Monday, February 13, 2006

Humboldt Revolution (.org)

The town hall forum on non-violent revolution was held this past Saturday at Eureka's Veterans Hall. The energy in the room was something I believed could exist though I think this was my first direct encounter with it. I estimate about 120 people attended, making for standing room only in the basement room adorned by banners from more than a dozen progressive community groups including the Voter Confidence Committee (VCC), Veterans For Peace, Women In Black, Food Not Bombs, Democracy Unlimited, and Earth First.

The event was the most according-to-plan gathering I've ever helped to organize, including the crowd. During the event planning, it took several conversations ultimately to determine the target audience should be "the choir." Typically we lament preaching to the choir as delivering a message to familiar ears who learn nothing new. In this case, targeting the choir was meant to be a distinction from watering down the message for mass media, and honing the message to be a call to a new level of action.

"Non-violent revolution is necessary, NOW"

The event started with a video clip from peace activist and author Arhundati Roy. Then followed seven or so speakers, each touching on different aspects of our current collective condition, all speaking to the need for drastic change. Highlights included:I also spoke briefly about elections, emphasizing the guarantee of inconclusive outcomes and no basis for confidence in the results reported from federal elections using paperless electronic voting machines. I also mentioned known problems with Humboldt's election equipment, as well as the Volunteer Strike, an idea I first mentioned here and have adapted to traditional GuvWurld language here (.pdf).

When the speakers has concluded, the crowd split up into round table discussions on sustainability, fighting corporate power, the upcoming Eureka peace march (March 18), militarism, a few more I'm forgetting, and a dozen people who came to my table on election reform. We talked about ongoing projects described throughout the GuvWurld Blog, including the outreach program supporting the Voter Confidence Resolution, the CA unity campaign, and the Volunteer Strike.

Some speakers had gone longer than intended and so table discussions were necessarily abbreviated. Fortunately I had leaflets to promote the VCC meeting this Wednesday, 2/15, starting at 7pm at the Redwood Peace and Justice Center. The time allocation was about the only deviation from the "as planned" comment above. Getting people interested in solutions being pursued, and offering a follow-up event for them to plug into these actions, was exactly how the day was planned.

We watched another clip from Arhundati Roy, received some Native American wisdom from Jeannie Covey (sp?), and then the 50 or so people still remaining formed one big circle. Holding hands, each person took a turn saying his or her name and either their reason for attending or what they had gotten from the event. It was hearing this feedback that made me so certain we had really achieved our aims as organizers. Many people said they are ready for more, and I know that I sure am.

Though the ideas were present, next time I'd like to see more continuity throughout the various presentations to build more focus on discovering the many diverse acts of exactly how we can withdraw our Consent and complicity in the broken system. Nonetheless, I believe we made the right call in offering a new lyric sheet to the choir. I believe we hit our goal of wanting everyone to leave with the straightforward thought that "non-violent revolution is necessary, NOW!"

With this event behind us, many new features have been unveiled at Others are yet to come, but thanks to Noel Adamson we have an excellent start on a collaborative online organizing tool kit.

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’,
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest,
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty,
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters,
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison,
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden,
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten,
Where black is the color, where none is the number,
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it,
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it,
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’,
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’,
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard,
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

Maybe we could start singing about a corrupt fascist regime that's a-gonna fall too? Keep your mind open, the future's coming...



Right on , Dave. A couple of additions/editions: Earth First! is always followed by an exclamation point; Jene cCovey (Yurok elder); and GoodShield and Rico of Seventh Generation Rise (GoodShield is co-founder of Sustainable Nations Development Project) played, got us inspired, thinking, and dancing (like any good revolutionary event would); also, worth mentioning the folks from Accion Zapatista (it was their inspiration to evaluate that brought us to circle, and not only was there a voice of Food Not Bombs present, but delicious, organic, vegan dinner, FNB style, nourished the meeting.

Thanks!! --Verbena

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