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Ride Board for Earth First! Rendezvous Up & Running

There is now a ride board up and running for the National Earth First! Rendezvous, which is just 1.5 hours from Portland at Mt. Hood National Forest. Please use it!
Check out www.earthfirst2005.org to view the ride board and get more information on the Rendezvous
Why come to the Rendezvous? 30.Jun.2005 11:02

ef

So! Earth First! is having a rendezvous. But help me remember... who are you?
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Earth First! formed in 1979-1980, in response to an increasingly corporate, compromising and ineffective environmental community. Earth First! is not an organization, but a movement, a mentality, a shared affinity, and a broad network of like-minded individuals. There are no "members" of EF!, only Earth First!ers. What holds us all together it is a belief that the health of ecosystems and the lives of wild things are just as important as the health and lives of humans. Earth First! events, like this Rendezvous, draw together people who share this believe.

We believe in using all of the tools in the toolbox, from grassroots and legal organizing to civil disobedience and monkeywrenching. When the laws won't fix the problem, we put our bodies on the line to stop the destruction. Earth First!'s direct action approach draws attention to the crises facing the natural world, and it saves lives. Guided by a philosophy of deep ecology, Earth First! does not accept a human-centered worldview of "nature for people's sake." Instead, we believe that life exists sake, that industrial civilization and its philosophy are anti-Earth, anti-women and anti-liberty. Our structure is non-hierarchical, and we reject highly paid professional staff and formal leadership (which may not have heard of us -- there's no public relations department).

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Now I remember! You're those eco-terrorists I heard about on TV!
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Well, there's no question that Earth first is known for unorthodox activities. We climb up trees, build treehouses, and don't come down until the forest is saved. We put up 40 foot tall tripods in the middle of roads to block bulldozers, and if that doesn't work we just might U-lock our necks to their steering wheels. But for the most part we're just eccentric, nature loving, free-spirited folks. Sometimes unjust, insane laws are worth breaking to stop the rampant destruction of the Earth, but we do not harm people or damage people's property. Who are the real eco-terrorists: the people butchering the planet and getting rich in the process, or those trying to stop the madness?

You can read a lot more about Earth First! in the Earth First! Journal and on their website.

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OK, so you're not going to burn my house down. But didn't Earth First! die out in the 80's, you don't hear much about them these days...
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Folks don't like labels much these days, so many Earth First!ish people don't call themselves Earth First!ers. In some places there are Earth First! groups, in others (like here in Cascadia) we are a movement that ties together a wide array of efforts. Regardless of name games, the spirit of putting ecosystems and the Earth first is alive and well, inspiring activism and actions of all sorts everyday, from efforts to save the last wild buffalo to the building of community gardens.

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But why Earth "first" when there are so many problems?
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The planetary environmental crisis necessitates immediate action. We - this generation of humans - are at our most important juncture since we came out of the trees six million years ago. It is our decision, ours today, whether Earth continues to be a living planet, or if only rats and cockroaches will survive.

Never before - not even in prehistoric times - has there been such an intense period of extinction as we are now witnessing. Many biologists believe that vertebrate evolution may be drawing to a close due to the activities of humans. Humans are having fundamental, systemic effects upon the entire life-support system of the planet - upsetting the world's climate, poisoning the oceans, destroying the ozone layer which protects us from excessive ultraviolet radiation, changing the CO2 ratio in the atmosphere, and spreading acid rain, radioactive fallout, pesticides and industrial contamination. We're trying to save life itself, the continuous flow of evolution.

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So Earth 1st, people 2nd?
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Earth First!ers believe oppression of humans and oppression of the Earth come from the same source: a basic disrespect for life. So much of our society's values and way of life is based upon separating humans from nature and pillaging the natural world for resources; Earth First!ers are the people that are focused on fundamentally altering this worldview. Simultaneously, many of us are striving to work together in a way that moves past the hierarchy, gender roles, and other societal expectations that keep us from living in greater harmony with ourselves and nature - most of us are not just in it for the trees. While focusing on defending the planet, Earth First!ers have not just supported, but have spearheaded efforts in their communities to stop racism, male dominance, corporate globalization, and oppression of indigenous people.

In the southeastern US Katuah Earth First! leads protests against the KKK and to protect communities downstream from landslides caused by coal mining operations. In many places Earth First! activism is defined by work with indigenous activists. Here in Cascadia, Earth First!ers have been at the forefront of efforts to combat patriarchy and male dominance, with all womyn tree-sit villages, road blockades, and skill shares. We've organized in conjunction with steelworkers and dockworkers, provided tactical guidance for the civil disobedience and protests that helped shut down the World Trade Organization meeting in 1999, and locked our bodies to gas pumps in protest of the oil empire. Earth First!ers continue to expand their focus on the points at which human oppression and Earth destruction meet.

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Alright, so you're won't eat my children for population control. But your lives sound pretty depressing; do you have fun ever?
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True, these are dark days: Bush and Co.'s power is built on fear and depression, whether it's fear of terrorists or fear of government repression. No doubt, the bastards would love to see us deported or in jail. But the ringing of resistance can shatter the glass walls of fear. In the meantime, we're putting the revel in rebel: we're as likely to be found camping in the forest and singing around the campfire as attending meetings, holding protest signs, and planning creative acts of resistance.

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OK, so if I join you all, how long will I have to go to jail for? Or will I end up in straightjacket instead?
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Although you won't hear about it on TV, behind the wacky antics to bring attention to the environmental crisis are countless hours of grassroots education and organizing. So there's lots of other work to do besides going to jail. Many of us work 9-5 for the man, doing this stuff with our free time. Despite a rumors to the contrary, we're actually only slightly crazier than average - at least until you get to know us.

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So besides at the Rendezvous how do I get involved? Just look for bands of people "dancing in the forest"?
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Cascadia RiSiNG! EcoDefence (www.cascadiarising.org) exists to help plug folks in to the radical forest activist movement. Get in touch with them!