Illustration by Celia Fong.
Illustration by Celia Fong.

When asked to define practical activism, Eden Silva Jequinto said it’s “about engaging in what your reality is […] What’s your role and how can you make a decision. Not just through your mind or words but through your actions, and not just by yourself but with a collective.” Eden, a UC Santa Cruz alumna and current UCLA law student and activist, is one of this year’s keynote speakers for the 13th annual conference.

The Practical Activism Conference will be held in the College Nine and College Ten Multipurpose Room from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and features 10 workshops ranging from the “Unmet Needs of Queer and Trans Students” to “California Drought and Impact on Field Workers.” Along with Eden, spoken word poet Jazz Hudson will also be a keynote speaker.

“I really hope that there is healing work, internal work, strengthening work, clarifying work that people do [at the conference],” Eden said. “I hope that with whatever work they are doing, they have more honesty and clarity about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it and either make smarter decisions about their relationship to that work or recommit to it.”

For nearly two quarters, third-year student Alia Edington worked with 50 other students to bring the conference to life — and she thinks of the group as family.

“We’ve gotten really close,” Edington said. “We’ve bonded a lot, we’ve butted heads a lot, but it’s OK because we’ve also gotten really close and I think that’s pretty cool.”

Although Edington hasn’t attended the conference before, she looks forward to bringing her skills and knowledge to the event and incorporating them into the workshop that she will be leading — “Exposing the Truth: Using Media for Social Change.” As a biology major, Edington believes she can bring a fresh viewpoint to the conference to people unfamiliar with practical activism.

“I would be able to put it into terms with other people who might not know what activism is and what is so impactful about it,” Edington said. “I know when I first came in that’s the first thing that I thought of. Like what did I get myself into? What is practical activism?”

Edington describes practical activism as “feeling passionate about [an] issue and wanting to do something to change this issue, but in a very practical way.” She said anyone can change the world with a direction in mind, and by using practical skills.

Fourth-year student Casey Kuhlow found out about the conference in her anthropology class and will attend Edington’s workshop on media and activism.

“There is so much conflict out there in academia on whether activism online is passive and lacks personal connection, or the benefits of potential issue-creation,” Kulow said. “There’s so many pros and cons to the debate so I’m interested to hear more.”

Going green is the overarching theme for the conference this year. The event’s organizers urge participants to reduce waste and bring their own water bottles, utensils and pencils. They will have Zero Waste Stations to teach students how to reduce their carbon footprint. Due to the events success over the years, the conference is hoping for a turnout in the triple digits.

Keynote speaker Eden wants to invite participants to think about a chant used in organizing.

“Huwag Matakot — To not be afraid, do not fear” and “Makibaka — join the struggle”

“[I’m] sharing those words to invite people, whether they struggle with the practical activism conference or they join an organization or they engage in a challenging dialogue to address an issue,” Eden said. “To not be afraid. To do it. To go for it. To join the struggle because it is a struggle and it is hard, but life is hard and our circumstances and our reality are real and we have the power to do something about it and we have the collectivity to learn better, to do better.”