Saturday, April 15, 2017

Gun Culture Conference Opened My Eyes

By Jessica James

Going into the fields of both social work and criminal justice, in some sort of manner I will have to deal with guns on a daily basis. Whether I get a job where I will be permitted to open carry a weapon or even if I have to deal with a suicidal patient who has a cabinet full of guns at home, I knew in some sort of fashion, firearms and guns would always play a part in my life. And this is one of many reasons I wanted to attend the Ashland Center for Nonviolence conference about Understanding our Gun Culture. This conference opened my eyes to a lot of issues relating to gun rights and gun control.

The first night of the conference, as a part of the pre-conference panel, I heard a lot about the issues of gun control and gun rights, specifically relating to this past election.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

When Violence Starts at Home

By Maria Cardona

As kids, many of us were taught about “stranger danger.” Our parents told us that if anyone picked on us, we had to tell an adult, that hurting people was wrong, and that there are just certain things you can’t do. For many of us, home is a safe place away from bullies, toxic relationships, and the cruel realities of the world we live in. However, what happens when violence starts at home?

What do you do when your dad’s temper ends in bruises covered by sweaters and scarves? What do you do when your mom’s drinking habits end in a barrage of insults? What do you do when your cousin slips into your room at night and touches you – but don’t you dare say a word because that’s not nice. What about when you become your husband’s or your wife’s punching bag – when their hands and/or their words injure you? What about when you’re so depressed and locked inside yourself that you hurt yourself and pray to die every night because your life has become unbearable?

How do we talk to kids, our friends, our neighbors – our own family and tell them that there is safety when they live in a state of constant torment and fear? What can we do for that trembling child who’s molested every night? What can we do for that battered woman or man who’s threatened into staying? What can we do for those who drink away their pain and those who have to face their drunken wrath time after time?

It’s difficult to say because victims of domestic violence are so good at hiding it. They’ll draw up excuses to explain away bruises and we’ll be skeptical but we’ll believe them because it’s easier than facing the truth. It’s easier than realizing your neighbor is aggressive, it’s easier than admitting that there’s a rapist inside your family (maybe even inside your home), and it sure as heck is easier to pretend that when the alcohol is speaking, nothing is said in earnest.

It’s harder when the victims are children because they don’t understand and because the power dynamics are so great that they become powerless in any situation. How can a child explain what’s going on if they don’t even possess the vocabulary and the comprehension of what’s being done to them? Plus, under the threat of upsetting their parents and being bad kids, they do whatever the grown up tells them because they’ve been taught not to disobey. What power can we give an innocent child facing danger at home?

And for those battered men and women, how do we encourage them to leave when they have everything to lose? If they don’t have a job or a home of their own – where do they go when they leave? How do they avoid being a burden to others? And if they have children – yes, leaving is good because your children won’t think abuse is okay but leaving is worse because they lose a parent, a home, stability, and many times an income.

It’s hard to talk about this and it’s hard to come up with viable solutions because what seems so obvious becomes unclear when you’re at the mercy of fear. To many of these questions, I have no clear answer. I think we need to come together as a community and create answers. Offer our neighbors a home if theirs is broken. Really listen and read between the lines. Don’t let bruises and scars be explained away. Tell children that adults aren’t always doing the right thing and that the danger doesn’t always come from a stranger. Remind a person that being intoxicated is not an excuse to hurt yourself or others.

We cannot allow our victims to stay victims. We need to help them rise above – to become survivors. We need to remind them of their beauty and their worth. We need to validate their experience whether it happened today, 2 weeks ago, 6 months ago, or 20 years ago – because it happened and it counts.


Maria Cardona is a senior at Ashland University and an intern with the Ashland Center for Nonviolence.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Register Now - Understanding Our Gun Culture conference




Registration is now open! Register Here

John D. Stratton Conference - Understanding Our Gun Culture

Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio

March 31 - April 1 2017

Featuring keynote speaker, Randolph Roth

Take advantage of early bird rates through February 15, 2017
$25 for students, $50 for general admission

Presentations from a variety of national experts will include:
  • "Narratives of the Gun Paradox" - Amanda Gillespie (Miami University)
  • "Should Concealed Guns Be Permitted on College Campuses?" - Ian Young (Bowling Green State University)
  • "Guns and their Owners as Material and Affective Assemblages: Notes toward an Ethnographic Account of American Gun Culture" - Michael Grigoni (Duke University)
  • "Social Violence: Role of Gun Culture" - Binod Kumar (University of Dayton)
  • "Who Owns Handguns?: An Analysis of the Correlates of Handgun Ownership" - Mitchell Gresham (Bowling Green State University)
  • "A Carribbean Perspective: Gender and Age Lessons Learned from assessment of youth on youth violence factors of School Bonding, Protective, Threat, and Risk Factors" - Carolyn Gentle-Genitty (Indiana University)
  • "The American Gun Culture: Potential Impact on K-12 School Violence" - Gordon Crews (Tiffin University)
  • "Fatal and Non-fatal Shooting Incidents: Understanding the Circumstances of Victimization" - Lauren Magee (Michigan State University) and Natalie Kroovand Hipple (Indiana University)
  • "Gun Shops as Local Institutions: Federal Firearms Licensees, Social Disorganization, and Neighborhood Violent Crime" - Trent Steidley (University of Denver)
  • "The Storied Gun: Using Narrative to Grasp the Moral Logic of Guns in America" - Mark Ryan (University of Dayton)
  • "But the Disciples did not carry guns: The Apparent Contradiction of the Gun Rights Christians" - Matt Stolick (University of Findlay)
  • "A Study in Contrasts: European Domestic Control of Guns and their International Export" - Rachel Boaz (Baldwin Wallace University)
Lunch will be provided.

More conference info: http://acn.nationbuilder.com

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Thoughts following the election

By Craig Hovey

After yesterday’s election—indeed after months and months of the election—many people are exhausted and today a lot of Americans are profoundly nervous about what a Trump presidency will hold. I am one of those people too.

While the Ashland Center for Nonviolence is a non-partisan organization, peace movements in America have generally been more at home on the Left since at least the early twentieth century. In the last half-century especially, the conscientious objectors, other war critics, and the advocates for civil rights largely saw their movements most represented among the Democratic party. This has not meant, of course, that Democratic leaders have always embraced nonviolence. As I watched the Clinton and Trump campaigns, I sensed some role-reversal early on when it came to Hillary Clinton’s strong advocacy for military might and Donald Trump’s near isolationism.

But I’ve always insisted that there’s more to peace than simply avoiding war. Nonviolence is also a gentle spirit that looks for concord, that advances respect for people who are different, that lifts up the weak, and seeks justice for the oppressed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Listening to Veterans

By Emily Wirtz

It’s difficult to overstate how much genuine human connections contribute to our well-being in all facets of life. I am learning that this is especially true of veterans. When people—often very different people—come together to share and to listen, great things can happen.



As a senior in college, résumé building is a top-priority sort of task—next behind endless homework of course. Hours of adding, editing, changing, editing and formatting go into the single-sheet “about-to-graduate-and-desperately-need-a-job-to-pay-off-my-loans” certificate of transition. I have been fortunate enough to not need to fluff up my own résumé with vague job descriptions and a list of activities I’m barely to not involved in, in order to feel confident enough to land myself a job once I graduate. Via an exceptionally supportive AU staff, my own human connections, I am currently working my 4th internship this year, an accomplishment that shows the faculty’s care and dedication.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Ginny Telego pays Tribute to John Stratton


By Ginny Telego

Today my heart is heavy with the loss of my dear friend, Dr. John Stratton.

I first got to know John in 2013, as I was transitioning in my career and applied for a part-time position as the Assistant Director for the Ashland Center for Nonviolence at Ashland University. I knew who John was from a previous time of employment at Ashland University, but I had not worked with him directly. When I had my initial “interview” for ACN with John in his office, we immediately hit it off. I loved his brash exterior that vaguely covered his true heart and giving nature. After being hired, I had the privilege to spend a great deal of time with John and his wife, Dorothy, sharing our views on nonviolence and world events as well as the ongoing challenges at AU during that time. John brought me into ACN’s circle where I quickly found a place that I could be myself, openly expressing my “inclusive” views as well as learning more about the impact that nonviolence could have in resolving conflict – whether among families, neighbors or countries.

John was passionate about peace. He believed that it was indeed possible to resolve conflict without the use of deadly force and he wasn’t afraid to voice those beliefs to anyone who would listen, as well as to those who might not want to listen. John loved teaching and empowering others and he taught many people how to work to create change in achieving peace. He was a leader in educating both students and the broader community about the power of nonviolence as a method for conflict resolution.

I will especially miss our conversations about current events and sharing with him the work I am doing with my equine assisted learning program. Even after I left ACN to focus on my business, John continued to encourage me and pushed me to open my mind to opportunities that would allow me to guide people in gaining more self-awareness – with the hope that such self-awareness might lead to new insights on how they could become more accepting of others and resolve conflict through nonviolent means.

Most of all, for me personally, John encouraged me to pursue my own beliefs about connection and to not be afraid to question the belief among others that violence is the answer to conflict. He taught me to not be afraid to ask questions of others who believed that working towards peace was a waste of time. He taught me to believe in myself and that I could make a difference in the world. For that I will be eternally grateful.

As I bid John farewell from this world, these words from Gandhi will always make me think of him: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Thank you, John Stratton, for setting the example of this and for encouraging others to speak out to create change. Many thanks to you my dear friend – for accepting me for who I am and for teaching me to not accept the status quo in the world.


Ginny Telego served as Assistant Director of the Ashland Center for Nonviolence from 2013 to 2015.


Monday, August 29, 2016

What John Stratton taught me about Peace



By Craig Hovey

John Stratton passed away at home on Sunday. I knew John to be a deeply generous soul with an enormous heart mostly in his work as a local leader in the cause of nonviolence. I’m honored to have succeeded him in leading an organization he founded, the Ashland Center for Nonviolence. While there will no doubt be a lot of tributes to John in the coming days, I wanted to reflect on what I learned from him about peace.

John didn’t just wish for peace. He was committed to making it happen locally and was flat-out mad at the fact that American society seems to resort to violence so quickly. At the same time, John didn’t think of himself as a pacifist, but as a skeptic. He was especially skeptical of either/or thinking that ruled out creative approaches to resolving conflict without violence. He could also be skeptical of religious people if he sensed rigidity. It occurs to me that my own brand of Christian pacifism might have struck him as somewhat rigid too. John was adept at looking for different, untried ways, which I observed in him on many occasions, but presumably on none so critical and sustained as his recent illness. (I hesitate to “use” John’s illness as an “illustration” for what are probably obvious reasons. Yet if dying well is really about living well, we should take notice of how others and ourselves do both.)