Radicals Get Tactical

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When you think of a city that is a hotbed of radical activism, Miami doesn't automatically come to mind. After all, Birkenstocks, ratty cutoffs and patchouli oil don't really, uh, go with the fake boobs-stiletto heels-consumerist-mentality so popular around these parts.

Still. A fashion aesthetic sure isn't going to stop a real activist, and it didn't this weekend, during the second annual South Florida Radical Activist Conference, held at the Wallflower Gallery this past weekend.

Max Rameau — taking a break from his successful housing protest-cum-street theater called Umoja Village — kicked off the conference's two days of seminars and how-to sessions. From there, the budding Abbie Hoffmans heard about workers' struggles in Haiti, workers' struggles in Immokalee, Florida, and about environmental struggles everywhere.

One of the best parts about the conference was the literature table, which contained flyers and 'zines on everything from "Florida's Incredible Wild Edibles" to "Anarchist Intellectuals" to "The Ethical Slut — A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities."

Co-organizer Mark Silverstein expected about 200 people to filter through the event throughout the weekend. He said the top three things people in South Florida should be worried about are gentrification, environmental destruction, and capitalism. He acknowledged that it's difficult to get folks in South Florida to pay attention to these causes, but diplomatically refused to rip on the shallowness of the area.

"It's all about the organization after the conference, within the local community," said Silverstein. "We're not interested in creating a top down organization. We're not relying on others to initiate anything."

Silverstein predicted that one of Sunday's workshops would be the most popular: puppet making. "Puppets are pretty popular among activists," he said.

Well, yeah! Puppets can be anarchists, too.

For more information on radical activism in South Florida, e-mail improvisedaction@riseup.net. -Tamara Lush

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