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.
Building to revolution
The point is to keep doing something until...there comes a point where everything shifts….all the things that people understand [come through struggle], not by some theoretical discussion, [but] by creating an action based on what it is people want and when you do that action, the action itself leads to awareness….Little by little, incrementally, those things shift and quite frankly that's what a revolution is. It's kind of like boiling water, you put the pot on and at one point it's 210, and then at 211 it gets real hot, and then at 212 it turns into steam, something totally different, that's a revolution.
Coming to terms with privilege
We need to know what we don't know. We need to know our privileges, our intellectual, social, economic privileges and how they actually intersect with other people. Not to feel guilty all day long not that…[w]hiny, guilty shit. We are unable to cross over because we don't know what we don't know. So we actually believe everybody in the world lives like we do, we actually believe that nobody goes to church, we actually believe that nobody lives in the suburbs, we believe all of that. I don't know how we've come to believe these ridiculous untruthful things but we've come to believe them.
I think that your generation is starting ahead of where my generation started and that brings me some hope. Now I think there are a bunch of things that I think you guys are doing that is totally as stupid as we did but there are things that I think you are thinking about, and concerned about, and critical about, and open about that was not reflected in the left wing movements of the sixties and seventies….there were many things we couldn't have known. But I think this generation of activists has a body of knowledge based on the trajectory of things that have happened in the last thirty, forty years that you are actually more humble about.
Outrage, movements, and institutionalization
Protests, they get a lot of attention, but unless you have millions of people it's not going to amount to anything and one of the things governments have learned is that volunteers wear out eventually. You can't sustain a white-hot movement indefinitely without becoming an institution. So as soon as that happens you've lost the white-hot outrage that got you started….In order to have the kind of impact [you] want, [you] have to become something different then [you]...started out to be.
One of the things we do a really bad job of is fostering a sense of hope. I know that's kind of cheesy but people come to radical politics because they think it's going to do something and be a legitimate option and we don't make it that. We make it seem like a club, we make it seem like something that people of only a certain ilk can engage in….It should be a part of everyone's day to day experience.
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.
Leadership not dictatorship
Things can happen awful fast sometimes...and [when it does happen] I think that the Left needs to...be...there to try and pick up the pieces and give it some coordination and leadership. Because I do believe in leadership, I just don't believe in the form of leadership that dictates to everybody what should happen. We've never really had a democracy.
The necessity of decolonization
...I think Canada is a colonial state and the question is to what extent will First Nations ever have self-determination as long as Canada is a settler state? I guess never maybe….So does that mean I overthrow Canada?...I think we need to decolonize, I think we need to think through how we're colonizing by being here and...actively confronting that...in the same way when you’re part of a system of oppression. For example, gentrification, if you live in a low income neighbourhood because that's the only place you can afford but you recognize the fact that you’re also forcing people out who are on a...lower income, a different bracket of class...or of color, how do you oppose it? I don't know, burn down the condo?
Building autonomous networks
The state is using...these new innovations and technology to encroach upon us and I believe the potential of technology to undermine that and to pose real threats to state and capital are quite acute and I'm interested in building anti-surveillance and anonymity structures online. Housing the technology so that it's not dependent on the structures [that seek to]...capitalize...on those communications technologies....How can we build networks and systems that are completely autonomous that don't rely on those things? But...I'm also constantly questioning these sorts of pursuits...in relation to...climate chaos and the end of energy and so [also] thinking about how technology has a horizon.
Hope and fear for the future
I draw a lot of my inspiration, especially when it comes to environmental activism, from the compassion that I have for the planet, from the emotional connection that I've built to the earth through many excursions, and wilderness trips, and exploring in nature, and the huge amount of appreciation I have for the world around me. So yeah, compassion, that is where I draw a lot of my inspiration from and also a little bit of fear and anger as well....Fear for the future. If nobody does anything then what is our future going to look like?