New Webinar Series Explores How to Build Effective Movements in a Pandemic and Beyond

By Katherine Hughes-Fraitekh

Waging Nonviolence and Solidarity 2020 and Beyond are launching a new webinar series featuring experienced grassroots activists from a broad array of international struggles.

Solidarity 2020 and Beyond is partnering with Waging Nonviolence to launch an exciting new webinar series called People Power: COVID-19 and Beyond. Anchored by grassroots activists, along with high-profile scholar-activists and journalists, the series will debut on Sept. 8 at 11 a.m. EDT on Zoom and Facebook Live with a conversation on the major unfolding nonviolent uprisings in the United States, Lebanon, Thailand and Zimbabwe. Regular installments will follow through the end of the year. You can click here to register. All recordings will also be posted and archived on the YouTube channels for Waging Nonviolence and Solidarity 2020 and Beyond, making them easily accessible to those unable to participate in the live events.

The series will highlight the voices of experienced and trained grassroots activists who are part of Solidarity 2020 and Beyond’s Global Grassroots Activist Network, working in more than 100 countries around the world. While educational webinars and ideological discussions have increased significantly since COVID-19, there has arguably been a dearth of grassroots voices working in the trenches. People want to know not only why, but how, to wage effective struggle at this key time.

With our new series, we hope to focus on the nuts and bolts of how to build and wage nonviolent campaigns and movements for dignity, justice and freedom around the world. The goal is to answer questions like: How do I begin to bring awareness and mobilize people to work for change? What do I do when my government chooses to use violence against unarmed protesters? Can nonviolence really overcome violent armed actors and militaries? How do I create a strategy and tactics that will work in my unique situation? What does my situation have in common with others? How important is training and preparation versus organic events that bring people out?

The field activists who will participate in these webinars have been trained by local groups and networks around the world, including Afrika Youth Movement and Action Aid’s Global Platform, Beautiful Trouble, International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, RHIZE, Inclusive Global Leadership Institute, Ekta Parishad, Training for Change and many more.

Movements in the Global South have been less understood and covered in mainstream media, which is why this series will prioritize these under-resourced and difficult mobilizing efforts in Asia, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Yet, at the same time, we are also seeing major threats to democracy, climate crisis prevention and human rights in the United States and Europe. So solidarity is what we need most now.

Through locally-led initiatives, the activists taking part in this series have built peer-to-peer learning exchanges, written articles and disseminated culturally appropriate curriculum translated into local languages, developed creative resistance, messaging and mobilizing strategies, utilized technology and security tools, and implemented self-care initiatives. These efforts slowed initially during COVID-19, but are now building back strong.

This webinar series plans to amplify and make evident the truth that nonviolent campaigns and revolutions are happening at record numbers around the world, and its participants are learning from each other. The activists that will be featured are waging a broad variety of local, national and international struggles. These include movements for women’s rights and gender justice, environmental justice, racial justice, anti-corruption and good governance, disability rights, indigenous rights, democratization and self-determination.

The activists hope to accomplish four main goals through this series: to connect diverse activists from around the world to share experience and provide moral support; provide lessons learned and detailed knowledge to new organizers and activists; to share and discuss new and effective ways to continue struggles during COVID-19 and beyond; and to provide evidence of the extensive reach and activity of strategic and effective movements around the world today to build hope and resilience at this dark time.

On Sept. 8, the first webinar in the series will explore a range of ongoing movements, and feature:

  • Lucas Johnson, a community organizer and writer, who is the executive director of Civil Conversations and Social Healing at The On Being Project. He previously served as the International Coordinator of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.
  • Rania Masri, an activist and scholar who has advocated for human rights and social justice across the Arab world — including for Palestinian rights and anti-corruption in Lebanon, her homeland — as well as recent mutual aid responses after the huge explosion in the Lebanese port. She joined the new Citizen’s in a State Party after years of grassroots organizing and was a candidate for the parliamentary elections in Lebanon in 2018.
  • Robson Chere, a high-profile labor and human rights activist in Zimbabwe, Secretary General of Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe. He became a national leader of resistance after organizing a cross country march to call for teacher and student rights in December 2018 after which he was arrested and tortured by the government. After his release, Robson continues in his role of organizer, including the recent July 31 national strike that was shut down after prominent journalists were killed or imprisoned days before.
  • Pimsiri Petchnarob, a young student activist from Thailand who researches and trains in nonviolent resistance. She has been actively involved in the recent Thai student uprisings calling for reform in the political and social systems of the country.
  • We also hope to include Zahra, a grassroots activist and trainer in the Sudanese nonviolent revolution who is playing a key role in the transitional organizing.

The details for future webinars will be included in Waging Nonviolence’s weekly newsletter and on Solidarity 2020 and Beyond’s soon-to-be-launched website. The topics for upcoming webinars this month include: COVID-19 and the anti-corruption nexus (Sept. 16), nonviolent struggles for environmental justice (Sept. 22) and women’s leadership in movements (Sept. 30).

If you are an experienced activist, a budding organizer, a policy maker, researcher or journalist, or an ordinary citizen searching for hope and evidence of people working together for a better world, please join us for this exciting series of conversations.

Katherine Hughes-Fraitekh is an expert on peace building, social justice movements and nonviolent strategy and resistance. She trains, convenes, and researches in solidarity with hundreds of grassroots activists and social justice movements across the world, including travel to 75 countries over the last 10 years. She co-founded Solidarity 2020 and Beyond, an international network of grassroots activists, journalists and scholars supporting nonviolent movements and was most recently a 2020 Rotary Peace Fellow in Thailand. Previously, she was a director at International Center on Nonviolent Conflict and executive director of Peace Brigades International-USA.

This announcement was published on September 1 at Waging Nonviolence.

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