On Monday, Downwinders sent out acceptance letters to 15 DFW residents who'd applied to become members of our very first College of Constructive Hell-Raising. Since 15 students is all we have room for this initial year, that means we reached full capacity a whole ten days before the deadline for applications on December 1st. And there's even a small waiting list now. There might be some interest in this community organizing stuff after all.
The successful applicants range in age, experience and background. There are college students as well as retirees. There's a PhD candidate in environmental philosophy and the founder of a social justice choir. One has been deeply involved in South Dallas criminal justice issues while another is a High School teacher with no organizing experience at all. One founded a thriving regional business while another has already run for local political office. We have DREAM generation activists, urban ag advocates, prairie protectionists, and International Rescue Committee volunteers. If you want a reason to feel optimistic about the future, this class is a good place to start.
Plans were underway for the College before this election year, but there's no denying those plans seem prescient now. We're going to need better-trained activists and we're going to need better networks.
The College is just one of the ways Downwinders is trying to build more local "capacity" for DFW activists of all kinds. More resources, more opportunities to learn, more ways to sharpen your skills. Another is coming up soon: Our Root and Branch Revue from Janaury 24th thru the 28th is aimed at making you a better activist. This year's featured guests will be the women from Flint, Michigan who blew the whistle on that public health scandal by doing their own water testing and organizing around the result. The message: We all live in Flint now. Root and Branch will again feature a whole Saturday of workshops, as well as a film screening, another edition of "Get Polluted with Bar Politics," and more. Details coming soon.
If you're kicking yourself over not signing-up for the 2017 College semester in time, not to worry. We're going to be doing this again in the spring of 2018. Meanwhile, keep track of the class and the CCHR at the College's own Facebook page.