Lake Worth report

By the beach in Lake Worth FloridaLake Worth in Florida was one of the very few places on the US tour I could reasonably get to by train.  It's a smallish sea side town a couple of hours up the coast from Miami and just south of Palm beach. The population is around 35,000 and the town is split from the ocean by the Lagoon which gives it its name.  It's actually named after an American general who led one of the campaigns against the Seminole, a comple nationa comprised on a number of native america groups, escaped (black) slaves and (white) indentured servants.  I'm going to mention them in more details in my Gainesville blog update.    

So after my last day visit to the Burger King HQ in Miami Patrick drove me to the tri-rail station near the airport and it was onwards for the short trip to Lake Worth. I remember the day as being extremely hot, which to me means anything at or above 30c.  My brain tends to shut down around that temperture.  I also remember being rather concerned about how I was going to make this next bit of the trip connect up.  My problem was that the day after tomorrow I was to be on the other side of Florida at the 'All Power to the Imagination' conference in Sarasota and the transport system was conspiring against me.  Lake Worth wasn't served by Greyhound and in any case was past the Fort Lauderdale junction where Alligator Alley splits off to cross central Florida. And the Greyhound station there was a couple of miles from the Tri-rail station.  Only one bus did the trip a day and that was early so it looked like I'd have to get up early in the morning to catch a 5am train, hike across to the Greyhound and then spend the entire day travelling across (there was another change somewhere on the way).  It must have been the heat but I remember being quite stressed about this.

I had rough directions from the Tri-rail to the house I was staying and speaking at.  This was the only time we were doing a public meeting is someone's actual home.  The Lake Worth stop had seemed pretty random in general up to taht point.  The guy who had initially emailed me to put the Florida leg of the tour together had found someone called Cara Jenning's who was willing to host the Lake Worth stop.  We'd exchanged a couple of emails and she seemed a good deal less enthusiastic then most of my other hosts although not unfriendly, retrospectively I suspect she may have thought the speaking tour was just an excuse for some poorly disguised coach surfing (and I suppose in a certain sense it was),  The name ran a bell but it was only after I arrived I remembered why, I'd read about Cara on infoshop a while before as an anarchist who had got herself elected to the Lake Worth town council.

Most everyone who hosted the talks did so because they strongly identified with the sort of anarchist politics I have, rooted in the socialist tradition and mass mobilisation.  Sometimes in the US that is called 'Red anarchism' and contrasted with what is referred to as 'Green anarchism'  Cara it turned out was an exception to that general rule as she was more identified with the 'Green anarchist' side.  Indeed I arrived to be offered some dumpster dived chocolates and to discover that the house had been disconnected from the domestic sewage system.

This seemed a brave decision in Florida where year round temperatures often exceed 30c and beyond.  Compost toilets are one thing to contemplate outdoors in Rossport where it seldom gets above 20c but indoors in Florida they seemed a more daunting task. I'd had a less than wonderful experience of an old style outhouse toilet that had been constructed behind the house in the Zapatista community I'd stayed in whiel visiting Chiapas.  Quite some years back now but the memory remains strong, I'll spare you the details.  The reality was in fact fine, if your willing to do the work of maintaining them an indoor compost toilet is feasible enough.  The grey water from the house was drained into a purpose wetland plant area in the back garden which was otherwise taken up with vegetables and compost piles. 

The first evening she brought me along to a meeting of the local migrant rights campaign which was focused on the theft of wages from vunerable migrant workers.  We cycled there, my first go on a bike south of the border I think.

I was offered the choice of visiting the swamp to see alligators the next day or to borrow a bike to cycle around town and down to the beach.  Initially I went for the swamp but then got nervous as I realised the only clean clothes I had were the ones I was wearing and  it might be a little unpleasant to do a long hot journey after spending the day in the swamp.  So I backed out of this which is the biggest regret of my trip.  I did spend the day cycling around town, actually the first thing I did was to cycle to the post office to send a letter back to my workplace in Ireland informing them that I intended to resume work as scheduled in a little over a month.  Then I cruised around looking for somewhere that looked OK to eat before heading down across the lagoon and onto the beach.  But it was getting seriously hot and fear of sunburn drove me back across the lagoon and to the shade of the house for the afternoon.

We held the meeting in the back yard, it was preceeded by a pot-luck in which everyone brought some food, there seems to be a bit of a tradition of this in North American radical circles although its unusual in Ireland.  We had to wait a bit for the sun to sink low enough so that the slides were visible on the screen.  Fourteen people attended and there was particular interest in the Rossport segment of the talk as many of those present are involved in resisting a new power plant being built in the Everglades.  A whole load of them had been arrested at some sort of road blockade some weeks before my arrival. I took the commonn experience and interest in the two struggles an ocean apart (literally) as confirmation that the crude and often nonsensical 'green' v 'red' anarchist polarity that is in circulation in the US isn't really reflected in reality. But I've never felt that division made a whole lot of sense except to the keyboard warriors, certainly the experience in Ireland is much more about anarchist organizations working across a range of issues that might be considered to fall into one or the other end of that division.

Just before the meeting I got a call from someone who was driving over to Sarasota that night, had heard I needed a lift and was going to pick me up from the house.  Suddenly everything fell into place even though as it turned out we had a long trip ahead.

Read the other blog posts from the 44 city speaking tour

WORDS: Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )


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