This year, MJ is branching out from our traditional summer camp model to meet the evolving needs of a network that has built up over MJ’s 10 years of resistance to the destruction of Appalachia. Over the last decade, this time together has become an important place for organizers doing powerful work in Appalachia to share stories, collaborate, build the movement, and just hang out in lovely spots in the mountains. Our spot this year is in the Kanawha State Forest, close to Charleston, WV, and right next to a sprawling strip mine. The location is beautiful and intentionally chosen: not only will we get to hike and bike in these lovely mountains with friends old and new, but host organizers with the Kanawha Forest Coalition will share experience from the campaign to permanently shut down the KD #2 Mine.
Camp this year will be a place for grassroots organizers fighting coal and other extractive industries in Appalachia to convene, but we’re also inviting activists working on related justice issues. We acknowledge that environmental movements have the best chance of effecting meaningful change if we identify the systems of power that destroy the land and actively confront all forms of oppression that perpetuate their power. Join us as we discuss our work, talk about the future of the struggle in our region, and figure out how to make this movement an ever more potent and relevant agent for radical change in our society. Below you can find more details about how camp will look, what it will be about, and where you fit in.
If you already know what we’ve got planned and are ready to register, sign up for Summer Camp here and the Organizer’s Gathering here! We’re excited about getting your feedback on what conversations you want to see happen, so please take a moment to let us know you’re coming and help us shape this event.
–The Mountain Justice Convergence Planning Crew
Mountain Justice Summer Convergence, 2015
When and Where:
Camp will be located in the Kanawha State Forest, close to Charleston, WV. We will be camping at the Johnson Hollow picnic shelter, which is on the main road through the forest.
Directions: It is possible to get to Kanawha State Forest from Corridor G, also known as US 119, heading south from Charleston. There are a lot of turns but you can follow the signs from US 119 all the way to Kanawha State Forest. Once you enter the forest, stay on the main road, go past the swimming pool and Johnson Hollow will be on your left. There will be some signs to guide you through the park.
Probably the easiest way to get to the event is to take Interstate 64 east of Charleston and then get off at the WV 94 / Marmet exit, then head south on WV 94. About 3-5 miles south of the interstate, you will see a sign on the road pointing right towards Kanawha State Forest. Stay on this road to Johnson Hollow on your left. There will be some signs.
Our Summer Camp will run from Saturday May 30 and everyone is welcome to stay through Tuesday night June 2.
The Appalachian Organizer’s Gathering will be Thursday June 4 through Sunday June 7.
Wondering what’s going on Wednesday? Show up for a surprise!
What To Bring:
Tent, sleeping bag, pillow, ground cloth, headlamp or flashlight, boots or whatever you like to hike in, camera, note pad, poncho or rain gear, your coffee cup or go cup, water bottle, any personal medications you may need, a leash for your dog, mountain bike (optional) and helmet, folding camp chair, a bandana, musical instrument, toys and games, and any literature or zines that you would like to share with others.
The Structure & Goals of Camp
Over the last decade, camps have focused on educating, training, and recruiting people new to the movement. But the space has also become an important opportunity for Appalachian organizers to learn from each other, strategize about our shared goals, and spend quality time together. We are shaping this year’s event to accommodate these different sets of needs.
We acknowledge that it is not easy for everyone to take a week off for even the most important events.That is why the week is divided in half to help people prioritize their time.
The first four days will be a series of workshops and discussions that will introduce people to the work that Mountain Justice engages in, and the social, political, and cultural context of that work. We’ll also take time to enjoy our surroundings– hiking, playing music, learning about local flora, picking up some climb skills, biking, relaxing, playing games, dancing, etc. Keep in mind that these days will be loosely facilitated and flexible to the desires of those around each morning. There will be service projects available, field trips and a panel with our hosts this year, the Kanawha Forest Coalition. This is not intended to be an action camp. Mountain Justice has by no means abandoned direct action as a means of change, but many of us have recognized the need for more long term campaign work. Come spend a few days with us and we’ll fill you in! Register here!
Long term organizers, please feel free to come out for this and share your experiences. We promise it will be low key but you are also welcomed to facilitate workshops, morning circle etc.
The latter four days are what’s “new” this year. At this 4-day “organizers’ gathering”, we hope to see more intentional conversations, opportunities to share our work and plan together, and spots for learning and trainings most relevant to our needs. Important conversations are sure to unfold as we delve deeper into our strategies and larger visions for this movement. But we’re also leaving ample time for fun! Newcomers are more than welcome to stay for this portion of camp and find ways to plug in. Just keep in mind that this will be a space for people who are already organizing in Appalachia, or around similar issues elsewhere, to meet each other and better their work, so the conversations will be hard to access without some amount of experience or exposure.
We will have loosely facilitated discussions, games, and service projects to offer for the first half of camp, but it will look more like what people make of it.
We are making more intentional decisions with the second half of camp and to make it easier for the right people to be present for these discussions, we will soon be posting a calendar with daily agendas determined by the availability of certain organizations for each day. Keep in touch!
We envision convergence as a movement-building space at which we will discuss how to confront oppression within our work and in society, how our work relates to just transition, how we can work together more strategically, etc. We will be scheduling a few pre-planned and facilitated conversations or workshops every day, but we will also have ample unscheduled time to leave room for participants to self-organize directed conversations and break-outs. This will allow us to be flexible and spontaneous and leave time for rambling, woodsiness, and the inspiring conversations that happen organically when we’re all together.
We’re excited to see all members of the amazing community we’ve built over the years. If you’ve been involved with MJ at any point in our history, come see old friends and meet new ones, share your stories and talk about the exciting work you are doing these days.
We’re also extending our invitation to organizers doing radical work toward justice issues who may be working more on our periphery. A coherent analysis of our environmental crises demands we acknowledge all forms of oppression that serve the systems of power which destroy the land. While standing together demanding an immediate end to surface mining in Appalachia, we also want to collaborate with allies who are doing other kinds of organizing but who share our vision of a world free of social, environmental, and economic injustice.
So that’s it! We’re pretty psyched to be kicking off the summer with this convergence. Remember, none of us is working alone: we’re a movement, and let’s put our heads together and figure out how to make that movement even stronger. Join us!
We would love to hear any comments, or requests for workshops and information you’d like to see. Remember to register for the Summer Camp and/or the Organizers’ Gathering, and there you can enter your suggestions. You can also email us. And please spread this invitation to any organizers you would like to see present!