This past weekend, I attended the Gandhi-King Conference on Peacemaking in Memphis, TN. This was the second time I have attended and presented at the conference and definitely plan on attending again next year. The conference brings together a great group of educators, activists, and organizers interested in various topics related to peace, conflict resolution, community organizing, and social justice. Download the full conference program here. This year I had a lot more time to meet and learn from all the other amazing participants since I was there for the whole event, as opposed to three years ago, when I missed half the conference because I got lost and ended up roaming the streets of Memphis for five hours.
This year I gave a two separate presentations on the new video game, People Power: The Game of Civil Resistance, which ICNC has designed in partnership with York Zimmerman, Inc. I presented it at both the Peace Jam Youth Conference on Friday – which brings together students, mostly from the Memphis area, to participate in different peacemaking workshops, and at the regular conference on Saturday. Audiences both young and old had a lot of interest in this game as a teaching tool and learning tool. For both workshops I presented the game in a way that I also seeks to introduce some basic ideas about civil resistance. For the youth we took a look at different kinds of nonviolent tactics, movements that have utilized those tactics, and example of games that are successful at teaching elements of strategy and/or history. After expanding on those concepts through various interactive exercises, we then opened up the game and saw how those concepts are built into the playing experience.
I attended three other workshops. The first was “CONFLICTALK: Application of an Instrument for Measuring Youth and Adolescent Conflict Styles,” presented by Dr. William D. Kimsey from James Madison University. This workshop looked at a new way to teach about conflict styles using words, scenarios, and phrases that are more relevant and and connected to how youth and young adults actually speak and interact. It was also interesting to hear how this tool was developed in partnership with youth and young adults, as opposed to adults assuming they know how young people speak. The second was “The Power of Truth: Online Information and the Way Forward in the Age of Internet and New Media,” presented by Dr. David Orenstein of St. Peter’s College in New Jersey. This workshop looked at the history of how information sharing and communication have evolved and what this means in terms of social movements. Orenstein argued that in within the next 5-10 years, mobile devices like the iPhone are going to start having drastic impacts on how movements advocate and mobilize for social justice causes. The third was “Effectively Teaching Gandhi’s Life and Thought,” presented by Roderic L. Owen. This workshops looked at key idea within Gandhian thought and how they can be introduced to students.
Finally, and I must say this, Memphis, TN is a wonderful city. It has a lot of history (particularly with the Civil Rights Movement), a lot of great culture (food and music), a lot of green space, and the people are friendly. I would highly recommend that people visit this wonderful city. I cannot wait to go back next year.