The following represent a random sampling of voices from those activists and organizers who participated in our research project. To see more, refresh this page. Use the tag cloud to the right to navigate by theme.
So our strategies are influenced by the [institutional] foothold we have and us wanting to hang onto that. And the strategies of this other [radical] group that might be coming up are in reaction to their perception of us failing at [being radical enough,] so they're going to do it. So their strategies and tactics are going to be different and I think in order for [social change to happen] they both need to be in place.
Airing our differences
...polemicizing can be a danger and people don't talk, or groups don't talk, to each other. I agree that to some extent it's not helpful. To some extent it is. To give people a chance to really explicate the intricacies of what they model for a better society, I mean to some extent that's good. Let's hear that.
Imagining the future together
I'm sitting on this side of the river saying ‘I'm happy to cross over with you,’ I don't know what the bridge looks like, but I think we have to sustain this bank of the river so that it doesn't collapse on our way to that one. Because I do not have sufficient radical imagination to know how we're going to get from here to what I imagine for the future, I don't have that. I don't think that gives me an excuse not to keep on keeping on because I think the struggle against slavery in the United States took four hundred years. I've been working for about forty and not consistently….I'm saddened that I don't have the imagination to understand [how] we're going to get from a and b but I think we need to discuss how we're going to get from a to b together because there are smarter people than me.
It's easy to be angry, and rant, and say the things that you don't agree with but when [do] you take the next step of, okay, how can we build something new? How can we build something better? How can we go forward? That's when the imagination is the most important because the imagination, it allows you to maybe think of something in a way that you've never thought of before.
Confronting structures of domination
Organizing can be a space where actions can come out and thinking can be engaged...goal setting, and thinking, and...active critical analysis can happen because we don't live in a vacuum….[I’m interested in] the ability to translate...thoughts into the world we want to see…[through] the actions that we engage in, especially when they're explicitly aimed at challenging and confronting white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, other structures of domination.
Putting people and revolution in front
I don't believe in models...but there are examples and when one stands up and fights for principle, when one puts a revolutionary interest, when one puts the interests of the people in the forefront you can accomplish...tremendous...things. What Cuba is about is not a question of whether Cuba is better or worse than any other country, the question is that Cubans are asserting their right of self-determination and sovereignty to solve their own problems themselves. The same thing with the Venezuelans, the Bolivians, what's going in Ecuador, what's going on in a number of other countries. So they are an example that when you struggle, you can achieve certain things - that it's not futile to struggle, and that one can put the interests, revolutionary interests and the interests of the people in the forefront.
Equity across time and space
Equity is a really challenging thing, when you're dealing with equity...on a geographic scale. I'm drinking a coffee, obviously someone had to like pick the beans, and it is a fair trade coffee so I have that sense that I've purchased a product and I'm able to see the connection, at least tangentially understand, that there's ways and means to creating more equitable distributions, but again that's...just relying on some of the functions and features of capitalism to solve problems that are fundamentally being precipitated by [it]. And then equity across generations is an even more difficult thing, especially when you're talking about climate change because...the decisions we're making now are going to have an effect on our grandkids.
Values in action
We're not as good at making our messages attractive….People like to talk about their values and people make their political decisions, whether it's voting or...what they're engaged in, what they choose to support, and they do that based on values. They don't do that based on solid analysis for the most part….we've come to a point in human history, I guess, in our civilization, where it's not about solidly analyzing everything unless it has to do with you personally, unless it's like your RRSPs, then you do it, but in terms of your politics people vote their values.
Organizing and alternatives
If the goal is equality, for example, then you have to organize society in such a way that you're going to get that equality and you have to organize the economy in such a way that gives you that equality. That means that the very ethos of this economy has to be overcome, has to be destroyed because as long as the economy is running on the basis of profit, and accumulation of wealth, and growth we can never achieve equality because it's the antithesis of the system. On a political level we have to have a decentralization of power. I don't agree that we can achieve it through...spontaneous uprisings all over the place, I don't think that's going to get us anywhere. We need to see centralized organizations as facilitating the grassroots movements rather than dominating the grassroots movements.
Social and personal change
...I...realized that while I could identify what was wrong...with certain actions that promoted hate against other individuals, I didn't see how I was part of that system….It was the first time that I realized that it wasn't just about me fighting other people, it was also about me changing myself.