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I Cover Northern Westchester Progressives and Activists — # 4 – Learning How To Make Some Noise

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Unarmed Civilian

Unarmed Civilian

The possibility of nonviolent direct action (NVDA) in Northern Westchester took a big step forward Sunday afternoon because of what happened at a Unitarian church. What happened was a workshop called “Peaceful Resistance.”

I’ve said for years that if the world’s going to be saved it will be saved in large measure by women between the ages of 50 and 99. They know how to work hard, they’ve spent decades honing the necessary skills, and when they’ve had enough, they have had enough. Women between 50 and 99 made up the bulk of the workshop’s attendance.

Oh, and some younger people showed up. Even a sprinkling of men. The Green Sanctuary committee of Croton-on-Hudson’s Universalist Unitarian Church and Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE) co-sponsored Dr. Susan Rubin’s (FB, Twitter) training on what nonviolent direct actions are, how they work, and why sometimes they’re just about the only appropriate thing to do. Dr. Rubin, a Northern Westchester food activist and environmental educator, knows what she’s talking about.


Trans-species NVDA

Trans-species NVDA

She was arrested at the White House as part of 350.org’s Keystone XL protests. She dressed up as an orangutan in front of PepsiCo for the Rainforest Action Network.

A golden toad

A golden toad

She hopped around in a “climate-killing bank” dressed up as a golden toad in a Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir action. She participated in Occupy Wall Street, the People’s Climate March and Flood Wall Street. She organized and ran trainings for a future direct action intended for the Mt. Kisco TD Bank (“Total Destruction Bank” quipped persistent gadfly Kevin O’Neill).

Westchester progressives and activists turned out to learn. Attendees included Susan Van Dolsen (FB), Suzannah Glidden (FB), and Susan McDonnell, three of the co-founders of SAPE, Kevin O’Neill (FB) (creator of the hashtag #FrackingMonstrosity), and Courtney Williams (FB), the cancer researcher and very concerned parent leading Peekskill’s fight against the #FrackingMonstrosity pipeline. Dr Jannette Barth (bio, publications) also attended — an activist economist who testifies on fracking and renewables and a co-author on Mark Jacobson’s landmark paper demonstrating New York’s energy needs can be met with current-generation renewables by 2030. The Green Sanctuary committee, led by the demanding yet personable Daria Gregg (event), was well-represented.

Other veteran activists attended, alongside people exploring personal activism for the first time. Dr. Rubin’s presentation was fantastic. It was clear, concise and illustrated with photographs from her own activist activities. Her experience as an educator showed through, along with her sense of humor, her passionate dedication, and her deep understanding of direct action and why it’s looking more and more like an unavoidable duty here in Northern Westchester. Her bird’s eye view of NVDA history preceded a survey of the practical, legal and communication aspects of planning and executing a direct action. Particularly good news for people in these parts: her emphasis on visuals, humor and artistic expression. When people in Westchester think of direct action they usually something no more disruptive than a candlelight vigil or well-behaved rally. Dramatic actions always seem to happen somewhere else. That may not be true for too much longer.

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