Don’t miss Legendary Folksinger, songwriter, instrumentalist
TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2017 CONCERT. AT RCNV, 612 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, CA. Time: 7:30PM
NO more tickets via Paypal. Come to the concert to pay at the door. There may be a few tickets still available.
Ticket info: Advance Tickets sliding scale $18-35. Door: $20-35.
Bring in the New Year with Folk music’s renaissance man:master instrumentalist, powerful singer-songwriter, storyteller, activist, and author John McCUTCHEON. All are invited to attend this concert and celebrate RCNV’s 40th Anniversary!
Advance reservations may pay the advance price at the door (cash or checks): $18-35 sliding scale.
John’s got a brand new CD!– Trolling for Dreams. “John McCutcheon is the Bruce Springsteen of Folk Music … a national treasure!” “You can’t help but feel more connected to the world after his concerts.” Proceeds benefit RCNV. More about John.
MORE INFORMATION: call 831.423.1626
Young people and youth allies will celebrate nonviolent action for justice and peace at RCNV Saturday, January 14, noon to 4 pm. Workshops on spoken word and nonviolent action, resource booths, and food. All is free. Call Sarah at RCNV, 423-1626.
The NAACP, Santa Cruz Branch, hosts its annual Gospel Music Night, with recording artist Tammi Brown, and more gospel choirs and soloists, Saturday night, 7 pm, at RCNV. Tickets $20. Feed your soul and celebrate King’s actions: “true peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.”
All are welcome to join in the 2nd and 3rd sessions of Nonviolent Action Training led by Drew, Sarah, and Peter. Preparing for January 20 and beyond, the trainings are helping community members organize one action and prepare for more actions to resist the regime of injustice and aggression against many people. 40 people attended the first training Jan. 5, and all are welcome Jan. 12 and 15. Donations $1-$15. At the RCNV Community Room, 612 Ocean Street. Sign up on Facebook or call 423-1626.
Community organizer and nonviolent action trainer George Lakey will discuss his new book on how Scandinavians moved from a huge wealth gap to economic equality. The book, “Viking Economics,” was called “completely fascinating” by Bill McKibben for its desription of Scandinavian achievements in meeting the climate crisis. George Lakey is a nonviolent action trainer who cofounded the Movement for a New Society and Training for Change. His first arrest was for a civil rights sit-in and most recent was with Earth Quaker Action Team while protesting mountain top removal coal mining, in a nonviolent campaign that won. Lakey’s talk will be at the Resource Center for Nonviolence, 612 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz., at 7 pm. Donations $5-$15, all welcome.
Get in trouble- Good trouble, with Nonviolence! Check it out: interviews with Congressman John Lewis
9/1/16: Congressman John Lewis interviewed by Stephen Colbert on Get in Trouble- Good Trouble, with Nonviolence... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ATwisIrtfg
Excerpts below or click links to see the full Comedy Central videos from the August 8, 2016, Trevor Noah interview with Rep. John Lewis, GA, on nonviolence. John Lewis has just released book 3 in his graphic novel /biography “March” series.
JOHN LEWIS – GETTING INTO TROUBLE TO FIGHT INJUSTICE
AUGUST 8, 2016 – JOHN LEWIS
JOHN LEWIS – CREATING A BLUEPRINT FOR PEACEFUL PROTESTS WITH THE “MARCH” TRILOGY
AUGUST 8, 2016 – JOHN LEWIS 08/08/2016
Thank you to Eric Thiermann and Impact Creative for videotaping Bob Fitch’s memorial on 5/27/16 at Peace United Church in Santa Cruz. See link to video below.
We encourage people to share it and download it to your computers if you want to save it. It is about 2 hours long.
HEAR a 2015 radio interview with Bob Fitch by Ruth Copland, from her “A Question of Balance” show. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to click the link: http://www.
Bob’s memorial was a wonderful celebration and tribute to his life. Local singer/songwriter Aileen Vance began the service by leading Bob’s version of the song “All the Good People.” Good friend Brian Murtha emceed. Bob’s daughter Ma Ka Wa Alexander, sons Jaxon Raven and Ben Fitch spoke, and Ben sang a song. California State Senator Bill Monning remembered Bob’s work with the United Farm Workers and connected with him through the Resource Center for Nonnviolence. Assemblymember Luis Alejo remembered Bob’s active support in Watsonville. Bob’s son Jaxon Ravens, chairman of the Democratic Party in Washington state, read a statement from Bernie Sanders, who knew Bob during the civil rights movement. Bob’s partner Karen Shaffer shared memories and led the group in singing one of Bob’s favorite songs: “Get Up and Go”. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s close colleague and lawyer Clarence B. Jones spoke about Bob’s impact on the civil rights movement. Numerous community members, including former RCNV staff member Sandino Gomez and many friends shared their reflections about Bob’s impact locally, regionally and nationally. A potluck and contradancing followed the memorial.
By Josh Sonnenfeld
There are two images that come to mind when I think of Bob. The first is of Bob, on the ground, with his back on the pavement of a road somewhere in between the California farming communities of Watsonville and Salinas, clutching his camera in his hands, capturing photo after photo as hundreds of people march over him – part of a “Peregrinación Por La Paz” – pilgrimage for peace, for immigrant rights, and against militarism. This was during the height of the latest Iraq war in the mid-2000’s. The march was led by Fernando Suarez del Solar, the grieving father of a Marine who died in Iraq, who committed his life to make sure no parent ever had to feel the way that he did. I had come along on the trip with Bob, acting as both an assistant and a fellow photographer, but mostly just as a friend, and I was slightly terrified seeing my then 65-year-old friend on the ground, at risk of being trampled.
Bob always told me that, “You’ve got to get closer” to those you are taking pictures of. He meant that both physically, in this case, but also, I believe, emotionally. To him, his life-long commitment to social justice and community wasn’t just a political act or a profession – it was a deep act of love. Those that he struggled alongside over many years – through the civil rights movement, peace movement, farm workers movement, Catholic workers movement, and many others – weren’t just allies, they were his friends, his lovers, his family.
Documenting these movements to him, was ultimately about documenting people. Everyday people of all ages and backgrounds who did courageous things – who faced down police, the Klu Klux Klan, and armed thugs – but also people who, like all of us, had real flaws: ego, infidelity and chauvinism, shortsightedness and more. Bob understood that our movement leaders, people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Dorothy Day, Fathers Phillip and Daniel Berrigan, Joan Baez, and many others were both extraordinary people, and also real people – people who laughed, and cried, goofed around, and who made mistakes. Bob also knew that these leaders came out of a particular social context, and that movements were made up of thousands of people – thousands of leaders – whose names most of us will never know. Bob made it his life’s mission to tell the stories of not just those leaders whose names are remembered, but also the “foot soldiers” of these movements that transformed American life.
In many ways Bob was one of those foot soldiers himself. Experiencing some of the most transformative moments of mid-to-late 20th century history in the U.S. through the lens of a camera, Bob was an incredible and savvy observer. He understood how these movements were organized, the personal struggles and success stories of our leaders and their families, and also the magic that could be produced from “movement moments” – those times when the distance between reality and what is possible come closest – such as the March on Washington in 1963, where Bob took one of several iconic photographs of Dr. King.
When I met Bob as a 17 year-old high school senior in the run-up to the Iraq war, Bob had gone beyond the camera and was applying the lessons he had learned through many years as a staff member for the Resource Center for Nonviolence in Santa Cruz, California. With a keen eye for leadership, Bob spotted me as I was working with my fellow high school students to convince our school board to limit military recruitment on campus. Bob quickly pulled me under his wing, and over the next several years, taught me much of what I know about community organizing, and about friendship. A constant learner and reader, Bob gave me my first books on organizing – classics such as Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”, George Lakoff’s “Don’t Think of an Elephant,” and, most impactful on me, “The Long Haul,” the autobiography of Myles Horton, the founder of the Highlander Folk School, which has trained generations of organizers since its founding in the early 1930’s. More than just sharing books, however, Bob was a storyteller, sharing with me and many others the many lessons that he picked up from the variety of movements that he was a part of.
One of the best lessons I learned from Bob, however, was not about how to be a strategist, or effectively pressure decision-makers, but about how to show up. Bob understood the responsibility that came along with being a person of privilege (or, as he would describe himself, “a big, loud white guy”) in a society with deep levels of oppression, and saw the real need – and incredible power – when leadership came from the communities most impacted by the problems we face. He believed that the best way for a person of privilege to support community struggles is to show up, do the dirty work (stacking chairs, washing dishes), and to have a skill to offer that could be of use by the community. Like all good teachers, Bob gave this lesson most by his own example – and I struggle to remember any event Bob and I went to where he didn’t end the night with a mop in his hand, or happily moving tables from one side of the room to the other.
Beyond doing the dishes, photography was Bob’s skill that he could offer – and he did so with incredibly regularity and personal sacrifice over many decades. He understood that by taking photos, he was providing a service, allowing a more true story to be heard, amidst the spin of our opponents and distortion of the mainstream media. He knew that his job was to show up, “keep his mouth shut,” and “DFIU” (don’t ‘mess’ it up). His approach, in turn, engendered a deep level of trust by almost all with whom Bob worked – to the point that they would open up their lives, families and struggles for Bob to document. This makes Bob’s photographic archives (now stored at Stanford University, free for all to download and print – at his insistence) one of the most incredible and deeply personal records of social movement history in the U.S. over the past 50 years.
The second image that comes to mind when I think of Bob is of that grin. Bob was always so full of life, and “mischievousness” as he liked to describe it. He took Emma Goldman’s quote,” If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution” literally – and any efforts he was going to be involved in certainly was going to involve a lot of dancing. Bob was a contra dancer for decades at his local granges, but more than anything he was a constant jokester. I can’t think of Bob without smiling and laughing, because that’s pretty much what I was doing the whole time we were together. He had an infectious spirit, and incredible energy – dancing, playing guitar, singing, and boogie boarding in the Monterey Bay until his Parkinson’s eventually got in the way. His humorous spirit was also incredibly disarming, crossing cultural and linguistic boundaries, and building friendship and trust wherever he went.
I trust that for many decades, I will continue to meet friends of Bob’s that I never knew he had – each one with an incredible story to share about how they met him, a lesson that they learned from him, and a deep appreciation for this man who gave so much to so many, and whose images and impact will be seen and felt for many generations to come. We love you, Bob.
Bob Fitch, ¡présente!
Josh Sonnenfeld is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and is a former staff member of the Resource Center for Nonviolence. He lives with his wife Rachelle in Oakland, California, where he works with the Sierra Club to build powerful movements to protect the places and that we love.
Remembrance of Bob Fitch
By Paul Ortiz, May 23, 2016
I first met Bob Fitch in person through our work together at the Resource Center for Nonviolence in
Santa Cruz in 2001. Of course however, I knew of Bob through his remarkable movimiento photographs
of generations of activists in the United Farm Workers, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,
the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and many other social justice movements. What we
learn about Bob through these photographs is that what matters is the people, our struggles for justice,
and our willingness to listen to each other and to work for a better world.
Bob Fitch’s photographs preserve and promote the best and most difficult moments of each social
movement that he participated in. In doing so, he left us with important pieces of the puzzle on how we
can keep the struggle for justice alive and well. In Bob’s photographs, we see the heroic fortitude of an
individual resistor like Dorothy Day who defies the police to cross her path; however, we also see the
agony of people brutalized and mistreated by the cops on picket lines and protests.
We see moments of painful, interior reflection of a father, Fernando Suarez del Solar, as he agonizes
over the loss of his son in the Iraq War. Bob was equally adept at capturing moments involving
thousands of people—the masses in motion!—on International Workers’ Day, 2006, the Great American
Boycott, when Latina workers across the nation said ¡Basta Ya! (Enough is Enough!) to racism, labor
exploitation, and anti-immigrant laws.
Bob Fitch’s photographs honor the dignity and humanity of every individual life at the same time he was
able to preserve the magical moments when people wove themselves together into powerful forces for
change. Yes, these documents tell us much about the abuse of authority. Certainly, we learn about the
power of the state, of corporations, of the armed police to suppress and crush the aspirations of
working class people. Equally important however, we learn of the strength of hitherto powerless people
to come together and demand living wages, union contracts, immigration rights, Black Power, and end
to war, and so many other life-affirming causes.
What is my favorite Bob Fitch photograph? I love Bob’s recent series of photographs of Luis Alejo, a man
Bob described as a [quote] “Watsonville ‘home boy’ who has the charisma and organizing skill of Martin
Luther King or Cesar Chavez.” I love this series because it was Bob’s way of saying that the movement
for justice has a lineage, and it is always beginning anew in the shape of thoughtful people working
together for change.
Here’s another favorite. When Daniel Berrigan recently passed away we all were treated to Bob’s
remarkable photo of Father Berrigan flashing a peace sign in handcuffs, smiling his smile that says: “As
long as war exists we are going to resist; in joy, not in revenge. In peace, not in violence. In love, not in
hate.” “We defy authority,” that smile says, “because to be human is to be in conflict with the agents of
the state who put us at war with our brothers and sisters.” ¡Basta Ya! Enough is Enough!
That smile, which was so much a part of the beautiful Daniel Berrigan, was the smile I saw the first time I
had the honor to meet Bob Fitch and it was always there whenever I and Sheila had the privilege to
work with Bob during our wonderful years in Santa Cruz. Bob mentored countless students at UC-Santa
Cruz in the ways of seeing the world, and he was there with us on that wonderful day on May 1, 2006
when our students shut down the campus in the cause of human rights and immigrant justice.
Again, we remember so much of that remarkable day through Bob’s insightful photography. His
photographs depicted picket signs with affirmations like “This Nation Was Built by Immigrants!” “Don’t
Split Immigrant Families Apart!” and “Let us be part of the American Dream.” The Mexican flag and the
American flag fly proudly together, not separately.
As these photos eloquently demonstrate, we now remember some our best moments in struggle
through the images and words of our hermano, our brother Bob Fitch. We honor to his memory by
supporting today’s movement photographers, by nurturing the journalists and the movement organizers
who tell the people’s stories today—and by nurturing each other in loving resistance to the forces of
economic injustice, militarism, and oppression everywhere.
Paul Ortiz and Sheila Payne,
Paul Ortiz taught at UCSC and he served on the Resource Center for Nonviolence Steering Committee. Both Paul and Sheila were active RCNV volunteers and community activists in Santa Cruz until their move to Florida in 2008. Paul now teaches at the University of Florida Department of History. Professor Ortiz is also the Director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program. He is also the author of several books, including “Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920.”
Daniel Berrigan, former resident activist at RCNV in our founding year, widely known nonviolent resister, poet, author, social critic, Jesuit priest, and with William Stringfellow a significant donor towards the RCNV remodel, died April 30, 2016 at age 94.
New York Times article about Dan Berrigan:http://www.nytimes.com/2016/
The Resource Center for Nonviolence, founded in 1976, had a rich history with Daniel Berrigan. Dan Berrigan was the first “resident” at RCNV in April, 1977. The residency program brought people committed to nonviolence to stay for a period of time to share in the life of the Center. Dan spent a month meeting with classes at UCSC, offering several workshops, public lectures, poetry readings, and meeting people informally. He spoke to several hundred people at Page Smith’s “Penny University” at Cafe Pergolesi in Santa Cruz.
Over the years, the Resource Center for Nonviolence maintained a close connection with Daniel Berrigan. He visited several times in those early years, and baptized Ben Kennedy (son of Scott and Kris Kennedy) and Isaac Klotz-Chamberlin (son of Peter and Liz Klotz-Chamberlin) in 1979. Scott Kennedy was a one of a few trustees for the estate of theologian William Stringfellow. Stringfellow owned a cottage on Block Island, RI. Dan was one of the Catonsville Nine, whose members doused Selective Service files in Catonsville, Maryland, with napalm. After Catonsville, Dan had gone underground, eluding the F.B.I. for four months before he was captured on Block Island in 1970. Dan Berrigan continued to live on the Block Island property until only a few years ago. Proceeds from the sale of that property benefited the Resource Center’s Building for the Future campaign.
Evidence for the Prosecution
The boxes of paper ash The size of infant caskets Were rolled in on a dolly, Heaped there like cord wood Or children after a usual Air strike on Hanoi. I heard between heartbeats Of Jesus and his hangman The children’s mouths mewing For the breasts of murdered women The blackened hands beating The box of death for breath.
— Daniel Berrigan, “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine”
The world lost an amazing organizer, Bob Fitch, on Friday, April 29, 2016. Bob was 76. Below is a brief snapshot of Bob’s activism with the Resource Center for Nonviolence. For more about Bob, his life and photos, see BobFitchphoto.com A memorial for Bob will be held on Friday, May 27, 2:00PM at Peace United Church of Christ, 900 High St., Santa Cruz, CA followed by a potluck reception. To volunteer at the event, or for more information, contact RCNV: 831-423-1626.
Obituary written by Bob: Santa Cruz Sentinel 5/3/16: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/santacruzsentinel/obituary.aspx?n=robert-dewitt-fitch-bob&pid=179857270&fhid=24160
New York Times Obituary: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/
Santa Cruz Sentinel Story about Bob 5/3/16: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/obituaries/20160502/bob-fitch-1937-2016-progressive-activist-chronicled-historical-movements-as-a-participant-and-observer
Link to 2002 audio interview with Bob Fitch by John Malkin on his radio program “the Great Leap Forward” : http://www.radio4all.net/
A lifelong labor and workers rights activist, Bob Fitch had a stellar career as a photojournalist and was a low-income housing organizer with the state of California for a decade before joining the Resource Center for Nonviolence staff. He served on RCNV’s staff from 1999 – 2006. Bob first connected with RCNV co-founder Scott Kennedy at UC Santa Barbara in the 1970′s. Bob continued as a volunteer after 2006. He was the Resource Center’s Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, but also organized many key programs, assisted with fundraising, and documented RCNV events with his photos. Bob lived upstairs at the Resource Center for several years and served as the unofficial on-site host and chief mischief maker. He was a mentor to countless young people and a role model for us all.
Bob described himself in a 1999 Resource Center for Nonviolence document “as a community organizer, photojournalist, labor union activist, and low-income housing developer. Bob has contributed over 40 years of work to various local and nation-wide campaigns for peace and social justice. A singer and writer for folk songs, Bob draws from movement and personal history to bring down to earth and spirited music to numerous RCNV meetings and events.”
Bob was an impressive organizer. He set up RCNV’s website, streamlined and perfected RCNV’s outreach and media connections, and pushed us all to be better activists. He was active with the Center’s GI Rights Hotline (DAMIT- Draft and Military Information Team) where counselors provide alternatives to the military. He was instrumental in bringing the Santa Cruz City School’s Opt-In program to high schools, so that students had to request to be contacted by military recruiters instead of their info being automatically sent. This program was replicated nationwide.
Bob played a lead role in RCNV organizing efforts. Here are only a very few: 1999- Congressman Ron Dellums; 2002 Congresswoman Barbara Lee (the sole vote against the US War in Afghanistan); the Santa Cruz Living Wage Coalition; the Million Mom March; the Santa Cruz Peace Coalition…. The list could go on and on.
Bob participated in an Interfaith Peace Builders delegation to Israel and Palestine in 2001 led by Scott Kennedy. He brought a big heart, a hearty laugh, humor and music to RCNV events.
A few quotes from Bob:
1999: “In 1966, a white civil rights worker was thrown in jail in a rural Alabama town. To his surprise and enlightenment, he was bailed out by local citizens – three Afro American families used their farms as security for his bail! That worker was me. Those committed and generous farm families, and other working families like them, are my heroes, my role models. The farmers and their families were not Civil Rights movement public all-stars. They were not featured and profiled in the daily papers and on TV. Nevertheless, they were the source and sustenance of the Black Civil rights movement. ….
Successful organizing requires shrewd tacticians, articulate spokes-people and focused workers. But I also know from study and experience that successful social struggle requires the participation and support of the people who will live that struggle in their daily learning, job, family and community. ”
July, 2002: “I have known and connected with the Resource Center for Nonviolence since its incubation days in Santa Barbara. Having worked with various peace and justice organizations throughout this state and nation for 45 years, my experience affirms what Barbara Lee said is accurate — for 25 years RCNV has been an unusually enduring and potent community-based organization striving to continually develop and empower current and future peacemakers.”
Bob generously donated the photographs for five Resource Center for Nonviolence Posters with proceeds benefitting RCNV: Iconic photographs of Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Catholic Worker Dorothy Day, Pete Seeger During his tenure at RCNV, Bob also reinvigorated his interest in photojournalism by documenting local peace & justice actions and special projects in Vietnam (Friendship Village), Brazil (alcohol fuel), Sri Lanka (International Peaceforce) the 2006 241 mile Guerrero Azteca Tijuana-to-San Francisco march with Fernando Suarez del Solar, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes.