For the past two days I’ve spent my time and energy at the Advanced Ruckus Camp on Eco-Justice in Harmony Park, Minnesota. I am one out of around 85 organizers who are the best of the best in the field; of coarse this includes the Ruckus staff that is exceptionally good at what they do.
The training is based on three tracks: climbing, blockade and arts & communications. Though this year the training incorporate workshops in the morning which share stories, techniques and tips on campaign framing and planning. The evening workshops are focused around community building, allies and empowerment and respect for the communities on the frontline.
Wednesday, local youth from the local Dakota tribe joined us for dinner and discussion. During dinner another thunderstorm/ tornado warning came through to visit. It brought the flooded but that did not stop the Dakota youth from sharing a meal, the history and struggles of the land. Mel from BC followed by sharing a song from his tribe.
The discussions that followed was powerful because everyone was either an ally or from a frontline community. It was obvious that those who were on the frontline were mainly organizations of color dealing with an organizations or entities that are much larger and wealthier. As the facilitators closed the discussion a massive windstorm kicked in which was followed by intense rain and lightning. The temperature drops and we were stuck under a covered area that was perfect for a chilly wind tunnel. Non the less we finished the day cold and wet but with more knowledge and respect for the land we were staying on.
Yesterday’s (Thursday) discussion was turned to organizers who shared case studies from frontline communities. This talk followed and enforces the need to collaborate and acknowledge the power and difference of impacted communities. The talk highlights the need for community lead organizing and the roles of supporting organizations. These success stories are sad but extremely empowering to hear.
Marty spoke about a campaign he worked on with a local community in Portland, Oregon the battle with the second riches man in the world. The campaign was the biggest dam removal project in human history.
Scott Parken (Rainforest Action Network and Rising Tide NA) talked about the endless and inter-generational movement to stop mountain top removal in the Appalachian community.
Nadine spoke about differences of working with child activist (3rd – 5th graders). She stressed that the is need to connect children with something they care about by using trainings and popular education techniques that have the children moving and always thinking.
The day ended with participants sharing the worst-case and best scenario's on non-violent direct actions they have attended. It was quite the experience.