DSCN5412Whenever someone asks me, “What is our salt? What is the US equivalent of Gandhi’s constructive program?” I tell them that I think it’s local food and gardening, seed saving, and caring for the Earth. Whether we’re planting in pots or urban community gardens, or we’re on a small farm, or, like me, you lovingly tend your tiny garden, I think these acts of growing change are our constructive program for much of what ails the US.

We have many potentialities for a project that strengthens our movements, lessens our dependency on our oppressors, builds self-reliance, and is a tangible activity that almost everyone can do. Here’s a few more ideas (and add your own in the comments):

Entertainment and Media: Go nonviolent on this, turn off the corporate media, liberate your mind, and watch a documentary, read a social protest novel (I recommend The Dandelion Insurrection), create your own art or music, go see a local band. There are many ways to evict corporations and oligarchs from our minds, hearts, and souls … taking back our entertainment and media through consciously creating and participating in healthy, respectful, nonviolent alternatives is one of them.

Restorative Justice: In a nation that has the largest prison population in the history of the world, ending punitive justice and shifting to restorative justice is a watershed concept. It can be brought to schools, workplaces, and our justice system. And yes, you could be the person to bring it to your community. Gandhi, btw, had bunches of constructive programs, one of which was local arbitration courts. He encouraged Indian lawyers to refuse to work in the British courts, and instead mediate disputes in the villages.

Giving and Sharing Economy: Tool coops, little free libraries, seed exchanges, toy libraries, barter networks, commons systems . . . there’s more than one way to do business, and the more we can move our exchanges out of the monetized corporate-capitalist system, the better it will be for our friends, families, and communities.

This is a “shortlist”. Add your own ideas to this list, and better yet, put them into action in your community.


ARivera New Hatuthor/Activist Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, Billionaire Buddha and Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, the cohost of Love (and Revolution) Radio, and the cofounder of the Love-In-Action Network. She is a trainer and social media coordinator for Campaign Nonviolence and Pace e Bene. Sun attended the James Lawson Institute on Strategic Nonviolent Resistance in 2014 and her essays on social justice movements appear in Truthout and Popular Resistance. www.riverasun.com