Recent Talks & Travels Along the West Coast

Teaching the Two Hands of Nonviolence to a group in Oakland, CA w/ Fr. Louie Vitale, founder of Pace e Bene in the class. What an honor!

With Erica Chenoweth, Dariel Garner, Tom Hastings, Adam Vogal, and the Students United For Nonviolence at Portland State University

Last week, I traveled the West Coast, speaking at several events and offering a few workshops on nonviolent change. With former-CIA intelligence analyst (turned anti-nuke activist) Elizabeth Murray and anti-drone, peace activist Sr. Megan Rice, I spoke about US imperialism and militarism, and the need for pro-democracy movements in the United States.

In Chico, Chris Nelson at Riparia Farm hosted a Seeds of Change Workshop in a barn (yay!). I spent some time at the Metta Center with Michael Nagler and Stephanie Van Hook and friends. Miki Kashtan and I met in person for the first time and I boarded the train to Oregon at 11pm, wide awake with ideas about social change and nonviolent communication (Miki’s speciality). In Eugene, Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Institute gave me stacks of literature and hours of thoughts to ponder. My Occupy Radio cohost, David Geitgey Sierralupe attempted to teach me audio file editing at midnight after a great visit, recording session, and vegan dessert. He woke me up bright and early for his famous pancakes (seriously, they were on the menu of a restaurant for years), which he generously veganized for me. They were, hands down, the best pancakes I have ever had.

The next day, I hopped on the train to Portland, OR, where I met Dariel. Together, we gave a presentation at Portland State University on Billionaire Buddha, income and wealth inequality, and using nonviolent action to change our situation. The students and professors were very attentive, engaged, and offered insightful reflections and suggestions. I was honored to be sharing the afternoon event with Professor Erica Chenoweth, an incredible researcher who coauthored a groundbreaking book, Why Civil Resistance Works. Erica’s presentation created a great framework of understanding for all of us, not just for the day of workshops, but for any changemaking or social justice work we might engage in. This event was presented by PSU’s Students United for Nonviolence, a truly wonderful group who has brought so much knowledge and organizing to their campus!

Speaking at the Beyond Violence event. Photo by Rev. Kate Lore

Speaking at the Beyond Violence event. Photo by Rev. Kate Lore

On Saturday, I spoke on a panel with Rev. Kate Lore and Terri Shofner at the First Unitarian Church’s Beyond Violence event (photo at top of email is from this event, taken by Kate Lore). I will pass on a tip to conference and workshop organizers: the coordinators of this event arranged for small group discussions (with prompts and questions) after the panel presentations and then after the workshop in the afternoon. This allowed participants to speak with one another, express their thoughts, reflections, and ideas on what was said, and engage with the material in meaningful ways. I sat with many of the small groups, listening, and found the discussions fascinating. If you’re ever planning a panel discussion, I recommend this format.

As we flew home, Dariel and I could see snow capping the Sangre de Christo Mountains all the way from Santa Fe to Taos. We are home for a few days, then I travel to Chicago on the train (which I always like to do if possible; the carbon footprint is sooooo much lower than airplanes) to present at DePaul University. (And no, this photo was not taken on the airplane with an outrageously good zoom. It is taken with my little point-and-shoot camera while standing in my driveway here in Taos, NM.)

Books have been flying out the door to readers across the globe. I just wrote in a recent blog post on Life of a Novelist, “As cold rain began to fall across the desert, I took a few moments to write cards to accompany books and novels going out to readers around the world! In New Zealand, I wrote to one person, your season is turning toward summer, while we are nearing winter – how beautiful and astonishing this beloved Earth is! I try to send personal notes to anyone who orders books from my website … since I rail against corporate tyranny, isolation, and dehumanization in my social justice and activism work, writing real notes (in cursive) from one real human being to another is a small act of building a beautiful, humanity-loving and life enhancing world.
Enjoy the rest of this glimpse into my life here.

I hope this letter finds you all well! It is a beautiful time of year, full of noticeable shifts and changes.  I am enjoying every moment’s uniqueness and deepening in my appreciation of life. Take care, enjoy the harvest, celebrate life, and wage peace!

Love and blessings,

PS Chicago Workshop at DePaul University! Thursday, November 5th, A Workshop on Tools for Nonviolent Organizing & Social Change w/ Author & Activist Rivera Sun, 7:00-9:00 PM, DePaul Lincoln Park Campus, Schmitt Academic Center, Room 254 2320 N. Kenmore Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 Rivera Sun is a novelist and agent for nonviolent change. She is a trainer and social media director for Campaign Nonviolence, the cohost of Occupy Radio, and co-founder of the Love-in-Action Network. Her most recent novels include The Dandelion Insurrection and The Billionaire Buddha. In her lively, invigorating speaking events, Rivera Sun connects the dots between the issues we face, relates stories from historic nonviolent struggles, covers groundbreaking new understandings of nonviolent struggles, and brings a pertinent and timely message to youth, elders, students, and ordinary, extraordinary people everywhere. Presented by the Peace, Justice, & Conflict Studies at DePaul University. For more information on Rivera, visit For questions about the event, email