While Fighting the Wall, the Borderlands Team Makes Connections
By Dan Millis, Borderlands Team and Conservation Program Coordinator, Grand Canyon Chapter.
In August 2010, members of the Borderlands Team converged in San Diego for several days of strategizing, lobbying, outreach, and border wall touring. We met with lawmakers, we saw the impacts of border walls on the Otay Mountain Wilderness Area, and we met with local groups and conducted a screening of our border film Wild Versus Wall.
We were able to raise the profile of the Borderlands Team within the San Diego Chapter, local NGOs, lawmakers, and the public. Eight team members, a half-dozen local community leaders, some members of the press, and several representatives of the local activism community attended the various events. We also had one or two dozen members of the public show for the film screening.
Lots of preliminary planning and outreach ensured that the events were well-attended and that key people from the local area would be there. At one point we had some trouble getting access to one of the meeting places we had arranged, so we instead met in a scenic outdoor park!
One key lesson learned is that outreach and coordination with other interested parties in key regions is essential to building legitimacy and rapport. Putting yourself out there, talking to others, listening to their ideas, and following up with them are all important.
If possible, we need to spend time getting more first-hand experiences at the point of impact. For example, we should've toured the Tijuana Estuary and adjacent impacted areas, but we only had time for Otay Mountain Wilderness Area. Check out the Borderlands Team on the Activist Network.