Nonviolent direct action resources | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Nonviolent direct action resources

Throughout the month of January, KFTC sponsored my participation in a deep-dive course about Nonviolent Direct Action. I learned about planning, logistics, and executing successful direct actions and campaigns. It was an eye-opening course where folks from a variety of backgrounds come together from across the country (and even some folks from across the globe) to talk thorough direct actions in theory and practice.

I was able to participate in this training because KFTC's mission includes using nonviolent direct action to find solutions to the problems facing Kentuckians. 

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth is a statewide organization working for a new balance of power and a just society. As we work together we build our strength, individually and as a group, and we find solutions to real life problems. We use direct action to challenge – and change – unfair political, economic and social systems. Our membership is open to all people who are committed to equality, democracy and non-violent change.

The course instructor was Eileen Flanagan, who is an author and activist. She has served as board chair of Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT, pronounced ‘equate’). In 2015, EQAT won a direct action campaign that resulted in PNC Bank pulling out of financing mountaintop removal coal mining.

I wanted to share some resources that course participants reviewed during the training to provide additional resources to those who might be interested in learning more about the theory and practice of nonviolent direct action (NVDA).

Mickey McCoy 


The Power of Nonviolent Direct Action by Daniel Hunter

  • This article describes the theory and practice of nonviolent direct action to build grassroots power.
  •  This article discusses how to develop a direct action working group and what roles members of that group can serve. 
  • This detailed guide outlines how to develop a strategic nonviolent direct action campaign.
  • This new book-lenght resources details how to develop successful direct action campaigns.
  • This article details how to leverage the wisdom and experience found in groups to identify effective direct action tactics.
  • This article details ways to keep newly engaged activists engaged in long-term strategies to create needed change.
  • This article hilights the importance of recruiting members to join direct action working groups beyond activists' circle of friends.
  • This article details how to assemble a core team of activists to work within a nonviolent direct action campaign. A core team is a small group of folks assigned to tackle one specific project in a short amount of time. The team plans actions or a coordinated group of actions within a larger campaign.
Training as a Form of Action as featured on Waging Nonviolence
  •  This article discusses trainings and preparations to learn more about nonviolent direct action as a form of action itself.
  • This resources discusses the dimensions of power and how to use strategies and tactics that chip away at the pillars that support traditional power structures.
Action Storming as featured on Training For Change
  • This training resource helps newly formed nonviolent direct action groups practice brainstorming and creating new actions and tactics that go beyond typical forms of activism. 
Getting on the Offensive as featured on Waging Nonviolence
  • This article highlights the importance of getting on the offensive side of an issue during times when defensive actions are needed. Offensive nonviolent direct actions can help advance defensive work.
Legal Support for Activists as part of the Mass Defense Program of the National Lawyers Guild.
  • This resources helps activists find and identify legal support when preparing for nonviolent direct actions (the opposite of 'Big Brother')
  • This grassroots database helps activists who are researching connections (financial, professional, and more) among folks who are in positions of power.
  • ICNC features several films online that are available for free, and in multiple languages. Titles include 'A Force More Powerful,' 'Bringing Down a Dictator,' 'Orange Revolution,' and 'Confronting the Truth.'
The following resources can help activists stay centered when dealing with anxiety and fear surrounding direct action:
Insidious Perfectionism by Catherine Clarenbach
  • This article helps folks confront perfectionism as it becomes a barrier to action.
  • This article outlines strategies to help folks confront fear and anxiety as they become a barrier to action.
Calling on Fear by Alma Tassi
  • This interview helps folks lean into and call on their fears directly in order to overcome them.

Groups that have successfully designed nonviolent direct action campaigns

During the course, participants discussed and learned from the examples of particular groups that have successfully used nonviolent direct action campaining. Below are some examples of change-makers we discussed in-depth. 

  • The Coalition of Immokalee Workers based in Florida have successfully designed and implemented direct action campaigns to promote food justice, campaign for fair food and justice for farm workers, and to end modern-day slavery.  
  • ACT UP New York (ACT UP is an acronym that stands for AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) have successfully used nonviolent direct action to make change for decades. The group is still active, and we discussed some of the tactics they have used over the years to be successful. You can view some of the resources they have archived detailing NVDA strategies and tactics here

I really enjoyed the course because it helped me work through some of my nervousness about using nonviolent direct action and helped me feel bolder. We talked about the importance of acknowleding our fears and concers openly and working through those to develop effective nonviolent campaigns for change. This course was a great way to connect with folks from around the country and world who are taking action to advance climate and social justice.

As meaningful as this training was for me, it has been difficult to summarize all we went over. One clip that participats shared in describing what has brought us to this work was the words of activist and author Marianne Williamson about the radical power of love in this political momement. Radical love brought us together, and we learned how to effectively leverage radical love through nonviolent direct action to make a difference.