CrimethInc. Convergence 2009 Update

Meet at the Northside Commons (W. North Ave. and Brighton) by the pond, on Monday, July 20. Write to with workshop proposals, offers of assistance, and accessibility concerns.</p>

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the first CrimethInc. convergence in August 2002. We've witnessed a protracted war and occupation, an economic crisis, and most recently a change—however superficial—of rulers. We have come full circle from being isolated dissidents in a time of patriotic consensus to seeing our radical critique co-opted by politicians at the very moment our neighbors are becoming aware of the injustices of capitalism and empire.

Seven convergences later, we have reduced the limitless possibilities of the format we first tested to a precise science. We're in a different social context now, and it's time to debut a new experiment.

As the economic downturn affects the geography of urban centers, tremendous spaces are opening up that could become new sites of autonomy and struggle. This year, rather than gathering in a wilderness setting to nurture our subversive desires in seclusion, we will stage our convergence in the decaying metropolis of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We hope that this event can contribute to building long-term infrastructure for our culture of resistance.

This will be nothing like the urban anarchist conferences of the past decade--no antiseptic university setting, no dispersing to isolation in individual meals and housing at the end of the scheduled programming. We will actively contest the city environment in an effort leave a permanent mark upon it, just as we hope to contest the rituals and informal hierarchies of the anarchist milieu.

All spring, rumors have circulated about the secret plans of the contingent in Pittsburgh organizing this event. What's this about squatting a castle? Is it true that they're buying a giant warehouse in the city center? Will we be building a hammock village spread across empty lots? There aren't actually catacombs in Pittsburgh, are there?

We'll have more news here shortly. In the meantime, here are fliers announcing the event {2-up Handbill [2.6MB] & Full-page Flyer [2.4MB]}--please disseminate them everywhere you can. There also a rudimentary website at, which will be expanded soon.

Finally, here are the policies for this summer's convergence, which have been thoughtfully revised by the locals bottomlining the event. If you are frustrated about any of them, please organize your own event!


Respect: We ask for your respect for the building and the local area. We aim for the convergence to be a positive, constructive force in Pittsburgh. Exercise discretion, friendliness, and respect while interacting with the local community. Please, no aimless graffiti, public urination, late night loudness, or similar activity likely to attract negative attention. Whatever you’re doing, please keep in mind that the convergence needs to fly somewhat under the radar to come off successfully. Do not put the convergence or its attendees at risk through careless or insensitive behavior, and do not give the cops reasons to interact with the convergence. There are plenty of times to sow mayhem; this convergence is a time to create a safe community space that will hopefully exist long into the future.

Consent: Any interaction you have with others here, whether sexual or otherwise, should be consensual. Silence and passivity do not count as consent. If someone says no to something or is unsure and you badger them until they say yes, that’s not consent; if someone is intoxicated they may not be in a position to give you consent. If someone says you violated their wishes, that counts as breach of consent, whatever a court of law would say. By the same token, don’t define others’ experiences for them: the person who has an experience gets to decide whether or not their wishes were respected in it, and also what, if anything, the community should do about it.

Security: Security is a consent issue just as much as sex is. Don’t say or do anything that puts others at risk unless you have their express permission; don’t speak about their involvement in illegal activity or endanger them by your own actions. Be aware that you may be under observation by your enemies at all times. Don’t alienate others by speculating about whether they are informants or ostracizing them based on suspicion; at the same time, don’t put yourself at risk by trusting people just because they’re here. Also, please don’t needlessly break the law, as that will cause trouble for all of us; there will plenty of time after this week to hone your criminal skills. Food, shelter, and everything else you might want are already provided here.

Pronouns: Part of respecting each other means respecting our varied and infinite gender identities. In the pursuit of making this convergence a safer space for people of all genders, its vitally important to respect one another’s pronouns. The world of gender is a huge and complicated terrain, but it can be more easily navigable with some simple guidelines: Don’t assume someone’s gender simply based on your perception. Ask! People will be glad you did. Make sure to refer to people by their chosen gender (or non-gendered) pronouns. If you mess up, apologize and work on that in the future. If in doubt, "they" works wonders.

Drinking and Drugs: There is a strict policy of no alcohol or drug use during the convergence. This is for several reasons, but the most important are to comply with the express wishes of our hosts and to avoid giving the authorities a pretext for harassing us. An urban convergence is particularly challenging in this regard. With the possibility that convergence attendees will scatter throughout the city at various points during the week, the 'site' of the convergence is not as clearly defined as in past years. It is for this reason that we ask that convergence attendees remain sober for as long as they intend on taking part in convergence activities. There is no judgment or morality attached to this policy; the last thing we want is an obvious division between people who drink and people who don’t. If you smoke cigarettes, please do not do so inside the building and do not congregate in front it; our concern is with the safety of the building, not personal habits. Also, please do not scatter cigarette butts on the street.

Building Safety: Please be hyper-vigilante about fire hazards: no flames, incense, candles, lanterns, flammable liquids, fire dancing tools, stoves, or anything similar may be brought inside the building. Be aware that the building’s unfinished condition can create safety hazards for attendees as well.

Photographs: Don’t photograph anyone or anything without permission—this is also an issue of consent and respect. Bear in mind that the density of an urban convergence makes this challenging.

Money: Nothing is bought or sold at the Convergence. Occasionally people have asked for donations for items as benefits for political prisoners or projects. This is fine in small doses, but generally the Convergence shouldn't be a place where a lot of money changes hands.

Non-humans: Attendees may not bring dogs or other pets to the convergence space or to convergence events. Given the space constraints and safety considerations of an urban convergence, no exceptions can be made.

Exclusion: Because this convergence should be a safe space for everyone, people who violate these policies may be asked to leave. In cases of breach of consent, both sexual and security, we will 1) trust the survivor and 2) abide by the survivor’s wishes. For example, if you gave information to the police about someone without their permission and they don’t want you in this space, we will ask you to leave; likewise, if you have sexually assaulted someone and they are comfortable with you being here as long as you participate in a mediated discussion about their boundaries during this event, we will ask you to do so, or else to leave. This is not a matter of permanently excluding "undesirables" from the anarchist movement, but simply of making things work in a limited space for a limited time. People can be asked to leave the convergence without being exiled from our communities. If anything, this simply provides an incentive for individuals and communities to work out their conflicts in advance of events like this, so we won’t all have to deal with unresolved conflicts here.