Notes from Derrick Jensen’s Earth at Risk 2011 Conference

We traveled to Berkeley on November 13, 2011 for Earth at Risk: Building a Resistance Movement to Save the Planet in which author Derrick Jensen interviews his invited guests. Below are some quotes and notes from the day. Derrick opened with:

The only miracle we’re going to get is us. Gather your heart and join up with every living being [to fight back against destruction of the planet.]

Lierre Keith is co-author with Derrick and Aric McBay of Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet. She spoke about the problem with civilization: its dependence on agriculture, which destroys topsoil the world over, and signaled the start of militarism (to protect stored food and to steal neighboring lands for expanding populations). Lierre points to the need to build a culture of resistance to industrial civilization, based not on individual lifestyle change but change at the societal level. Videos of her two full-length presentations are on YouTube’s DeepGreenResistance channel.

111120_final-act_400.jpgPolitical cartoonist Stephanie MacMillan‘s Code Green cartoons graced the program and her presentation.  “The only weekly editorial cartoon focused exclusively on the environmental emergency,” they poke at industrial civilization’s hypocrisy and short-sightedness, and its assault on nature with dark and delicious humor.

Aric McBay, co-author of Deep Green Resistance, presented information on creating security culture in both aboveground and belowground groups. He pointed out that in resistance movements, only 2% of the people carry arms. The majority of people are needed to raise awareness, and to provide material and psychological support to those at the front lines – to become a culture that supports resistance. He showed examples of resistance movements that have in the past, and are now, making a difference. Videos of Aric’s two full-length presentations are on YouTube’s DeepGreenResistance channel.

Thomas Linzey is a public interest attorney at Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). He’s doing gutsy groundbreaking work with local communities to pass ordinances preventing corporations from trashing their communities: anti-fracking, anti-big box stores, anti-factory farms. Since we taped his local talk “Reclaiming Democracy: How Communities are Saying “NO” to Corporate Rights” in 2008, he has further pushed the edges in those ordinances: besides placing the rights of communities and nature above those of  corporations, recent ordinances are standing up to states.

We first “met” Waziyatawin in the documentary END:CIV: Resist or Die (entire film is online). A Dakota writer, educator and activist, “Waz” spoke about her culture’s resistance to colonization by westerners, removal from their ancestral lands, and destruction of their cultures. She called for indigenous people to resume their role as first defenders of the land — with support from those in the non-indigenous community. It begins, she said, by decolonizing the mind. This quote spoke to me:

“The future of humankind lies waiting for those who will come to understand their lives and take up their responsibilities to all living things. Who will listen to the trees, the animals and birds, the voices of the places of the land?”  —Vine DeLoria, Jr. from God is Red: A Native View of Religion.

Arundhati Roy read from two recent books Broken Republic: Three Essays and Walking with the Comrades about visiting forbidding forests in Central India, where tribespeople are taking up arms to protect their people and region from state-backed exploiters. Labeled by the Indian mainstream as “Maoist guerillas,” these indigenous groups are fighting corporate interests like multinational mining companies who are cannibalizing India’s natural resources, supported by Indian government agreements and military.

Derrick closed with this reminder:

“The task of an activist is not to navigate the systems of authority with as much integrity as possible, but to take down those systems.”

Read more about Deep Green Resistance in Beyond Protest: Saving our planet with ‘Deep Green Resistance’ by Rady Ananda of Food Freedom.

“So while DGR [Deep Green Resistance] is about fighting back, in the end this movement is about love. The songbirds and the salmon need your heart, no matter how weary, because even a broken heart is still made of love.” — Derrick Jensen


  1. Sadly I could not find any video recordings on the youtube channel. Will it be available anytime soon? There are for now audio-recordings on the deep green resistance website though.

  2. A movement is growing based on the book, co-authored by Derrick Jensen, called Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet. Deep Green Resistance has a plan of action for anyone determined to fight for this planet-and win. If you’ve ever been inspired by Derrick’s work, then here’s where the solutions are. The time for action is now. Now this war has two sides…

    98% of the old growth forests are gone. 99% of of the prairies are gone. 80% of the rivers on this planet do not support life anymore. We are out of species, we are out soil, and we are out of time. And what we are being told by most of the environmental movement is that the way to stop all of this is through personal consumer choices. It’s time for a real strategy that truly addresses the scope of our predicament.

    Where is your threshold for resistance? To take only one variable out of hundreds: Ninety percent of the large fish in the oceans are already gone. Is it 91 percent? 92? 93? 94? Would you wait till they had killed off 95 percent? 96? 97? 98? 99? How about 100 percent? Would you fight back then?

    Good people have stayed silent for too long. We’re tired of ineffective, symbolic acts – piecemeal, reactive, and sad. Now our despair and anger can be matched by an even deeper joy, beyond compare, the joy of beginning to fight back, effectively. We are pleased to announce the formation of DGR Action Groups worldwide. Take the first step and join the resistance.

    Learn more about the strategy, find groups that have formed near you, or find out how to start your own group at:

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