Greetings and Happy New Year!
It’s with both some sadness and some relief that I share with you that the student club BRICK at SPSCC no longer exists. The reasons for this are myriad:
Part institutional-the funding mechanism for student organizations changed and BRICK saw substantial budget cuts, and work assignments for professors at SPSCC have been revised;
Part cultural-the nature, culture, technologies, strategies, and values of student activism have changed substantially; and
Part personal-I have a five-year-old I’d like to spend more time with, and my wife recently opened a cheese shop in downtown Olympia, The Mouse Trap, which I’ve been helping out with some.
In any case, I found myself overwhelmed and unable to continue the level of support for BRICK’s that I believe it deserved. I announced on campus at the end of last year that I would be stepping down as BRICK’s advisor, no one else stepped in to fill the role and so, at least for now, BRICK has closed its doors.
It has been a good run. In the 13 years BRICK existed, over 20,000 people, both students and community members, attended BRICK’s events. Around 300 students learned valuable skills in activism and organizing as members. BRICK hosted over 200 events, ranging from speakers to forums to films to conferences to our annual May Day Hoe Down. We saw presentations from the likes of Vandana Shiva, Glenn Greenwald, Ann Wright, Cindy Sheehan, Craig Rosebraugh, Bill Ayers, Annie Sprinkle, Christian Parenti, David Rovicks, Scott Ritter, James Yee, Omoyele Sowore, Mike Farrell, Father Roy Bourgeois, Ward Churchill, Derick Jensen, Liz Canner, Teresa Guajardo, Antonia Juhasz, the Yes Men, Ali Abunimah, Josh Rushing, Anne Feeney, Susan Koppelman, David Korten, Malailai Joya, Ziad Abbas, Ellen Brown, Scott Crow, Hasan Salaam, Radley Balko, and many others. BRICK hosted dozens of film screenings, debates, and forums, and was able to work with many wonderful local social change organizations including Stonewall Youth, the Thurston County Progressive Network, the Rachel Corrie Foundation, GRuB, and many others, as well as cohosting events with most of the other student organizations on this campus. BRICK’s annual May Day Hoe Down brought hundreds of squaredancers together to learn about economic inequality and organized labor while dancing to the tunes of the Blackberry Bushes, Head for the Hills, the Tune Stranglers, and others. In the years since BRICK began, student participation and activism have increased dramatically; where BRICK was once the only such group on campus, today over a dozen student clubs promote social justice around various issues at SPSCC. BRICK students have gone on to accomplish amazing things, from organizing large protests at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, to working in leadership positions in the anti-war movement, to becoming a producer for the NPR radio programs to teaching radical graffiti art skills to inner-city youth to earning PhD’s in history to starting other similar student organizations at The Evergreen State College, Centralia College, UW, and even the University of Massachusetts! Former BRICK students are changing the world!
I’d also like to specifically thank Eric Chase, BRICK’s tireless co-advisor who helped provide ethical guidance, sagely wisdom, and much-needed humor all these years. You couldn’t ask for a better mentor and role model for these students.
As for me, I’ll still be around Olympia, still teaching sociology at SPSCC, and will likely have some more activities in the social change realm soon enough. I’m taking some time to do some writing, focus on my teaching, and spend more time with my family. I will still enjoy working with campus and local groups on building more effective organizations and activist campaigns, and will no doubt run in to many of you in our small town or our small world.
Keep Building Revolution by Increasing Community Knowledge,