Nonviolent Direct Action Resources

Posted by: Michael Harrington on February 14, 2019

Throughout the month of January, KFTC sponsored my participation in a deep-dive course about Nonviolent Direct Action. I learned about planning, logistics, and executing successful direct actions and campaigns. It was an eye-opening course where folks from a variety of backgrounds come together from across the country (and even some folks from across the globe) to talk thorough direct actions in theory and practice.

I was able to participate in this training because KFTC's mission includes using nonviolent direct action to find solutions to the problems facing Kentuckians. 

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth is a statewide organization working for a new balance of power and a just society. As we work together we build our strength, individually and as a group, and we find solutions to real life problems. We use direct action to challenge – and change – unfair political, economic and social systems. Our membership is open to all people who are committed to equality, democracy and non-violent change.

The course instructor was Eileen Flanagan, who is an author and activist. She has served as board chair of Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT, pronounced ‘equate’). In 2015, EQAT won a direct action campaign that resulted in PNC Bank pulling out of financing mountaintop removal coal mining.

I wanted to share some resources that course participants reviewed during the training to provide additional resources to those who might be interested in learning more about the theory and practice of nonviolent direct action (NVDA).

Mickey McCoy 


The Power of Nonviolent Direct Action by Daniel Hunter

  • This article describes the theory and practice of nonviolent direct action to build grassroots power.
  •  This article discusses how to develop a direct action working group and what roles members of that group can serve. 
  • This detailed guide outlines how to develop a strategic nonviolent direct action campaign.
  • This new book-lenght resources details how to develop successful direct action campaigns.
  • This article details how to leverage the wisdom and experience found in groups to identify effective direct action tactics.
  • This article details ways to keep newly engaged activists engaged in long-term strategies to create needed change.
  • This article hilights the importance of recruiting members to join direct action working groups beyond activists' circle of friends.
  • This article details how to assemble a core team of activists to work within a nonviolent direct action campaign. A core team is a small group of folks assigned to tackle one specific project in a short amount of time. The team plans actions or a coordinated group of actions within a larger campaign.
Training as a Form of Action as featured on Waging Nonviolence
  •  This article discusses trainings and preparations to learn more about nonviolent direct action as a form of action itself.
  • This resources discusses the dimensions of power and how to use strategies and tactics that chip away at the pillars that support traditional power structures.
Action Storming as featured on Training For Change
  • This training resource helps newly formed nonviolent direct action groups practice brainstorming and creating new actions and tactics that go beyond typical forms of activism. 
Getting on the Offensive as featured on Waging Nonviolence
  • This article highlights the importance of getting on the offensive side of an issue during times when defensive actions are needed. Offensive nonviolent direct actions can help advance defensive work.
Legal Support for Activists as part of the Mass Defense Program of the National Lawyers Guild.
  • This resources helps activists find and identify legal support when preparing for nonviolent direct actions
LittleSis.org (the opposite of 'Big Brother')
  • This grassroots database helps activists who are researching connections (financial, professional, and more) among folks who are in positions of power.
  • ICNC features several films online that are available for free, and in multiple languages. Titles include 'A Force More Powerful,' 'Bringing Down a Dictator,' 'Orange Revolution,' and 'Confronting the Truth.'
The following resources can help activists stay centered when dealing with anxiety and fear surrounding direct action:
Insidious Perfectionism by Catherine Clarenbach
  • This article helps folks confront perfectionism as it becomes a barrier to action.
  • This article outlines strategies to help folks confront fear and anxiety as they become a barrier to action.
Calling on Fear by Alma Tassi
  • This interview helps folks lean into and call on their fears directly in order to overcome them.

Groups that have successfully designed nonviolent direct action campaigns

During the course, participants discussed and learned from the examples of particular groups that have successfully used nonviolent direct action campaining. Below are some examples of change-makers we discussed in-depth. 

  • The Coalition of Immokalee Workers based in Florida have successfully designed and implemented direct action campaigns to promote food justice, campaign for fair food and justice for farm workers, and to end modern-day slavery.  
  • ACT UP New York (ACT UP is an acronym that stands for AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) have successfully used nonviolent direct action to make change for decades. The group is still active, and we discussed some of the tactics they have used over the years to be successful. You can view some of the resources they have archived detailing NVDA strategies and tactics here

I really enjoyed the course because it helped me work through some of my nervousness about using nonviolent direct action and helped me feel bolder. We talked about the importance of acknowleding our fears and concers openly and working through those to develop effective nonviolent campaigns for change. This course was a great way to connect with folks from around the country and world who are taking action to advance climate and social justice.

As meaningful as this training was for me, it has been difficult to summarize all we went over. One clip that participats shared in describing what has brought us to this work was the words of activist and author Marianne Williamson about the radical power of love in this political momement. Radical love brought us together, and we learned how to effectively leverage radical love through nonviolent direct action to make a difference. 

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KFTC Steering Committee Discuss Organizing for Racial Justice

Posted by: KFTC Staff on February 12, 2019

Racial justice and organizing for the 2019 and 2020 elections were the focus for KFTC Steering Committee members and guests as they met in Berea on February 2.

KFTC members and allies claim the House, meet with Bevin

Posted by: KFTC Staff on February 5, 2019

Chanting “Whose House? The people’s House! Whose House? Our House!” KFTC members sent a message to legislators and the governor that Kentuckians have a right to be in the capitol.

As the legislature resumed on February 5 after a recess, members were in Frankfort to lead a series of “spontaneous” mini rallies that started small and grew in number as participants moved throughout the capitol annex toward the governor’s office. Why mini-rallies? One of Gov. Matt Bevin's new regulations to limit public participation defines a rally as four or more people.

Water Justice Field Hearing

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on February 4, 2019

More than 110 people turned out on February 2 to affirm the need for clean and safe drinking water.

LG&E/KU rate case attempts to alter reality

An electric meter in the winter
Posted by: Steve Wilkins on February 1, 2019

Over the past several years, Louisville Gas & Electric (LG&E) and Kentucky Utilities (KU) have pushed legislation that would eliminate net metering

Voting Rights Updates and Actions!

Posted by: KFTC Staff on January 30, 2019

Voting Rights Meeting 1-5-19

It's been an energetic last few weeks re-igniting the KFTC Voting Rights campaign to restore voting rights to people with felonies in their past.
  • On Monday night, we had a webinar with 45 registered participants.  We reviewed the history and moment we're in for this issue, talked about paths forward, and heard personal stories from 6 people who have lost the right to vote and are fighting to get it back.  You can watch the video here or just see the slideshow here.
  • We created a powerful short video including interviews from 5 people with felonies in their past, telling their stories.
  • We recruited 6 new plaintiffs to a lawsuit arguing that the current felony disenfranchisement process is unconstitutionally arbitrary.
  • HR1 had a national hearing this Monday.  Thats'a  bill that, among other things, would restore voting rights to all people who have served their time for purposes of voting in federal elections.
  • In the Kentucky legislature, we worked with Representative George Brown and Representative Charles Booker to re-write a version of a voting rights bill that is as "clean" and simple as possible, restoring voting rights to everyone when they're served their debt to society.  Supporting this bill is likely to be our primary path to victory over the next few years.
  • We completed a survey to all candidates for Governor asking them their position on this issue, wo we can let people know leading up to the May primary election. 

But there's far more to come as the Legislative Session gets underway in frankfort next week.  Please consider coming out to some of the below events or taking action from home to advance this issue. 

Upcoming Events

KFTC Lobby Day - 2/5 - Broader than just Voting Rights, this is a day of action at the capitol around democracy and related issues.   Voting Rights Lobby Day 2/19 - This is our focused lobby day on voting rights where we'll be working through all 138 legislators and trying to build support and identify who's with us and who still needs convincing in the legislature.  We hope you can come.  There's also a Facebook event you can circulate.

Hailing Cesar NKU screening

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on January 24, 2019

This past Wednesday the Northern Kentucky chapter joined other organizations for a celebration of Cesar Chavez Day at Northern Kentucky University.

Threats to democratic participation define first week of 2019 General Assembly

Posted by: KFTC staff on January 19, 2019

Looking forward to making some positive impact in the 2019 General Assembly, KFTC members instead found efforts to limit public participation in the fundamental institutions and practices of our democracy.

Many members of KFTC and other groups were in the capitol and the adjacent capitol annex (where legislators have their offices and most committee meetings are held) for the first day of the session on January 8. The Kentucky Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and the Kentucky Council of Churches held events in the capitol rotunda that many participated in.

Others came to welcome new and returning legislators, especially several House representatives who had received active support from KFTC members during their campaigns. Among those was Jim Glenn, who won by one vote. Speculation was that House Republican leaders might refuse to seat Glenn since they are working to overturn his election.

Lawsuit to restore Voting Rights in Kentucky looking for additional plaintiffs

Posted by: KFTC Staff on January 18, 2019

KFTC's primary strategy for restoring voting rights to Kentuckians with felonies in their past is to change Kentucky's Constitution to permanently grant the right to vote to all 312,000 Kentuckians who don't have the right to vote now. KFTC's Voting Rights Strategy Team, made up of directly effected people and other members from all over the state, decided additionally get involved in a lawsuit arguing that the current system is arbitrary and unconstitutional.

Our most immediate task is to find people who have lost their right to vote to join our list of plaintiffs for the case. 

If you do not have the right to vote because of felony disenfranchisement in Kentucky and you're off of probation and parole, and you'd like to join the lawuit as a plaintiff, please reach out to Dave Newton as soon as possible at Dave@kftc.org or 859-420-8919.  Our deadline to reach out to people to add them is Friday, January 25.

Below is the press release sent out by our allies about the case.

Rolling Bluegrass Prepares for MLK Day Celebrations

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on January 18, 2019

The Rolling Bluegrass chapter will again be celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by working the local Georgetown - Scott County NAACP.


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