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(en) US, Great Lakes anarchist/regional ARA gathering; August 19-20th 2006 - report back

Date Tue, 22 Aug 2006 18:56:49 +0300

The 2006 Great Lakes Anarchist Gathering took place this year
mostly on the campus of BGSU in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Anarchists, ARA groups, Food not bombs chapters, and simply
curious people attended the gathering from mostly different cities
throughout Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. Over 30 people attended
the gathering. Despite having some problems in the week prior to the
gathering it was pulled off well.
The Gathering was initially to be held inside the UCF in Bowling
Green, which also houses the local infoshop. To make a long story
short as to why the gathering did not take place at the UCF, was that
there was an unfortunate misunderstanding between us and the
president of its board. We were able to move our activities elsewhere
but it was a serious inconvenience. In the end, hopefully the
dialogue that this situation creates will result in a stronger
relationship between BG anarchists and the UCF, so something like
this won’t happen again.

Friday night several of us sat out in front of the UCF to talk to people
coming in for the gathering, and telling them how to get around and
where to meet up. At around 10pm about 14 people met in local
coffee house to talk, get to know each other, figure out where people
were staying the night, and to plan some sort of game. The group
split into two, to take people back to where they would stay that
night. The groups then regrouped for two games of capture the flag,
on the roof of the campus library. The games were fun, and everyone
who participated had an enjoyable time. After everyone was good
and sweaty we split up to find some sleep before the next day.

Saturday morning started out with everyone sitting around getting to
know each other a little bit, and talking about their personal
experiences that led them to anarchism. After which a discussion on
networking led to the sharing of contact information as well as the
creation of a new website for anarchists in the Midwest to
communicate. The day went along well, and more people showed up
throughout the day, with workshops including; zines & self
publishing, roadblock I69 presentation, women’s health, fun
with butplugs, and one on autonomous Marxism and anarchism.
The autonomous Marxism and anarchism workshop ran late, along
with many others, and was shortly interrupted by the presence of a
reporter. The reporter was allowed to stay for the workshop, but was
not allowed to take photographs etc. The Free diner that was
supposed to be served shortly after the last workshop ran late as well,
because many people stayed afterwards to talk to the reporter.
Eventually a meal was served and a planned concert took place
inside the women’s center on campus. By the end of the night
everyone was pretty tired, but most people stayed awake doing other
things for the next several hours.

On Sunday morning roadblock had wanted to do a skill share at
9am, but unfortunately not many could wake up in time, and they
ended up leaving for the next destination on their tour before the rest
of the workshops started. Things ran a little late on Sunday too, but
all of the workshops were excellent. Some of the ones on Sunday
included; deschooling, leftism and the post left, industrial
agriculture, megafarms, and community resistance, hand to hand
combat, Palestine, Lebanon, and US/Isreali policy in the middle
east, DIY screen printing, and finally a late discussion on tactics,
strategies, and anarchist community in the Midwest.

It was my feeling that this gathering went really well despite some
difficulties. People at the gathering were able to get to know each
other a little bit and build the ground work for future interaction.
Some common problems were highlighted which I think was

* Flight from the Midwest; aka the brain drain. Militant (or
otherwise) successful anarchist activity comes out of anarchists that
have been neighbors, family, child/young adulthood friends since
forever, and have grown up taking risks together and fundamentally
trust each other. Anarchists here tend to follow that very
(white)American tendency to seek greener pastures, even if none
truly exist, instead of rooting themselves in a place, a community of
people that can learn to trust each other over time. Trust comes
through experience, many good experiences with others leads one to
trust, while bad experiences leads to mistrust and ill will. How can
we expect to be effective at what we do if we have never even seen
the face of, or talked to, or acted before with the person standing
next to you at a march or action? Trust will only come with the
experience that time and commitment to each other, in this place,
can offer. Once we learn to trust each other, once we know each
other we will be dangerous.

* Networks and various organizations have been attempted in the
Midwest in the past, in most cases falling apart after a couple years.
How is it that anarchists can best support each other and work
cooperatively over the expanse that is the Midwest? The simplest
and best way that anarchists can support other anarchists from
different cities is to be an active committed anarchist in your local
area. With the website that was created we hope that it can facilitate
communication between our localities in order to give us a sense of
what is going on. The reality is that we all just can’t travel to and
fro every week, month, etc. we just can’t meet up, face to face,
that often or always make it out to each others demos, meetings,
gatherings, etc. Sometimes, however, we will be able to meet face to
face and these interactions will build up trust, friendship, and a wide
community over time. Usually after such interaction we lose touch,
but hopefully with the establishment of the mailing list and the
website: Midwest.azone.org, we will be able to build off of each
interaction, instead of letting it fall to oblivion.

The future of the Midwest is uncertain, but that’s not such a bad
thing. Let’s plant some anarchy seeds and stick around to watch
and help them grow!
copied from infoshop.org
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