Happy 1 Year Birthday PPWN!!!

On April 8th of this year, the Positive Peace Warrior Network celebrated our first birthday during a two-day workshop in Oakland, CA, joined by the 45 participants from that workshop.  There could not have been a better way for us to celebrate the success of our first year than with a group of people learning about Dr. King’s legacy.

Our 1 Year Birthday celebrated in Oakland, CA

April 8th, 2012 was an incredibly auspicious day, and not only because it was our birthday.  This year, the 8th also happened to be Easter Sunday, a day to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.  The 8th also happened to be Hanamatsuri, the day that the birth of the Buddha is celebrated in Japan.  It was also, of course, 4 days after the commemoration of Dr. King’s assassination, which occurred on April 4th, 1968.  Could there have been a more fitting day for us to celebrate by certifying 45 new people in Kingian Nonviolence?

As we look back at our first year as an organization, we are amazed and blown away by the support and reception we have gotten.  Our work has carried us all over the country, working in high schools, jails, Occupy movements, neighborhood associations, universities and other communities.  Our workshops have pulled in hundreds and hundreds of people, including former city mayors, formerly (and currently) incarcerated people, veteran organizers, people who have never attended a protest, youth, elders, anarchists, wealthy individuals, homeless youth, teachers, union workers, and people from every walk of life.  Our work has received coverage in the press, including on KPFA, YES Magazine, Rethinking Schools, and many other outlets.

And all of this was done without a budget.  Not a single grant, not a single donor, not a single paid staff – heck, we didn’t even have a bank account until after our birthday celebration.  Our first year was an act of faith and an investment in our future, and it was only made possible because so many people supported us.  And now as we move into our second year, we are excited thinking about the possibilities of what we could all accomplish together with more participation, stronger relationships, and increased resources (who’s gonne be our first donor?).

I have worked in nonprofits now for over 10 years.  Specifically, I have been working in philanthropy for the past 10 years, as Program Director of the Peace Development Fund.  So I know how rare it is that a group can accomplish as much as we did without a budget.  Since April of 2011, PPWN has:

  • Provided over 5,000 hours of training to 500+ people in over a dozen locations.  Participants have included former city mayors, active gang members, youth on probation, elders who were active in the Civil Rights movement, high school teachers, homeless youth, donors and staff from foundations an philanthropic institutions, activists and organizers working on a variety of issues and people who have never been to a protest.
  • Partnered with Occupy movements, high-schools, county jails, meditation centers, neighborhood associations, activist organizations, service organizations, and other communities.
  • Conducted the first of a series of two-day workshops inside the San Bruno County Jail.  Participants included 20 inmates and 5 staff.  CLICK HERE to read our report back from that workshop.
  • In partnership with the Freedom Foundation, conducted an alternative spring break for over 100 college students in Selma, Alabama.  All the students, who represented several universities from around the country, were trained in Kingian Nonviolence and did community service work for the community of Selma.  CLICK HERE to read our report back.
  • Continued our partnership with North Lawndale College Preparatory High School, a high school that saw its rate of violence drop by over 70% in the first year since institutionalizing Kingian Nonviolence.  PPWN provides an annual week-long training for the NLCP Peace Warriors, and a bi-annual training for the entire school faculty.  CLICK HERE to see a video of our work at NLCP.
  • Though Positive Peace Warrior Productions, created youtube videos of our work and of the Occupy Movement.  Our videos have received over 10,000 hits since January 1 of this 2012.

As we move into our second year of operations, we have a team of volunteers who are helping move PPWN forward by helping us with our website, with grant-writing, fundraising, and continuing to identify new partners and communities for us to work with.  Here are just a few projects that we have in the works:

  • We will now be offering monthly two-day workshops inside the San Bruno County Jail, working with a group of men from each of the “pods” within the jail.  From there, we will recruit a core group of inmates and staff to go through a longer, week-long training that will certify them to be able to present short workshops to their peers.  The goal is to institutionalize Kingian Nonviolence within the jail and empower the inmates to educate themselves and continue to build the Beloved Community, even inside the jail walls.
  • As we head into the summer, we are getting ready for the Kingian Nonviolence Summer Kick Off!  We will be dedicating significant time over this summer working with young people from around the country.  We are working on as many as three week-long Advanced Youth Trainings, starting with our annual training with the NLCP Peace Warriors in Chicago.  We hope to be conducting youth specific work over the summer in Oakland, Chicago, Providence, and Selma.  Check back later for more info on this!
  • PPWN recently hosted its first public meeting in Oakland, CA, for people who have gone through at least one two-day workshop.  About 30 people came together and we spent the night discussing what our vision is for the city of Oakland.  We will continue to hold monthly meetings to continue to explore the philosophy of Kingian Nonviolence, and to discuss what it might look like to put it into practice.

Again, all of this work up to this point was done without a single grant or donation.  While we are now able to accept donations and have volunteers who are helping us write grants, we will always keep our focus not on our need for financial resources but on relationships and committed partners.  This work was made possible thanks to the support we have received from so many people and so many communities.  As PPWN continues to develop and increase our capacity, we look forward to continuing to work with each and every single person with whom we have been in contact with over the last year.

Thank you all for all that you do.  If you would like to help celebrate our 1-year birthday, please do so by spreading the word and sharing our work with your community.

More People!  More Power!! More Progress!!!

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