What happens when you get fracktivists from around the world together in one room? Magic.

On Thursday, December 10th, the STFA delegation woke up in Paris for the event we had all travelled here for. Today was the day of “Not Here, Not Anywhere; The international anti fracking summit” and what a day it turned out to be. 150 people had signed up and 34 countries would be represented. We were excited to share a great agenda that the core team had put many hours into.

As we walked from our hotel to the event I have to admit I was a touch nervous. The nervous melted away as soon as we got started (only ten mins behind schedule!). The room was packed! Now it was time to build a movement.

 

The day started with a welcome from the ED’s of the main orgs who were behind pulling the day together. STFA Member Groups Food & Water Watch and Earthworks, plus Friends of the Earth Europe’s leadership all gave a welcome. The network was represented by our Advisory Council member Shane Davis of Colorado. He gave a great speech about how those in the room were not protesters, but protectors and the importances of following the lead of frontline and impacted community members.

 

We then went into the country presentations: the US, Algeria, Australia, England, France, Argentina. The US case study was represented by Kandi Mossett of IEN who spoke of the horrors fracking has brought to the Bakken, STFA Advisory Council member Jenny Lisak who spoke of her struggle since her water went bad on her organic farm in PA, Jennifer Krill of Earthwork gave a quick 30 second synopsis of state regulations, and lastly we played a video from Juan Flores of the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment to discuss the struggle in the Central Valley of California. Members of the STFA delegation from Australia, Danielle Hodges and Daniel Robbins along with Chole Aledenhoven spoke of the Lock the Gate fight. Danielle is an aboriginal mother of four whose kids got sick- she was never told her house was built less than 2 km from a gas well.

 

After the morning case studies we went into several workshops. I led a session with Arpa Wangkait on the importances of corporate campaigning in the fracking movement. Arpa Wangkait, who joined the STFA delegation from Thailand, and I led folks through a process to discuss why it was important to target the corporations and not just the government. We formed two different break-out groups, one around Exxon and the other on financial  institutions.  STFA Advisory Council Members Robert Nehman and John Fenton, along with STFA Delegation member Sigit Karyadi Budiono and Earthworks Policy Director Lauren Pagel led a session on other forms of extreme extraction related to fracking like coal bed methane, frac sand mining, and coal gasification.

 

We ended the day with closing keynotes from John Fenton and Sandra Steingraber about how we will fight back, and we will win.

 

While the presentations and speeches were wonderful, the best part was the ability to see everyone in the same room. People often talk about movements like they are this monolithic thing marching towards one goal, but movements in fact are much more then that. Movements are like a family going on a big adventure together. We will fight with each other, we will laugh with each other, and we will cry with each other.
The great thing about the summit was to see that family growing and coming together in a real way. Every break was filled with folks discussing the ins and outs of their work. Folks discussing how they believe we will win. Folks making plans to get drinks afterwards. People were laying the groundwork for relationships that will continue past the summit, and the groundwork for us to win.