The struggle for liberation is going on all around us, all the time, in communities around the globe large and small, in a huge variety of ways — and yet it can be invisible. It is easy to get discouraged feeling that time is stalled, that individual people can’t make any difference, and that we’re doomed. I know I feel stuck like that a lot — watching endless traffic roll by, everyone marching off to work, stores full of shoppers and junk. Will people ever wake up? And yet, there are encouraging cracks pushing through the concrete.
While we were finishing up this issue, I kept searching for the “one big protest” of 2010 — some upcoming direct action or protest that would symbolize resistance to the corporate-industrial machine that is stealing our lives and killing the earth. But I decided maybe it would be better to adjust my focus and not get caught up in the same mega-thinking that is causing so many problems.
Centralization, gigantism and trying to reduce complex human interactions to alienated symbols are all part of the problem. Our minds and our activism have been polluted by the same thinking that creates multi-national corporations, huge media celebrities, global computer networks, and faceless government bureaucracies. To create grassroots radical change, we need to tackle the global problems on a local level as well as a global level and we need to realize how our local problems are connected with global issues. From this perspective, it is incredibly inspiring to see all the local campaigns going on all over — yet with common goals.
It seems to me that the process of social transformation invites us to work on a bunch of different levels all simultaneously. We can work on an internal psychological level to free ourselves from the cop in our head, our learned powerlessness, as well as our inability to appreciate ourselves, those around us, and the here and now unfiltered by corporations, consumerism and technology. We can struggle in our families and our communities to build alternative structures to meet human needs outside of unjust structures like the market system, the state, and the patriarchy. And at times, we can join with others to confront the systems that are killing the earth and constricting our freedom — using direct action and protest to target the activities, technologies, social institutions, companies and governments that serve the system.
There are so many folks resisting the machine this summer — here is a short list if you want to join in a particular action or organize your own action as part of an on-going campaign. The struggle for liberation is do-it-yourself — to the extent this list misses a lot of potential direct action targets, that is an invitation for you and your buddies to start something. Go for it.
• Mountain Justice Summer continues to use direct action to defend Appalachian forests and streams from destruction by coal companies that use mountaintop removal strip mining. There is a training camp May 27 – June 6 in Kentucky. www.mountainjusticesummer.org
• Campaigns and actions against police brutality and murder are ongoing all over. In Portland, there was a spontaneous riot March 22 after police shot and killed Jack Dale Collins. On April 8, Bay Area folks occupied a subway train to protest the transit police murder of Oscar Grant. Grant’s killer is going on trial in Los Angeles and the trial is sure to be met with continued protest. And folks are participating in Copwatch groups all over that monitor and videotape police interactions on the streets.
• The 2010 G8 meeting of the world’s most powerful leaders is set for Huntsville, Ontario, Canada June 25 – 27. Whenever a few governments get together to figure out how to divide the worlds resources between multi-national companies, direct action in the streets is the inevitable result. (Even when they locate the summit 2 hours from the nearest city to limit protests . . . Did anyone hear an Ewok up in those trees?)
• Croatan Earth First! in Virginia has been waging an on-going campaign against Duke Energy’s plan to construct an 800-megawatt coal fired generator at the existing Cliffside Power Plant. The generator would operate for the next 50 years, emitting 312 million tons of CO2 over its lifetime. Direct action has included blockades of construction activities. stopcliffside.org
• Critical Mass bike rides continue across the globe — a monthly direct action that reclaims streets for human uses. These spontaneous actions require no organizational energy and are even fun. In many cities and towns the ride happens the last Friday of the month.
• Grassroots protest network 350.org has declared October 10, 2010 (10/10/10) a global work party to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They are inviting folks to plant trees, harvest gardens, create bikepaths, insulate homes, and take other concrete actions to raise the question: “we’re working on this, what are the social institutions doing?” There will also be protests at the next United Nations meeting on climate change in Mexico in December.
• Guerilla gardening is a direct action in which a group seizes a vacant piece of land to build a garden — often over a weekend — so that it becomes too beautiful to remove without looking like a heartless bully before anyone notices what is going on.
• Direct Action in Humboldt County, California to preserve old growth redwood trees continues with an on-going tree-sit. See efhumboldt.org
• Numerous states (Utah, Nebraska, Oklahoma) have recently passed laws making it more difficult and unpleasant for women to get abortions. Seems like this opens up a lot of direct action / protest opportunities.
• Everglades Earth First! is engaged in a continuing struggle against Florida Power & Light’s construction of a gas fired powerplant. www.evergladesearthfirst.org
• Gay Shame creates a direct action each year during Gay Pride week to reject the “commercialized gay identity that denies the intrinsic links between queer struggle and challenging power.” www.gayshamesf.org
• Along the US/Mexico border, there is direct action to protect immigrants from armed right-wing “minutemen” groups and question the whole idea of borders. immigrantsolidarity.org
• Squatting and eviction defense is particularly relevant with millions of people losing their homes to foreclosure. Why are so many buildings sitting vacant when people need a place to live? www.homesnotjailssf.org
• Oh yeah, and there are still two wars going on! Code Pink has been conducting a campaign against the use of drone airplanes to kill people by remote control half a world away. They are also carrying out citizens’ arrests of war mongers at (paid) speaking events around and about. Almost everyone lives near a military recruiting station or weapons supply corporation so its up to us to protest the ongoing carnage. Codepink4peace.org
• Alberta, Canada is ground zero for the rapidly expanding and environmentally destructive oil sand industry — another last gasp effort to keep the fossil fuel system flowing while climate change looms. Efforts to block it are possible. oilsandstruth.org
• In British Columbia, Canada, there could be direct action to save a stand of unusually twisted old growth cedar trees named the Avatar grove that are scheduled to be logged. www.ancientforestalliance.org. There’s also action underway to stop the multi-billion dollar Gateway highway project in BC. gatewaysucks.org
• In Chiapas, Mexico there are actions to defend the rainforest.
• Outside North America, there is an on-going direct action campaign against coal in Mainshill, Scotland. There is community resistance in Rosport, Ireland against a Shell gas terminal that threatens to ruin the coastal environment and wildlife habitat. Forest defense continues in Tasmania. Folks in Iceland are struggling to block construction of a dam. In Catalonia, Spain there is direct action for forest defense and against BP fossil fuelishness.
This just scratches the surface of direct actions and protests going on around us, and there’s no way to know about all the amazing internal transformations and struggles at the interpersonal, family, or community level. Enjoy your 2010 summer!
Thanks to the Earth First! Journal for information about on-going eco-actions world-wide. Check out earthfirstjournal.org.