Ruckus Trainers Support Local Activists in the Rocky Mountains
Council of Canadians, Golden Chapter
This weekend, August 15th and 16th, local activists from the Council of Canadians (CoC) partnered up with groups from around the province to host a political action seminar. The events began on Friday evening with a presentation and discussion of local energy issues at Jita’s Caf. On Saturday and Sunday the participants went to school, learning from trainers from The Ruckus Society, based in California.
A lot of organization and effort went into the weekend. Out-of-towners were billeted in some of the participant’s homes. Breakfast and lunch were provided, and an informal potluck dinner brought everyone together. By far, the most energizing event for the participants was the seminar itself.
The Ruckus Society trainers, Jessica and Heather, specialize in teaching how to wage a non-violent political campaign for interest groups. With a wealth of experience, the trainers taught the participants a variety of skills, such as: how to manage inter-personal group dynamics, effective decision making models, and what it takes to organize a targeted political event. There was a lot of discussion about terms and definitions to get everyone on the same page. The most engaging part for many of the people involved was role playing and acting out different scenarios.
According to Jessica and Heather, their work focuses on “applying creative actions without resorting to violence to get your message out.” They also mentioned that, “a good campaign provides alternatives and solutions for the issue you are working on. It involves networking with similarly minded groups, knowing your information, and having a clear plan of action.”
One of the most impressive aspects of the event is how far people drove in order to take part in it. One girl, named Peena, drove all the way from Whistler. She’s been working with a local group there for a number of years, the VANOC Tree Party, protesting the negative environmental costs of the winter Olympics. Another group of individuals came in from Vancouver where they’ve been working on healthcare and the bike issues. Other activists came in from Revelstoke and Kelowna.
When I asked people why they had come so far for this event, one participant named Penny said, “I came here all the way from Vancouver because this is a really unique event. I’ve been participating in all sorts of campaigns for years, but no one has ever really taught me how to do it. There are lots of things I never thought about before.” When I asked another activist named Danny, from Revelstoke, what he accomplished at the seminar, he said “this weekend has given me tools to put in my toolbox, now I can go out and meet with other people and apply the skills I’ve learned.”
About half of the participants at the seminar were local Goldenites. Many, but not all the locals, were members of the CoC with a history of participating in public issues. Most of them mentioned that the local IPP projects were their highest priority. The CoC tackles many social and environmental issues however, and by learning these skills they hope to bring their efforts in all areas to a higher level.