Courtesy of the Paw-Paw Collective, Fall 2007
While snow was still on the ground in our small college town, rumor began to spread that the 2007 CrimethInc. convergence was going to take place in our Athens, Ohio. Excitement, worry, and disgust swept through our small radical circles. While many were consumed by other projects through the winter and spring, the convergence took the back burner in our lives. When May and June rolled around, we realized it was time to kick it into high gear. Nervous phone calls and emails were shared and panic set in. Two hundred radicals were to invade our town and we had nowhere to put them! Enlisting all the local support we could find, we set off to find land. Anxious folks across were trusting us to find the perfect place, it was June and we hadn’t started looking. We began researching State land, intentional communities, and finally private land. The key to finding land for the convergence was spreading the word as far and wide as we could and exploring every option we had. We came upon the perfect piece which was a nice farm plot with an owner who lived across the entire country. The care taker was happy to let us use the land for a little work trade which would also benefit the convergence and our word that it would be drug and alcohol free space.
The majority of the organizing was by done by few, who with more foresight may have organized a larger group to help with planning and avoided unhealthy stress. The planners had never been a part of a previous CrimethInc. convergence, nor were we familiar with the workings of the movement. Thanks to some direction, advice and recommendations from past organizers we were able to put our priorities in order quite fast, not to say stress or confusion were averted due to the tardiness in beginning the planning. After securing our land, we began to mow the overgrowth, designate places for workshops, camping, and toilets. Simple construction of structures followed. Toilets were dug, the kitchen started to come up, and the area was mapped. With less than 2 weeks to the convergence, a group of out of town guests showed up to help set up. We continued working on the site and gathering a stock pile of supplies. Many supplies were provided by folks from out of town: including food coming in from around the state and the country. Amazing locals were going to supply stoves and kitchen supplies, tarps, tents, and daily supplies of water to our 200+ gallon tank. With less than 2 days to go, frantic organizing meetings started. When the night before the convergence rolled around everyone in town who had anything to do with the convergence was working on some aspect of the project, and a last minute meeting took place at our community center.There, with a large group of out-of town participants, we finalized last minute working groups and bottom-lined such things as final mowing, toilet construction, child care, cooking, cleaning, activities, spaces, security, and the library. The day the convergence started everything started coming together. Last minute work was being done all over the site as people started flooding in from all over the country. The camping area was still too small, but fortunately there was a huge path hiding in the woods which would house most of the tents. The toilets we had dug were not going to be sufficient for all the shit, but more would be dug. Many chores were left to be bottomlined, but we hoped people were coming to be participants in this convergence. One of the hardest parts of arranging the convergence was in the monetary supplies it would take to support shuttling people to and from the convergence, and lots of other little costs that were to add up over the course of the convergence. We suggest a benefit of some type before hand to cover these costs. Another was the large amount of work falling upon the shoulders of a few. Prior planning or the formation of nation-wide and local working groups or possibly an encounter with previous coordinators and current organizers could prove invaluable to future planners. The small interaction we had with our town was based upon urban games such as capture the flag and a direct action simulation and an impromptu parade following these activities. This perhaps wasn’t the best way to stage the only interaction with town as it left many people alienated from the two hundred guests in town. Another major point of stress was the blowback from the impromptu parade due to some poor planning. A show was scheduled following the parade in the space which was also our re-direct point and the hub of CrimethInc. in-town activity. As participants were pepper-sprayed, and rumor of a raid floated through the crowd, bands from and around the country were left high and dry with a bad taste for the CrimethInc. crowd when their show was cancelled. We spent the next days cleaning, getting comrades out of jail, attending court, breaking down camp, and discussing what had just swept through our town. The convergence consumed the radical community of Athens for a month. Most were pleased with what their energy went into and how the convergence played out. Others, having worked for months, were happy to have something else on their plate. All of us were relieved to have time to breathe. While the convergence certainly was a positive thing for many locals it proved to be a difficult venture, certainly something to meditate on before committing to. It wasn’t the first time a large radical gathering had taken place in Athens, but it had been some years before that the last national group of radicals had visited for more than 2 days. Recommendations for future convergences:* A national encounter between previous organizers, current planners, and those who wish to help direct activities to consider how the next convergence will be structured, including discussion of 2007 CrimethInc. convergence follow-up questions.
- A benefit in advance!