From February to April, youth from the Greater Rochester area will have opportunities to attend lectures and events that share the nonviolent practices taught by Mohandas K. Gandhi and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during A Season for Nonviolence. While many of the Season's events are open to all community members, this year's campaign has a special focus on empowering youth to adopt nonviolent tools and share what they've learned with their families and friends.
Planned by the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at the University of Rochester, along with a host of community partners, A Season for Nonviolence is the nationally celebrated 64-day period between the memorial anniversaries of the assassinations of Mohandas K. Gandhi on Jan. 30 and of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4. Launched in 1998 at the United Nations, the Season is a time to reflect upon the nonviolent practices of Gandhi and King. This year, Rochester will be one of almost 900 communities to participate.
New this year is the Youth Activist Movement, which brings more than 100 students from the city of Rochester and its outlying suburbs together to train in nonviolence principles and practices. Throughout the season, the Youth Activists will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with invited guests the Rev. James Lawson, members of the Foundation Movement, and Paul Chappel.
"We're hoping to connect the youth to the spirited actions that are happening around the world and in our own community," said Kit Miller, director of the Gandhi Institute. "It feels really important, especially given the current global situation, to get the tools of nonviolence into the hands of as many people as we can, particularly the youth activists."
Also new this year is a partnership with the Ad Council of Rochester, which will launch a community impact campaign, helping to spread the message of peace and nonviolence throughout the Rochester community. Created by Jay Advertising, the campaign includes print, television, radio and online advertisements, billboards and wearable materials like t-shirts and gloves. All the advertisements and other creative materials developed by Jay Advertising were designed to create a dialogue about shared humanity and the importance of treating others with respect and dignity."
Among the events planned for the 2012 Season is an address by the Rev. James Lawson, a colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement. The lecture, which begins at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 19, at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church (141 Adams St., Rochester), will open with a screening a segment of A Force More Powerful, a film that looks at how nonviolence campaigns have been effective in creating change throughout history. The film will be followed by a lecture by Lawson, who was a leading theoretician and tactician of nonviolence during the 1960s, working with King to launch sit-ins, boycotts, and other nonviolence protests.
A popular event during the 2011 Season, the traveling art exhibit "Americans Who Tell the Truth" will again be on display at the Central Library Link Gallery. Created by artist Robert Shetterly, the exhibit is a collection of portraits of leaders and activists, who, according to the artist's website, can "remind us of the dignity, courage and importance of some of America's truth tellers" and create a dialogue about "which truths we value most as citizens in a democracy." The portraits will be on display from Wednesday, March 7, through Monday, April 2, and are open to the public during the gallery's normal business hours.
The 2012 Season ends with a lecture by Paul Chappel, a nationally recognized peace activist, West Point graduate, and veteran of the Iraq war, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 23, at the Interfaith Chapel on the University of Rochester's River Campus. Chappel will discuss his ideas on the impact of war on society. On Saturday, March 24, Chappel will meet with the Youth Activists during a workshop on nonviolence communication.
A Season for Nonviolence is sponsored by the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at the University of Rochester. University partners include the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, Rochester Center for Community Leadership, Women's Caucus, and Interfaith Chapel. Community sponsors include the Ad Council of Rochester, Jay Advertising, Crazy Dog T-shirts, Grant Taylor Photography, Icon Creative, Inc., Restorative Rochester, Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, Teen Empowerment, Rochester Institute of Technology, Barefoot Edible Landscape and Permaculture, Spiritus Christi, Rochester Friends Meeting, Center for Dispute Settlement, Partners in Restorative Initiatives, First Unitarian Church of Rochester, Feminists Choosing Life of NY, Greater Rochester Community of Churches, Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, Rochester Public Library, Safe to be Smart program at the Library, Friends & Foundation of the Rochester Public Library, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School and its Black Student Caucus, Education for Peace, Art Peace, Mental Health Association, and Rochester Area Mennonite Fellowship, among others.
A Season for Nonviolence Events at a Glance:
A full list of events can be found at http://bethechangerochester.org/events-calendar/.
Youth Activist Kick-Off Event Saturday, Feb. 4, 3 to 7 p.m., Youth for Christ (1 Favor Street, Rochester)
A Season for Nonviolence kicks off with a celebration designed to introduce students participating as Youth Activists to the many events they can attend, as well as meet community leaders and peace activists through small group activities. The event also features speaker Tony Scott and a city/county proclamation. Media is invited.
Rev. James Lawson Lecture Sunday, Feb. 19, 6 to 9 p.m., Mt. Olivet Baptist Church (141 Adams St, Rochester)
The evening will begin with the screening of a segment of A Force More Powerful, a film that looks at how nonviolence campaigns have been effective in creating change throughout history. The film will be followed by a lecture by Lawson, who was a leading theoretician and tactician of nonviolence within the American Civil Rights Movement. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Art Exhibit: Americans Who Tell the Truth Wednesday, March 7 through Monday, April 2, Central Library Link Gallery
"Americans Who Tell the Truth" is a collection of portraits by Brooksville, Maine artist Robert Shetterly. The 14 portraits selected from this nationally acclaimed exhibit represent American leaders and activists who inspired great change before the age of 30. The exhibit is free to the public and on display at Link Gallery during regular business hours.
Concert: The Foundation Movement Thursday, Feb. 23, 6 to 10 p.m., Memorial Art Gallery auditorium
As educators and artists, Foundation Movement members Banjineh "Optimus" Browne and Ernesto "Eroc" Arroyo-Montano use hip-hop music as a vehicle to address issues of injustice and oppression, while spreading a message of peace and positive change. The Foundation Movement will run a series of workshops with the Youth Activists before performing. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door.
Robert Shetterly, Gandhi Distinguished Lecturer Sunday, March 11, 2 to 4 p.m., Central Library (115 South Avenue, Rochester)
"Americans Who Tell the Truth" artist Robert Shetterly discusses his motivation behind creating the portrait series.
Paul Chappel, Gandhi Distinguished Lecturer Friday, March 23, 7:30 to 9 p.m., Interfaith Chapel on Rochester's River Campus
Paul Chappel, a nationally-recognized peace activist, West Point graduate, and veteran of the Iraq war, shares his views on how society can put an end to war.