Nashville: Green Revolution in Music City!

We arrived in “music city,” to the Nashville Greenlands, the Catholic Worker Community and WRL affiliate founded by long-time activists and war tax resisters Karl Meyer and Pam Beziat. It was late afternoon and Karl was conducting a tour for students visiting from Chattanooga, in town for a lobby day called Catholic Schools on the Hill.” Karl was explaining the Catholic Worker movement and the “Green Revolution” philosophy advocated by Catholic Worker co-founder Peter Maurin, who hoped to place scholars and workers side-by-side on farming communes. Nashville Greenlands is helping to revitalize the economically depressed neighborhood where Karl is the only white member on the neighborhood association. The community has purchasesd and repaired five houses and has openings for youth interested in a constructive program of radical politics.

Veterans for Peace member Joey King, just back from serving as an observer in the recent elections in El Salvador, joined us on the porch to share his report. He also talked about the counter-recruitment work of the Nashville VFP. “We prefer the term ‘truth in recruiting,'” Joey said, using the term coined by Chuck Fager and Quaker House in Fayetteville, N.C.

We arrived early at out next stop in the spacious home that serves now as the Nashville Peace & Justice Center. We were warmly greeted by staff and offered space to sort out our box of WRL literature and other materials we have been distributing along the way. Center Coordinator, Krystal Kinnunen-Harris, talked about the growth of the Center and the work of some of the member organizations working for long-term sustainable social change on a variety of issue areas, including Cumberland Greens Bioregional Council, NOW, Nashville WRL, and Tennessee Immigration Refugee Rights Coalition. Krystal was especially appreciative of the way member groups came together and worked successfully to defeat Nashville’s “English First” proposition. “The heart of the message is a basic human rights issue,” Krystal said. “We came together to keep Nashville as a place where immigrants feel welcome and protected.” Another project the Center is considering is a Peace Summit where groups in the region can come together and discuss how we can collaborate, discover what are the issues, and how can we support one another, Krystal said.

Also visiting the Center while we were there was Mana Kharrazi, a field organizer in the south with Amnesty International.

Before leaving Nashville, we stopped by the beautiful campus of Fisk University to have a look at the special collections, including many books and news reports from the Nashville sit-in days during the Civil Rights struggles.
The library is a vital resource center for scholars of the nonviolent struggles, and we wished we had more time to spend there.

After a pleasant evening visiting with Michael and Dylan (Clare’s brother and nephew), we headed out to Birmingham where we are tonight looking forward to our time with Jim and Shelley Douglas and others in town for the nonviolence retreat led by Arun Gandhi. Stay tuned for our next report. And, of course, comments most welcome.

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