This past weekend was Reconnect Earth’s Student Activism Training Summit at Bay View State Park, two days of discussing important environmental and social justice issues, developing activism skills, and getting to know a truly beautiful part of the Salish Sea region. On Saturday morning eight of us carpooled from Bellingham to the State Park, which sits on the edge of Padilla Bay. Soon after arrival we gathered on the beach to orient ourselves to our place in the landscape. We discussed the unique ecology of Padilla Bay–which has estuary characteristics from when the mouth of the Skagit River flowed into before the course of the river was altered by human activity. And we educated ourselves about the history of nearby Indigenous peoples now living on the Swinomish Reservation, and who have inhabited this landscape since time immemorial.
Later on Saturday, in one of the cabins where we’d be spending the night we delved into one of the most important activist components of the trip: learning best practices for public outreach, communications, and event planning as they relate to putting on strong activist events. Whether planning a rally or educational event, we explored how to communicate with the public in ways that maximize of having a successful, well-attended event. On Sunday we followed this up with a discussion on how to influence elected officials or other decision-making officials through events that demonstrate public support while playing to your campaign’s strengths. During the course of our time together we also worked to identify ways of combating White supremacy and other forms of oppression in outdoor spaces, and participated in an activity that reminded us of the roots of our motivation as activists.
One of the highlights of the trip was on Sunday when we went for a hike along the edge of Padilla Bay itself. This part of Washington sits on a major bird migration route, where thousands of waterfowl who nest in Alaska or Canada wait out the winter before returning to those northern regions for breeding season. We spotted snow geese, swans, buffleheads, and two species of mergansers. Along with these waterfowl sightings came glimpses of raptors like northern harriers and majestic bald eagles.
Sunday in the late afternoon we headed back to Bellingham, ready to take action for a more just, sustainable Earth. Be on the lookout for other Reconnect Earth trips and activism opportunities coming up later this winter and spring!