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The Ruckus Society was formed in 1995, sparked by the intersection of the passage of a federal anti-environmental law, Greenpeace budget cuts, and two infamous nonviolence practitioners. The Timber Salvage Rider, an anti-environment, pro-logging bill was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in the spring of 1995, the passage of this bill catalyzed a large, vocal, and well-organized response from activists. Leading environmental organizations called for an all-out effort to stop timber sales and shut down the agencies that permitted them and forest defenders took to the woods for blockades on the ground and in the air.

Greenpeace, who for years had sponsored week-long nonviolent direct action training camps had recently been forced to cut these trainings, thus creating a vacuum, which in the climate surrounding the passage of the Rider Bill, demanded to be filled.

In response to this convergence of events, Mike Roselle and Howard "Twilly" Cannon, two long-time environmentalists, came up with the idea of a "Forest Action Camp", which they helped to organize in the summer of 1995 in the Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon. The camp was such a success that the two were inspired to organize another one. But they needed an organization and a name. The Ruckus Society was born.

In response to the increasing impact of the corporate globalization of all forms of life on this planet, the mission of Ruckus has since expanded to serve a broad range of campaigns on behalf of the environment, human rights, and social justice. Ruckus continues to work with its allies in the forest movement and also aims to support the work of those struggling against social and economic abuses, both internationally and here in the United States.

In the 10 years since then, we have shared our unique strategy and effective tactics toolbox with over 3,000 activists and organizers through our hands-on action training camps. Communities we’ve trained and continue to support range from frontline climate change activists from the Arctic North to the Gulf Coast, to Latina garment workers in LA, day laborers in the SF Bay Area, steelworkers in Indiana, student organizers in NYC, Hip Hop artists from both coasts, conscientious objectors in the Heartland, and Indigenous organizers across North America. In spreading our knowledge and skills to these communities, we have helped to create vital networks of trainers, and critical victories for our allies.

Now, we take our leadership from directly impacted communities. We apply the tried and true tactics of audacious actions to the calls from people living with the real, tangible impacts of economic, environmental, racial and social injustice.