Local Activists and Organizations Making a Difference

by Tom Cronin, February 21, 2010

The Season for Nonviolence (1/30 - 4/4) was created in 1997 and inspired by the 30th and 50th memorials of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatmas Gandhi. The Season for Nonviolence or 64 Days of Peace provide us with an opportunity to honor MLK Jr. and Mahatmas Gandhi, while acknowledging their dedication to the strength and power of nonviolent action.

In Davis we have several local groups whose daily, weekly, and monthly actions make our community more compassionate and serve as a buffer against the violence and injustice that many experience. The impoverished conditions that exist for some people and countries often lead to an entire existence filled with pain and fear. When the daily basic needs of food, drinkable water, sanitation, shelter and medicine are missing the result is a direct attack on the physical self, and without access to education, health care and fulfilling employment hope is replaced with despair.

The violence and injustice of food insecurity, ecological degradation, animal abuse, species extinction, poverty and famine affect millions of people everyday as well as the fragile ecological balance of our planet. We also know that violence and injustice exist in our daily interactions and in our institutions through acts of racism, sexism, homophobia, and discrimination against the physically and mentally disabled.

In Davis there are a wide variety of local organizations and happenings that regularly engage in direct actions to affect nonviolent change and promote social and economic justice. These groups advocate for better food distribution, promote animal rights, human rights, biodiversity, environmental stewardship, and educate our community about the power of nonviolence, peace and justice through entertainment and the arts.

Critical Mass is a local chapter of a global group that create a world (for a small moment) where bikes are the dominant mode of transportation and by riding en masse they create an experiential space for both cyclists and the wider community to see what a world full of bikes looks and feels like. To be part of the swarm meet at the Oak Tree in Central Park at 5pm on the last Friday of the month.

Davis Community Meals is a non-profit, non-denominational organization that provides low-income and homeless individuals and families with emergency and transitional housing, free meals, and other human services. Visit daviscommunitymeals.org

Davis Food Co-op is based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. The Co-op is a great place to purchase everyday local organic food and fair trade items, which guarantee a fair wage to workers who have been traditionally exploited. See daviscoop.com

The Farmers' Market is the best place to meet a local farmer and buy local organic produce. It is also the best place for tabling and practicing free speech, topics include: health care, human rights, civil rights, housing sprawl, animal rights, and local habitats. Sat. 8 am - 1 pm, Wed. 2 pm - 6 pm.

Food Not Bombs recently celebrated their 14th year in Davis. Food Not Bombs gathers and prepares food that would otherwise go to waste and then creates vegetarian and vegan meals for those in need of a nutritious meal. Meals are served in Central Park every Sunday at 1 pm. See foodnotbombs.net

Hemispheric Institute of the Americas at UC Davis sponsor Latin American films that often focus on themes of economic and social justice. All of the films also offer an excellent opportunity for Spanish language learners to see films that feature different types of Spanish from around Latin America, and if you don't speak Spanish never fear they have English subtitles. On February 19 the Brazilian film Carandiru will be shown. Visit hia.ucdavis.edu for more details.

Putah Creek Council is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing Putah Creek and its tributaries through advocacy, education and community- based stewardship. For further information on how to participate in restoration projects, tree planting, biomonitoring, workshops and other events go to putakcreekcouncil.org

SPCA Thrift Store is the primary source of funding for the Yolo County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. They accept donations seven days a week and offer a wide selection of clothing, accessories, household goods, electronics, furniture, antiques, music and movies. For store hours and location, see yolospca.org

STEAC is the Short Term Emergency Aid Committee that has served Yolo County since 1967. STEAC provides immediate, short-term emergency assistance to Yolo County individuals and families whose incomes are at or below poverty level with food, clothing, shelter assistance and a holiday gift program. Visit steac.org for further information.

Teach Peace Foundation seeks to be one of the top ten providers of peacemaking solutions within the next decade and has three main goals: breaking the cycle of poverty by developing 21st century leaders, to engage young people and adults in life-changing experiences by involving them in solutions to the root causes of poverty, and to help clients and members transform from a world based on greed, pain and cruelty to a world based on generosity, compassion and love. Visit them at teachpeace.com

Village Harvest is a nonprofit volunteer organization, with a local Davis chapter, that provides food for the hungry, preserves our heritage and skills, and promotes sustainable use of urban resources. They organize backyard fruit harvesting, and provide education on fruit tree care, harvesting and food preservation. Visit villageharvest.org/davis

Tom Cronin is a local area teacher and member of the Davis Peace Coalition.