As we roll into our fourth year, Rebel! Rebuild! Rewild! keeps gaining momentum. Our collective, for which Earth First! was a primary inspiration, began with the aim of bringing a culture of revolutionary ecology to the territories we inhabit in so-called Ontario and Quebec.
Back in January 2016, we held a winter organizing convergence called “Vision 2020,” which brought together many of the most committed eco-anarchists in this neck of the woods. The name reflects our desire to articulate a revolutionary vision for a decolonized, post-petroleum world.
For us, it’s not enough to fight against what we oppose. We also need to be creating the communities that we wish to replace capitalism with. A tall order, to be sure, but to it seems more realistic than just smashing the state. Who would abandon the life that they know without a glimpse of a world beyond? To quote an anonymous anarchist author: “Who would smash the platform they’re standing on without a safety net to catch them?”
For sure, we’ve got to fight fiercely against the forces fucking up our home. We’d do well, though, to approach environmental struggles as moments of revolutionary potential; that is, as moments of opportunity. We can use these moments to share inspiration, to brainstorm, to offer visions, to disseminate seeds of resistance. Never underestimate the power of ideas. They’re the stuff revolutions are made of.
The number in the name Vision 2020 stands for the year 2020. We were asked: “Where do we want to be, as a movement, five years from now?” Together we brainstormed about multi-year strategies to advance the cause of revolutionary ecology. The idea was to start with a big vision and reverse-engineer it, breaking it down into things we can do now that will move us in the direction we want to go. We’re dreamers, but we’re pragmatic dreamers. Our ideal is to organize in such a way that everything we do makes more ambitious things possible.
This gathering helped us synchronize our goals. To us, the ultimate goal is the creation of autonomous zones able to survive and thrive independent of the state and fossil fuel economy. We imagine constellations of ecological communities, perhaps organized in bioregional federations, bound together by friendship, trade, and relationships rooted in mutual aid and solidarity.
One idea that was agreed-upon was that of the Mobile Resistance Unit (MRU). The idea’s simple: Get a trailer and fill it with a bunch of equipment that would be useful to a blockade, action camp, or front-line community. Since much of the work we do is in solidarity with indigenous communities, this idea grew naturally out of the desire to make ourselves as useful as possible.
Another result of Vision 2020 was the decision to start a land project in the Gatineau Hills in Algonquin Territory (north of Ottawa). We’d been invited by the owners of a 200-acre farm to move there and establish a community.
In the springtime, some of us did. We held a week-long permaculture camp in the spring of 2016. We planted large gardens and learned a lot. Since most of us grew up in cities, this gave us a taste of rural life and hands-on experience in skills we’ll need to learn in order to live our future autonomous lives.
I think everyone considers the third annual Rebel! Rebuild! Rewild! action camp a resounding success. There may have been less than 50 people, but the quality of the time that we spent together left nothing to be desired. We drew new people in, learned a lot, had fun, and shared food, ideas, inspiration, and joyful moments. There were some great workshops, but the reason I call it a success is that, because of R!R!R!, a strong network now exists that didn’t before. Also, we acquired a trailer and lots of gear for the MRU.
A core stayed on the farm through harvest season, and the land yielded us a bounty. All in all, it was a rewarding experience. For now, the land project is on hold. A general will still exists to create an intentional community, but for now, R!R!R! will be more focused on activism that challenges institutional power.
In November, we deployed the MRU for the first time. We’d received word that the Mohawks of Kahnawake had started a protest camp near the Mercier bridge, which they’d blocked several times. This is a major bridge onto the island of Montreal, and was blockaded by armed warriors during the Oka Crisis of 1990. The camp, called the People’s Fire, was started in solidarity with the water protectors fighting DAPL at Standing Rock.
The day that we rolled up to the sacred fire at Kahnawake was a glorious day. Once we introduced ourselves and showed the Mohawks what we had brought, we were received like allies (in the true sense of that word). Within the hour, we were constructing a heavy-duty army tent, which is still there to this day.
Various R!R!R! members continued to visit the People’s Fire, which served as a base for several 24-hour blockades of a major rail line, costing the rail company millions of dollars.
In late November, we began planning a mission to Standing Rock with Mohawks from the People’s Fire. We were able to raise enough funds to buy five army tents, which we brought to Standing Rock, where three were erected and two were donated. We also brought a bunch of other gear. Two of us were there until the bitter end and were arrested for resisting the eviction of Oceti Oyate.
What does the future hold for R!R!R!? Time will tell. Now’s an exciting time for us. The more we scheme, the more we dream, and the more we dream, the more we scheme. Things keep moving, and the seeds that we’ve planted seem to be growing. I guess it’s true: Resistance is fertile.
That said, we’re still loosely organized, and for most members, R!R!R! is a side project. So much more would be possible if more people were more deeply involved! For real, for real, we need help. Exact dates have yet to be announced for the fourth annual R!R!R! action camp, but it will be towards the end of June. The goal for the collective, however, isn’t just to organize an annual event, but to become a revolutionary outfit active 365 days a year (366 on leap years).
In the spirit of achieving this goal, we’re recruiting. Do you love nature and hate capitalism? Are you passionate, hard-working, smart, and brave? Do you want to make visionary activism the focus of your life? Do you have useful skills or like learning new skills? If your answer to all these questions is yes, please get in touch with us. Come hither, ye wildsome wyrdlings!
For Autonomy! For Sovereignty! For Survival!
REBEL! REBUILD! REWILD!
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