Building Bridges Conference to Pave the Way for Future Grassroots Movements

On Saturday, March 4th at 10 a.m., the 22nd annual Building Bridges conference begins. At Uprooting Injustice: Fostering Growth of Grassroots Movements, attendees can expect to be both educated and inspired. The list of keynote speakers and workshop leaders alone is incredibly exciting. The list includes: Winona LaDuke, a native environmentalist activist from White Earth Reservation, Nekima Levy-Pounds, 2017 mayoral candidate in Minneapolis and former president of the Minnesota chapter of the NAACP, and Naomi Natale, a social arts activist who created the “One Million Bones” project in Washington DC in order to protest international genocide.

With such strong speakers and workshop leaders, and an action packed schedule, the Building Bridges conference is sure to leave even the most shy believers in social justice with the tools and confidence to become a warrior. Elizabeth Long and Gabe Grosshuesch, the co-chairs of Building Bridges, were kind enough to tell me more.

What are you hoping that conference attendees get out of the experience?

Elizabeth: “I hope that attendees feel inspired by the conference and incorporate what they've learned into their own lives. The beauty of activism is that it is multifaceted and needs different perspectives and strategies to be successful. I am hopeful that conference attendees will leave with a clearer idea of how their own individual skills and traits can be applied to activism.”

What are you most excited for about the conference?

Elizabeth: “I am most excited to welcome students from other schools to the conference. We made a concerted effort this year to reach out to students at other colleges and invite them to attend the conference. Because this conference is student-led, I'm looking forward to meeting other students who are similarly passionate and working towards the same goals.”

Gabe: “I cannot pick a single thing to be excited for because I think this year's lineup is just dynamite. I mean we have really strived to get big keynote names and create a well-rounded overall conference with workshops and our interpretive walk-through. It surely is a unique experience for college students, especially Gusties.”

What is your personal definition of a "Grassroots Movement?

Gabe: “Grassroots Movements are a form of activism that uses community organizing grounded in justice, peace, and sustainability to help combat an injustice or conflict that exists within our society. Grassroots Movements are present throughout history and often the largest progressive advancements are results of Grassroots Movements.”

What do you think keeps people from being activists and/or getting involved in their community?

Gabe: “People are either too afraid to act, don't know how, don't feel that one person can have make a change, or they feel it's not their place. Sometimes we criticize people so much for not acting or being something....that they just don't act because they don't think it’s their place.”

Elizabeth: “I think that our modern society has made people less inclined to pursue activism. It's hard to challenge societal norms, especially when you feel that you are alone. I think that as a nation, we are becoming more apathetic through all of our exposure to media and technology, and often feel too powerless and isolated to make any meaningful change.”

What inspired you to be an activist?

Gabe:  “I grew up in a place surrounded by many cultures from around the world and I fell in love with them. I was always taught that we should love our neighbors as ourselves, and so I truly believe that to be an activist one must remember that they are nothing without common humanity and those around us.”

Elizabeth: “My experience with higher education has played a large role in my activism. Through education, I have been exposed to new theories and ideas that helped me see the world with a different perspective.”

For details and more information, click here.

For the full conference schedule, click here.