Nonviolence.Org was founded by Martin Kelley
out of a home office way back in 1995. Eleven years later, it’s won
accolades and attention from the mainstream media and millions of
visitors. It’s articles have been reprinted in countless movement
journals and even in a featured USAToday editorial.
The past eleven years have seen countless internet projects burst on
the scene only to wither away. Yet Nonviolence.org continues without
any funding, attracting a larger audience every year. As the years have
gone by and I’ve found the strength to continue it, I’ve realized more
and more that this is a ministry. As a member of the Religious Society
of Friends I’m committed to spreading the good news that war is
unnecessary. In my personal life this is a matter of faith in the
“power that takes away occassion for all war.” In my work with
Nonviolence.org I also draw on all the practical and pragmatic reasons
why war is wrong. For more personal motivations you can see:
- QuakerRanter.org, personal webpage;
- Stories from Nonviolence.org
- MartinKelley.com, web design
A Nonviolence.org Timeline
In 1995 I was editor at an activist publisher struggling to adapt to
a rapidly changing book world. Many of the independent bookstores that
had always supported us were closing just as printing costs were
rising. The need to re-invent activist organizing and publishing for
the 1990’s became obvious and I saw the internet as a place to do that.
One of the earliest manifestos and introductions to the Nonviolence Web
was an essay called The Revolution Will be Online.
I began by approached leading U.S. peace
groups with a crazy proposal: if they gave me their material I would
put it up on the web for them for free. My goal was to live off of
savings until I could raise the operating funds from foundations. “Free
typesetting for the movement by the movement” was the rallying cry and
I quickly brought a who’s-who of American peace groups over to
Nonviolence.org. I knew that there was lots of great peace writing that
wasn’t getting the distribution it deserved and with the internet I
could get it out faster and more widely then with any traditional
media. For three years I lived off of savings, very part-time jobs and
occasional small grants.
Through 1998, Nonviolence.ommarg developed into a web “portal” for
nonviolence. We would feature the most provocative and timely pieces
from the NVWeb member groups on the
newly-redesigned homepage, dubbed “Nonviolence Web Upfront.” A online
magazine format loosely modeled on Slate
and the now-defunct Feed Magazine, it also contained original material
and links to interesting threads on the integrated discussion board.
With these popular features, the Nonviolence.Org became a “sticky“
site, one which attracted regular visitors. The combined visibility for
member groups was much greater than anyone could obtain alone and we
earned plenty of awards and links. There was a major New York Times profile and I was invited to write the guest Op/Ed in USA Today.
But this model couldn’t last. A big problem was money: there’s were
too few philanthropists for this sort of work, and established
foundations didn’t even know the right questions to ask in evaluating
an internet project. Nonviolence.Org was kept afloat by my own
dwindling personal savings, and I never did find the sort of money that
could pay even poverty wages. I took more and more part-time jobs till
they became the full-time ones I have today. At the same time, internet
publishing was also changing. With the advent of “Blogs” and
open-source bulletin board software, Nonviolence.org has continued to
evolve and stay relevant.
Nonviolence.org continues to be one of the most highly-visible and visited peace websites, being highly ranked through Gulf War II, the biggest U.S. military
action since the web began. This model of independent activist web
publishing is still critical and becomes more appreciated every day.
The Nonviolence.org mission of featuring the best writing and analysis
from a nonviolent viewpoint continues.
Martin Kelley more or less mothballed the Nonviolence.org project in 2008.