activism

Lookin’ Back, Movin’ Forward: The End of MediaMouse.org

Almost ten years ago, a group of people fed up with the way things were going in the world and in Grand Rapids, Michigan started meeting. Inspired by the excitement surrounding the World Trade Organization (WTO) summit in Seattle, Media Mouse formed as a group that sought to distribute information about under reported issues–globalization, corporate control, Latin America, and U.S. imperialism–to name just a few.

In the early years, that meant organizing a wide variety of campaigns and projects–protests, independent media festivals, speakers, rallies, documentary showings, zines, and more. Like many groups that formed in 1999, Media Mouse rode the wave of energy that followed the successful WTO protests in Seattle and made globalization and corporate power an issue here in Grand Rapids. We also did local work: we built connections with other groups pursuing social justice, targeted area lawmakers, and organized in support of alternatives to motor vehicle transit. Again, like many groups of the era, we moved into anti-war work following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and had an arguably important roll in that movement. We posted regular updates about protests on the Internet and launched one of the first blogs in Grand Rapids to keep people updated about what was happening in Iraq and in the ant-war movement. We continued the work of that earlier blog–The People’s Alliance Bulletin–when we launched a regular blog at MediaMouse.org in January of 2004.

Since 1999, the political context has changed greatly–gone is the excitement of Seattle, gone is the sense that anti-war work could end the Iraq War, and gone is the administration of President George W. Bush. Granted, Bush’s replacement–Barack Obama–has proven to be every bit as disappointing as we would have expected, yet much of “the left” is still struggling with how to deal with the Obama phenomenon and has been largely paralyzed since his election. In addition to political changes, the Internet has changed dramatically since we started blogging back in 2003. Now there are innumerable places for people to get left/progressive news and a wealth of technologies that make it increasingly easier to do so.

In this context, it’s hard to see where MediaMouse.org fits into the current struggle. To be sure, there is plenty to be outraged about and plenty of things to fight for and against. Everything that we ever wrote about–environmental destruction, inequality, racism, etc–continues to persist and likely will for quite some time (especially if we don’t step up to organize against these things). However, locating where MediaMouse.org should be in those struggles is difficult. Stepping back from the daily task of writing and maintaining the site, there are no easy answers to those questions. At this point, I’m convinced that MediaMouse.org–as it has existed at least–doesn’t have much of a place. In a lot of ways, I think we failed at our main goal–which was to motivate people to take action in their communities around issues that they care about in order to help strengthen the struggle to a new world. We rather simply told people how bad everything is and rarely inspired substantive discussion about how we could move forward.

Moreover, underlying these questions about the where MediaMouse.org fits into the broader struggle are the particulars of the project. MediaMouse.org has no clear and quantifiable strategic or political goals, making it next to impossible to determine our direction or measure any “success” we might have. All too often, we jump from one issue to the next with no real continuity and are all to willing to write about whatever we feel like, with no real connection to what folks need or want out of an alternative media project. Similarly, the project is almost painfully dysfunctional–there is no decision making structure, there are all sorts of problems with work distribution, no accountability, emails go unanswered, and almost all of the work is (and has been) done by one person. To add further insult to injury, if the project is not sustainable when it comes to its actual work, it’s even less so financially. Ultimately, the internal problems are such that to abandon it–and start over if needed in the future–is the only thing that really makes sense. Trying to “fix” things would be an uphill battle that at this point we don’t have the energy to pursue. To be sure, there are plenty of lessons to be learned from the numerous mistakes that people involved with MediaMouse.org have made over the years–hopefully sometime soon we will be able to share some of those lessons to prevent people from making the same mistakes again.

At this time, I’m confident in saying that MediaMouse.org has outlived its usefulness. Internal problems coupled with an inability to respond to the changing political context, has rendered this project largely ineffective. That said, we’re quite proud of much of the work we have done over the years, whether it is reporting on under reported issues here in West Michigan or traveling across the country to cover large mobilizations against trade agreements. There is a lot to be thankful for, not the least of which has been the opportunity to hear that we inspired people–however few they may be–to act to make this world a better place.

With MediaMouse.org no longer taking up so much of the contributors’ time, we will be in a better position to be able to act in that capacity and to move forward from a place where we are unhindered by the baggage and responsibilities associated with this project. To that end, we are excited to see where the future takes us–and excited to make room for others to fill whatever gaps may be left by our departure.

In the end, we just want to thank everyone that ever read what we wrote, contributed to the site, or otherwise helped make this project work to the extent that it did.

In Pursuit Of A Stronger Struggle For A New World,

- MediaMouse.org

Grand Rapids Water Festival Saturday

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On Saturday, the annual Grand Rapids Water Festival will take place in Riverside Park from 12:00pm to 9:00pm. The event will feature tables from environmental organizations, speakers, and a number of performances by folk and bluegrass bands. Among those slated to speak are representatives from the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, the Michigan Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, and Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation. You can view the full schedule online.

Here’s a video featuring Michigan residents sharing their reflections on the importance of water to Michigan:

Rally Tomorrow in Support of Benton Harbor Civil Rights Leader

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Tomorrow, a federal appeals court in Grand Rapids will begin hearing an appeal by the ACLU on behalf of the Benton Harbor activist Reverend Ed Pinkney who has been targeted by the government for his civil rights work in Benton Harbor.

Outside of the hearing, a coalition of supports will be staging a demonstration. An announcement of the demonstration was sent to MediaMouse.org:

ACLU Defends Persecuted Benton Harbor Civil Rights Leader in Grand Rapids Appeals Trial

Concerned Citizens Rally in Defense of a “Voice for the Voiceless”

Who: The Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice (MECAWI), the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO), the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR), the Grand Rapids IWW, and people from throughout Michigan who support social justice.

Why: Rev. Pinkney has been fighting for social justice in Benton Harbor as leader of the Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizers (BANCO). He was convicted by an all-white jury on trumped-up charges related to false allegations of voter fraud. The ACLU was successful in winning his release from prison, on bond, pending the outcome of his appeal.

What: Picket in Support of Rev. Pinkney’s Civil Rights

When: June 9, 8 am. Trial begins at 9 am.

Where:

Court Of Appeals Building

350 Ottawa

Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Headlines: New Hampshire Legalizes Gay Marriage; Activist Convicted for Leaving Water Jugs for Migrants

Democracy Now Headlines: New Hampshire Legalizes Gay Marriage; Activist Convicted for Leaving Water Jugs for Migrants

Headlines from DemocracyNow.org, a daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 650 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the US.

Obama Addresses Muslims Worldwide in Cairo Speech

President Obama spoke in Cairo earlier today in a much-anticipated speech aimed at Muslims across the world. Obama defended his decision to escalate the occupation of Afghanistan and refused to apologize for the invasion of Iraq that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. On the Israel-Palestine conflict, Obama refused to call for a full Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories but said settlement building should stop.

President Obama: “Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”

Israelis Protest Obama in Jerusalem

On the eve of his visit to Cairo, dozens of right-wing Israeli protesters demonstrated outside the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem. The protesters criticized Obama’s push for a freeze to Israeli settlements.

Protester: “Yes, it’s important to have good relations with America, but not at the expense of our survival. And today, we are once again-we are going to repeat this over and over again-Barack Hussein Obama-No you can’t. No You can’t.”

Israeli Defense Minister Threatens Iran Attack

Meanwhile, the Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is again threatening an Israeli attack on Iran over its alleged nuclear activities. Barak spoke Wednesday after meetings in Washington.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak: “I’ve already given my opinion and it hasn’t changed even after meeting with the foreign secretary. I repeat what I have always said, Israel still thinks it’s time for engagement and sanctions but Israel isn’t taking any options off the table. But there needs to be a timeframe to how much time we give to these negotiations and if this doesn’t work, Israel will have to look at other options.”

China Increases Censorship Ahead of Tiananmen Square Anniversary

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on student and pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The Chinese government has increased censorship ahead of the anniversary. Authorities have blocked access to social networking and email websites including Twitter and Hotmail. Foreign journalist have been barred from the Tianamnen square and many activists have been forced to leave Beijng or confined to their homes. Zeng Jinyan, the wife of the jailed AIDS activist Hu Jia, told reporters she’s been barred from leaving her residential community.

Zeng Jinyan: “Many people they don’t care about June 4th. But June 4th is really important for the whole country, for all the Chinese people. So if I have freedom, and I have the ability, I will just do the society education, through human rights education to the public.”

OAS Votes Lift Cuba Suspension

The Organization of American States has lifted its 47-year suspension of Cuba.

The surprise vote came Wednesday after the U.S. won conditions granting Cuba a path to membership if it carries out democratic reforms in line with the OAS’ founding principles. Cuba has rejected re-entry because it no longer considers the OAS a viable grouping.

UN Rapporteur Calls for Probe of U.S. Killings Abroad

A top UN official is calling for a probe into the killings of innocent civilians by U.S. forces and private contractors. Philip Alston, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions said many U.S. military strikes, shootings and drone attacks have killed scores of people without any accountability.

Philip Alston: “The government has failed to effectively investigate and punish lower-ranking soldiers for such deaths, and has not held senior officers responsible under the doctrine of command responsibility. Worse, it has effectively created a zone of impunity for private contractors and civilian intelligence agents by only rarely investigating and prosecuting them.”

Altson says the U.S. should establish a national commission of inquiry and appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the killings of innocents abroad.

Judge Dismisses Spying Suits Against Telecom Companies

A federal judge has dismissed more than three dozen lawsuits against telecommunications corporations that aided the Bush administration’s warrantless spying. On Wednesday, Northern California U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled the companies including Verizon and AT&T are protected under the retroactive immunity granted in last year’s Democratic-backed surveillance act. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union say they plan to appeal on the grounds the retroactive immunity is unconstitutional. In a related ruling, Judge Walker rejected Obama administration efforts to dismiss a case from a defunct Oregon-based Islamic charity that says it was the target of illegal spying.

Justice Dept. Restores Legal Rights for Deportees

The Justice Department has reversed a Bush administration ruling that immigrants don’t have a constitutional right to proper legal counsel during deportation proceedings. On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder restored the right of immigrants to appeal deportations on the grounds of attorney incompetence. But Holder also said he would leave intact existing government cases based on the rescinded Bush administration principle.

Katrina Victims to Remain in Trailer Homes

The Obama administration has announced it will let thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims remain in trailers they had been told to leave by the end of last month. The White House says the Gulf Coast residents will be allowed to purchase their trailers for nominal fees of $5 dollars or less. And it says it will give the more than 3,400 families living in trailers priority for $50 million dollars in housing vouchers. The eviction plans had come under wide criticism because almost none of the housing destroyed by Katrina has been rebuilt or replaced.

New Hampshire Legalizes Gay Marriage

New Hampshire has become the sixth state to legalize gay marriage. On Wednesday, Governor John Lynch signed legislation okaying same-sex marriages after winning exemptions for churches who choose not to officiate.

Activist Convicted for Leaving Water Jugs for Migrants

In Arizona, a human rights activist from the group No More Deaths has been convicted for leaving plastic jugs for undocumented immigrants crossing near the US-Mexico border. The activist, Walt Staton, says the water jugs were left to prevent migrants from dying of dehydration. On Wednesday, Staton was found guilty of ‘knowingly littering’ in the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge. In a move criticized by defense attorneys, the jury was ordered to reach a verdict after initial deliberations ended in a deadlock. Staton is a member of No More Deaths, which has worked for years to provide migrants with humanitarian aid. Over the past decade, nearly 2,000 men, women and children have died while trying to cross the border into Arizona. In a statement, No More Deaths said: “By penalizing life-saving work, the United States is showing callous disregard for the lives of our neighbors to the south, whose only crime is to seek a better life.”

Lawsuit Reinstated Against Shell Subsidiary in Nigeria Killings

A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit against the Nigerian subsidiary of the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell over the 1995 killings of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Nigerian activists. The case against the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria was initially dismissed in March 2008. The suit is separate from another case brought directly against Shell over the Nigeria killings. On Wednesday, that case was again adjourned indefinitely after its initial delay last month.

Baucus Meets Single-Payer Advocates

On Capitol Hill, Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus met with backers of single-payer health care Wednesday after excluding them from last month’s hearings on health care reform. Baucus reportedly expressed regret for refusing to hear their voices and said he would seek the dismissal of charges against thirteen single-payer advocates he had thrown out of the hearings after they protested their exclusion. But the advocates say Baucus expressed no willingess to reverse his principled opposition to single-payer. Dr. David Himmelstein, co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, said activists will need to continue protesting Baucus and other lawmakers who support for-profit health care.

Obama Signals Support for Mandatory Health Care Program

In other health care news, the Obama administration has indicated it could support establishing a health care system that would require Americans to purchase health insurance. President Obama opposed a similar plan from Hillary Clinton during their race for the Democratic nomination. But on Wednesday, Obama said he would consider the plan if it includes a waiver for low-income Americans.

Inspector: Aviation Officials Ignored Warnings on Plane Model in Buffalo Crash

And a federal inspector has revealed aviation officials ignored his warnings about a twin-engine aircraft model more than a year before one flown by Colgan Air crashed near Buffalo in February. The inspector, Christopher Monteleon, told the New York Times he found pilots had flown the plane faster than manufacturer specifications allowed. Monteleon says Colgan Air refused to report the breaches and have the plane inspected for damage. He says he was then suspended overseeing sections of Colgan Air’s operations after he reported his concerns to Federation Aviation Administration superiors. Fifty people were killed in the crash of Continental Flight 3407 on February 12th. The victims included Alison Des Forges, one of the world’s foremost experts on Rwanda, and Beverly Eckert, who had become an advocate for 9-11 families after losing her husband in the attacks on the Twin Towers.

Abortion Doctor Murdered, Media and Government don’t Label it “Terrorism”

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Over the weekend, an a doctor named George Tiller–who provided abortions to women who needed them–was gunned down as he entered his church. The shooting was part of a long campaign of anti-abortion violence aimed at intimidating doctors who perform abortions. Not only that, it’s part of an upsurge in harassment of clinics since President Barack Obama took office. The lead suspect in the case has long been associated with the anti-abortion movement–a movement which has successfully restricted access to abortion over the years.

While the media coverage of the shooting has been correct to put in the context of a long history of anti-abortion violence–including shootings and clinic bombings–few media outlets spoke of the attack as an act of terrorism. Almost universally the shooting was referred to as simply a “shooting” or a “murder”–not as an act of terrorism. The only newspaper that mentioned the shooting in relation to “domestic terrorism” was the Los Angeles Times. Online alternative media has been quick to call the shooting terrorism, with The Huffington Post (1, 2) and Salon.com both ran articles calling the attack an act of domestic terrorism.

I’m not a huge fan of calling every crime under the sun terrorism, as the government has been wont to do in recent years, but it’s hard to imagine calling this attack anything else. The federal government defines “domestic terrorism” as:

`(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

`(B) appear to be intended–

`(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

`(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

`(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping;

Under this definition, this was clearly an act of domestic terrorism. Tiller was specifically targeted for assassination with the goal of ending his capacity to perform abortions and intimidating doctors who perform them. Tiller’s movements were tracked by the anti-abortion movement and he was hated within that movement. He had previously been the target of protests and acts of violence. In the 1980s, his clinic was regularly targeted by protestors, it was bombed, and Tiller himself was shot. Recently, his clinic had been vandalized–an act that did thousands of dollars of damage. Tiller had also just beaten trumped up charges that he violated Kansas law.

Contrast with Left-Wing Violence

I think it’s interesting to contrast the media’s coverage of this case with so-called acts of terrorism committed by the left in the United States. Crimes committed by the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front–groups which engage in the criminal destruction of property and economic sabotage–are routinely labeled “terrorist” and both the media and the government are quick to call those crimes “terrorism.” For example, when environmental activist Marie Mason was arrested last year for a politically motivated arson at Michigan State University (MSU), the corporate media universally called the act “terrorism,” even before she was convicted. This echoed coverage back when the arson happened in 2000. No human lives were harmed or threatened–although the government and media would later hype the fact that the resulting fire put firefighters in harm’s way.

Similarly, environmental and animal activists have been rounded up as part of the government’s “green scare” campaign and labeled “terrorists”–and even imprisoned–when they have engaged only in acts that damage property, not taken human life. Moreover, there has been a recent trend of charging animal rights activists with terrorism for undertaking acts that are otherwise protected under the First Amendment–such as protests and informational campaigns.

How do you think the media and government would respond if it was a vivisectionist that was shot? I’m willing to bet there would be allegations of “terrorism” coming from all quarters.

Meltdown in Detroit: Economic Collapse, a People’s Plan for Recovery

Last weekend, The Nation magazine held an event in Detroit titled “Meltdown in Detroit: Economic Collapse, a People’s Plan for Recovery” that explored the economic crisis and how Detroit and the rest of the country can move on from the crisis.

The event featured a panel discussion with many prominent activists including Barbara Ehrenreich, Robert Pollin, Elena Herrada, Grace Lee Boggs, JoAnn Watson, and Diane Feely. Videos of the panelists are published below.

Robert Pollin, Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute

Barbara Ehrenreich, Author/Activist

Elena Herrada, Detroit Union Organizer/Activist

Grace Lee Boggs, Detroit Activist

JoAnn Watson, Detroit City Council Member

Diane Feely, Union Organizer/Activist

Economist Dean Baker at the Michigan Policy Summit

Economist Dean Baker, the co-founder and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., was the keynote speaker at the 2009 Michigan Policy Summit in Detroit on Saturday, May 16, 2009. Baker has a Ph.d. in Economics from the University of Michigan and blogs for the American Prospect.

Baker’s talk:

Note: This video was submitted to us by Thomas Rico, you can check out his blog for more related video at ricothomasrico.blogspot.com.

National Media Day of Action on Afghanistan

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United for Peace and Justice has announced a new action that they are hoping will increase opposition to the Afghanistan War and raise awareness about the realities of the war. The group is facilitating a “National Media Day of Action on Afghanistan” on Thursday, May 21. The goal of the action is simple: change public opinion about the war by getting anti-war editorials, articles, and opinion pieces published in news outlets across the United States.

The group has put together a helpful series of guides to using the media. These include tips on how make the most of newspapers, radio, and online media as well as factsheets and other resources (including pre-written letters) that can help activists work with the media. The group is placing a special focus on online media, with ideas on how to use Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace–all of which are simple and effective ways for spreading your message.

This is certainly something that readers of MediaMouse.org should consider participating in. The local media outlets in Grand Rapids–The Grand Rapids Press, WOOD TV, WZZM 13, and WXMI 17–run relatively little coverage of the Afghanistan War. Almost completely absent from what coverage they do run is opposition to the war. It doesn’t take that long to write a letter to the editor or to email the media outlets asking them to improve their coverage–and it’s a necessary step if we’re going to build opposition to the war.

United for Peace and Justice would like to know what people do on the 21st, so if you contact a media outlet, be sure to let them know.

Afghanistan and Pakistan: Myths and Facts

Peace Action

The national anti-war group Peace Action has released a new briefing paper titled “Afghanistan and Pakistan: Myths and Facts” that looks at some of the commonly cited arguments in support of the Afghanistan War.

Unfortunately, after seven years of war, we’re still at the stage where a lot of educational work is needed on Afghanistan before there will likely be a successful push to curtail the war and end the U.S. occupation (after all, we’re still in Iraq and there was much more significant opposition to that war), to that end, we are reprinting Peace Action’s factsheet below:

1. MYTH: Expanded US military activity furthers national security and upholds our national values.

FACT: Widening the war will be counterproductive both to our national security objectives and to our national values. As is already evident, it will de-stabilize the region, including Pakistan. Americans will also be increasingly causing the deaths of many women, children, elderly and other innocent civilians and disrupting the efforts of thousands of Afghan villagers to flee their villages in order to escape the spreading violence.

2. MYTH: Winning the war in Afghanistan requires a military victory for US forces.

FACT: Secretary of Defense Gates, Secretary of State Clinton, National Security Advisor Jones, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mullen, and even President Obama, himself, each have acknowledged that the internal conflict in Afghanistan cannot finally be won by military means. They have publicly agreed that it will have to be won, if it can, by dramatic improvements in the economy, the political system, government services, and the courts.

3. MYTH: The additional US troops will primarily be training the Pakistani Army and police, and are not being sent for combat operations.

FACT: Thousands of additional troops are being sent to Afghanistan, largely from the 82 Airborne Division, the premier regular combat unit of the Army. Such soldiers are not being sent as “trainers,” to lecture in classrooms. Instead, they will accompany Afghan soldiers on patrols and attempted ambushes to monitor and instruct their Afghan counterparts They will inevitably engage in combat alongside their “students” and suffer casualties — just as GI’s did while on “training missions” in Iraq and Vietnam. More Americans will die and, at the same time, their fighting role will alienate the Afghan people.

4. MYTH: The U.S. military will help defeat the Taliban and prevent them from providing a refuge and base to Al Qaeda.

FACT: US military activity in Afghanistan strengthens the Taliban. It inflames Afghans’ hostility to the U.S. and wins new supporters for the Taliban. Even now, Coalition forces are having difficulty distinguishing Afghan Taliban forces, from tribal militants against the national government and ordinary Afghans. That problem will only worsen as our military involvement expands.

5. MYTH: The U.S. military in Afghanistan is not targeting civilians. Any civilian deaths are purely accidental.

FACT: The killing of Afghan civilians is the inevitable and foreseeable result of American missile attacks, bombing, and night ground patrols. This euphemistically termed “collateral damage” not only take civilian lives, but inevitably turns the population against us.

6. MYTH: The Administration strategy is that US military commitment will be limited in size and duration.

FACT: As US soldiers suffer more casualties, there will be growing political pressure to avoid an “American defeat” by increasing our commitment. Now is the time to reverse direction in Afghanistan, before we become mired in another protracted guerilla war like Vietnam

7. MYTH: Defeating the Afghan Taliban will help stabilize the situation in Pakistan.

FACT: Afghan Taliban are not a significant factor in violent or political activity against the Pakistan Government. Indigenous radicals, including Pakistan Taliban, as well as deep discontent from a much broader spectrum of citizens, pose the threat to stability in Pakistan. As shown in a recent poll, a large majority of Pakistanis were angered by the US activity in the region and our perceived effort to control it. That rebounds against our efforts to help stabilize Pakistan, which is seen as our close ally.

Please pass this along to your friends, send it to your legislators, or put it up on telephone poles and in coffee shops–we need to do keep working to get the word out about the devastating reality of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan.

Earth First! Roadshow Visits Grand Rapids

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Over the weekend, the Earth First! Roadshow made a stop in Grand Rapids, offering two days of presentations and trainings pertaining to the radical environmental movement in the United States. From the site of the group erecting a tripod–a device used to blockade roads (whether they be logging roads in areas slated to be clearcut or urban roads during mass protests)–to a puppet show on “security culture,” the Roadshow provided an interesting and inspiring look at resistance to the destruction of the earth.

On Friday, the group gave a presentation at the Division Avenue Arts Co-Operative (The DAAC) that highlighted the successes of the Earth First! movement over the years. They shared a number of photos, stories of resistance, and highlighted victories one. The group discussed many current threats to the environment and shared a “Map of Resistance” that highlighted all of the great organizing work that has been done over the past few years. In addition, the group also talked about the Green Scare–a campaign aimed at marginalizing and/or imprisoning environmental activists as prisoners.

On Saturday, the group headed to Wilcox Park–also the site of a community picnic and the Really, Really Free Market–to host a day of workshops. There were incredibly helpful workshops and trainings on consensus and facilitation, knowing your legal rights to protest, and green capitalism. The group also provided basic tree climbing and tripod climbing training–tactics which can be used to prevent areas from being logged.

Throughout the two days, I was inspired by the stories of resistance that were shared, the catalog of victories one, and the need to confront the destruction of the earth. Here in Michigan, we face several major threats–sulfide mining in the Upper Peninsula, the possible expansion of nuclear power, the construction of several new coal plants, and the privatization of water by companies such as Ice Mountain. In many cases, traditional environmental activism–petitions, boycotts, lobbying, attending public hearings, and other such tactics–have achieved some important successes, but I couldn’t help but wonder if these projects would be defeated–not just stalled–if there was a strong radical environmental movement in Michigan. In the 1990s, Earth First! successfully used tree sits, blockades, and other tactics to stop logging in old growth forests–what if the same dramatic tactics were used here?

The Roadshow was undertaken in part as an effort to revitalize the radical environmental movement in the United States. Even as the threats to the earth continue to grow, the movement has declined in prominence. While new groups and new organizing pops up every day, it is largely detached from the history of struggles that preceded it. The history of Earth First! is one of success against difficult odds–hopefully the tour succeeds in inspiring renewed resistance.

For those wishing to learn more about Earth First!, visit the Earth First! Journal. It’s a quarterly publication that features a wide variety of articles chronicling environmental activism in the United States.