WWFOR 2022 Spring Assembly

By David Lambert

On Saturday, April 30th, Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation (WWFOR) held its annual Spring Assembly; this year again by Zoom. The Theme: Defending and Extending Democracy, Using Nonviolence. The planners of this event: Susan Donaldson, John Repp, Kerri Griffis, Mary Hanson, Jean Gant Delastrada, Joshua Otto-Liljenstolpe, David Lambert (and help from Marti Lambert).  Rick Trombley helped during the Assembly.

During the planning process, we decided to include the showing of the film Love & Solidarity, a strong and compelling 38-minute documentary of Rev. Dr. James Lawson’s life and work with nonviolence in standing up to oppression and injustice. This film was directed and produced by Dr. Michael Honey, a local University of Washington, Tacoma Campus, history professor who has spent a great bulk of his career writing about the labor and freedom movement and has written five acclaimed books. He also helped with Rev. Lawson’s latest book: Revolutionary Nonviolence: Organizing for Freedom. 

Prior to the film showing, Jean Gant Delastrada introduced four Mike Yarrow Peace Fellows for 2021-22. Leila Chavez spoke of her social justice project of educating people about climate change and organizing an art exhibit to be shown on June 18th at the Olympia Coach House. Next, Christine Zhang’s project was to establish a computer science class for 4th and 5th grade students in the Olympia School District to strengthen interest among students for computer science. Abigail Asare talked social justice issues in education, especially how they affect low income and students of color. She told of establishing a podcast to help educate the public and school officials about this. Finally, Angela Clarke spoke of her efforts to make feminine products available for free in her school and local library. Bruce Pruitt-Hamm, Chair of WWFOR, told of consistently having extremely positive feelings over the years regarding the wonderful growth of MYPF interns into stronger peace and justice activists.

Dr. Honey introduced the film and following the showing, Ian Schaefer Lorenz from the Washington State Poor People’s Campaign, gave a short talk and slide show presentation of the mission of the PPC and the current campaign leading up to the national PPC march and rally in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, June 18th. Ian stated there are plans in our state to have a number of local actions that day, including Olympia, Tacoma, Seattle, and other locations.

Dr. Michael Honey presented the keynote talk, emphasizing the four steps of Reverend Lawson in nonviolent community organizing: 1. Focus: Investigate deeply what the nature of the problem (research) is; recruit and educate, map solutions. 2. Negotiation: including engaging the opponent, presenting demands, plans for direct action, developing timelines, strategy and tactics. 3. Direct Action Campaign: Start creative and flexible actions and move from simple to complex actions, building inspiration and public support. 4. Followup: retrench, regroup your forces, evaluate, and see what you have learned, how you can improve it. Finally, ask “is there a next step to what’s just been done.” Dr. Honey talked about how these four steps were also outlined in Rev. Lawson’s latest book and encouraged participants to read this important book.

 After the keynote talk, participants broke into small groups and discussed questions that Dr. Honey posed, followed by discussion within the larger group.  David closed the event encouraging people to take steps to increase their social justice activity. Following the end of the formal Assembly, many folks stayed for an informal discussion, which to a significant extent, included rich comments about the Russian/Ukrainian War and related matters.

A recording of this event is planned to be available on the WWFOR Website.