Organizing Resistance -- A retrospective on the 2008 Republican National Convention
What follows is a strategic assessment of some of the organizing process leading up to the RNC protests in St. Paul. I participated in the actions but I am not a member of the RNC Welcoming Committee and do not purport to speak on their behalf. This document is purely for the purposes of discussion and debate within the anarchist community. The information contained in this analysis comes from first person observation, as well as a study of various documents put out by the RNC WC, independent and corporate news accounts of the actions, and other strategic reportbacks on the action. All of this information is public and nothing contained in this document is subject to any security culture agreements.
On September 1, 2008 several hundred activists from around the country converged on St. Paul’s downtown business district to execute a carefully planned strategy to stop the first day of the Republican National Convention. Just before noon that day, blockades began to move into place, holding back buses filled with delegates. Over the next several hours more than three dozen affinity groups, each numbering between five and fifty participants, moved into the city’s streets in a converted effort to stop traffic and block delegates.
Tactics ranged from simple sit-ins in intersections to snake marches and black blocs to blockades with disabled cars, chains, and lockboxes. St. Paul Police, whose ranks were bolstered with officers on loan from almost every jurisdiction in Minnesota, reacted aggressively. Police strategically and methodically worked to force protesters out of key intersections and off of main thoroughfares. They used blunt object force, chemical weapons, and concussion grenades to attempt to disburse, or at least push back crowds. And when their numbers allowed, police surrounded and arrested entire groups of protesters, reporters, and bystanders.
Protestors fought back in a series of skirmishes. Linking arms small groups were able to hold back the police’s advance and maintain their territory, if only for a short time. Equipped with goggles, masks, and bandanas groups of activists were able to withstand the onslaught of chemical weapons. Organized into small and tight knit groups protesters were able to swarm police and un-arrest some of their companions who had been snatched by police.
In the end, however, virtually all of the RNC delegates were able to get into the convention, relatively un-delayed. And the convention’s first day, which had been hyped as a neo-con ‘must see’ event headlined by luminaries like sitting President George W Bush, had been scaled back so that state and federal politicians could concentrate on relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Gustav's landfall in New Orleans.
But the relatively unfettered, if lackluster, commencement of day one of the Republican National Convention, did not mean that the protests were tactically ineffective. Traffic was blocked for several hours in downtown St. Paul and during the chaotic scene the swarm of protesters was able to disable at least two buses by slashing their tires and smashing their windows. Delegates were delayed in getting to the Excel Center and hundreds of America’s political elite were directly and personally confronted by an energetic declaration of opposition. Local police forces were overwhelmed and later reported to an unsympathetic corporate press that officers were “frightened” by the action on the streets.
In the days and weeks following the Republican National Convention, there has been no shortage of dramatic written accounts of the day’s actions, breathtaking still photographs of various clashes with police, and captivating video footage city streets filled with tear gas and concussion grenades exploding like low flying fireworks. Telling this collective story and reliving this collective experience is fundamentally important for anti-authoritarian resistance movements in the United States; by remembering these huge sparks in activity we remind ourselves that we can confront the state in all of its might and all of a sudden another world seems so much closer and so much more real.
But just as important as telling our collective stories is learning from our collective experiences. While many impressive and heroic actions were taken on the streets of St. Paul, it was the months and months of organizing and mobilizing in community centers, living rooms and city parks in the Twin Cities and across the country that yielded the framework and infrastructure that allowed us to go head to head with the state in St. Paul.
A preliminarily analysis of the organizing process that facilitated the attempts to shut down the Republican National Convention presents a few interesting questions: How did this framework come together and what differentiates this organizing effort from organizing efforts for previous mobilizations? What unique challenges and circumstances did organizers in the Twin Cities face and how were they addressed? What limitations did we put on ourselves and where did we miss opportunities? How can this experience be used as a roadmap for facilitating future actions?
To be sure, any analysis of an effort as multifaceted and complex as this action will be limited and incomplete. But these questions provide a starting point for synthesizing what we learned from this undertaking.
And, of course, analyzing what we learned in organizing for St. Paul, in an effort to replicate and improve on the organizing model, presupposes that we can come up with a positively stated response to the much bigger question: What did we gain in St. Paul?
There is no clear consensus on exactly what it was that anarchist and anti-authoritarian movements gained in St. Paul but I believe that I am in agreement with a large portion of the movement in asserting that that there were gains and that they were significant. For the purposes of this analysis I will move forward under that assumption and, for now, steer clear of the energetic debates about what can be gained through street protests. I will, however, return to the questions of gains and accomplishments as they relate to issues of capacity and knowledge base addressed in this article.
The Long Buildup
The first factor differentiating the St. Paul mobilization from other recent protest actions in North America is the sheer amount of time that was spent in the re-planning process. On the ground in St. Paul, the RNC Welcoming Committee, the anarchist/anti-authoritarian body organizing for the protests, started publicly organizing as early as April of 2007—a full year and a half before the convention. This amount of organizing lead-time is something that has not been prevalent in North American protest culture since the summit protest era at the height of the Global Justice Movement.
This early planning was not just talk, either. On Labor Day weekend in 2007, exactly a year before the convention, the RNC Welcoming committee held the pReNC or Pre RNC, which was a weekend long planning and training meeting attended by hundreds of activists representing organizations around the country. At that meeting, participants put fourth a four-pronged strategy for actualizing the resistance to the convention.
1. Start Strong – Throw all of our energy into the first day. We’ll kick this off right and stretch the militarized police state out so far that it can no longer contain and suppress our voices and desires.
2. Transportation Troubles – This includes blockades downtown (at key intersections), on bridges (10 bridges over the Mississippi River in the metro area), and other sporadic and strategic targets (busses, hotel and airport shuttles etc).
3. Respect, defend, and be prepared for autonomous self-sustaining alternatives – Lasting projects and spaces will be born out of our actions and will need to be protected. We also won’t knowingly bring the hammer down on existing long-term community projects. It doesn’t matter if we win the RNC battle, if the war for our lives is lost.
4. Be inclusive of local communities and respect alliances – We are all on the same side of the
barricades and are trying to build lasting bonds for future mutual aid. We may not agree with each other on all of our tactics, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t venues for us to work together and build on the trust and community that already exists.
That pReNC summit provided a major kick in building momentum for the next year’s protests and motivating activists around the country to begin organizing locally. But more importantly it generated broad-based buy-in for both the stated goals and suggested strategy for the action. Because a large number of groups were involved in conceptualizing the action from as early on as a full year out, activists around the country had a level of ownership in the plan. In total, 40 organizations signed on to that “Crash the Conventions” call to action.
As planning and organizing unfolded over the next year this broad-based buy-in around the “Crash the Convention” framework would prove to have an incredibly positive impact on the entire effort. Subsequent planning meetings focused very specifically on how to actualize the strategy, rather than constantly re-conceptualizing the action. And while a series of actions were planned by a myriad of organizations throughout the week of the conventions, not a single serious competing direct action framework was put forth.
A Year of Planning
Following the initial pReNC meeting a series of regional gatherings were held to promote the framework, facilitate local organizing around the action and begin to make plans in furtherance of the action. Established local organizations in various activist hubs around the US generally hosted these events but Unconventional Action, a national network closely tied to the CrimethInc Collective established to organize around the conventions, was very instrumental in facilitating many regional meetings.
Organizers from the RNC Welcoming Committee traveled to virtually all of these meetings to provide first hand reports from organizing that was happening on the ground in the Twin Cities and to solicit feedback on what groups around the country thought of the framework and information on what activists traveling to the Twin Cities needed and expected in terms of logistical support from local organizers. The consistent presence of these RNC WC organizers provided a level of continuity, coordination, and cross-region collaboration in what was an otherwise very disjointed series of meetings. Additionally, traveling to and participating in these meetings allowed RNC WC organizers make at least a cursory assessment of various groups’ organizing capacities and skill sets.
Although the overall framework for the action was enthusiastically discussed and debated at these meetings, the meetings were generally not decision-making forums. Rather, the regional meetings provided an opportunity for activists to see what other groups were thinking about the actions and start a discussion on the major tactical and strategic issues that still needed to be decided upon. Some of these regional meetings did, however, incubate plans for regional or local coordination and collaboration.
Beyond just acting as a valuable planning and strategy development tool, this series of regional meetings proved to be an incredibly valuable organizing and mobilizing device. Because the meetings were held around the country, nearly every activist who had any interest in organizing around the RNC had the opportunity to attend a meeting. Because the barriers to attending a meeting were so low, many activists who were not invested enough in the action to drive all the way to St. Paul for a planning meeting were able to attend. Many of the people who went to a regional meeting just to find out what was going on left energized and committed to the Crash the Convention action.
Additionally, most of these regional gatherings incorporated relatively significant tactical workshops. Because relatively few active organizers in the United States have significant experience at large scale confrontational actions, this training was very valuable to both build confidence and brief newer activists on serious health and safety, strategic, and security considerations.
Then, eight months after the first pReNC meeting and four months before the convention, the RNC WC hosted a second pReNC meeting, the pReNC 5.3 (named for the date, May 3). This meeting acted in many ways as a ‘report back’ from the various regional meetings and an opportunity to solidify plans for actualizing the framework. Functionally the pReNC 5.3 acted as a spokes council with all groups familiar with the strategy and that have begun organizing invited to participate.
Security Culture and Infiltration
Up until the pReNC 5.3, virtually every significant planning summit for the RNC was, more or less, wide open to whoever walked in the door and could say with a straight face that they agreed with the Welcoming Committee’s broad statement of unity. By May, however, organizers thought that in order to move beyond initial discussions about the action to concrete planning it would be necessary to limit participation to representatives of groups that were familiar with the strategy and that could be trusted or “vouched for.”
The wide open nature and relative transparency of the planning process, up to and including the pReNC 5.3 was unique in comparison to organizing efforts for other mass actions in the United States. Generally, security concerns and logistical challenges trump pushes for openness and transparency when organizing demonstrations that could be considered unlawful. During the build up to the RNC, however, Welcoming Committee organizers opted to allow organizing and mobilizing considerations to override calls for secrecy.
It later became public knowledge that the organizing effort had been heavily infiltrated by informants from various law enforcement agencies. While a stricter security culture policy might have averted some of this infiltration, tighter security measures would have undoubtedly had a serious adverse impact on organizing efforts, inhibiting the transparency of the organizing process and jeopardizing the broad based buy-in to the strategy. Further, it appears that the RNC Welcoming Committee itself was infiltrated so it is unlikely that any amount of clamping down at these meetings could have thwarted the state’s efforts to gain intelligence on the organizing process.
The major work product coming out of the pReNC 5.3 was a comprehensive implementation plan for blockading the first day of the convention. Downtown St. Paul was divided into seven ‘sectors.’ Organizations from around the country that had been involved in the planning process were invited to step up and volunteer to coordinate the blockade of a sector. Sector coordinators were responsible for recruiting other activists and groups of activists to help to implement their blockades.
This segmentation of organizing efforts struck a functional balance between allowing organizers to avail themselves of the benefits of decentralization and semi-autonomous action and real needs for accountability, dependability, and trust that the broader action will come together in an effective way. By breaking down the action into seven segments, the Welcoming Committee allowed organizers to concentrate on manageable chunks of the action, alleviating some of the very difficult communications challenges that are inherent to coordinating a framework involving thousands of participants involved in dozens of different actions. By asking established groups to step up to coordinate sectors the Welcoming Committee offered organizers an assurance that the other segments of the action were accounted for and that known groups could be held accountable for implementing the pieces of the action.
All of this decentralized sector organizing was backed up by an impressive and extensive program for developing an infrastructure to support the actions. The RNC WC opened a convergence space to act as a general headquarters for much of the organizing. Seeds of Peace provided two meals a day in the days leading up to and following the September 1 action and even offered affinity groups an opportunity to sign up to get ‘bagged lunches’ on September 1 so everyone could keep their energy up in the streets. The North Star Health Collective helped to organize street medics to provide first-aid during the actions and opened a Wellness Center to provide both immediate medical care and psychological first aid to protestors coming off the streets. The Cold Snap Legal Collective opened a legal hotline, provided ‘know your rights’ trainings,’ helped to track arrestees, and organized for mass legal defense following the actions. The Tin Can Comms collective built a network of Twitter text messaging groups and helped to vet reports for accuracy and control the volume of messages. Twin Cities Indymedia relaunched the area’s local Independent Media Center website, posting and reporting up-to-date minute-by-minute reports on the action. Additionally groups organized to provide childcare, housing, rides to and from town, and bicycles for local transportation in support of the actions.
And although this incredible logistical structure is likely to go largely unreported it is in every way just as important as the dramatic action that played out on the streets of St. Paul. This network not only provided essential resources enabling sector organizers to head into battle, it provided a working model for a resource cultivating and sharing community based largely on mutual aid. While this network was certainly imperfect as it struggled with issues of scarcity and outside attack it did do a fine job of pooling and allocating a huge amount of resources in an incredibly hectic environment in a fundamentally anti-authoritarian way.
It is also important to point out that there was not a disconnect between people involved with blockades and people involved in developing infrastructure. In fact, while participants in the actions generally gravitated towards projects that they were interested in, virtually everyone involved in the Crash the Convention framework played some role in the support infrastructure organizing and on the streets. In future mobilizations and as many of these infrastructure creation efforts become more complex and advanced, it will be important to maintain this mutual respect for the roles that individuals play in pulling together a broader framework and to avoid pigeonholing individuals or creating informal hierarchies based on skill sets and privilege to risk arrest.
Our Action, Our Identity
With such a diversity of organizations coming out to protest the Republican National Convention, anarchist and antiauthoritarian efforts to build a protest framework could have easily been sidetracked or subverted by liberal, centrist, or even right-wing libertarian influences. In many, many instances we have seen coalition efforts at mass mobilizations collapse into a ‘lowest common denominator’ approach rendering any serious messaging or tactical or strategic goals impossible.
A large part of the Welcoming Committee’s success can be attributed to its success in avoiding this problematic entanglement and freeing itself to organize utilizing explicitly anti-authoritarian principles. At its inception, the RNC Welcoming Committee set forth a simple list of six points of unity:
1. A rejection of Capitalism, Imperialism, and the State;
2. Resist the commodification of our shared and living Earth;
3. Organize on the principles of decentralization, autonomy, sustainability, and mutual aid;
4. Work to end all relationships of domination and subjugation, including but not limited to those rooted in patriarchy, race, class, and homophobia;
5. Oppose the police and prison-industrial complex, and maintain solidarity with all targets of state repression;
6. Directly confront systems of oppression, and respect the need for a diversity of tactics.
St. Paul Principles
The RNC Welcoming Committee was clear about who it was and how it would organize but this did not prevent the WC from interacting with other groups utilizing different organizing models in the same space in a positive and mutually respectful way. Ugly debates about violence and non-violence, ‘peaceful demonstrations’ and confrontational actions, and property destruction have long plagued resistance organizing in the United States. This squabbling is often seized on by the media and the state and acts to detract from the organizing being done by activists on all sides of the debate.
During the FTAA protests in Quebec City in 2001, this decades old debate took a seismic step forward with the widespread emergence of the concept of “diversity of tactics.” Simply put, diversity of tactics calls for respect for different individuals and different groups in utilizing a broad range of tactics in a broad range of circumstances. It calls for individuals to respect each other’s organizing space as well as their autonomy effectively removing debates about which tactics are acceptable from organizing forums and relegating them to philosophical and political discussions.
The serious limitation with the concept of diversity of tactics is that without clear communication it is often difficult to denote whose organizing space is whose and what individuals and groups are trying to accomplish through their actions. It also requires that all sides adhere to the principle. Further, in the face of serious police repression events tend to spiral tactically out of control and we lose the luxury of consciously deciding how confrontational to be.
In St. Paul, organizers went a step further than simply calling for respect for organizing space and a diversity of tactics. With the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War scheduled to march on the Excel Center on the same day as the RNC WC Crash the Conventions blockade, organizers from both groups worried about how the two actions would play out together in the streets. After a long standoff, organizers from both came together in February 2007, seven months before the convention, to establish the “St. Paul Principles” outlining how the two groups would interact with each other in the streets. The four point agreement called for respect for a diversity of tactics and organizing space and a mutual opposition of state repression of dissent.
1. Our solidarity will be based on respect for a diversity of tactics and the plans of other groups.
2. The actions and tactics used will be organized to maintain a separation of time or space.
3. Any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any public or media denunciations of fellow activists and events.
4. We oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance, infiltration, disruption and violence. We agree not to assist law enforcement actions against activists and others.
In the end the St. Paul Principles were signed onto by dozens of other groups organizing for the conventions. While the corporate media and law enforcement officials sought to promote the ‘good protester, bad protester’ false dichotomy, the interactions between groups of protesters in the streets and in post action meetings and forums stayed largely civil and productive.
Ideally the experience from collaboration and mutual respect in St. Paul will permeate to other communities and organizing spaces and will lead to lasting alliances and mutual support networks. Whether or not that happens, however, depends on whether or not these real successes in terms of mutual respect are communicated as part of the story of St. Paul as told in both radical and liberal circles.
After months and months of training and preparation the convention finally came to St. Paul. As activists began to pour into town from all over the country, the police made the first move. On Friday, August 29 and Saturday, August 30 local police conducted a series of raids on the homes of RNC Welcoming Committee organizers and the convergence space. By the time the first wave of raids ended, at least three houses had been invaded and eight RNC WC organizers had been arrested on felony conspiracy to riot charges.
In response, the legal, communications, and community outreach structures jumped into high gear, legally contesting the arrests and the searches; providing solid, accurate information and running rumor control; and generating a widespread expression of community outrage. This was the first major test of the action infrastructure, and while it was a difficult and chaotic time, everything seemed to work as well as could have been anticipated.
Law enforcement’s strategy was clear: police thought that by kidnapping the group’s ‘leaders’ and generally intimidating everyone else they could disorient participants enough to curtail the protests. The raids and arrests did inhibit planning, but only insofar as they took eight strong activists off the streets, led to a shortage of housing, and disrupted several planned meetings. The widespread confusion, fear and disorientation that were likely anticipated by law enforcement officials as they planned the raids, however, never came to fruition.
The resilience of the protest infrastructure in the face of this aggressive preemptive attack clearly attests to the value of the non-hierarchal structure adopted by the Welcoming Committee. Had the police actually been able to take out the group’s leaders, it is entirely possible that plans could have collapsed. But because all of the participants were prepared to continue to make decisions collectively and act autonomously the effects of the raids were minimal.
Just after noon on Labor Day, the first blockades went up in sector 1. Then, static blockades, roving blockades, lockdowns, dance parties, sit-ins, all moved into place. Meanwhile a permitted march of 5-10,000 was still moving through the streets. It’s unclear exactly what happened, when and when it happened but it is clear that the ‘swarm’ into place overwhelmed law enforcement.
Police seemed to move through the city like triage nurses, carefully picking and choosing which blockades to attack first. Property destruction had to be stopped right away, and then main thoroughfares had to be cleared. Traffic could just be routed around strong blockades until the situation was more ‘under control.’ As the day went on blockades began to fall in rapid succession. Affinity groups monitored the situation over Tin Can’s Twitter groups and moved to join stronger blockades or attempt to confront police attacks. By 4:00 police were rounding up people en masse and virtually all of the blockades had fallen.
The successes and failures of the day’s action will likely debated for months, if not years to come. At this point, a few things seem clear. The rapid and decentralized but coordinated launch of the blockades effectively overwhelmed the police. The strength of individual blockades varied drastically from intersection to intersection and sector to sector but it was the synergy between the various types of blockades that was the source of the blockades’ collective strength. For instance, riot police would respond to a lockdown and not have the equipment to dismantle the blockades. Meanwhile the ‘cut team,’ equipped with to cut through lockboxes and dismantle other hard lockdowns would be stuck on the other side of St. Paul behind a line of bike cops scuffling with a roving blockade. Because the tactics were so drastically different and collectively concreted on inhibiting the movement of traffic, police had a difficult time getting the equipment and officers they needed where they needed them.
That said, the blockades only held for a time and no group was prepared to face down the full power that the police force brought to bear. It is unclear, however, whether or not more people or more robust blockading tactics would have had an appreciable effect on our ability to hold the space for much longer.
While the Tin Can Comms network was, bar none, the most effective action communications network the North American protest scene has developed to date, few, if any affinity groups had an effective system for utilizing the information they were receiving. Often roving groups would respond to Twitter calls for backup only to get there after the group in need of assistance had already been swept up.
As the day wore on, police activity escalated, larger and larger groups were being surrounded and arrested, en masse and numbers in the streets began to dwindle. Well before sundown virtually everyone who was not in jail had retreated for the day and the Crash the Convention action had ended.
Looking Back, Looking Forward
Did we bite off more than we could chew? Was a complete blockade of the RNC infeasible? In hindsight, it seems that the North American anarchist movement simply did not have the capacity to shut down the first day of the RNC. The terrain and geography was incredibly vast, we were not able to recruit or train enough people, and as a movement we collectively do not have enough mass action experience to tactically facilitate something at that scope.
That does not, however, mean calling for a shutdown of the first day of the convention wasn’t the right thing to do. From an organizing standpoint, it is much easier to mobilize people to invest a significant amount of time, money, and resources and incur substantial legal and physical risks around a compelling tactical goal like shutting down the RNC than it is to mobilize for a less compelling goal like an aimless, wandering black bloc or a purely symbolic civil disobedience action. Of course it would be equally ineffective to try to mobilize around a completely unattainable goal like storming the Excel Center and taking over the convention. The RNC Welcoming Committee set its sights high, but reasonably so and effectively balanced feasibility with desirability, pushing us all to the brink of our organizing capabilities.
So should we consider this a defeat? To answer that question we need to look at the goals our movement set for ourselves at the pReNC, exactly a year before the action:
1. Build Our Capacity – A new reality will not emerge by simply stopping the 4-day spectacle of the RNC. We need folks with an alternative vision to come to the Twin Cities and turn their dreams into reality. Start something new, be creative, and come ready to build sustainable alternatives worth fighting for and defending. The new skills that we teach, learn, and put into practice here will allow us to return to our communities stronger, smarter, and more empowered.
2. Crash the Convention – We didn’t get an invitation, but we’re showing up anyway. This party will be what we make of it. We don’t want to confine our potential by imposing a single vision of what success will look like. We recognize that there will be a lot of people coming with their own agendas and carefully laid plans and want to be open to the diverse tactics that will be necessary to accomplish our many goals. Together, we can derail the purely ceremonial show of this repressive system and remake it with our own hands and according to our own visions.
By any objective measure the North American anarchist movement is much stronger today than it was a year ago. In the past year hundreds of people have had the opportunity to actively participate in organizing for a radical mass action, thousands have been trained in action tactics and strategies, and tens of thousands watched what went on in the streets of St. Paul and thought, for the first time, that yes, we might be able to take on the state and win.
But more importantly than any of that, through the process of organizing for the Republican National Convention, national and regional networks have emerged and resurged, both formally and informally. As we work and fight to build all of the worlds that we know are possible, we have an emerging nationwide movement that we can call on for support and solidarity in our local struggles. And on the local level, in places where anarchist organizing has not been seen in over a decade, collectives are popping up running food distribution efforts, anti-militarism campaigns, and starting collective housing projects.
Even though the convention was not shut down looking back at it, that was never what we set out to do in the first place. We certainly crashed the party and, even in the corporate media, we were able to tell our story of resistance right along McCain’s story of complicity. The showdown in St. Paul was not the first battle our movement has seen and it won’t be the last.
Where do we go from here?
After a big and inspiring mobilization like St. Paul, our first reaction is often to start thinking about the next big summit protest. While the upcoming presidential inauguration will serve as a fertile ground for militant action we certainly cannot pretend that we will be able to mobilize an action at the same level as St. Paul. More importantly we shouldn’t pretend that our movement is just about mass mobilizations and summit protests.
In the absence of a real national level action in the near future, we can look to dozens of local and regional campaigns. In the Midwest, EarthFirsters are organizing to halt construction of I-69; in upstate, NY communities are organizing to stop a new and devastating form of natural gas drilling; in the Northwest, Port Military Resistance is becoming an annual event.
We should also remember that our movement isn’t just about tearing down the old world, it is also about building a new world, many new worlds, that we can live in today. Around the country collectives are starting urban farms (and rural ones too!), providing support for our political prisoners, salvaging food and sharing it with their neighbors, opening free schools, running bike cooperatives, and moving into housing cooperatives.
Our next steps should only be bound by our imagination and our collective willingness to take action. But we shouldn’t forget the lessons we learned in St. Paul—about the effectiveness of accountable autonomy and benefits of participatory decision-making; about the importance of our anarchist identity and the utility of conscious and thoughtful collaboration with diverse organizations; and about the strength of our movement when we work together.
See you on the streets…or in the trees in Indiana, or the oil fields in the Finger Lakes, or the Port of Tacoma, or the dumpster behind the supermarket, or the cornfield near the closed factory.