PRAISE FOR AN ACTION A DAY: KEEPS GLOBAL CAPITALISM AWAY
Mike Hudema's An Action a Day
is an excellent addition to the library for anyone interested in public activism . . . This volume provides inspiration, practical details andperhaps most critically&mdashhumour."
"Hudema's work will make a nice Canadian content companion to Gene Sharp's class 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action
, or Abby Hoffman's Steal this Book
. . . An Action a Day
is pleasantly full of non-linear chaotic interventions that contribute to enlivening the potential for change."Briarpatch
From the Author
"When we turned that corner we stopped and couldn't believe our eyes, the amount of damage and destruction. I think just seeing that made it real for me; that other people are taking our future, and we can either shape the future for ourselves or we can let somebody else do it. "
in conversation with Amanda Crocker, March 2004
AMANDA CROCKER: What was the first action you took part in?
MIKE HUDEMA: My first action was actually sprung on me by chance. It was the first time I ever went away without my parents. My friend and I had heard about the protests at Clayoquot Sound (this was after the main protests were over) so we drove out to the coast and went up to the Clayoquot Sound office to grab some pamphlets. We were all very new and very keen, and they passed out a handbill with a meeting time and place. When we got to the meeting a guy came out in a full radiation suit, playing an accordion, and he led everybody inside. And as soon as we got in, somebody put chains around the doors, because this was an illegal meeting and we were going to use direct action tactics. My friend and I had no idea what to do, so we just sat there and learned about guerrilla tactics, about how to get in, how to climb fences, how to send radio broadcasts out. This was the first experience I had with direct action.
AC: What compelled you to stay and take part?
MH: The drive out to Clayoquot really opened my eyes to the damage being done to the planet. There's a place where you're driving on the road and you're in government parkland and then you hit a corner where the park ends. And when you hit that corner you go from these huge redwoods that are much bigger than you imagined, even lying down just gigantic, and you turn that corner and it's a clear-cut. When we turned that corner we stopped and couldn't believe our eyes, the amount of damage and destruction. I think just seeing that made it real for me; that other people are taking our future, and we can either shape the future for ourselves or we can let somebody else do it. This was a turning point for becoming active, thinking I want to take control and change the world.
AC: Who or what has most influenced your own personal politics?
MH: There are many different contributing factors. For example, after my second year in university I went away for a year to India on a Canada World Youth exchange. I was part of a development project in India and I saw how community could be made up differently. I was living in a rural village and the government there had virtually rejected the World Bank's development program. The local government allowed everyone in the village to ask for what they wanted; they had a sort of participatory budget meeting where tens of thousands of people came out to debate the priorities of the budget. And after seeing that, when I came back to Canada I really thought that Canadian society and Canadian communities could be made up differently.
Some writers, like Noam Chomsky, have also influenced my thinking. People like Abbie Hoffman and Augusto Boal, writers who take a more theatrical look at how we can change the world while laughing and dancing at the same time. And wonderful activists that we have here in Edmonton. Karena Munroe, my partner, is a long-time activist and inspires me all the time.
Karena has really opened my eyes to feminist issues. Just sitting through meetings and realising that our activist community, while we are fighting for social justice and social change, recreates patriarchal power relations in our own meetings, seeing male voices come out much stronger than others and dominate meetings or take leading roles, I really wanted to break that down. So I was guided by women around me who were already trying to do that.
AC: How has living in Alberta shaped your politics?
MH: I look at it like we're living in the belly of beast. Alberta is a hard place to organize because of the right-wing culture. We have Ralph Klein as premier and we've had a conservative government for the past 30 years. But living in that culture, I think you're presented with more problems than others are, and as an activist you might come up against bigger challenges. Our premier supports the privatisation of healthcare and the deregulation of electricity, so activism here is a constant challenge; but for me it generates not just pro