Never been to an Earth First! gathering before? Or just want to know more about it? Are you planning on coming but want more information? You’re in the right place.
What is the EF! gathering?
For 43 years and running, Earth First! has organized an annual summer convergence to get together with like-minded people who fight for the Earth and its many creatures. No compromise in defense of the Earth! We come together to learn, take action, celebrate, and commemorate those we’ve lost along the way.
What does the gathering look like? Where is it going to be?
The gathering is taking place in the Green Mountain National Forest of so-called Vermont from July 1-9, You can join for any or all of that time. The exact location will be shared soon on this website, but, for now, we can say that it is in the Green Mountains within a 1.5-hour driving distance of Burlington and Montpelier. We will provide some basic infrastructure, such as drinking water, shitters, and workshop spaces (i.e. tarps set up for rain and sun shade), while a kitchen crew will cook everyone breakfast and dinner. There will be dispersed camping, and a family/kids camping area. During the day, people will give workshops, have discussions, and hang out to connect with new folks and catch up with old friends. The gathering is a collectively created space: People who show up make it what it is.
I need a ride. Is there a way of connecting with others?
We have a ride board! Check it out here: Home | Efrideboardsummer23 (freeforums.net).
Who is likely to come?
There is no registration for the gathering ahead of time, nor do we ask people “sign-in” when they arrive. So, we don’t have a clear idea of how many people are coming from where. However, based on previous gatherings, there are likely to be 100-400 people in attendance, some of whom will be coming from close by, others from far away. Some will be brand new to EF!; others will have been around for decades. Cops and other agents of the state are expressly not welcome; you can stay home.
What about my dog?
We love dogs, but we don’t love them getting into fights, defecating in our water, and barking through morning circle. If you can, please leave your furry companion at home. However, we know that’s not an option for everyone, so if you have to bring your dog (raccoon, ferret, whatever), please keep them on a leash, out of the kitchen, and out of conflict. If your dog is a continued problem, your furry friend will be asked to leave. Thanks.
What should I bring?
Be prepared to camp in an environment where the days are likely to be hot and the nights can get chilly. It might even rain. Bring plenty of clothes, a warm sleeping bag, a tent, and whatever else you need to be comfortable. Any necessary medications, comfort items, extra snacks, and dry socks are always a good idea. Layers are your friend for changeable mountain weather! Bring masks and any rapid tests you have. There are also many, many ticks in the Green Mountains, so appropriate head- and foot-wear might serve you well, as would protection for any dog companions you can’t help but bring.
What’s your Covid policy?
We drafted several Covid protocols in the spirit of wanting to both mitigate transmission as much as possible, as well as being transparent about the limitations of a gathering of so many people:
- The entire gathering is outdoors, and the organizers designed workshop spaces with airflow and social distancing in mind. Masking throughout will not be required, but we encourage people to be mindful of other people’s personal space and Covid boundaries. Ask for consent! Be proactive! Respect each other!
- Carry masks with you in your day pack to meet emerging mask needs!
- We will ask that people mask if a workshop space seems cramped. If you are in close quarters and someone asks you to mask, please do so.
- Please test before coming to the gathering. If you have symptoms, please don’t come — even if you test negative.
- N95s and rapid tests will be available at the medic tent at the gathering. If you develop symptoms after arrival, please self-isolate and get in touch with someone on the medic crew.
- The kitchen will be following standard food safety and campwide Covid protocols. Please do the same and wash your hands to keep us all as safe as possible.
- Everyone will be asked to socially distance while waiting in line for food. Food servers will be masking at meal times.
Can my car make it? How accessible is camping?
The area the gathering will take place in is accessible by a forest road (i.e., a dirt road). A high-clearance vehicle is recommended, but a sedan can make it with some careful driving. Most camping spots will be a walk up a meadow and into the woods. If you are worried about accessibility, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can figure out details together. There is a possibility of accessing these spots with a vehicle, too. We just don’t want to create a highway running through camp.
What other policies should I be aware of?
We’ll give everyone a welcome packet when they arrive, but the essentials are: be respectful, ask for consent, and pick up after yourself. Additionally, we will not allow white dreadlocks or other forms of blatant cultural appropriation.
What is EF!?
Are you tired of green-washed environmental groups? Are you bummed out by overpaid corporate environmentalists who suck up to bureaucrats and industry? Have you become disempowered by the reductionist approach of environmental professionals and scientists?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Earth First! is for you! Our front-line, direct-action approach to fighting for wilderness and communities has proven itself over time. We have succeeded in cases where other groups have given up, and have drawn public attention to the crises facing the biosphere and communities who tend to it. Our four central tenets are biocentrism, no compromise, direct action, and decolonization.
Earth First! was formed in 1979 in response to a lethargic, compromising, and increasingly corporate environmental community. Our movement takes a decidedly different tack toward environmental issues. We believe in using all the tools in the tool box, ranging from grassroots organizing and involvement in the legal process to civil disobedience and direct action.
Because Earth First! is a movement, not an organization, we are able to support a wider array of relationships and tactics. There are no “members” of Earth First!, only Earth First!ers. It is a belief in biocentrism — that life on the Earth comes first — and a practice of putting our beliefs into action. Our past might have been treesits and lockdowns to protect old-growth forests, and we may still do that, but we are also growing in ways that have let us recognize that forces such as environmental racism exist within rural areas and cities. Earth First!ers are now working to fight injustices elsewhere in society outside of the wilderness, and in the cities, too.
Earth First! is a dynamic idea, and so are Earth First!ers. We recognize shortcomings and problems within Earth First!’s history. These include, but are definitely not limited to the prejudices, problematic behaviors, and toxic philosophies of former Earth First!ers, as well as the erasure of many of the early contributors, many of whom exist in this world as marginalized people. We also recognize that EF! is not immune to the systemic white supremacy that dominates our larger culture. If we are to have any chance at overcoming this, we must continually watch for, listen for, and address white supremacy on an individual and systemic level in our organizing.
We are paying attention to the current fascist creep within the environmental movement, and we understand and are aware of the co-option of symbols and phrases often attributed to EF! by overtly racist, queerphobic, and eco-fascist groups. We strive to move forward in a way that makes Earth First! a more equitable and safe movement for all human beings, which includes confronting facism, queerphobia, and racism when we see it in EF! and our communities. There can be no tolerance for exclusion, xenophobia, racism, transphobia, misogyny, etc. If we leave behind or leave out people, then we are leaving out part of Earth’s beautiful creation. So, while there is continual reflection within Earth First!, we hope you join us in agreement on one thing: the need for action in defense of Earth! If you want to learn, talk, or provide criticism about the four tenets of EF! — biocentrism, no compromise, direct action, and decolonization — (and how we are, or are not, living up to them) holler at an organizer!