Whew! What a trip. Eight days, six presentations, two conferences, nine states & provinces in two countries, 50 hours on the road, and 3,600 miles later! And I am back in Philly. Glad to say it was a rental car with unlimited miles rather than with my 1990 Oldsmobile (even though I would have been looking a lot more fly on the road in the Oldsmobile…).
There’s so much to share from my latest war tax resistance organizing trip, I’m not even sure of where to begin. So I’ll share some tidbits and then if you have additional questions, please comment or email me.
Most Relaxed Point
The first stop of my field organizing trip was perhaps the most peaceful. I arrived in Western PA amid rolling green hills and a garden full of wildflowers. Karen and Michael Bagdes-Canning hosted me for a home presentation on war tax resistance as an avenue for challenging white supremacy. After a delicious bowl of chili we had a great discussion with a group of people who are involved with local organizing around environmental, healthcare, and peace issues. Many of them were familiar faces from when I was doing organizing against fracking and pipelines throughout Pennsylvania. Nice to see old friends in a new context.
Most Effective Point
Hmmm, it’s always a bit hard to gauge but I think the most effective part of the trip was my presentation at the “Solidarity and Fightback: Building Resistance to US-led War, Militarism, and Neofascism” Conference in Toronto. The conference was organized by the International League of Peoples Struggle and brought together people who are involved in resistance struggles from around the world, from the Philippines to Kurdistan to Oakland. It was inspiring to hear the work of, in particular, youth activists who are working for true system change and building connections across huge divides.
I was on a panel discussion of radical activists from the United Snakes of America as well as Klanada. There were about 30 people in attendance, almost all of whom had never heard about war tax resistance, and were excited to know that this form of civil disobedience “in the belly of the beast” was alive and well. There are a number of people who are now wanting to organize presentations in their local communities (in particular, organizers who came to the conference from the Bay Area in California). I also got to meet Monica Moorehead which was a life goal! Always inspired by her organizing and life’s work.
Most Stressed Point
Partly from my own doing, I didn’t have any firm housing lined up for when I was in Toronto. I had heard from one of the conference organizers that they were working on it, but hadn’t gotten any confirmation. So I ended up driving 16 hours from Minneapolis to Toronto without any housing. Oh, and also no phone or email because I couldn’t get service once I crossed the border. I thought about stopping in Detroit and driving the rest of the way in the morning, but the folks I know there were either out of town or I couldn’t get in touch with them. I also tried to set up an AirBnb thing ahead of time, but the host never confirmed so that was no longer an option.
So I just kept driving, past Climax, Michigan which is a real place, and arrived in Drake’s hometown at 1:30 AM bumping Controlla and totally exhausted. Needless to say I found a dark sidestreet in a random neighborhood and passed out in the car. I woke up shivering a few hours later (it’s 50 degrees in Toronto in August apparently), so went to go find a Tim Horton’s (or “Timmies” for us Canucks) to try to warm up and find some wifi to get directions to the conference. It worked out eventually, but with a cramped neck and a grumpy Sam.
Personal Favorite Point
I stopped for a bit in Cincinnati, Ohio to visit some friends there and got to cuddle with their adorable puppy. But my favorite moment was once I arrived back in the United Snakes of America (coming over the “peace bridge” into Buffalo ironically enough). After another “Aghhh, I don’t have a map of Buffalo State University” hectic directions search again, I joined up with Vicki Ross from the Western NY Peace Center for her “talking peace” radio show on the university station. It was a solid conversation talking about everything from systemic racism and war tax resistance to fracking to trans issues. Unfortunately, I don’t have a recording of it, but it was nice to chat about a lot of important issues near and dear to my heart.
Post by Sam Koplinka-Loehr
Unfortunately with our website in transition (yay transitions!), we are having trouble uploading new photos at the moment. You can check out some photos of the ILPS conference here and here. So I will try to add photos back in at a later date.