Toward a more-active activism

More and more people are voicing their concerns about the environment. But the brand of activism endorsed by the Green Anarchy Tour goes far beyond displaying earnest bumper stickers.

Riding a wave begun before Seattle, the Green Anarchy Tour 2002 is rolling into Asheville for an all-day, radical, multimedia splash.

Billed as “an attempt to bring together the radical environmental, anarchist and underground-music movements through video, music and workshops,” the tour grew out of activist struggles in the Pacific Northwest, especially Eugene, Ore. There, activists shut down logging operations in the Cascade Mountains by digging tunnels under logging roads and creating human blockades in front of threatened forests. These environmental warriors “went beyond protests as usual,” says Nettle, one of the tour’s local organizers — throwing rocks through business’ windows and confronting riot police.

Many Eugene activists also journeyed north to the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle a few years ago. During the so-called Seven Weeks of Revolution, different groups came together to focus on a specific issue each week — such as feminism, environmentalism and organic foods — sharing ideas, techniques and beliefs.

In that spirit, the Green Anarchy Tour travels across the country bringing activists together to learn from one another through presentations, workshops and a “radical film festival.” The primary workshop will focus on environmental activism: how to block roads, conduct tree sit-ins, and construct elaborate blockades around threatened natural areas. There will be slides of a mile-long blockade built in Eugene.

Participating groups include the Anarchist Bookmobile, which provides anarchist literature; the Insurrectionary Media Center, which will display photos from previous stops on the tour; Earth First!; Fifth Estate; and Tribal War Record Distro. Locally, Cherokee and Choctaw tribal groups have been encouraged to take part, and a representative of the local chapter of the American Indian Movement will give a presentation on finding balance in life. The local arm of Books for Prisoners may also provide a workshop on how to apply for grants and get books into prisons

Among the films to be screened are Green With a Vengeance, which follows the Earth Liberation Front’s fight against timber mills, the biotech industry, urban sprawl and other issues that have figured in the local news recently. A Year in the Streets documents the various protests that took place during 2000 — in Seattle, in Washington, D.C., at the Democratic and Republican national conventions, and elsewhere — focusing on the efforts of a community in Eugene to delay unpopular development in their neighborhood. Other films include Breaking the Spell (about economic sabotage), Red Cloud Thunder (about the Fall Creek tree sit-in in Eugene) and episodes of Cascadia Alive (a Eugene-based, anarchist cable-access series). Food Not Bombs is slated to provide dinner for participants, but people are encouraged to bring their own food in case there isn’t enough.

After dinner comes the all-night Political Prisoner Benefit Show; political punk bands Elder Wrath, John the Baker, Singing Crow and Otophobia, plus local bands Shovelfight and Kakistocracy will perform. Proceeds will benefit incarcerated West Coast activists. Two of them, Jeff “Free” Luers and Craig “Critter” Marshall, set fire to four SUVs at a dealership to pollution and sprawl. Free is interviewed in Green With a Vengeance; fed up with petitioning and letter-writing campaigns, “He gave up on reform and became desperate,” says Nettle. Another prisoner, Robert Thaxton, was arrested for reportedly throwing a rock at an officer in self-defense, according to the Green Anarchy Web site.

“The system isn’t just going to go away,” proclaims Nettle. “You’ve got to resist, get beyond pacifism. For every nonviolent struggle, there was a violent one,” he continues, citing the contrasting work of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

Nettle says he hopes the tour will help people explore new ways of living and learn how to become more active in the community. “Part of it is education, bringing [these ideas] to a wider audience. Hopefully things will get going. People know about [these issues] but don’t make the effort.

“I think some of it will be preaching to the choir, ” he admits. Still, local organizers are optimistic about the event’s impact. “I’ve talked to some people who haven’t been [to an event like this], says Nettle, adding, “I think there will be a mix.”

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