by Erin Moberg / Deep Green Resistance Eugene
On Wednesday night, DGR Oregon members hosted an Open House for all activists and community members interested in meeting active DGR members, sharing a meal, talking politics and activism, and learning how to get (more) involved. Our goal was twofold: (1) to continue our work to normalize and demystify direct action as a viable and necessary offensive strategy to fight back against the culture of empire and (2) to publicize and register guests for our upcoming Advanced Direct Action Training over Earth Day Weekend (April 21-23) outside of Eugene.
For other DGR chapters and members interested in hosting a similar event, here are some reflections on what worked well and what we’d do differently next time:
- Hold open house in a central, public space. We reserved a free, local community meeting space, rather than holding the open house at one of our houses.
- Require RSVPs for event location details. This way, you can vet interested individuals and activist groups, and (ideally) have an approximate head count, ahead of time.
- Provide snacks and drinks, rather than a full meal. We put together an impressive and delicious potluck spread for guests, including lamb stew, several salads, Mexican casserole, and chocolate brownies! While it was well-appreciated by those who attended, in hindsight the time it took to prepare and transport the food and drinks could have been better spent on more impactful DGR-related work.
- Make one-on-one connections with guests. As activists, we know that a significant barrier to leaving our comfort zones and exploring radical activism is the fear of social/community ostracization and isolation. By holding an open house, we were able to meet people individually and face-to-face and form personal, human connections before transitioning into the heavier content of radical environmentalism, radical feminism, direct action, etc.
- Provide DGR reading materials. We set up our typical tabling display for guests to explore, including a trifold display about DEW, copies of Deep Green Resistance, and pamphlets on DGR, feminism, indigenous communities, the people of color caucus, and more.
- Include an informative visual presentation and member introductions. We welcomed guests with a slideshow playing on a loop; it included photos of past DGR actions, members, and messaging, as well as some relevant videos. After sharing a meal, the organizers introduced ourselves and reflected individually about our interests and involvement in DGR. This was an opportunity for us to speak to: DGR history, strategy, local chapter focus, and upcoming events. This brief presentation also helped to personalize DGR and debunk any circulating myths about DGR as an underground, or anarchist, or specifically pro-violence movement.
- Be prepared to intervene if a (male) individual coopts the conversation or event. It’s important to model for activists new to DGR what a feminist-informed discussion and space look and feel like. Even though it can be uncomfortable, decide ahead of time who the unofficial “moderator” will be if the conversation is derailed or becomes tense or aggressive, and especially in the case of misogynist or racist behavior or statements. Don’t leave it up to the women to assume this role (unless we volunteer in the first place)!
- Expect no-shows. By the day of the open house, we had around 30 RSVPs, which was a much higher number than we’d anticipated! However, only 9 guests actually showed up, so we spent a lot of time preparing way too much food and materials.
- Follow-up with guests as soon as possible. Make sure that all guests sign in, and make plans to follow up with guests individually soon after the event.
Our open house was productive in that we met and had conversations with several people who plan to attend our direct action training next month. Several guests asked thoughtful questions, offered informed opinions, and were very appreciative of the work we do as activists. The event also helped to foster community building within DGR Oregon itself, especially for new DGR members. On the whole, however, we agree that we could have spent less collective time organizing this event in order to dedicate more time to other activist work with a (potentially) more immediate impact in our community or in halting the destruction of the planet.