Reportback: NEAN and Midwest Action Network Meet in Pittsburgh

By Adrienne Naylor

On February 17 and 18, a monumental gathering took place between the Northeast Anarchist Network and the Midwest Action Network in Pittsburgh, PA. In addition to being rife with radical history, this hometown of our legendary hosts, the Pittsburgh Organizing Group (POG), was geographically ideal for its accessibility to both the Northeast and the Midwest. While the gathering was not a decision-making body for either network, the meeting was extremely productive. Among the scores of anti-authoritarians present, connections were built, friends were made, ideas were shared, and fun was had.

Much of the meeting dealt with planning for the upcoming Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities, September 1-4, 2008. We were fortunate enough to have two touring members of the RNC Welcoming Committee swing by and speak about their exquisite planning and answer questions about the blockade strategy, among other things. After their departure, a great many ideas were shared and much excitement was expressed about the three-tiered blockade strategy. Those assembled also put forward the idea of blocking the delegates in, as a logical continuation of the blockade strategy. Another popular idea was to emphasize through banners, pamphlet distribution, press communiqués, media interactions, and street conversations the message that we're not just fighting against Republicans - we're fighting for Direct Democracy and a world free of tyranny in all its forms, of which representative government is but one.

The excitement of having two such large, organized anti-authoritarian groups represented in the same room begged for further collaboration. While several models of collaboration were raised, the idea of shared projects was the best received, especially as there was no shortage of projects to share! NEAN invited the Midwest to carry out their own anti-election campaign and to share the resources on NEAN's Web site. BAAM and the Antithesis Collective from NYC urged everyone to get on board with an elaborate International Solidarity Campaign with Indigenous Mexican movements for justice on both sides of the border.

The great success of the meeting can be attributed to the energy of its participants, skillful facilitation, and the lack of alcohol-fueled partying that has been known to have innumerable negative effects on many anarchist gatherings. It is the hope of our networks that all who took part will return to their communities scattered across the 800- mile expanse with fresh ideas, renewed enthusiasm, and new resources. We'll be sure to recognize more faces when we meet in the streets!