Introduction: Varieties of Nonviolence
by Abigail Fuller
The genius of nonviolent action lies, in part, in its creativity. At its best, nonviolence takes forms
that are unpredictable, innovative, and inspiring. Yet while the most dramatic instances of
nonviolence are the ones that usually capture attention --marches, sit-ins, civil disobedience--ordinary people all over the world practice nonviolence daily in countless quieter, though no less
In this issue of the Bulletin, we look at some of these people and practices, primarily in the
United States. Ben Leiter's piece on nonviolent resistance in Venezuela describes the student-led
demonstrations in 2007 that opposed the government shutdown of a television station
and the expansion of presidential powers. Laura Dell and Colleen Hamilton both critique the
current system of food production and consumption and outline some nonviolent alternatives. Focusing on consumption, Hamilton advocates eating locally-grown (hence seasonal) foods as
part of building "local living economies." From the production side, Dell describes a health-oriented revolution in farming that would consist of polyculture, growing perennial grains, and
Mary Cox compares two Hiroshima-based organizations with the common goal of preventing
nuclear weapons from being used again. In his article, Nick Kauffman relates the challenges and
promises of helping youth who have been released from detention facilities to integrate back into
society. From Phil Stoltzfus, we learn about the debut of the Minnesota Peace Team, a group of peace activists who worked to defuse violence during the 2008 protests outside the Republican
National Convention in Minneapolis.
Richard Johnson, who has written and taught about Gandhi, looks at the upsurge of
popular support for Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. Johnson asks whether
this phenomenon constitutes a nonviolent movement, and he discusses the possibilities for
nonviolent activists to continue influencing Obama and his presidency.
Finally, Kate Brelje
created The Gandhi Transformation Series, a collection of works in response to the content of Professor Tim McElwee and Professor Richard Johnson’s course on Gandhi. Created in 2007, the project uses visual representation and verbal description to chronologically reflect the nonviolent social change that Ghandi brought to India.
Many different people, using many different kinds of nonviolence to build a more peaceful and