By now you’re well aware of all the training and skills development that happens at our Action Camps, but guess what? That’s not all that happens when we bring over 100 activists together for a week! In this installment we give you a brief glimpse into some of the other aspects of this year’s Action Camp.
This camp brought together 120 activists from over 50 different communities. While its central focus was on the migrant rights movement, we reserved about 25% of the participant base for individuals from other key struggles including Occupy, anti-militarism, environmental justice and anti-mountaintop removal, food justice, domestic workers and indigenous rights, because we know that any one movement’s success depends on effective cross-issue collaboration.
Throughout the five days, these individuals from all over the U.S. got to work together, develop their skills side by side, and learn from each others’ own experiences – not just on skills, but on strategy, organizing, and gaining a deeper understanding of each others’ issue areas and struggles within them.
Because of the space we created, historic moments took place, like the powerful conversation one night during our evening session between Dream Act Activists and Iraq Vets Against the War organizers, about the role the military plays in their movements.
Eva Cardenas, a young migrant rights organizer from Georgia (who also attended our Training for Trainers for People of Color this Spring, and helped student-train a session at Action Camp!), had this to say about the discussion between Iraq Vets and undocumented youth that night:
As a community organizer, and as an ally to the Immigrants Rights Struggle, particularly the Undocumented Youth Movement, I have seen how conversations are essential to constant bridge-building between movements. While at the Ruckus Camp, I had the opportunity to sit and participate in a conversation with the IVAW/Courage to Resist folks and the Undocumented Youth Movement.
Our conversation created a space that allowed for the fluidity of ideas to be exchanged but more importantly for us to have an honest conversation on how privilege affects our concepts and views and how this relates back to our organizing efforts. Although, like so many conversations, we were unable to change the world, we began to plant the seed of trust as a first step to the solidarity within both movements. I appreciated the experience and felt that it was not only beneficial but healing to some extent.
First Ever Ruckus Bilingual Camp
We are super proud that for the first time in our history, we were able to organize a fully bilingual (English and Spanish) Ruckus Action Camp. Thanks to the amazing work of our volunteer team of interpreters and coordinators, we were able to provide live simultaneous interpretation throughout the Camp via closed-channel radio headsets.
This provided the ability for trainers and participants alike to speak in their most comfortable language, and for everyone to be able to understand each other. Morning circles, workshops and group discussions were conducted in alternating English and Spanish, and we were able to have spanish-speaking trainers in every tactical track.
This was truly an accomplishment for Ruckus, and we are so grateful to everyone who helped make it possible!
Sustainable Land-Use (Permaculture) Consultation for Highlander Center
Ruckus has always aimed to conduct Action Camps in zero-to-low-waste ways, but for the past couple years we have been working on building sustainability principles and "liberation permaculture" into our camps and trainings, through our partnership with Movement Generation (MG).
This year, one of our new young trainers, who is also a graduate of MG’s Permaculture for the People (permaculture for social justice advocates) program, Ellen Choy, came to Action Camp not only as a trainer, but as a permaculture consultant.
Through pre-camp meetings with Highlander staff, and on-site assessments, Ellen was able to provide essential guidance, tangible maps and plans, and helpful recommendations to the Highlander Center about sustainable use of their vast acreage!
These are just a few examples of the different elements of Ruckus Action Camps! But none of this really compares to experiencing it in person. Action Camps truly are an experience.
And while we can’t transport you there to witness for yourself, here’s what a few participants had to say about this year’s camp!
My name is Jovana Renteria, from the Puente Movement in Phoenix, Arizona. Puente Movement is part of the global movement for migrant justice and human rights. As a grassroots community-based group, Puente promotes justice, non-violence, interdependence and human dignity. Puente works to empower the community and build bridges by working collaboratively with various organizations and individuals. I had the honor of attending a Ruckus Camp this summer. The skills I learned from camp were how to organize an action on my own from start to finish. We were able to put a strategy together and see how important each area works with the other. It shows that different people with different skills are needed to execute a successful event. I also met a lot of people from different states fighting for the same cause, which gave me hope that we are not alone here in Arizona – that we can all connect and make a bigger impact nationally and internationally. The instructors are very well trained and they were guiding us step by step in hands-on training, which makes a world of a difference. I had the opportunity to go on the Undocubus this summer and the camp helped me teach others on strategy and arts, and the legal class taught me how to use civil disobedience wisely with the legal consequences and how to get people out of jail. Ruckus camp really changed my life and opened my eyes to different possibilities what could be if we organize.
-Jovana Renteria, Puente Movement, Phoenix, AZ
In 2010, migrant rights leaders from Puente and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network sent out a call for the nation to support the frontlines of defense in Arizona against the long history of abuse carried out by Sheriff Arpaio in Maricopa County that was suddenly threatening to expand with the passage of the now notorious
The Ruckus Society is an organization who stood out among those who answered that call. What is incredible is Ruckus’ dedicated network of volunteers who arrive to do what’s asked whether it be training or action strategy based upon a shared vision for a better world and a common understanding that it is affected people’s direct action that will be the vehicle to get us there. Ruckus came to Arizona with the understanding that the local community leads, impacted groups define the terms and the goals of their own struggle, and principled strategic support can be critical to advancing those goals, especially in times of crisis.
After collaborating on successful summers of human rights in Arizona in 2010 and Georgia in 2011, we partnered with Ruckus to share skills, strategy, and theory through a retreat in the winter of 2012 and an intensive action camp at the historic Highlander Center this summer. As part of our preparation for the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice, Ruckus held the space for grassroots leaders of the migrant rights movement to be introduced to or reflect on the principles and foundation of non-violent action, how civil disobedience is implemented by affected communities, and how to carry out actions within strategies of broader community organizing campaigns. Through it we advanced and sharpened our collective ability to effectively challenge anti-immigrants and at the same time win hearts and minds.
As these times of escalated attack on all of our rights call for a bold response from the bottom-up, our partnership with Ruckus has been critical to both set an example of actions that inspire and share the skills to make their implementation accessible to front-line communities ready to fight back.
-National Day Laborer Organizing Network
Ruckus direct action training mixed with the Highlander Center’s historic grounds was crucial for the type of on-hand education that organizers and activists look for and need today.
Ruckus made it possible for me to touch base with and grow closer to organizers around the country who are also in this important struggle. Not only that, Ruckus facilitated our learning experience in a way in which we could learn from one another, defining our differences but realizing our similarities, making the camp that much more valuable.
Ruckus created a space to develop a healthy and safe evaluation of where we are as organizers in this movement but more importantly, where we are going. Ruckus is making an important impact and once again, proving that actions definitely speak louder than words.
-Diego Ibaez, Occupy Wall Street and migrant rights activist
The skills and experience I received at the the Ruckus Action Camp are invaluable to my activist work. As a participant in the Blockades Track, I was able to employ techniques I learned at the Action Camp in my most recent action occupying an Obama campaign office in support of the accused Wikileaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning. These skills were essential to our action’s effectiveness, and we were able to improvise and adapt to our situation, which enabled us to make a large statement that got our message across. I would encourage everyone to support the awesome folks with The Ruckus Society and the amazing work they do in any way they can.
-Michael Thurman, SF Bay Iraq Veterans Against the War, Bradley Manning Support Network, Courage to Resist
Ruckus Society’s 2012 Action Camp for Migrant Rights, for me, was… an opportunity to share skills, experience and bonds with folks coming together from social justice and direct action focuses, as well as a bridging of struggles seemingly divided within the politically active community. As an Earth First!er, an immigrant, and a migrant rights activist, I have wanted to participate in a space for skill-sharing between these networks. In particular, I have wanted to participate in a direct action dialogue geared towards communities affected and people of color, tackling the questions around responsible representation and supporting the work of communities affected using creative tactics (and when are these tactics appropriate when supporting and representing those who often cannot take certain risks due to documentation status, single-parent responsibilities, economic limitations, etc?). I think these expectations were met and I think that we all did some critical dialoguing, learning, growing, sharing and much needed networking together. I hope this is a sign that these spheres of specialization within the activist community will be working more closely together, participating and supporting each others’ struggles more closely. I am very excited to see what will come next from the connections that were made at camp.
In grateful solidarity,
I’m excited to have learned so many of the techniques for direct action that leaders from various movements and Ruckus trained organizers have helped IVAW with in the past, especially at our 2008 march on the DNC. After this training I feel confident to be able to help our organization engage in more direct action in the near future. I know the connections I’ve made with folks from the migrant rights communities are connections I will continue to call on and support in this global movement for justice. I learned so much and really strengthened and expanded my community. Thanks to the awesome organizers, trainers, and participants (not to mention the amazing space at the Highlander Center). The Ruckus action camp is an experience I’d recommend to anyone interested in social change through direct action.
-Maggie Martin, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Click to read installments one, two, and three!