water supply clean

* Clean water is essential for all living beings, when we pollute our water supply, or the water supply of someone else, it’s simply a violation of an essential human right


Our Solutions

* The extraction of Greenhouse Gases from the atmosphere

. . Reforestation– replenishing our forests by planting trees and allowing them to thrive, sustainable forestry


. . Reduced food waste– methane emissions from rotting food in landfills contributes immensely to overall Greenhouse Gases emissions


* Emission standards and benchmarks

. . We need to create standards and benchmarks for reducing Greenhouse Gases that align with those expressed by the science community to avoid 2° Celsius warming


* Changing the agriculture industry

. . Less carbon-intensive farming


. . More plant-based farming


* Using renewable energy and building renewable energy infrastructure


* Stopping the unsustainable and dangerous process of fracking


* Stop mountaintop removal/mining

. . It is very harmful to our environment and people working in these fields


* These are not the sole solutions, these are just some solutions that we approve of

* To be effective, these solutions need to be implemented at a large scale by the United States government