Activist group organizes in Durango

99% spring training is not affiliated with Occupy movement

“Our daily institutions have very little connection to our daily lives,” said Jeff Newman after watching a training video and talking to others in groups at the 99% spring training event. The group decided to work on three major projects and call themselves the Durango Activists. Enlarge photo

LUCAS HESS/Durango Herald

“Our daily institutions have very little connection to our daily lives,” said Jeff Newman after watching a training video and talking to others in groups at the 99% spring training event. The group decided to work on three major projects and call themselves the Durango Activists.

Nonviolent activists followed the model of baseball leagues Saturday afternoon, hosting their own version of spring training.

About 30 people met at Durango Space from noon to 3 p.m. to take part in a “99% spring training.”

The training included group discussions, a film and detailed itinerary packets outlining methods for nonviolent action and steps for action planning.

Former attorney Frank Lockwood and Jaime McMillan, an investment adviser and unaffiliated candidate for the Colorado House of Representatives District 59, co-hosted the training.

“Forty nationwide organizations met over winter to plan a spring training,” Lockwood said. “They set a goal to train 100,000 people this week.”

Before hosting the local spring training, Lockwood participated in five trainings for trainers through conference calls, sometimes with hundreds of people around the country, he said.

The goal of the training was to begin planning direct actions in Durango, he said. The training focused on structure and organization.

“You wanna do it like we did it in the past, let’s get organized.” Lockwood said, referring to the examples of historic social-protest movements outlined in the film.

During the last hour of the training, the group discussed current projects occurring around town and possible new ones.

Fort Lewis College sophomore Jeremy Taylor has been working with McMillan to get fair student housing in Durango, Taylor said. The two already have brought the issue to City Council.

“Students at Fort Lewis College come in all shapes and sizes, and we deserve to be a part of the community,” Taylor said.

Another group of students mentioned a project called Grass to Gardens, in which they hope to develop community gardens and improve food security in the area.

Durango Bag It, not to be confused with Durango baguette, as it was briefly at the training, was another hot topic.

“We’re at the point of considering what the ordinance could look like,” said Zahra Lightway. “The vision is to go back to that innovative concept of the reusable bag.”

The movement to ban plastic bags in local businesses has been ongoing over the last several months.

At the end of the meeting, the group settled on three major projects to tackle, including Grass to Gardens, Move to Amend and industrial hemp, and tentatively planned to call themselves the Durango Activists.

The hemp project would move to create a local hemp economy.

Move to Amend is focused on amending the U.S. Constitution in an effort to overturn the 2010 Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

The group 99% Spring, which Saturday’s training was a branch of, is affiliated with the group MoveOn.org.

While the group was one of many spawned during the aftermath of the Occupy movement, 99% Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements are not directly affiliated.

Some of the participants at the sprint training, who wished to remain unnamed, said they disagreed with the political affiliations and leader-based structure invovled in the training.

A separate Occupy Durango meeting took place late Saturday afternoon.

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