Earth First! has welcomed people taking direct action on social and environmental justice for thirty years. We continue to work hard at making our gatherings places where people can work equally and without hierarchy. The athering welcomes people with different ideas, experiences, backgrounds, abilities and identities.
We ask everyone coming to the athering to read our anti-oppression statement and join with us in working against oppression in all activist spaces. We ask too that we listen to each other and show respect – even when we disagree!
About the anti-oppression statement
Many organisations and spaces rightfully try to make themselves more welcoming through a ‘safer spaces’ policy. We have, over time, decided that these can create a false sense of security and can encourage a culture of self-policing. People tacitly agree to these ‘policies’ whilst not actually undertaking the work needed make changes to social relations. Our anti-oppression statement is a call for all of us to consider and transform our behaviours, both on the front lines of our struggles and in our everyday lives.
Capitalism is not a safe space and many of us carry grief, rage and trauma from living in a capitalist, racist, sexist society and from our experiences as activists. We believe we can develop and nurture meaningful solidarity between ourselves and others, wherever we are, to create braver spaces.
This anti-oppression statement is not intended as a definitive policy to be adopted by Earth First! or any other group, but merely as an access point into an ongoing conversation that we invite everyone to engage in.
Eco-anarchy in action
As an eco-anarchist group, we understand that how we relate to one another informs the way we relate to our e. Likewise, our environment also affects how we relate to one another. We understand that it is vital to transform social relations so that we no longer behave in ways that are oppressive to ourselves, other species and to the planet.
We invite every participant in the EF! gathering to engage in this process of transforming social relations. We see this as part of an ongoing struggle of total liberation – for ourselves, for others and the planet. Rather than leaving it as a moment in a field, it is something that we should take back and develop in our communities and personal lives.
We have all grown up and been socially conditioned in a patriarchal, racist and capitalist world. ‘Unlearning our shit’ is part of creating the better world we know is possible – we all need to take responsibility for it and free ourselves from the conditioning that late-capitalism imposes on us.
Challenging Oppressive Behaviour
It is useful to list some forms of oppression so that we can all take responsibility for confronting them. They include: racism, sexism, colonialism, orientalism, speciesism, transphobia, homophobia, biphobia, femme phobia, ageism, ableism, classism, xenophobia, violent and abusive behaviour and bias that acts as an obstruction to a person being treated as an equal to others.
Oppressive behaviours do not exist in isolation, but intersect in complex ways and we can often be unaware that we are acting in oppressive ways. This can include dominating space, silencing other people, dismissing someone’s experiences or abusive behaviour.
We want to highlight a specific behaviour related gender identity that is sometimes accidentally enacted. At the gathering we ask people to respect other people’s choice of pronoun and gender-identity. We understand that deliberately and/or repeatedly mis-gendering someone is harmful and can be experienced as oppression. In meetings people might ask you what your pronoun is – this means if you want to be referred to as she/her they/them. Don’t assume someone’s pronoun or gender identity depending on how they look – ask first. We want the camp to be a welcoming space to people of a gender or none.
Acting against oppression is a collective process and we should try to do this as kindly as possible. ‘Calling in’ can be more powerful than ‘calling out’ and means asking people to show solidarity and speaking of the common ground you share. We ask people to try this before ‘calling out’. Remind people to act against oppression in the spirit of comradeship, rather than policing each other as this can be alienating and is often counter-productive.
Everybody makes mistakes and we are in still learning, so please be gentle with each other. Remember, solidarity is the weapon of the people!
Camping in a field and attending meetings/workshops can pose particular challenges for people who use wheelchairs, have other mobility needs or are hearing impaired. The gathering will include priority camping areas and level access toilets, but please let us know if there is more we can do to make the gathering work for your physical needs. Similarly if you have any other kinds of accessibility needs, related to mental health for example, then do let us know. We’ll do our best to provide information and to meet people’s needs, but as access is a practice, not a destination, we invite people to let us know about ways we can improve. The revolution must be accessible!
Undercover cops and/or informants are almost certainly present at the gathering and many people attending will be experiencing on-going emotional stress and trauma because of previous interactions with them.
If you suspect someone of being an undercover cop, please speak with the Undercover Research Group (undercoverresearch.net) or ellbeing roup for advice. Take this slowly and carefully – falsely accusing people or accusing someone because they are somehow different is damaging and divisive.
During the gathering, the ellbeing will work to hold and attempt to resolve difficult situations that may arise. The welcomes new members and works on a loose rota, meeting every day to discuss any issues that come up.
ellbeing may be able to help people navigate concerns that arise or triggers that happen during the gathering. They may also be able mediate and help shift tension between people.
The ellbeing and the EF! athering ollective are NOT authorities at the gathering and cannot resolve long-standing problems between people.
Everyone at the gathering is crew and everyone should take responsibility for the well-being of the gathering and everyone at it.