Midwest Rising! Convergence kicks off in St. Louis

This weekend, folks are coming together in St. Louis to create a community with the power to break the social barriers of a society dictated by corporate greed.

 

It’s time we come together and build the movement that moved forward together.

Back in April, 1000 people took over the Department of the Interior during Powershift to protest Earth-devastating energy extraction while 8 people committed acts of civil disobedience at the Wells Fargo Shareholders Meeting in San Francisco to protest banks gone wild. In May, over 800 people in New York faced policemen, police dogs, and mace as they sent a message to the JP Morgan Chase shareholders. In June, 1000 people marched over 5 days to Blair Mountain in West Virginia to demand an end to mountain top removal and the coal industry’s assault on the Appalachians and their mountains. People around the country are coming together to fight foreclosures and
evictions, dirty energy projects, and corporate agendas that put profit before people and the planet.

 

St. Louis, Missouri, home to the headquarters of Monsanto and Peabody and Arch Coal, is hosting a unique combination of community based organizations, low-income community members, environmental justice organizations, and climate activists. We are working together to combine non-violent direct action with an opportunity to take a step back and do some collaborative training and visioning of a world we
want to live in.

 

The Objectives: It is important to realize that this convergence occupies a space that many people on the left identify the need for, but are unsure of how to approach. We identify our key objectives, why they are important, and how we seek to actualize them:

 

1. Creating a space that brings together different forces on the left: Economic justice and environmental movements have been separated from each other historically although both movements have common enemies. Because environmental movements have traditionally been disproportionately represented by white activists with class privilege, they have often failed to draw significant attention to the obvious connection between wide-scale exploitation of and disregard for natural resources and the exploitation and oppression of people.

In order to begin to address privilege and oppression within our movements we will prioritize the voices and experiences of people of color and low-income people.

 

2. Developing a shared analysis of the moment and vision: Corporate interests and the right-wing agenda are on the attack and to imagine a movement powerful enough to reckon with these forces we must move beyond single-issue campaigns that are too easily framed as “special interests” and find a common ground that allows us isolate and call out corporate interests and develop a shared vision for a different world. Understanding the intersectionalities of our struggles allows us to build a more unified movement. We will both draw upon the knowledge of movement leaders and create together collective visions.

 

3. Grassroots organizing and base building training: Grassroots organizing and outreach are necessary for growing our movement and getting to the scale. We will engage in grassroots organizing trainings on 1-1s and door-knocking. In order to ground these trainings in work that is real, we will direct participants to plan

out the 1-1s that will carry their group’s work forward and partner with a local community group to door-knock in targeted communities with a message that moves that group’s work forward.

 

4. Increased urgency and engagement in direct action: Non-violent direct action raises the level of urgency publicly and sows the seeds for the level of resistance it is going to take to see a movement take root, while directly challenging powers that be. We

will conduct intensive trainings in direct action and root these in the actions we take together. MORE has organized non-violent direct actions in St. Louis that targets big banks for more than a year, creating the public outrage that has led locally to dozens of individual homes being saved, increased willingness of banks to work with service agencies, and the drafting of local policy that would force hold banks to higher standard. Actions will advance this campaign and lay groundwork for local participation in national days of resistance planned for fall. Climate Action, a local group, and national groups like Rising Tide have been targeting coal companies for their role in climate change. Locally direct actions have focused

on Peabody Coal. Headquartered in St. Louis, it is the world’s largest coal company. Locally we have been successful in pushing for $10 million in tax breaks to Peabody to be taken back, and see the possibility for actions that would further our local work and national

campaigns against coal.

 

 

 

Why St. Louis?

 

St. Louis is centrally located and has a sponsoring committee made up of a wide range of community, labor and environmental activists. St. Louis is also the headquarters of Peabody Coal, Arch Coal, and Monsanto. St. Louis has hosted a wide array of anti-bank actions as

well, including six people being arrested at Bank of America in December, and is home to Wells Fargo Advisors, the non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo that employs 20,000 people nationally.

 

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