Jordyn Kehle/The AS Review
Sometimes the most powerful social movements sprout from the ground level. This statement truly becomes evident when integrating the fueling energies and committed passions of Western students, to create an undoubtedly successful recipe for social change.
The Associated Students Environmental Center, the AS Queer Resource Center, the AS Social Issues Resource Center and the AS Ethnic Student Center club El Movemiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan are sponsoring the second annual “Grassroots Organizing: Movement from the Ground Up” on Wednesday, April 13.
After receiving positive feedback from students regarding last year’s event, SIRC Assistant Coordinator Laura Gorrin decided to bring it back.
“The Grassroots Organizing event is for anyone interested in organizing community activism and because it’s put on by such a wide variety of organizations, it should touch a whole bunch of different communities,” Gorrin said. “My goals for the event are for a variety of people to get more tangible organizing tools and skills and for people with various social backgrounds to interact and communicate with each other.”
The free event will consist of two parts including an organizing workshop from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Fairhaven Auditorium. The workshop will involve interactive visual exercises, games, stories and discussions to illuminate the connections between different social issues. In addition, the workshop will offer insight on how to foster a social movement from the ground up.
One priority for the workshop is drawing in different social groups and developing connections between them. Bridging the gaps between varied groups plays a key role in grassroots organizing, Gorrin said.
The second part of the event is a concert hosted by guest musicians and activists Evan Greer and Dana Lyons from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Fairhaven Auditorium. Evan Greer is a social activist and singer/songwriter who performs acoustic music to encourage hope, motivate resistance and create bonds within communities. In addition to being a musical guest at the concert, Greer will also be running the workshop.
“Too often college activism is divided up by use. The queer group works on queer stuff, the environmental group works on green stuff, the feminist group works on feminist stuff,” Greer said. “These workshops are attempts to help us all better understand the ‘intersectionality’ of social and environmental justice issues, which is deeply important for coalition building and creating unity amongst progressive campus groups. This type of unity is necessary for effective organizing for change.”
Alongside Greer will be Dana Lyons, an internationally recognized singer/songwriter from Bellingham. Lyons’ folk and alternative rock music serves as a tool for addressing current social issues such as the environment and government reform. Lyons is perhaps best known for his worldly smash hit, “Cows With Guns,” a song reflecting environmental justice.
After performing during the event last year and receiving great feedback, Greer was openly welcomed back by the many groups and sponsors of the event, including Jordan Deal, assistant coordinator of the QRC, which was formerly known as the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Alliance.
“It’s nice to show the campus less-mainstream music that is done with social issues and a consciousness of inclusion of identities,” Deal said.
Deal said that working from the bottom upward, as grassroots organizing entails, cultivates a system in which individual voices are heard instead of being masked by larger bodies.
“Grassroots organizing is starting from the ground up—not necessarily being affiliated with big organizations or having lots of money, but using your bodies and voices to stand up for what you believe in,” he said.
The SIRC and the QRC are both part of AS Resource and Outreach Programs.