The Peacemakers Toolkit

Strength Through Peace (STP) offers the “tools” in the five different categories described below for becoming and remaining engaged and active as a peacemaker.

Keeping informed

Staying informed of international, national, state, and local news and events are critical to being effective as a peace activist.  The following three “tools” are intended to help people gain access to information.

    1. In addition to reading/listening to/watching corporate media (e.g. the New York Times, National Public Radio, and MSNBC), check out alternate media listed here.
    2. STP sponsors a weekly “Salon” at which presenters address a variety of topics related to war, peace, civil liberties, immigration, and the environment.  For more information, click here.
    3. The Fort Collins Community Action Network (FCCAN) sends out a twice-weekly electronic bulletin publicizing local and state events, and occasionally issuing calls to action.  To sign up for this bulletin, click here.

 

Communicating with elected officials

Communicating with elected officials at the national level is important if people are to have a voice in decisions concerning war and peace.  It is also occasionally important to communicate with officials at the state and local level concerning these issues as well.  Tips for communicating with elected officials and access to contact information follow.

    1. Due to security procedures currently in place which can lead to significant postal delays, the best way to communicate with federal officials quickly is via fax or telephone.  A faxed, signed letter is more difficult to ignore than an e-message.  Calling federal officials is also effective, but a staffer will probably simply indicate that you are “for” or “against” a particular bill or issue.  Using a telephone is not a good way to communicate a nuanced view to a federal official, but if you don’t have time to prepare a fax, by all means call!
    2. Your written communication should be clear and crisp.  Try not to address more than one issue in a single letter unless you can establish a very clear link between the different issues.
    3. Be sure to include a return address (either street or e-mail), and ask for a response.  In asking for a response, you make it clear that you intend to hold the official accountable.
    4. Meeting with elected officials or their staff is easier than many people think.  It is not necessary to travel to Washington, D.C.: every member of Congress has a local office.  For detailed tips on meeting with elected officials, click here.
    5. Members of Congress occasionally hold public meetings.  FCCAN often announces these public meetings via its twice-weekly electronic bulletin (see item I.c above.  If you are able to attend such a public meeting, be sure to bring at least one question.  Be prepared to follow up if the member of Congress does not answer your question to your satisfaction.
    6. Our congressional delegation in northern Colorado consists of the following three individuals:
      1. Senator Michael Bennet – for contact information, click here.
      2. Senator Cory Gardner – for contact information, click here.
      3. Representative Jared Polis – for contact information, click here.
    7. For contact information for other U.S. Senators, click here.  For contact information for other members of the U.S. House of Representatives, click here.
    8. You may reach the Washington office of any member of Congress toll-free by dialing 1-800-828-0498.
    9. For contact information for President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, click here.
    10. For contact information for members of the Colorado General Assembly (Senators and Representatives), click here.
    11. For contact information for members of the Ft. Collins City Council, click here.
    12. For contact information for members of the Loveland City Council, click here.

 

Communicating with the general public

Communicating with others via print, broadcast, and on-line media allows activists to help shape public opinion.  Tips for writing letters to the editor and opinion pieces and access to media contact information follow.

    1. As with communication with elected officials, letters to the editor and longer opinion pieces should be clear and crisp.  Try to avoid attacking individuals and focus on a single issue if possible.  If you address more than one issue, a clear link or links should be established between the different issues.  For sample letters to the editor and opinion pieces written by members of the STP Writers Group, click here.
    2. “The Peace Alliance” has an excellent set of tips on working with the media on its website.  Click here for more information.
    3. The STP Writers Group is a subcommittee that works on-line together to generate ideas for letters to the editor and opinion pieces, and to support one another's writing efforts by offering constructive criticism.  For more information about the Writers Group, including how to join, click here.
    4. For contact and submissions information for local, state, and national print media, click here.

 

Joining an organization

Labor songwriter and Industrial Workers of the World member Joe Hill wrote, “Don’t waste any time in mourning.  Organize.”  Joining and contributing to an organization working for peace and/or justice is perhaps the best way to effect change.  Organizing can also help people keep their sanity in an often insane world!  Contact information for organizations working locally, statewide, and nationally follow.

    1. Strength Through Peace meets bi-weekly and welcomes newcomers.  Visit our homepage and click on the “Mission” and “Structure” buttons to learn more about us.
    2. The Fort Collins Community Action Network is an umbrella organization for several community organizations, including STP, Fuerza Latina, the Fort Collins Sustainability Group, and the Fort Collins Homeless Coalition.  To learn more about FCCAN and its affiliates, visit the FCCAN homepage.
    3. The Peace Alliance is working to establish a U.S. Department of Peace, and has several active groups in Colorado.  For more information, click here.
    4. Finally, STP has frequently supported the work of the following national organizations:
      1. Peace Action - for more information, click here.
      2. Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) – for more information, click here.
      3. United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) – for more information, click here.
      4. Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) – for more information, click here.
      5. Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) – for more information, click here.

 

Additional ideas for nonviolent action

In The Politics of Nonviolent Action (1973), political scientist Gene Sharp outlined 198 “methods of non-violent action.”  He divided these into six general categories: 1) methods of nonviolent protest and persuasion, 2) methods of social non-cooperation, 3) methods of economic non-cooperation – boycotts, 4) methods of economic non-cooperation – strikes, 5) methods of political non-cooperation, and 6) methods of nonviolent intervention.  Sharp’s list is the most comprehensive one of which we are aware. To learn more, click here.