BLACK BRIDGE INTERNATIONAL
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How is BBI
organized? Federation? Network? Something else?
1 Black Bridge International is organized on the principle of radical decentralization. As anarchists, we reject leaders and all forms of hierarchy in our political work. All groups involved in BBI have complete autonomy in their actions and activities: they need not 'get permission' to act as Black Bridge collectives. Another 'organization' that you might compare BBI to along these lines in North America is Food Not Bombs. In some ways, Black Bridge is more of an "idea" than a traditional organization.
What connects Black Bridge groups together is not allegiance to a greater organization, but their shared dedication to internationalism and mutual aid. We feel that this sort of radical decentralization promotes the autonomy of participating groups and fosters relationships based on shared work and respect.
So, no. BBI is not a federation, we have no platform, dues or governing bodies. We are not a network either, in the sense that Indymedia is a network. One comrades suggested the notion of a decentralized "web": several collectives who work together to share ideas, resources and mutual aid without any of the bureaucracy.
2 There is no formal application process to join BBI. You effectively join the mutual aid web when you get in touch with BBI and begin engaging in mutual aid with anarchists in other countries. If you are already engaged in such work and would like to utilize the Black Bridge model, we welcome you. You can use the Black Bridge name and the resources that we have made available (the literature, forms and materials, the contact list, iconography, etc) in whatever ways they are useful.
We believe that the BBI organization is not as important as the work that it's members engage in. We are aware of several people engaged in international anarchist mutual aid, who use the similar models as we do, who are building strategies and methods of aid, yet choose not to use the name Black Bridge. This is perfectly acceptable. Unlike socialist ideologues, we have no desire to get "recruits" or to sell anything. As Mike Watt used to say "Now go do it yourself!"
3 A node is simply a individual or collective involved in the Black Bridge web. There are Black Bridge nodes across the United States, South America, Northern and Eastern Europe. So far, most Black Bridges have been initiated by a North American collectives or individuals who has made contact with anarchists in a particular region and then traveled there. There, they meet with other anarchists, learn about their projects and struggles, collect material and exchange resources, skills and other forms of aid. Afterwards, they work to increase awareness about the region and collect resources to send.
4 Since September 2001, Black Bridges have been formed to Bolivia, Bulgaria, Latvia and Brazil. The manner in which each country is connected to the broader BBI web is worked out between the two 'nodes' which initially get into contact.
For example, Bolivia has a standing anarchist "net" which brings together about 14 collectives. So, in order to send them resources and to stay in contact with the Bolivian anarchists, we maintain strong contact with one of their member collectives: Juventudes Libertarias. We, the BBI in the United States, do not decide on where the aid and resources go in Bolivia: the Bolivian net makes those decisions based on where the collectives feel the resources are most needed and useful. We believe that local groups in each region are the most knowledgeable and capable of deciding how to handle and share resources from the United States. This approach is set up for BBI to avoid devolving into a expert body of grant givers, or simply a charity organization.
Other regions function differently. Bulgaria, for example, has no such net. Therefore, most of the communications between the groups in the US and Bolivia are one-on-one between individual collectives. In Brazil, BBI had a wonderful opportunity, because it was the site of the Jornadas Anarquistas convergence, where hundreds of anarchists from across South America met (they organized J.A. as a counter-conference for the sadly co-opted World Social Forum, in Porte Alegre, which happened at the same time). In our experience, each region functions differently depending on local circumstances and the various groups involved. The BBI idea is flexible enough to allow for these differences.
An exciting development has been how non-American nodes have been getting in contact with each other. Groups that have never met previously are beginning to learn about each other. The best example was an event and fundraiser that the Latvian anarchists did for the Bolivians. Even though that had not met, the Latvians have begun to work with the Bolivians, via the BBI. This is a good development in starting to move the BBI from an American-centered endeavor to a more global one.
5 "Bolivia Calling" is a short documentary made by the NYC collective that was shot in Sucre and Cochabamba. It contains interviews and footage of Bolivian anarchists explaining their work and struggle in their own words. It is the first Black Bridge documentary and hopefully others will be soon to follow. For more information on how to get a free copy of "Bolivia Calling" or set up a screening, contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
6 So far, the NYC collective has done much of the groundwork for BBI. We are not "in charge" and do not desire power or influence over any other groups engaged in Black Bridge work. Our main contribution has been the creation of some (but not all) of the materials used by BBI and the hosting of the web site. We suspect that as time goes on and the project grows, the influence of the NYC group will diminish and the others regions will contribute the bulk of the materials, ideas and strategies.