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New event offers “speed-dating” for nonprofits

Lt. Gov Penny Flanagan speaks at the Minnesota State Capitol in front of members of Moms Demands Action. (Courtesy of Moms Demands Action)

Twin Cities Nonviolent is hosting “Shall We Gather at the River,” a speed networking event for local nonprofits and community members to come together and build collective power. The event was inspired by the concept of speed dating, where people take turns meeting one-on-one with the intention of building connections.

“The value of being in that same room and raising our energies, raising our collective consciousness, raising our vibrations with each other, came to the fore when thinking about how siloed we are in our organizations, and how much we tend to think of each other as outside of each other, not as intricately connected as we really are,” said TCN’s Program and Development Director, Karen Olson Johnson.

Twin Cities Nonviolent was founded in 2016 by Catholic priest Dr. Harry J. Bury. He spent 50 years as an international peace activist prior to establishing the local non-profit. The organization’s mission is to reduce violence in all its forms, increase awareness and engagement in nonviolent policies and practices, bring together local community organizations and dismantle the structures and systems that lead to violence throughout the Twin Cities and beyond.

Johnson says “Shall We Gather At The River” was curated to improve inter-agency and inter-group communications. Johnson says there is an abundance of local power that could make great strides in the collective effort to dismantle persistent forms of violence in Minnesota.

“Both Harry Bury and myself believe that there is really enough out here for all of us. We’ve just been so systemically screwed that we don't live in that reality, or embrace that as part of addressing these things like violence.” Said Johnson

Twin Cities Nonviolent’s mission statement says:

You might be a democrat or a republican. We won’t be distracted by that. You might be for guns or against guns. We won’t be distracted by that. We also won’t be distracted by your race, your religion, your sexual orientation, who you voted for, your views on healthcare and taxes, whether you own a home or how much money you have in your bank account. The one thing we’re committed to is stopping violence. Violence in all forms, structures and systems.

The organization is most known for its annual event, 12 Days Free from Violence, that starts on September 12 (International Peace Day), and ends on October 2nd (Gandhi's birthday). The 12 day event features a large itinerary of connection building activities. The organization also hosts an annual nonviolent walk called “Hands Across the Mississippi River,” and produces an annual film to highlight a prevalent form of violence in the Twin Cities. This year's film is “His Tears, Fears, Guns, Neighborhoods.” The film is centered in North Minneapolis with a focus on the hopes of the youth.

“It's incredible because hope is always centered around living a life free from violence, and free from those things that impact you because of violence,” said Johnson.

Shall We Gather At The River” takes place along the Mississippi River at Summit Brewing in Saint Paul on June 21, from 5pm-8pm.

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