Eugene Weekly : News : 9.4.08

Nonviolence in Eugene
Conference brings together civil rights and environmental justice
by Courtney Jacobs

Violence pervades the news, from the war in Iraq to the Eugene Police Tasing protesters or young white guys beating up an older African American man. But there is a different way to live, soon to be highlighted at the UO.

Julia Butterfly Hill

The Nonviolence as a Way of Life conference beginning Thursday, Sept. 11, features three renowned keynote speakers and nearly 100 other professionals, trainers and activists who will share their skills and experiences about nonviolent movements and communication in all areas of human living.

The keynote speakers include Julia Butterfly Hill, author, poet and an environmental activist famous for her 738 day tree-sit in an old-growth tree she called Luna; Reverend C.T. Vivian, a key strategist for the Civil Rights movement who served on Dr. Martin Luther King’s executive staff; and Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, a founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication.

Hill says that the conference is about bringing forth the best of what humans have to offer and helping people recognize how powerful they truly are. 

“Every single one of us is more powerful than our minds can comprehend,” says Hill. She says she hopes to send a message of love at the conference, and she encourages people to think about the choices they make in their daily lives. Hill says that the conference will also help teach and demonstrate “how we can make a world that works for all.”

There is a place for love instead of anger, according to Hill, and she hopes that the four-day conference will exhibit this and more. Hill, whose appearance at the 2001 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference included audience heckling, says she was glad she was the one who was heckled because she could use her nonviolent communication skills to demonstrate exactly what she teaches

 “Anger is a response to deep pain. If you’re not angry at the world today, then you’re not awake,” says Hill. “Words are great, but modeling it is so important. Unless we’re modeling it, our words are useless.”

The keynote speeches, including Hill’s, will take place in the Ballroom at the Erb Memorial Union (EMU) on campus. The cost of the event varies on a sliding scale.

NWLC organizers say the conference will not only consist of trainings, workshops and panels that enlighten, inspire and develop skills for nonviolent living; it will also incorporate the importance of peace in everyday existence. According to the Coalition for Nonviolent Living’s website, they “envision participants coming away from the conference equipped with a toolbox of techniques for nonviolent living which they can use to dismantle despair and build a culture of peace and justice.”

The conference begins Thursday, Sept. 11, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 14, from 3 to 8 pm daily. 

A quick breakdown of the events from

Thursday September 11: An opening plenary on nonviolence and the social and spiritual foundations for nonviolent living. This will be followed by a community “Interfaith Prayer and Reflection” service held at the sanctuary of First Christian Church.

Friday September 12: An assortment of workshops, inspirational addresses and moments for reflection and care, concluding with an evening presentation by Marshall Rosenberg at the annual Eugene Celebration (downtown) and a keynote address by the Rev. C.T. Vivian.

Saturday September 13: Trainings, workshops and panels that cultivate skills for nonviolence as a way of life. Many choices are available throughout the day. Saturday also brings the opportunity to hear two nonviolent activists from two different movements in North America: the Civil Rights and the environmental justice movements. Rev. C.T. Vivian will discuss the trajectories of nonviolence across movements and generations with Julia Butterfly Hill. Hill will also share a collaborative keynote panel on Saturday evening.

Sunday September 14: A wrap up with plenaries and coordinating councils that will cultivate connection and support for nonviolent living beyond the conference. 


To find out more about the conference and to register, go to or call 343-2734.