Two of the localized struggles that are learning the most from each other here at Localize This, are the Klamath River activists and Vashon Island activists. Both are spearheading campaigns around water purity in their communities. Mismanagement of dams on the Klamath River has caused toxic algae to form on the surface of the water, devastating the ecosystems in and around the river. A Fish Kill in 2002, which left an estimated 60-80,000 Salmon dead, led to strong slogans such as Kalmath Dams=Cultural Genocide.
Ruckus Society, who develops direct action skills primarily with economically and environmentally affected communities, works with the Klamath River activists to strategically plan actions and campaigns. Their multi-year struggle is full of lessons for the Vashon Island activists, who began their campaign against Glacier Northwest just this past year. In both the media training and the creative tactics training, the activists of these two communities shared their successes and failures and deconstructed their tactics, studying one-another cases for inspiration.
Vashon Island, unlike the tribal communities of the Kalmath, is a predominately white community of privilege. By allowing these demographically distinct groups to meet and strategize, Localize This creates opportunities for historical perspective and reflection. The waters the Vashon Islanders are trying to protect once belonged to native people. Canoes were used in direct actions to try to stop the displacement and robbing of their land, now kayaks are being used stop environmental damage. This adds heavy weight to issues of localization. Camp is a place to hold and honor such complexities, which ultimately matures us as activists.
At some point during camp I found myself spackling a 12-foot naked Lady Justice with a 5 year old. Here are some questions he asked me.
-Who is lady justice, anyway?
-Why does she have holes in her body?
-What is she used for?
-When can we play with her?
I’m soliciting answers, but pondering the significance of leaving them unanswered.
Lady Justice is one of Chris Lutter-Gardella’s amazing political puppets. Chris is a world-renowned puppet maker who taught an art and activism workshop at “Localize This.” His puppets can be seen at www.puppetfarm.org. Lady Justice will premier at the campaign kick-off event for “schools not jails” on July 22nd at City Hall in downtown Seattle.