Friends, neighbors, strangers and comrades!
Strange and wonderful things are afoot in the good city of Seattle! Though we live in troubled and swiftly darkening times, the strength and courage and inspired energy we saw last Sunday gives us hope.
If you were unaware, on Sunday, December 4, the Seattle Neighborhood Action Coalition hosted its second public gathering — the Neighborhood Organizing Kickoff and Community Action Fair. Sunday’s event was a follow-up to the massively popular and well-attended (perhaps too well attended) Emergency Election Response Forum at Capitol Hill’s V2 art space, which spilled over into Vermillion Bar and Gallery, and a very wet, crowded and peculiarly rebellious corner of Cal Anderson Park. Sunday’s event included many of the 500+ repeat offenders, troublemakers, and indigent instigators from the original forum, as well as hundreds of fresh faces looking to get their hands dirty in the name of freedom, justice, and the American Way.
Volunteers began gathering at the International District Community Center around 2pm, and in an atmosphere of hectic excitement, confusion, and earnest resolution, they began transforming the modest community center into the birthplace of a revolutionary (though modest) resistance movement. The volunteers scribbled signs, posted posters, tabled tables and channeled chaos with the same efficiency and aplomb as they did at V2, and were ready to welcome all comers as doors opened by three o’clock.
As unsuspecting revolutionaries and freedom-fighters poured in, they were directed to the upstairs gymnasium, where they sorted themselves into groups defined by Seattle City Council districts. Some groups, such as the rambunctious residents of District 3 (Capitol Hill and the Central District) were so large they were able to split into at least three subgroups by neighborhood!
Each group was convened by one or more volunteer facilitators, many of whom were called in to help the people wrangle themselves into fighting formation at the last minute, with only a minimum of begging, pleading, cajoling, and promising of complimentary snacks.
Once the groups had more or less coalesced around a facilitator, community agreements*, and the loose semblance of agenda, they hit the ground running — sharing feelings and fears about the post-election world and transforming them into ideas for action in an activity dubbed “the Trump Dump.” Participants took the “shit” spewed by the president-elect and his rogues’ gallery of staff and supporters and “composted” it, turning negativity into suggestions – or fertilizer – for the “community garden” of potential avenues of direct action and resistance. The conversation was lively, the suggestions diverse and bold. The sarcasm, irony, and dejection were high, but so were passion, hope, and fierce resolve.
Followed by a brief presentation from the initial organizing committee, outlining the blueprint, motivation, and rebellious potential of Neighborhood Action Councils and giving a few initial suggestions for action**, the newborn NACs began diving into the down-and-dirty details of resistance, charting extensive and ambitious courses of action to begin taking in their communities, steered ably by their facilitators and note-takers. They cast votes to nominate their top three choices for action to take up upon their first independent meetings and nominated delegates to share these actions at their first Spokescouncil meeting, held in the downstairs dance studio.
At the Spokescouncil, the mood was high. Delegates presented constructive feedback and shared their neighborhoods’ three action items. I don’t think anyone was expecting the creativity and diversity of ideas that were shared here. Everything from fundraising, write-ins, outreach, and potluck parties to immigration support, community defense patrols, anti-gentrification and displacement campaigns, and bold direct action came from our short NAC meetings and were shared in the dynamic empty space in the middle of our meeting. The resistance is here. The resistance is now. We are well on our way.
We are the ones we have been waiting for. And we can’t wait any longer.
See you in the struggle, friends.
With love and rage,
P.S. Missed the meeting Sunday but want to get involved? Find out how to join your local Neighborhood Action Council here.
*Center voices of targeted groups; respect diversity of opinion, ideology, and tactics; don’t play the election blame game; use clear language; respect people’s gender pronouns; respect personal space.
**First, the call to action by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for supporters and accomplices to pressure Wells Fargo to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline, spearheaded in the Emerald City by CARW (the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites) and 350 Seattle. Secondly, the national call for a two-day general strike on January 20th and 21st in protest of the presidential inauguration of white supremacy (AKA You-Know-Who/He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named).