by Trashy / Earth First! Newswire
Last weekend marked the first annual Resistance Ecology Conference in Portland, Oregon. The event occasioned a discourse on intersectionality—the confluence of movements focusing on Animal Liberation, Earth Liberation, and Social Justice. A host of banner speakers came from all over, and panels discussed resistance and solidarity over three days of well-attended discussions.
One of the highlights was a panel on animal rights and ecology, hosted by former SHAC political prisoners, Josh Harper and Jason Conroy, with former ELF political prisoner, Jeff Luers, and long-time EF!ers Karen Coulter and Chris Maenz. The panel marked the first time that Josh, Jeff, and Jason were able to speak openly about their activism and experiences, making it an auxilerating and, at times, deeply emotional experience. Karen and Chris brought their veteran experience to table, discussing how veganism and life style choices might inform and assist the movement for radical ecology, but in some cases might present tactical challenges to solidarity.
This note was carried through the entire conference, and even presented itself in the form of a minor conflict between several dumpster-diving crusties and a hardcore vegan in the main tabling area. No crusties were harmed during the tough words tossed around, and the children’s corner adjacent to the stirring discourse seemed mildly bemused. One two year old appeared to laugh and mutter something like “you call that yelling?” but it came out as “baaabaduahd,” so no one really raised an eyebrow.
Another EF! highlight came during Hollis Lichen’s fabulous presentation about trans-allyship. Unfuruling a startling array of facts regarding human rights abuses and hate crimes against trans folks, Hollis called forward a sweeping critique of capitalist civilization to expose the patriarchy behind the two-gender rule. Helpful tips were offered, the audience got involved, and a merry time was had by all.
A key aspect to the conference was a critique of white-privilege in ecology and animal rights activism. A. Breeze Harper brought her own experience of decolonization, anti-racism, and food justice to the conference, and delivered the keynote speech with Lauren Ornelas about intersectionality, radical ecology, and the theme of liberation of all species. Here, the conference turned toward the note of solidarity—people actually coming together to celebrate being together and moving towards the same goals.
Further interesting discussions were had on Anarchism and Animal Rights, hosted by scott crowe and Josh Harper, as well as local community organizing with Portland Rising Tide’s David Osborne and Jasmine Flora. Lauren Regan of the CLDC, the Sacramento Prisoner Support group, and former political prisoners from the George Jackson Brigade also made appearances discussing state repression and prisoner support, which was another key aspect of the conference.
In all, the conference may have brought out some tension in some groups, but it was also an experience of building and healing. The conference ended with a closing circle, where one activist made a strong point on the confrontation between violence/non-violence in the popular movement: these tensions are good, they motivate us to be wiser and more sincere. The inter- in inter-sectionality is important, because it connotes a respect for differences, rather than a forced homogenization.
Onward to a growing and flourishing wild movement!