Gandhi-statue-and-crowd-Oct-2-2013-RBefore the sit-in movement began in 1960, Martin Luther King, Jr. had known little of Mohandas Gandhi’s nonviolent campaigns and strategies for freedom in India. But the American Friends Service Committee helped him visit India to learn much more. And Bayard Rustin, a Quaker civil rights worker, persuaded King to give up the gun he had kept at home. Since then, Gandhi’s ideas and strategies have inspired millions in nonviolent campaigns worldwide.

On September 29, three days before Gandhi’s birthday, more than 100 people came together to attend the dedication of the statue of the great man in front of the River Building at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

The statue was dedicated by Tsewang Namgyal, the Deputy High Commissioner of the Republic of India and followed by the second annual M.K. Gandhi lecture. The lecture was given this year by Professor Vinay Lal of the University of California at Berkeley on “Gandhi’s religion and the politics of Hinduism.”

Before Gandhi began his famous salt march, he wrote the Viceroy of India, Lord Irwin, and sent him a message telling him “This is what I propose to do,” Lal explained.

“This was quite extraordinary because when military men begin their campaigns, they never tell their opponents their campaign plans,” Professor Lal added.

Gandhi’s religion was based on an openness to all other religious beliefs, even atheism. “That was one of the reasons Gandhi changes his message later in life from ‘God is Truth’ to ‘Truth is God,’” Lal explained.

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How I created a new board game

by carl on May 3, 2013

By the end of May, I will have submitted my new board game for production.

My game cards, my board, my box cover and my brochure are undergoing repeated editing and checking. My colors have to be exactly right.

Also, everything I submit to be printed in a computer file has to be in text, Adobe Illustrator or else in raster graphics. Translated from the geek, that’s “web graphics or printer’s graphics.”

In “You Know Who I Am,” Leonard Cohen sang, “I am the one who loves changing from nothing to one.”

That was me, starting from scratch to create a publishing enterprise and launching it with a new board game.

Here’s how I did it:

I came up with a concept, did a rough mockup and tested it almost immediately. I did the first test in April 2012 in Toronto during the 90th birthday celebration of my friend, Jo Vellacott, a Quaker historian who wrote Bertrand Russell and the Pacifists in the First World War.

My play testers were people from the 60s who had worked in the peace, co-operative and feminist movements. They were brutal, and as a result of their critiques, I changed not only many questions but one of the major mechanics of the game. Later, those who had not been active in the 60s play-tested the game, as did a bunch of teenagers on Cape Cod in November 2012. Still further changes were incorporated into the game.

Then I had to get a board to replace the rough sketch I had used for the first prototype. That meant choosing an artist. Fortunately, the choice wasn’t difficult. Steve Fick, a renowned fine artist and cartographer, was someone I had known for decades. When he agreed to do the board and the box cover, I was ecstatic. The board was really impressive, and after about three photo shoots, I had the box cover photo.

By this time, I had the 300 questions I would use. I had lived through the 60s, in Pennsylvania, Illinois and finally Ontario. From studying history at York University, I knew quite a bit about modern history – and I had lived through it.

I had not been a mere spectator to the 60s. In the early 1960s, marched in Cambridge, Maryland, protesting segregation. I was in Washington, D.C., in 1967 when Alan Ginsberg tried to levitate the Pentagon with Buddhist chants. (There, by the way, I saw my first hippies — I was happy to see them holding hands in a chain and chanting, “Peace, peace, peace,” separating the soldiers with guns from some angry Puerto Ricans shouting for independence for their island.)

As a student at the Illinois Institute of Technology, I was active in the peace and civil rights movements. A friend of mine had gone to the Students for a Democratic Society National Council in Berkeley, California, over New Year’s 1967. His car from Chicago had arrived late, and he walked into a discussion on women’s liberation to hear one woman on her feet saying, “Sit down and shut up—the oppressors have no right to discuss how and when the oppressed will be liberated!” He had thought the proper response would have been to give them the floor, but some of his male colleagues continued to protest for their right to discuss women’s liberation.

In Toronto, I watched the opening of the high rise residence of Rochdale College, the alternative college that built a high-rise residence on the University of Toronto campus before the federal agency pulled their mortgage. I was a part-time Rochdale student learning to play the recorder, studying Herman Hesse’s writings and attending the “Teach Seminar” at Coach House Press led by the poet Dennis Lee, the author of Alligator Pie. Alas, constant problems with the physical residence – runaways from small Ontario towns and with drugs – left this utopian enterprise wide open for trouble it should have seen coming. The federal government mortgage agency pulled their mortgage and the building became the Senator David A. Croll Apartments for senior citizens. Who knows? Maybe some of those from the hippie heydays are residents today!

Since then, the rest of my life was history: a B.A. in Arts from York University, two years working in a bookstore, one year as an Ontario civil servant, three years as a journalist for the Etobicoke Gazette, 21 years in writing and administration for NGOs and nonprofits, nine years as a technical writer, one year with a public relations firm, and five more years as a freelance writer, editor and software staffer.

For nine of those years I was associate editor of Federations magazine for the Forum of Federations, where I assigned articles and copy edited the prose of professors into something that would interest and educate civil servants, political leaders and others. On the job at the Forum, I learned every step of the publication process.

In the early the early 2000s, my nonviolence training and NGO knowledge had paid off when, as a part-time volunteer, I helped organize and found Nonviolent Peaceforce. This worldwide organization has since trained and sent nonviolent peacekeepers into areas of tension and conflict in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, South Sudan and the Caucasus.

So writing most of the 300 questions was easy for me. When I finally ran out of steam near Question No. 282, I asked some friends for help (see “Roll the Credits” for the full list in the instruction brochure of my game when it arrives). I cut the questions down to 288 so that there would be six decks of 48, one for each region on the path: Canada, New England, Atlantic Coast, the Old South, The West and the Great Lakes states. The 48 cards in each deck had to have equal numbers of easy and difficult questions. The number of cards with of average difficulty could not be more than half a deck. There also had to be questions about something that happened in or to someone who lived or was born in each state or province in each region.

Finally, there had to be roughly equal groups of questions about each “scene” or topic: sex, drugs, rock ‘n’roll, politics+college and much more. Anyone who knows math can tell that getting this exact is impossible: too many unknowns and not enough equations. However, I came very close. Getting as many questions for Maine and Saskatchewan as for New York and California was the only metric I wasn’t able to meet.

Then there was money: I raised about $5000 for the game with my Indiegogo campaign, but I need more than several times that to fund my printing. Soon there will be a campaign of my own on this website for others to pre-order games in this first edition in a similar fashion.

Tell your friends and stay tuned for more.

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December 6, 1969 – Altamont Rock Concert

December 7, 2012

Four dead at Altamont rock concert By Carl Stieren Four people were killed at a rock concert at Altamont, California, on Dec. 6, 1969. The concert was an undertaking with 300,000 fans, which some had hoped would be a second Woodstock. Instead, it became a scene of death for four. One man who climbed up […]

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December 5, 1964 – Red summit in Moscow

December 5, 2012

New manifesto issued by 81 communist parties in Moscow By Carl Stieren A meeting of 81 communist parties in Moscow issued a 15,000-word statement to the world on December 5, 1960. Reprinted in full by the New York Times on December 7 of that year, the statement was described by the editors of The Sixties […]

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December 4, 1964 – Arrests in Mississippi murders

December 5, 2012

FBI arrests 21 in the killing of three civil rights workers in Mississippi By Carl Stieren The FBI arrested 21 white men on Dec. 4, 1964, in connection with the murders of James Cheney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. The three young men were volunteers with the Mississippi Freedom Summer who were working to register […]

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December 3, 1964 – Free Speech Movement

December 3, 2012

700 from Free Speech Movement arrested at UC Berkeley by Carl Stieren On December 3, 1964, more than 700 students were arrested for protesting the denial of free speech in a nonviolent sit-in at Sproul Hall, the administration building of the University of California at Berkeley. Their protest was against the sudden enforcement in September […]

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December 1, 2012 – Stories from the 60s

December 3, 2012

Party to distil the essence of the 60s By Carl Stieren [The blog, “On This Day It Happened in the 60s” will resume on Monday, Dec. 3] On Dec. 1, 2012, seventeen people came to our house to join Isabelle and me in playing my new game It Happened in The 60s and to tell […]

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November 30, 1967 – Gene McCarthy in the race

November 30, 2012

Eugene McCarthy announces his candidacy for President  By Carl Stieren Gene McCarthy, a Democratic senator from Minnesota and former college professor, was the first Democrat to announce his candidacy for President in the upcoming 1968 elections. Running against a sitting President was a daring move, but the pressure to end the War in Vietnam convinced […]

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The day hippies prevented violence at the Pentagon

November 29, 2012

by Carl Stieren On October 21, 1967, I stood outside the Pentagon in a nonviolent protest against the War in Vietnam. We had been told by the march organizers that if we didn’t want to be tear-gassed –  or arrested – we should stay away from the front of the building. I chose to protest […]

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November 29, 1963 – Warren Commission

November 29, 2012

LBJ names Earl Warren to investigate the killing of JFK By Carl Stieren President Lyndon Johnson named US Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren to investigate the killing of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November 29, 1963 – seven days after President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. Ten months later, on September 24, 1964, Warren presented to […]

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