[Be sure to check out Bill Moyer's recent essay Reflections on the Beauty and Power of Kayaktivism HERE.]
Backbone Campaign is the home of Kayaktivism.
In the Spring and Summer of 2015 Backbone trained approximately 400 Kayaktivists. We organized and supported 14 separate Kayaktivist actions and helped launch the Kayaktivism meme that is spreading across the globe!
Backbone Campaign was introduced to the use of kayaks in protest during a campaign in 2009. We were called to action by our home community of Vashon-Maury Island to stop a proposed industrial gravel mine from destroying Maury Island and the bountiful shoreline along the Maury Island aquatic reserve. After ten years of legal and legislative struggle a direct action flank was needed.
The on water affinity group that emerged called itself the Mosquito Fleet. Mosquito Fleet was a reference to both the power of a small thing to make a big difference and a fleet of merchant boats that used to travel the Puget Sound. Backbone was part of that did a great deal of organizing for a potential flotilla, threatening to blockade a construction barge if it attempted to return. The political calculus shifted and a court victory was achieved Direct action helped deliver victory on Maury Island. The proposed mine is now a park. Backbone continued including kayak safety, skills and tactics trainings in our action camps ever since.
So, when Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant was caught on tape joking about expecting a flotilla of kayaks to protest Shell’s lease of their Terminal 5 (T5), Backbone and veterans of Mosquito Fleet felt obliged to deliver. On April 2, 2015 we flew a blimp over the Port of Seattle at rush hour calling upon people to "Join the Flotilla!" Coverage of the action and subsequent coverage of trainings by Sydney Brownstone of the Stranger launched the Kayaktivist meme! The flotillas in Seattle, Everett, Mukilteo and Portland and the resulting victory over Shell's Arctic drilling plan in now history.
We continue to deepen our experience to grow and inform Kayaktivism as a strategic community building, place-based tactic. Backbone Campaign's 2015 Localize This! Action Camp used mock action scenarios to give people a sense of the intensity of on-water direct action and design new on-water tactics. We held a video conference with Kayaktivists in Finland and the Netherlands. Now we are launching a regional Community Kayaktivist training program to ensure the safe and effective implementation of this strategic tactical tool.
If you are planning an action, or want to skill-up your community fill out the Kayaktivism Training Request form so we can connect with you, offer an orientation, share some lessons learned and send you the curriculum we are proud to have developed. Consider, hiring us to come offer some trainings and do a training for trainers in your community.
Support our capacity to share this tactic with others by contributing HERE
Recent Kayaktivism on the Snake River:
King 5 report on training for trainers in the sHell No! Campaign HERE. Growing sHell No! archive directory for video and photos of the 2015 sHell No! campaign to stop Shell from drilling in the Arctic HERE.
Recent GatesDivest.org action on Lake Washington:
We are excited to help you amplify your activism with our workshops and trainings. Fill out the form below to let us know you're interested in hosting or attending one of our workshops.
(In the comments section feel free to let us know anything else about the campaign or actions these workshops might bolster.)