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(en) US, Report from the Florida Anarchist Organising workshop at the 2007 South Florida Radical Activist Conference in Miami.

Date Mon, 09 Apr 2007 15:18:28 +0300

The workshop was originally billed as “Southeast Anarchist Organizing”, but since virtually all of the 30+ people that attended were from Florida, talk mostly focused on organizing activities within this state. There were people attending from many different towns and cities in Florida (Orlando,Gainesville, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Miami, Lake Worth, Ft. Lauderdale) who participated in a lively discussion of anarchist organization in Florida and in the Southeast, either conceived by folks as an informal network of collectives, friendships and personal relationships that for the most part already exists but can be expanded, and one that largely helped to coordinate the conference, or through reviving attempts at more formal organization, in the style of anarchist networks like the Southeast Anarchist Network (SEANET) and Florida Radical Activist Network (FRAN) that existed years ago.

Both SEANET and FRAN, the latter consisting of a slightly older generation of anarchists, organized several gatherings in different cities throughout the Southeast and Florida respectively during their time, and shared and coordinated projects and groups such as Food Not Bombs collectives, independent media, Anarchist Black Cross chapters, infoshops and radical cultural centers such as Civic Media Center (Gainesville), Stone Soup Collective (Orlando, defunct) and Center Of Radical Empowerment (St. Petersburg, defunct), anarchist contingents at demonstrations and events, collective writing projects, etc. but ended up petering out over the years.

We shared ideas on why attempts at organization (beyond the local collective or affinity group) such as these have so often fallen apart in the past, and brainstormed ways to remain fresh and relevant, and how best to coordinate all our efforts so as to be more effective, without replicating some of the problems that contributed to the demise of these other organizations.

Some critiques of the workshop and of SFRAC The South Florida Radical Activist Conference was definitely an anti-authoritarian gathering, with a sprinkling of a few progressives here and there. I must admit that I was quite surprised (and glad) to see the staples of South Florida’s radical leftist milieu noticeably absent from the conference. There were no references made to Castro and Chavez (except in a disparaging manner during personal conversations) throughout the conference, and not a single Che t-shirt worn or sold! Yet despite successfully keeping away the blood-sucking parasites of the authoritarian left, we also managed to keep away most people outside of our insulated communities. This, unfortunately, has too often been the case for most anti-authoritarian/anarchist gatherings that I have been to, and the SFRAC was no different.

While there are many things about the conference to applaud and celebrate, the issue of racial and ethnic diversity was sadly not one of them. The conference had a wide array of presenters with some very pressing topics. This aspect of the event was relatively well executed. The skill based workshops, though interesting and useful as they were, tended to largely reflect individual and personal interest. Perhaps other skill shares on organizing, group dynamics, and anti-oppression might have been more challenging and necessary. The importance of such skills becomes painfully obvious when we look at the composition of the event.

The attendees where mostly young, white, and overwhelmingly appeared to be from the anarchist/punk subculture. The event was hosted in Miami, a city well known, amongst other things, for its racial and ethnic diversity, but most of the people at the conference were white, and not from Miami. How do we step away from our comfort zones? I hope we are not expecting people to simply adapt to ours! These are just some important questions for us to think about as we further engage in anti-authoritarian organizing.

Another issue that remains unclear about the entire event was its purpose, besides informing people on the different struggles being waged in South Florida. I think the conversation of the formation of a South Eastern Anarchist Federation hinted to what might have been one of the greater purposes of this conference, but unfortunately, that conversation failed to produce any concrete goals besides starting another blog or listserve. There was little participation in the dialogue, mostly the same 4 or 5 guys (I was one of them) bringing up points. When the conversation turned towards anarchist or anti-authoritarian organizing, a subject which most people in the room should have had an opinion or experience with, the participation still remained low.

Why were so few people turned onto the conversation, or willing to discuss these matters of anarchist organizing more conceptually? Is this a skill that many anarchists lack? Putting together a Food Not Bombs with 5 of your friends, or kids from the local punk scene, is not the same as organizing with people you may not have such close and personal relationships to. I feel that people should be mentally challenged at these events, pushed to think critically about their ideas and positions.

There should be more participatory workshops that require people to think deeply about why and how we can construct a different world along anti-authoritarian values. More skill-based workshops that expand our conceptual knowledge of the world so that we can be equipped to produce our own analyses and visions, or expand on ones we support. More discussion on organizing for different purposes such as forming a collective or joining a coalition. These are the challenges I foresee for the next South Florida Radical Activist Conference, all of which I believe, with us stepping outside of our comfort zone, can be achieved.
From the The February 2007 Newsletter of the Capital Terminus Collective. Download the PDF file from http://nefac.net/~ctc/pdf/AA5.pdf or read the articles online at http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=5326

*this article has been edited for space if you’d like the full report please email us at atlanta_anarchist@yahoo.com
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