Students learned strategies for being an effective activist for any cause at a workshop held on Tuesday, Oct. 27.
Around 30 students and other members of the community, who were lead by speakers and activists, learned about the tools, training and support needed to achieve their goals as an environmental, human rights or social justice organizer.
The event, titled Speak Up, Speak Out: Direct Action Workshop, was hosted by the Associated Students Environmental and Sustainability Programs.
Elle Mckitrick, environmental center coordinator, said this event is important for students be a part of.
“There are a lot of campaigns and movements, and students on campus are starting to get involved with those more and more,” Mckitrick said. “Especially with the environmental movement in Bellingham it’s a really big deal to have these direct actions.”
The workshop consisted of a series of activities built to equip students with the skills to make a change. Activities included building an ideal community that allowed the participants to imagine what their community would look like.
Participants were able to draw what they felt they would need in order to thrive. Some of the pictures included buildings providing free healthcare, free schooling, free childcare and a basket of puppies.
“A lot of the students who showed up are part of activist movements on campus,” Mckitrick said. “They have a background in activism already. But ideas were shared to help them out in life. They talked about how to de-escalate conflict, which is not just helpful in an activist setting, but in daily life as well.”
The workshop also involved activities symbolizing what someone practicing direct action might undergo during a rally or sit-in.
Students were shown a slideshow presented by speaker and activist Ahmed Gaya, who described different types of direct action throughout history.
“Direct action is acts to achieve social or political end,” Gaya said. “To show willful refusal to cooperate with social injustice.”
Junior Trisha Patterson said trainings like this are a great way for students who may not know how to get associated, get associated.
“Overall, it’s important for people to know how to get involved with direct action trainings,” Patterson said. “It’s a good resource for students to know there is a way to get involved.”
Mckitrick is very hopeful for the future, and believes this event will spark participation, she said.
“I hope it will make students more willing to join on activist movements and actually take a stand, go to a protest,” Mckitrick said. “Mostly I hope that it will motivate students to be more involved in any movement they choose to be in.”
Editors note: Trisha Patterson was previously a reporter for The Western Front.