by Amber FrenchJune 20, 2018
In the one year—to the day—that the Minds of the Movement blog has been in operation, much has changed in the world. Although newspapers and schoolbooks will likely remember the wars and violence that sketched the contours of history during this blink of an eye, our blog readers know there are other processes of change that have promise to deliver greater rights and justice in our world.
Since this blog first went live last June, we have published 58 total posts, including reflections on personal involvement in a movement, how-to guidelines, thought pieces, and interviews. Eighteen recent nonviolent movements have been documented by bloggers with first-hand lived experience in these movements. Our bloggers have come from or were based in 19 countries in all regions of the world, and include movement leaders, scholars, members of the policy community, digital security gurus, screenwriters, journalists, former political prisoners and exiled dissidents. Patched together, their profiles and backgrounds form a mosaic of civil resistance voices that help us understand the complexities and relevance of this force for change.
In the last year, we’ve heard about new colors and vibes in Armenia’s politics and society following that country’s Velvet Revolution earlier this spring—on account of our blogger who was appointed Minister of Culture of Armenia two days following the publication of her blog post.
We’ve heard from a former political prisoner and exiled activist in Norway, about the ongoing struggle for justice among Oromo people in Ethiopia. We were touched by our contributor’s creed that “nothing is impossible when you are with the people, and the people are with you.”
But we’ve also done some reflecting on meta questions. We shared analysis of key terms, advocating that the misleading term “strategic nonviolence” no longer be used to refer to civil resistance, because its fuzziness hampers people’s comprehension.
We’ve ventured into the policy world to brainstorm about what a “democracy insurance policy” would look like—in other words, a strong investment in educational infrastructure for grassroots activists and organizers in a country, because they are “a cornerstone of defending and advancing democratic self-rule.”
Capacity building was even the theme of a mini-series we published last December, when a civil resistance and civic empowerment trainer for youth, women, and sexual minorities in Pakistan shared her personal journey to her current role and reflections on what makes trainers most effective.
As the buzz continued over the five-year anniversary of the Arab Spring earlier in 2017, we did some soul-searching to take head-on the debate about whether these largely nonviolent uprisings actually brought on more violence to the Middle East. Our contributors reminded us that it is often external violent actors hijacking nonviolent movements, as well as governments repressing activists, who sow violence—not nonviolent movements themselves.
We’ve further reflected on why violence undermines protest, which among many listed reasons, offered this quote by the Rev. Dr. James Lawson: “The truth of the matter is that violence can destroy a building, but violence cannot build a university or a family home or a church or a fraternal order, or a farm or a business… It cannot create a city where people can live well in peace and with a sense of worth of their own life.”
These are just a few of the highlights. Take a minute today to browse our articles and contributors to see what Minds of the Movement has to offer you. Entering the blog’s second year, I hope this platform will continue to reveal new facets of civil resistance as a meaningful prism through which we can understand the way sustainable change is achieved in our communities—and quite frequently on larger scales than that.
Quick-reference list of Minds of the Movement posts highlighted above in chronological order:
Great articles to bookmark, read and share!
Since joining ICNC in 2014, Amber French has led in developing and managing ICNC’s editorial and civic initiatives. Her current roles are Founding Co-editor of ICNC’s Minds of the Movement blog (est. June 2017); and Project Co-Lead of a partnership with ActionAid Denmark focused on the power of activist writing called REACT, Research-in-Action. For the blog, she has commissioned 285+ articles by 130+ activist writers, academics and members of civil society from around the world. In 2016, she oversaw the launch of the Nonviolent Conflict News website, a news aggregator site on nonviolent movements (now succeeded by Minds of the Movement). She also launched and managed ICNC Press from 2015 to 2017, producing dozens of books and reports in online and print editions.Read More