Call me Tyler, (I’ve been reading Moby Dick too much lately)
Spring is just starting here in Washington. The birds are out, flowers are blooming and I can feel the Earth getting ready to jump out and say hello! The cycles of nature really amaze me. One day it can feel like winter will never end and then the next screams that spring is here!
For the past few months I’ve been working non-stop on building the infrastructure for a bunch of empowered youth to help facilitate community growth in Omaha, Nebraska. Unlike other organizing I’ve been involved in, this program – called Summer of Solutions – has not worn me out or stressed me to the point of breaking. On the contrary it has helped me fall in love with the people, places and things I am working with and for. Building sustainable forms of action (ways to be an activist with out burning or flaking out) seems far more important, in my humble opinion, than building sustainable communities, but if we can do both at the same time… wow!
I have had to fight burn out before, most recently while organizing at The Evergreen State College for Powershift. I put so much energy into raising money and recruiting students that by the time the conference rolled around I was left asking myself, was it worth it? It was of course, but now I’m ready to refocus my efforts on empowering local communities and creating real solutions. Working on the local level will mean that I won’t have to worry about who is president, what climate legislation is in front of congress, or the international negotiations at Copenhagen. (Don’t get me wrong, these are all important things, they are just not my cup of tea)
I have a natural affinity for working on a local level of course. My “activist life” started in an anarchist community in Omaha. I worked with a bunch of amazing people to try and create a community outside the capitalist system and that experience really set me on the right track coming out of high school. When I entered the “youth climate movement,” a few months after graduation, I was surprised to find that consensus based decision-making, cross issue organizing, and building non-hierarchical forms of power were not norms. Eventually I found out I wasn’t looking in the right places and got connected with a bunch of awesome students in St. Paul, Minnesota. They told me about their plans for a summer of decentralized solution based projects in various cities around the country and I quickly decided that this was something I needed to be involved in. Now, here I am!
I have seen single issue tactics fail to make concrete changes in real people’s lives while broken windows and flipped police cars tear apart communities, but just the thought of people coming together to address the root causes of climate change in their local communities makes me want to jump for joy.
I am SO excited for this summer and the awesome projects that are going to emerge from it, but I keep being reminded, this is just the beginning.
Like the natural cycles of spring, summer, fall and winter I feel like Summer of Solutions can create sustainable cycles of action and community building that will truly (r)evolutionize our society and how it relates to the earth.
This is just the beginning, of something amazing!
Ps. Thoughts? Shoot me an email and lets start a conversation! (firstname.lastname@example.org)