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Continued personal outreach through tabling and flyering, electronic communication through The Inter-Org Contact List and the ESLP-Community Newsletter, and face-to-face contact at Wednesday General Gatherings and the bi-Quarterly SUA Inter-Org networking dinners all culminated in two major “shared practical actions” collaboratively organized by the ESLP Collaboration Network and our allies. The first collaboratively planned event was in line with the ESLP’s partnership with the American Indian Resource Center (AIRC) and the Student Alliance of North American Indians (SANAI) of UCSC. As main organizer of the Collaboration Network, myself and ESLP Core organizer Leah Walsh met weekly with Dennis Tibbett of AIRC and Irene Vasquez of SANAI to organize the “Gathering of the Orgs BBQ.” This collaboration-based event focused on eating great food (Don Williams’ famous BBQ) and bringing SUA and other student organizers together to discuss and join forces on a newly emerging theme of the U.C., Santa Cruz and greater activist community: bridging the issues of environmental destruction, environmental racism and restorative justice for people of color, most notably those in the deteriorating inner city and on environmentally degraded Native American reservations. The framework of this event was open and flexible; there were tables available for any organization to share their campaign, including representation from community re-building projects among Native American groups based in Montana and elsewhere. Each group that was represented on this May 16, 2006 event was given time to introduce their organization and table, present their groups’ project, and invite participation and/or alliance with other organizational contacts present at the event. Don Williams, master BBQer but also founder of the multi-culturally based Rainbow Theater at UCSC, spoke to the beauty he saw in this type of collaboration where multiple perspectives come together over a specific socio-environmental conundrum, with the purpose of connecting and learning from our diverse backgrounds and experience. With guidance from Professor Childs and ESLP guest speaker Evon Peter of Native Movement working with Southwestern Navajo communities , the May 16 “Gathering of the Orgs BBQ” provided an example of “open agenda” organizing that would frame the second ESLP “shared practical action” among organizers, Action Research Team students, and representatives from outside organizations that came to share their projects, knowledge, and potential for future alliances with all participating organizers at the June 11 ESLP- Community “Sun and Food Festival.”

The idea of an “open agenda” event is very important for transcommunal organizing. As the Socially Sustainable Communities and Coalition Building Action Research Team, we based our event, the ESLP-Community “Sun and Food Festival,” in the central park of Santa Cruz to be accessible to as many students and community members as possible. We used many of the tools developed by the Collaboration Network to contact and outreach to the students, campus and community organizers, and anybody with constructive knowledge to share, to design and facilitate a workshop open to all at the event, with three separate break-out times so people could visit multiple workshops and learn from multiple bases of knowledge. Hence, in the Newsletter, through specific e-mail invites, and flyers posted throughout campus and in town, we invited impassioned people to share their passions, meet new people doing interesting and important work, and create connections that would potentially lead to further involvement, collaborative projects, and flexible alliances among environmentally, socially, and/or educationally oriented community organizers. Besides our ART’s two workshops on transcommunality and nonviolent communication, participants could choose from a workshop on permaculture, spoken word poetry, local tactics to challenge nuclear proliferation, and other topics completely dependent on what was offered by the participants. Professor Childs volunteered to introduce the event, speaking to the importance of challenging top-down style organizing and coalition building, as was his experience with SNCC and other Civil Rights era organizations, and creating alliances based on respect and cooperation as he saw was happening at “open-agenda” conferences and events like ours. Concluding his talk by expressing hope in the types of collaboration that our Action Research Team initiated through our community event and the year-long tactics of the Collaboration Network, Childs raised his hand and exclaimed, “Right on to social justice for the next 20 years!” It is to this end that social justice organizers must create collaboration networks among environmentally- and educationally-rooted organizers seeking justice, and vice versa to create a broad circular paradigm of coalition politics and transcommunal networking.

“Right on to [Collaboration] for the Next 20 Years!”: The Future Work to Be Done
The next twenty years will certainly see many radical changes, with a new generation rising to power and falling into rank and file, drastic environmental changes engulfing entire populations, global economies growing side by side with global poverty rates, and ever richer and diverse forms of resistance emerging from university, nonprofit and community organizations. Over the bridges I’ve walked in my local networking efforts at U.C., Santa Cruz and the greater community, I’ve listened and learned from organizers who all feel the need to make their communities a better place, but who are in conflict with others about how to do so. The dominant linear mode of thought that directs their focus inward from one angle shields the multiple angles of approach that surround them, as well as the potential for alliance on various shared practical actions with these “other” approaches that would not only strengthen their movement but give them the shared knowledge and tools to diversify their tactics, their relationships, and eventually their communities. Such transformations on local levels, multiplied exponentially as the networks expand, are the building blocks for transformations in global politics and global community that will build a society ‘from below’ based on respect and cooperation. Where we are today, in a global political economy driven by ‘market forces’ and special interest groups who buy power, and founded on fundamentally One-Dimensional6 and white privileged ideologies that persist in our global social systems today, presents many obstacles to transcommunal organizing. This is even more reason, however, for our various resistance movements to form alliances with multiply rooted causes for justice and reparation across the globe, riding atop a growing rip curl of collaborative synergy that defines a new world as it drowns out the flames of global economic domination that are destroying cultures and their environments simultaneously in a routine of profit and power.

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