Radical simply means ‘grasping things at the root.’ – Angela Davis
I have always been someone compelled by the promises of social change.
Not necessarily a belief that every step was taken as one of progress to a “utopic” world, but just that all the values we hold close to us tend to be things we had to struggle to get.
I am not inclined to talk of violent revolution nor non-violent singsong – especially given my position of ignorance and privilege – and so am only referring to actions that inspire me & one another to hold hope and courage.
Some of that looks like how I became a full-time writer the day I stopped trying to “grow up & get a job”.
And sometimes this looks like Finding Liberation through Reading Radical Fiction.
Along with my short career in law, as a vegan & dreamer, I have involved myself a great deal in what I call “community organizing” – from protests to blockades, conferences to marches.
Over time though I felt the need to shift up my focus, where I give my attention. this is due in no small part to how animal rights activism fails at intersectionality, but also just because life is change and so since I am alive, I change.
So far, that change has looked like ELK (a radical resource for species-inclusive liberation advocating transformative justice & anti-oppressive politics for humans, animals & the Earth) following suit by updating its mission and purpose.
Please see below for more information!
perhaps you have noticed, but maybe not… ELK has been quite inactive of late.
there are a few different reasons for this, one of which is the focus of this post.
so when ELK started nearly 5 YEARS ago, then known as ALO, we had a pretty simple goal: connecting communities.
specifically within ontario, kanada, we sought to coordinate the radical efforts of resistance to also include “animal rights”, and to simultaneously educate vegans about the absolute necessity of supporting other campaigns (even if not involving animal cruelty).
and yea, we had lots of success – which we defined as doing what we set out to do, doing it well the whole way through, and leaving lots of rage & love in our wake.
we hosted events with hundreds of like-minded spirits in so-called guelph, ontario, as well as shifted things online to make our content more accessible.
from there, we tried supporting the ongoing indigenous-led community efforts that were and STILL ARE fighting against line 9, pipelines generally, tar sands and intensive resource extraction as a one behemoth of colonial capitalism empire.
promoting grassroots community empowerment – so that people can help one another to transform social harm without relying on violent abusive relationships involving the police, prisons, the state and corporations – is something near & dear to ELK.
fast forward some, and ELK began investing more efforts into producing online resources (like this, this, this too, and this too) to help activists and defenders help themselves.
this shit is important because FREE skill-sharing and knowledge-libraries are core to keeping information accessible (for differently able’d and cash-poor peoples) and also ensuring content stays available for the long-term, as needed to sustain any movement.
all in all, for a completely self-funded collective of volunteers, we did lots to be proud of.
but of late, we have been struck by mixed feelings: doubt, frustration, confusion and anger. and seriously, why not?
there’s plenty of tragedies at play in the world today, both abroad and very close to home (wherever that is) – enough to either overwhelm you or numb you to all the pain and suffering happening.
honestly said, it is easy to feel hopeless.
the rise of trump, a common example, is a glaring face for white supremacy.
but is also nothing new (well, it should not be to anyone taking notes), because amerikkka has always been about white supremacy, patriarchy, colonial-capitalism, media propaganda, hate and other-ing those we fear & exploit.
the more the system changes, the more it stays the same.
so it has come to a point now for ELK to be reborn, again, with a clearer focus and with the explicit intention of reclaiming what we all deserve: hope.
and not the slimy “hope” of u.s. campaign politiks.
no, more like that indescribable essence, borne of finding inspiration in me, in others, in our natural environments; finding clarity in who we are, who we were, and who we might become; finding contentment in all our failings, mistakes, and wrongs suffered; and finally, finding courage to die and start over, to destroy what we know, abandon what we have for so long relied upon and attached ourselves to, and trek out into the strange abyss of the unknown, facing uncertainty and chaos with integrity and acceptance.
“what does this mean for ELK?”
to tell you exactly what this looks like, how ELK will change moving forward, would undermine everything just said above…
what can be affirmed here & now is that ELK will become a space for artistic resistance.
like writing. like music. like drawings. like fiction. like paintings. like movies. like poetry.
like an oasis of artistic self-expression out in the midst of monolithic cultures defined by bombarding us with fear & insecurities, twisting our talents to pedal junk commodities, fooling us into confusing value with price, identity with job titles, love with likes.
while our philosophy at its core stays the same, the way we are going about transforming hopelessness into hope, is going to now center art as a medium for communicating it all.
what we need, now more than ever, is bold and radical visions – ones that scare us, keep us up at night, make us cry, make us furious with righteous anger, make us hungry for more, make us realize exactly who we are and what we can imagine into existence.