RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

writing for godot

How my school's radical environmental group screwed me over

Written by Burkely Hermann   
Sunday, 06 October 2013 00:43
In the past year, I have come to realization that the big environmental non-profit organizations (ENGOs), Gang Green, did not have my interest in mind. Starting with an article in the spring edition of State of Nature, I added onto this in articles I wrote for White Rose Reader which were published with my consent on the site of the IWW's Environmental Unionist Caucus.

Last week, after one of the fellow members of my school chapter of the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) talked about the horrible aspects of plastic, one of the members asked if anyone wanted to do the talk the next week. Then, I volunteered to do it since no one was talking. That's where my story begins. As the next week went on, I began to allocate numerous hours to preparing for this talk. I wrote numerous drafts of what I was going to say, used about five or six dollars of print money, and practiced the talk down to an exact time. Today, that time finally came.

Over dinner in the vegetarian cooperative on campus, one of the club's members put even more pressure on me. I was to come up with questions. While eating some food I could scrounge up, I wrote seven well-written questions. I had a clipboard of articles, and more. I was ready.

When I got there at 7:00 PM, it was deathly silent. Instead of following what I originally planned, I decided to hand out these printed one-page summaries of Gang Green. People just went speaking to each other at all. It took until around 7:20 for the meeting to really start. From there, there was some talk about the conference of the youth environmental movement, PowerShift, for the next ten minutes.

Around 7:30, I started my talk. I began the way I planned to with me reading a passage from this book titled Defending the Earth, but then it was time for me to show the video I had on my laptop. Me and another member tried to hook it up to the computer, but after fiddling with that for over 5 minutes, then eventually they all crowded around the screen. For the next four and half minutes, all of them intently looked at the video on the screen. From here, I continued on. I said that for years Gang Green had backed Democrats, how they were funded by big foundations like those associated with the Rockefeller family, the centrist Pew Charitable Trust, the Ford Foundation and many others.

Then, at the end, I had a uplifting note, saying there are numerous organizations I could support like Earth First!, Radical Action for Mountain Peoples Survival (RAMPS), Rising Tide North America, and many others. After all of this was the discussion I was waiting for. Some people had different inquiries including one about the big foundations that funded this movement, and another about these Gang Green in general, I believe. Just as I was about to ask the members there some of the questions I had come up with, the facilitator said that time was up. I felt that I had been cheated of the time for a discussion and it made me very angry. I know her very well, and know she was well intentioned. After all, the meeting eventually went past 8:00 anyway.

Thinking back to this whole ordeal, I think the situation is just part of an inherent problem in the St. Mary's College activist community. And, the facilitator was part of this, unconsciously. She did thank me afterwards for a good talk. Even my good friend who went to the co-op was actually doing a paper on the same subject! That made me overjoyed. At the same time, after the talk, people just went on their marry ways like nothing had really happened. In general, on campus many of the groups have do-good-er liberal members, meaning these groups dictate what is talked about, creating a certain atmosphere, while also determining the policy of the group. As a result, radicals are pushed out as the space becomes negative for them. That's what happened to me, most definitely. Its not surprising that for a possible anarchist like myself, it is hard to find an audience. Overall, maybe it is part of what I'll call the RINO effect. This means that these organizations are radical in name only.

As I said at the end of my talk, there is always a solution. When I go to PowerShift, I'm definitely going to push this issue as well. Despite the situation I just described, I will continue to push for the radicalization of the college activist community, maybe even create my own club, in all of the ways I can which will definitely improve the discourse, and promote more discourse that not only challenges systems of oppression, and the intersecting hierarchies under the capitalist system. your social media marketing partner

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.