Over and out – farewell to 12 years movement building, mischief & too many meetings

Finally we are out of here, what a ride it has been – and all thanks to you, all of our wonderful supporters and co-conspirators. We think we can proudly say we were ahead of our time. As we looked ahead in 2011 to the inevitable rise of fascism, likely attacks on the right to protest, the climate wars, continued social and racial injustice, and an increasingly conservative politic regardless of team colours, it seemed natural that more groups, and communities would want and need to get involved with civil resistance.

Sadly the need for training and movement infrastructure we provided rarely translated to resourcing or institutional support, beyond our own limited networks. This meant the struggle to grow the organisation was limited when the very nature of reactive direct action and civil disobedience made it difficult to prioritise the important but not urgent administration and fundraising. So we failed. Sadly. With multiple health problems among the team and no sustainable funding for nearly 12 years we hung on as long as we could with the best intended succession plans failing to come to fruition.

Our big thanks and love to volunteer Eloise, who brought us style, talent and mad video skills

We are really proud though, to have finished the first section of a complete overhaul of the website, with a bunch of fresh case studies, resource collections – and after a solid break, another big chunk of writing will come – after mid year. We’ve learned so much and there is more we want to share, and will provide some more advanced resources for trainers and experienced activists, as well as brand newbies.

Please check our two last posts on issues important to us – on Covid and especially, critically, Palestine – our work to write this thorough overview up is one of the reasons for delayed sign off. Its hard to step away, and harder still when we are watching live genocide on our phones. Have a look through the site – among other resources and collections of great links we have updated legal resources for activists in all states.

For now – a few things we know to be true

  • There is a place for everyone with good hearts in our movements – we all have skills applicable to different campaigns and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
  • Welcome people. You were new once. Its scary rocking up to your first action or meeting. Be the person you wish you’d met at the beginning. Cliques, misplaced moral righteousness, ego and lateral violence in activist communities do serious damage and we lose good people because of it.
  • People have been, and still are, ready for much more brave action and civil disobedience than most organisations and strategists believe. They are also inclined to be quite militant on issues they care about – don’t underestimate people. The only thing stopping us from greater impact is us.
Defenders of Beeliar wetlands face off against police protecting a fence
Beeliar defenders were happy to smash down fences, get arrested, mess with worksites and lock on. Pic: Simon Stevens
  • The resourced sector of the climate movement in particular, but other sectors as well, need to step up to protect protest. It is devastating to us that we are watching people we have trained and taken action with for more than a decade being jailed, harassed, deal with SLAPP suits, raided, and assaulted by police with very little support. We implore you to step up, and welcome the first role to be resourced in this country to Protect Protest at the Australian Democracy Network. It is great to know some aspects of our work will continue.
  • Our movements need to be thinking about creativity and intersectionality – impacted communities, voices often marginalised, Indigenous and First Nations peoples, disabled and other voices need to be front and centre – and we need to amplify and support their work, and build relationships of trust before expecting them to join what WE think is most important.
  • Movement infrastructure is critical to building powerful and effective work. There needs to be a lot more focus on cultural education, alliance building and networking, training and mentoring, building grassroots direct action groups such as street medics, marshalls, welfare and legal observer groups. The times ahead call for therapists, mental health support and radical practitioners who understand activism to step up and support.
  • Every action should be a learning experience. Buddy up. Teach new people the role that you are good at. Aim to make yourself superfluous. We never got that sorted, but damn we tried! And we look forward to seeing others take over parts of our role and do it better – with lots of good work already well underway.

We are more powerful than we are led to believe.

Collective action has achieved all that is good in this world, go find your people.

Find joy and fun, and build community. Even though we are wading our way through the death throes of late stage capitalism and watching empire crumble – the work is still worthwhile, if you are building.

We aren’t fans of bright-siding – truth is important, and we are heading for dark(er) times, as billionaire greed, and complacent humanity in the western world has fried and trashed our precious little blue dot in a way that is unforgivable for future generations and all the glorious critters we share this place with.

But you will find the best of humanity in the work of environmental, social, racial and climate justice activists – the fiercest brave-hearts that you could ever hope to fight alongside to at least limit damage, then face the storm with. And maybe we can encourage more billionaires to go live on Mars, or explore the deep ocean. Orca the rich!

There is a lot to say, and many things we have learned but that analysis and reflection will come later when we undergo the second batch of resource development after mid year 2024. There are too many people to say thank you to, but to all our financial supporters, including some incredibly generous friends, you made this work possible.

Massive respect to Paul Gilding and Peter Garrett for being brave when no one else would. If only we’d found you earlier. Huge thanks to the bestest christian do-gooders in the world at Pace E Bene who supported us with kindness and grace. And to all our volunteers and collaborators over the years – again too many to name but special shout out to Miranda, Iain M and Iain P, Eloise, Jess, Anne, Hayley, Lucy and Glenn – and for the challenging final stretch in particular the brilliant work of Simone, Jo, and the ever constant Rae. And for Jeska, as well as Jose and Martin at Melbourne Social Forum, and Max Fabre foundation, for seeing what we were trying to do from the start.

We tried. Brenda out xxx