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Twenty Years of Earth First!

"The main reason for Earth First! is to create a broader spectrum within the environmental commmunity... there was a need for a radical wing to the environmental movement. Somebody has to say what needs to be said." — Dave Foreman, co-founder

"If Earth First! hadn't come along, somebody else would have come along with something like it. It was an idea whose time had come." — Ron Kezar, co-founder

The founding discussions for Earth First! took place in March of 1980. In November, the first newsletter appeared. November 2000 marks the twentieth anniversary of what evolved into the Earth First! Journal, one of the most important publications in North America.

Combining front-line activist journalism with heated tactical and theoretical discussions, the Journal holds together the countless strands of radical environmentalism.

Twenty Years and Counting

The twentieth anniversary edition takes a look back and forward. Photos and articles bring to life campaigns such as Warner Creek, Headwaters Forest, Australian and English actions, Cove/Mallard, Mount Graham, and many others.

Ken Sleight describes an early action: "Six Earth First!ers drove to a locked gate on an access road to Glen Canyon Dam. They hefted a 100-pound bundle over the fence, and four men and a woman carried it 400 yards to the center of the dam while some 75 Earth First!ers watched from the Colorado River Bridge. Throwing the bundle over the edge of the dam, 300 feet of black plastic — tapering from 12 feet to two feet in width and held together by 700 feet of rope and 1000 feet of duct tape — cascaded down the face of the dam. It created the wonderful impression of a crack growing in the concrete dam."

Other articles include a Citizen's Guide to getting arrested; an eco-sabateur's tale; ecocentric anarchism; and the Pagan spirit in Earth First!

"The spirit of Earth First! rises out of the soil like the plaintive howl of a wolf," writes Peggy Sue McRae. "Earth First! is infused with an irreverent spirituality... We see the destruction of natural systems caused by our own kind, and we take responsibility for defending the biotic community. We look beyond short-sighted self-interest to experience both the suffering and the joy of being part of a larger whole. This understanding of our place in the world puts us in accord with other nature-based systems around the world and through history."

The Earth First! Journal itself is published eight times a year, its editions bearing the names of the eight "wheel of the year" holidays of Pagan Europe.


And of course, it wouldn't be Earth First! without a few pages on monkey-wrenching:

"Monkeywrenching is nonviolent resistance to the destruction of natural diversity and wilderness. It is never directed against human beings or other forms of life. It is aimed at inanimate machines and tools that are destroying life. Care is always taken to minimize any possible threat to people, including to the monkeywrenchers themselves." (from "Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching," available via Earth First! Journal)

— Edited by George Franklin/RQ