Planting Seeds of Resistance in Zimbabwe

This article was originally published in April 2019 on Waging Nonviolence. On the outskirts of town a young man uses a shovel to scoop up a clod of tall grass from the side of the highway. Hastily, he dumps it into one of the huge potholes that dot the road. Glancing around warily, he jumps back in his vehicle and takes off. This scene was

Continue reading
Various images about militarism & social change

My “New” Website

See it now – Way back in the 1990s I came into contact with the zine culture. It was an amazing explosion of creativity. There were zines about everything—working as a guinea pig for medical science, writing prank letters to corporations, conspiracy theories, coffee, cereal, sitcoms, Satan and anything else you can imagine. Intrigued, I decided to make my own zine. It seemed like

Continue reading
Planting tufts of grass in giant pothole

Creative Nonviolence in Zimbabwe

In early March I happened upon a Tweet announcing how people in Zimbabwe were planting small bushes and tuffs of grass in potholes to dramatize the poor condition of the roads. It stirred my interest, so I contacted the group and ended up interviewing Khumbulani Maphosa, team leader of the Better Bulawayo Initiative, and several other activists in the city of Bulawayo. The interviews formed

Continue reading
Blue wave

Elections in Desperate Times

My Dream (Yours is Probably Different) I don’t believe in representative democracy. I believe in direct democracy. I believe in neighborhood power. Your dream might be different, but if you are an activist you should definitely have one. Like the North Star, a dream can help orient you when deciding on current strategies and tactics. In my ideal society people participate in local, human-scale institutions

Continue reading
Macedonia protest

No More Boring Protests!

“How about Support the Troops—Bring Them Home Now,” said Margaret, a middle-aged woman who was new to activism. “That’s not really a tactic,” I offered. “Maybe we can think about slogans after we decide on a tactic.” Five of us sat around a rickety table in a musty church basement. It was the first planning meeting for a “stop the war” protest, marking the third

Continue reading
Storytime cartoon

Telling Stories for Social Change

You watch from the audience as the executive from the giant multinational corporation taps his pen impatiently on the table. You are in a town meeting to discuss a proposal to build a one million square foot water bottling plant in your tiny mountain community, population 1,300. Suddenly your town’s governing board is voting. The proposal passes and the contract is signed on the spot.

Continue reading
King in front of crowd

The King Who Ruled Nothing

Once upon a time there lived a cruel king who ruled without mercy. He was the most powerful king in the world, with a mighty army and an enormous kingdom. One day the general of his army came to him with some rather bad news. “Your Majesty,” said the general, “my men are tired of war. They are tired of bad food and mud and

Continue reading
Naked Trump statue

Guerrilla Art: An Interview with INDECLINE

In his book Tactical Performance, L.M. Bogad makes an interesting observation about an axiom of contemporary military strategy and its relevance to social movements. In military parlance, the ground war involves the taking and holding of territory using infantry soldiers. The air war, as you might guess, makes use of aircraft to inflict destruction on the enemy from above. While only ground troops can actually

Continue reading
Billionaires protest

Use Humor to Open Minds

Civil resistance actions can have many different purposes. But one goal is often to persuade the general public to change their opinions and support your cause. You might try to do this directly or through media coverage. In either case, this is a tough task because many in your “audience” will have pre-formed opinions. Entrenched beliefs and attitudes are the lens through which they perceive

Continue reading
Trump as clown

Laughing at Authority

A few years ago Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then president of Iran, spoke at Columbia University. I heard a clip from that speech on the radio that stuck in my mind. The authoritarian leader was answering a question about the treatment of gay people in his country. This is what he said: “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. (Laughter.) We don’t have that

Continue reading