173 Direct Action Done Right: an Interview with Raffi and Lili of Collectively Free

We are thrilled about our interview today with Raffi Ciavatta and Lili Trenkova of Collectively Free about direct action: what it is, what it should be, ways to make sure you’re doing it right.

In This Episode

We have historically only talked about direct actions gone wrong which may have given the impression that we don’t support direct action as a valid and effective form of activism, which is certainly not true. So, we are very happy to be joined by Raffi Ciavatta and Lili Trenkova today, the founders of Collectively Free, an intersectional organization that does badass direct actions the right way.

Raffi and Lili start off by defining what direct action really is – it’s a much broader definition than you might think! – and then talk about the common objections to and criticisms of this type of activism. They then follow all this up with a great list of ways that they have made sure their organization does direct actions in the safest and most respectful way possible for their members.

One of our favorite quotes from the interview is a Rea Carey quote:

Leadership for me is tied to this question of vision…and a desire for wholeness…We can’t ask someone to be an undocumented immigrant one day, a lesbian the next, and a mom the third day…Our vision is about…transforming society so she can be all of those things every single day and that there would be a connectedness among social justice workers and among the organizations, and agendas, if you will, to make her life whole.

Another favorite quote was from Raffi:

If we are not treating our activists as whole people, we are failing them and failing the animals.

Raffi and Lili had many great tips for creating an intersectional activist space – a “brave space,” as they call it. Some highlights that they expand upon in the interview:

  • Have community agreements & policies, as well as a plan in place for when these are broken.
  • Debrief after each action to see how each participant feels & make sure they have the space to feel safe being honest.
  • Have a buddy system in place for all actions.
  • Be prepared! Actions shouldn’t be done in a rushed or impulsive manner; to be done right, they need to be carefully planned.
  • Assign a person with privilege to be in charge of talking to the cops, but not someone who will antagonize the police.

There is so much great content in this episode, we can’t wait for y’all to listen!

About the Organization
Collectively Free is an activist community for total animal liberation through anti-speciesist messaging, creative actions, pro-intersectionality & community building.

You can follow Collectively Free on: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Website

Joke in the Middle
A woman is sitting at a funeral for her wife. A man leans in and asks, “Do you mind if a say a word?”…

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