Affinity Groups: A Pathway to Problem-Solving with Applied Nonviolence

In July 2023, On Earth Peace launched Affinity Groups. This is a new initiative that OEP has designed to ensure a pathway for people interested in organizing to develop a project in a structured and supportive environment. It is said that those who wish to go fast may do so alone, but those who plan to go far do so together. The Affinity Group program embodies this by creating communities of nonviolent practice and discipline, which are in turn held by the larger community of other groups. OEP provides many options for Kingian Nonviolence training. 

By creating an Affinity Group in their area, people can galvanize like-minded individuals with shared goals towards stronger and more inclusive communities, justice, and positive peace. They grow internally by taking risks to try new things, creating shared experiences, and developing a common language to vocalize it together. By joining the Affinity Group program as a whole, there is also an external development that occurs. The individual groups get a chance to learn from other affinity groups in other states across the country. Though some may be at different stages of their 90-day plans, they have a common experience and shared language that they can use to encourage one another. If an affinity group in Ohio finds a tactic that may work to encourage passive allies to become more active, they could share their knowledge with an Affinity Group in New York which may be facing similar challenges on a different scale and stage. Furthermore, the various Affinity Groups can learn from one another’s insights during monthly leadership development sessions held by OEP. The different experiences and perspectives that each Affinity Group brings can benefit all. 

In late 2023 and early 2024, we celebrated five groups that formed across the country. Some of these groups are listed below, including some of the topics a few groups are focusing on and some of their recent developments in this initial phase. In this first chapter, we invited the various groups to use either our 90-day planning model or one of their own to keep track of their own goals, mission, and overall vision. The first 3-4 months have shown that determination, diligence, and discipline are essential ingredients in making decisions that positively impact their community. The groups that met regularly with each other, attended development sessions with OEP, and met one-on-one with organizing staff were able to develop deep and rich ideas and plans relevant to their context and moment. 

In the next phase, we shall build on previous work, and invite new groups to form and join the project. Our focus will be on using the Kingian Nonviolence principles and methods to actively engage the various groups’ communities and contexts. To help the groups along even more efficiently, we are developing toolkits for both KNV and Affinity Groups. These toolkits will contain models, ideas, and best practices that can be utilized in both community organizing and group development. If you would like to know more about these upcoming resources, or want to learn about forming an Affinity Group, please contact Anesu at [email protected] . Finally, we invite you to join us on May 3, 2024, at 4:30 PM ET / 3:30 CT / 2:30 MT / 1:30 PT for an Affinity Group Meeting where we will reconnect with current groups and meet any potential new groups as well. If you are interested and available, please rsvp here.

Current Affinity Groups

  • Borderless Relations Committee AG (Findlay, Ohio)
    • Focusing on teaching elementary school children how to enact systematic changes towards inclusion, BRC is a recipient of OEP's Community Engagement Grant for Youth Groups. They met with KNV trainers like Hassan Clement from the Nonviolence Legacy Program, who provided inspiring examples from organizing he has developed with low-income tenants in Arizona and consulted BRC on how to build inclusive communities. They were also able to connect with Jonathan (G.L.O.B.E.) Lewis, Director of Youth Training at Nonviolent Schools Rhode Island. BRC has continued to research diversity and inclusion strategies and develop their own capabilities to teach this information to the next generation, equipping elementary students with the same community development tools.
  • People of Faith AG (North Manchester, Indiana)
    • Focusing on making their community one free of violence, the People of Faith group plans to increase participation in their local community by bravely engaging in conversations about gun violence, domestic violence, school violence, and more. They are motivated by issues in violence prevention, stemming from seeing gun violence in the country, finding common ground with like minded individuals, and wanting to do something but not knowing what. By meeting every week, they have been able to create a mission statement, a vision statement, and several plans to motivate their community to be peace-led. Some of their plans include conversing with gun owners on safe gun ownership strategies, offering opportunities to turn guns into garden tools, and engaging with schools about conflict resolution strategies, to name a few. If you are in North Manchester and want to get connected with this Affinity Group, please reach out to Anesu (OEP Organizing Fellow) at [email protected].
  • NOVA AG in Northern Virginia 
    • Focusing on supporting the resilience of children and families at risk of violence, they hope to bring awareness to the community on how to prevent gun violence. They are actively seeking opportunities to lobby for change to the policy on gun control in the State and sharing the information to the change makers and voters. By working to be mentors to children who are at risk of or experienced trauma, they hope to help them choose nonviolent action personally and communally in order to influence their internal and external environment towards peace. Meeting weekly, they have established their vision statement and are working to identify a mentoring program to participate in, raise awareness with a walk on June 9th after church, and maintain awareness of lobbying opportunities through groups like Sandy Hook Promise and Moms Demand Action. If you are in North Virginia and want to get connected with this Affinity Group, please reach out to Anesu (OEP Organizing Fellow) at [email protected].

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  • Anesu Makufa, Youth & Young Adult Peace Formation Organizer
    published this page in Blog 2024-04-17 13:24:30 -0400
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