Raised in Newark, Delaware in 1976, Butler moved to Boston with a theater troupe he had helped establish in his hometown. He began his activist career in 1979 by participating in two protests at the Seabrook Nuclear project in Cambridge, Massachusetts (this is where he met Keith McHenry). These demonstrations were organized by the Coalition for Direct Action at Seabrook, a spinoff of the Clamshell Alliance.
Since then, Butler has been an active member of such organizations as the Green Party USA, the War Resisters League, ACT UP/Maine, the Maine War Tax Resistance Resource Center, the National Organization of Men Against Sexism, the New England Nonviolence Trainers Network, and the Casco Bay Greens. He was formerly a co-editor of The Dove, a Maine newsletter on war tax resistance.
In 1987 Butler published his first book, On Conflict and Consensus, which, according to Food Not Bombs, “defines a practical, effective, and efficient model of consensus decision making.”
Butler has also published a booklet titled A Guide to Formal Consensus, in which he says the following about the democratic voting process: “Majority rule voting process and Parliamentary Procedure both accept, and even encourage, the use of power to dominate others. … This is inherently violent.”
In 2000 Butler co-authored (with Keith McHenry) the book Food Not Bombs: How to Feed the Hungry and Build Community. He is currently writing a new book titled A Food Not Bombs Cookbook.
Butler is an instructor in the field of Formal Consensus Training, which he calls a crucial prerequisite to building “a global community, knowledgeable in the art of decision making,” and to teaching people how to experience “a true democracy” that “could transform our world.”
Describing himself as “a father, an author, a political activist, a pro-feminist, a nonviolence trainer, and a vegetarian chef,” Butler currently resides in Takoma Park, Maryland with friends who are creating what they call “a Green intentional community.”