Nature Needs You

Exercise your civic muscles


What: Skagit Activists Training

When: 11 am Sun., Apr. 9

Where: Burlington Community Center, 1011 Greenleaf Ave.

Cost: Free, donations accepted

Info: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sometimes getting out means standing up.

Outdoor recreation is an economic powerhouse in the United States, each year generating $646 billion in consumer spending and 6.1 million direct jobs, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.

In Washington, recreation generates $22.5 billion in revenue, with at least 63 percent of the state’s population enjoying the great outdoors.

And yet it is all under assault, from cuts to environmental protection to the elimination of protections for threatened species to dramatic cuts to our national parks and conversion of those lands to mining and extraction.

The folks who hike in the high mountains or comb the lonely beaches are often shy types who avoid crowds and meetings. But our natural heritage demands that people of strength and character step forward.

Learn to exercise your civic muscles through activist training.

Activist training can help prepare participants psychologically for the struggle, and to develop the morale and solidarity for more effective action. Training can help deepen your understanding of the issues, and build skills for applying nonviolent action in situations of threat and turbulence. Even if you don’t know where to begin on these issues, others do. And they can use your help.

“In the first few months of 2017, participation in protests, community events, and turnout at town halls and other public policy activities has been higher than I have ever seen it in more than a decade of organizing environmental campaigns in Northwest Washington,” notes Alex Ramel, field director for Stand.earth.

Stand.earth (formerly ForestEthics) was founded nearly 20 years ago by a group of dedicated people who were working day in and day out to solve a big problem: What do you do when the health and foundation of communities and their environment are being undermined?

They’ve joined with local groups like Indivisible, Anacortes Action, and the Riveters Collective to organize hundreds of volunteers at regular meetings with hundreds more engaging online.

“Longstanding organizations are seeing a resurgence of energy and interest,” Ramel said. “The participation in the Women’s Marches in January, as amazing as it was, was only the tip of the iceberg. People are fired up and looking to get engaged.”

The goal is to build alliances across a multitude of interests, and create a sort of activism that can help build support or endurance to stay in the fight.

“It’s in that context that a group of organizations including Stand.earth, Stand Up to Oil, the Sierra Club, and the Na’ah Illahee Fund have come together to offer an in-depth activist training for people in Skagit County,” Ramel said. “Our goal is to help knit together these different efforts with common language, tools and networks in Skagit County.”

About 70 people gathered for six hours on Sun. April 2 to develop skills in everything from meeting facilitation to creating powerful narratives to acting in solidarity with communities impacted by social or environmental injustices. A second course will be offered this weekend. There will be new content for those who attended the first meeting, but also with a catchup session for those just joining in.

There is still room for more.

It’s no longer enough to simply vote and head for the hills. Nature needs you. Heed her call.

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