The Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence has launched an ad campaign on buses and billboards encouraging residents to make choices to keep the peace during the ongoing public health crisis.
Kit Miller with the Gandhi Institute said nonviolence is a tool to help people communicate truthfully without causing harm. The ads aim to help residents resolve conflicts without resorting to violence, especially at a time when social inequalities are exacerbated by the pandemic.
Miller said the signs are designed with open-ended sentences because there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to individual struggles.
“All of us have that choice and all of us have that range within us. All of us contain violent and nonviolent options within us already,” said Miller. “So we’re just basically really just urging people to consider moving towards their nonviolent options.”
Miller added that she hopes the signs will lift people out of despair and remind them of their power to make positive decisions.
“We wanted to have a campaign that would recognize the beauty and strength of people who are already impacted by different forms of injustice and ask them to be their best self even during this time,” she said.
Raymond Mayoliz is with Pathways to Peace, a program with the city of Rochester that works with at-risk youths and is one of the community partners for the campaign. He said the prompts used in the ads like “I keep my cool by …” are ways to teach people, especially youths, how to notice the signs in their own body when they are agitated.
“I think it’s identification,” Mayoliz said. “If I’m able to identify that early and I know the sign and I know, ‘Oh, my palms are getting sweaty and my forehead’s frowning up, I know I’m getting a little upset, time to walk away.’ ”
The ad campaign includes a social media contest for anyone who responds creatively to the prompts for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card.