Mission & History

The Ruckus Society is a multi-racial network of trainers dedicated to providing the necessary tools, preparation, and support to build direct action capacity for ecological justice and social change movements. We work with Indigenous communities and other communities of color working to preserve their homes and environments and for climate justice.

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. Mostly comprised of white, eco-activists, Ruckus became a flagship organization for direct action training camps in preparation for land defense and later for major mobilizations including the World Trade Organization uprisings in 1999, the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in 2000. International Monetary Fund/World Bank mobilization in 2000 etc throughout the anti-globalization movement and beyond.

Ruckus played an important role in direct action trainings and actions during the anti-globalization movement. Organizers of color working with Ruckus during this era called the question: How is Ruckus building the capacity of frontline, impacted communities of color who are engaged in these fights for the long haul? The history of these organizers, their willingness to challenge Ruckus’s analysis, while loaning their skills and expertise, along side the imperfect attempts of a mostly white leadership to transform changed the trajectory of Ruckus to what it is today: a women of color led, multi-racial organization partnering with leaders on the frontlines of fights for justice.

In 2003, frontline environmental justice organizations including The Indigenous Environmental Network, approached Ruckus to support their “Our Power” training camp in Occidental, California. This camp, and the direct ask by Indigenous people to focus resources and training in their communities

led to the formation of the Indigenous Peoples Project (IP3) in 2004 that has continued to be a resource to the Indigenous led movements across North America. IP3 has developed a model for Ruckus’s engagement and capacity building work across communities and continues to guide our climate justice focused work.

In 2010, at the U.S. Social Forum, Ruckus collaborated with local Detroit organizations Zero Waste Detroit and the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) to highlight resilience based organizing in Detroit through direct action. Our commitment to climate justice is also demonstrated in being a founding member of the Climate Justice Alliance: a collaborative of over 35 community-based and movement support organizations uniting frontline communities to forge a scalable, and socio-economically just transition away from unsustainable energy towards local living economies to address the root causes of climate change.

2010 also began Ruckus’ relationship with migrant rights organizers campaigning and taking action against a wave of anti-migrant hate bills contaminating the U.S. In our years of engagement with this movement, Ruckus has trained, and built the action-coordination skills of dozens of activists through training opportunities like the Migrants Rights Camp of 2012, as well as deploying action practitioners into communities to support bold actions including blocking deportation buses and detention centers.

In 2015, Ruckus was a founding member of the Combahee Alliance comprised of seven organizations building black and brown action capacity towards black liberation. Ruckus’s work also crosses borders, building with organizations throughout the America’s and co-ordinating actions in mobilizations including the United Nations COP 15, 16 and 21.

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