link to story.
In the growing twilight, two dozen plump deer are grazing at the far edge of a meadow. Suddenly they look up, alert. Two humans are sneaking along the edge of the forest pretending to stalk the deer, playing a game of predator and prey.
Welcome to the Wild Earth Rendezvous. This gathering, set for the first week of June, is similar to activist training camps hosted by the Ruckus Society and Rainforest Action Network, but with a do-it-yourself flavour. The gathering is close to endangered old-growth forests but far from the nearest paved road, in a low-impact wilderness camp. (Folks bring their own tents.) The Food Not Bombs crew prepares vegetarian meals with ingredients brought in from dumpsters in nearby cities. All kinds of people swap stories at night around the campfire: native and non-native environmentalists, anarchists, liberals, grizzled old campaigners and eager young volunteers. Everyone gets the chance to plot the next forest defense action, which is typically just a short drive up the road.
Wild Earth 2006 was held at Newcastle Island Provincial Park, which is managed by the Snuneymuxw First Nation. It's not a wilderness site, although most of the island is old-growth forest. Wild Earthlings met with the staff ahead of time and reserved a large group campsite and the barn-like pavilion for the rendezvous and the BC Environmental Network's annual members meeting. The Snuneymuxw folks were happy to meet with us and pleased we'd chosen the park for the action training.
The government, however, was not pleased at all. The local Ministry of the Environment office got a tip from an anti-environmental informer about the upcoming rendezvous. The bureaucrat in charge laid into us with a series of harsh emails and stern phone calls. He threatened to evict the group from the park if we climbed a single tree or picked one edible plant. A tremendous amount of negotiation and diplomacy was required to convince him the gathering was non-commercial and wouldn't harm the environment. (It was hard keeping a straight face during some of these discussions, since the same Ministry presides over clearcuts, mining, and all kinds of commercial mayhem.)
The climbing trainers from Oregon faced a tougher adversary: Canadian border guards. It seems the customs service has a problem with activists coming to visit, and the Oregonians' attempts to negotiate their way in failed. The crew was forced to turn back. Fortunately, Canadian climbers came to the rescue and filled in for the missing Americans. The tree climbing training went ahead as scheduled.
This summer's gathering is June 1st through 7th, somewhere in BC. Twenty grassroots environmentalists have already signed on, and leading the pack is Earth First! co-founder Mike Roselle. Mike agreed to give a special presentation about direct action - but he also faces the hurdle of the Canadian border. Mike's been arrested more times than he can count, and the immigration lawyer he hired says getting into Canada may be impossible. The Wild Earthlings haven't given up on him though, and the legal manueverings continue.
Chief Qwatsinas (Ed Moody), a hereditary leader of the Nuxalk Nation in Bella Coola, will deliver a special report on the Great Bear Rainforest and indigenous rights. Qwatsinas and the House of Smayusta, Nuxalk traditionalists, have led blockades and actions to press for rainforest protection since 1997, but they do not support last year's Great Bear Rainforest agreement. "It's talk and log," says Qwatsinas.
Those of us living in BC are blessed with magnificence: old-growth cedars dipping curved limbs into the ocean, mammoth Douglas firs big as cathedrals, grey whales basking in the warm shallows. We also get to watch it all go down. Clearcuts, mudslides, floods, drought, wildfires, rising seas - it's all here. The government and major enviro groups say "the war in the woods" is over, thanks to compromise deals in the Great Bear Rainforest and Clayoquot Sound. But their press releases don't mention that chainsaws are rapidly leveling the forests that were left out of the protection zones. Indigenous land rights are disregarded as the province plays legal games with land transfers, development, and mining at the expense of wildlife and fish habitat.
The Wild Earthlings know that grassroots direct action levels the playing field. People working together can stop business as usual on stolen land. Forest defense consists of dozens of different tactics and strategies in tandem, and we're here to make sure folks can use every tool in the box.
For one week a year, Wild Earth creates an activist community based on unity and solidarity. This is an opportunity to start relationships that can last a lifetime. Take a moment now to sign up, and join us this June. Send an email to earth_first (at) resist (dot) ca.
Workshops for Wild Earth 2007:
Tree-climbing and Tree-sitting
Grassy Narrows First Nation vs. Weyerhaeuser
Legal Rights for Arrestees
Secwepemc Nation vs. Sun Peaks
Mt. Elphinstone campaign
Rising Tide Climate Action
First Nations and Environment (music performance)
Chant to be Heard
Natural Selection Forestry
Activist Security 101
Volunteer presenters needed for:
Indigenous Land and Rights
Intro to Environmental Racism
Assistance with Non-violence Training
Action Support and Solidarity
Green Scare Update
Wild Womyn's Circle
Other topics (suggestions welcome)
Volunteers also needed for:
Suggested donation for the week-long camp: $20 to $50 (sliding scale) Low-income and volunteers free. Travel scholarships may be available for presenters. Suggestions, ideas and questions are welcome - email earth_first (at) resist (dot) ca. More info, history and photos are on the Wild Earth blog: http://wildearth2007.blogspot.com.