Connecting Struggles Across Issues and Borders

The roots of the environmental justice movement lie in an archetypical struggle between low-income communities of color and industrial polluters—refineries, incinerators, landfills, and dirty ports, to name a few. In the last few years, leaders of this movement have worked ardently to infuse an environmental politic into racial and economic justice campaigns and to underscore local control of common resources and community-based solutions to social and ecological ills.[1]

Now the fruits of this labor are becoming evident. What was seen as isolated pockets of noxious industrial impacts are now being viewed as symptoms of larger phenomena that create other social inequities. People are connecting the impacts of toxic industry to other injustices, such as forced migration and poverty jobs, and coming together to address these multiple crises.   

On a hot July afternoon in Detroit last summer, over 300 movement organizers from across the United States gathered to plot a course for ecological justice as part of the U.S. Social Forum. “We come from environmental justice communities who have been on the frontlines of the effects of polluting industries like waste incineration. But [we] also come from economic justice struggles... and immigrant [communities that] understand the connection between land and life,” said Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan, strategy initiatives director for Movement Generation based in Oakland, California.

People, Power, Policy

Coalition Challenges California to Legislate Climate Equity

By Kay Cuajunco, Photos by Brooke Anderson

On August 25th, community leaders from across the state converged on the steps of the Capitol to demand climate policies that benefit and protect low-income communities and communities of color. In commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, residents from some of the state’s most pollution-impacted communities stood in solidarity with frontline communities across the nation, urging their legislators to pass policies to transition away from dirty fossil fuels and ensure another Katrina doesn’t happen again.

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Moving the Money

By Amy Vanderwarker

In 2014, there was a rare occurrence in California: a new revenue stream of hundreds of millions of dollars—$872 million, to be exact, with more anticipated in future years — being funneled to state agencies through the newly implemented cap-and-trade program to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

On October 31, 2014, the California Environmental Protection Agency announced that, as expected, it will use the statewide cumulative impact screening tool, CalEnviroScreen2.0, to define “disadvantaged communities” for the purposes of distributing climate change funding. The top 25 percent of communities identified by this tool will be considered “disadvantaged” for the purposes of the set-aside within the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.  Suddenly, how “disadvantaged community” is defined took on a lot more importance to a lot more people than it ever has in the past.

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The Lie of Growth and the Power of the Small— Vandana Shiva and Gopal Dayaneni

"The growing “bio-economy”   is based on control, manipulation and commodification of life… things like microbial factories that are producing industrial food products, that will make fuels and pharmaceuticals, seeds and now even species.” —Gopal Dayaneni

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Dr. Vandana Shiva, the internationally known author, scientist and advocate for small farmers and agroecology, spoke with Gopal Dayaneni of Movement Generation at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, California in September 2013. This conversation was part of a series of conversations hosted by the group synbiowatch.org that expose the growing “bio-economy,” which Dayaneni calls “an economy based on control, manipulation and commodification of life… things like microbial factories that are producing industrial food products, that will make fuels and pharmaceuticals, seeds and now even species.” U.C. Berkeley, The Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, and the private corporations that are subsidized by it, are central to this developing bio-economy. The federal government and multinational corporations see the bioeconomy as a new frontier to be conquered.

Can’t See the Trees… or the Forest

Why Oakland Can’t Afford to Keep Ignoring Urban Forestry

By Eric K. Arnold

Ten a.m. on a spring day in March and the sun was already blazing with mid-day intensity as a circle of people gathered at Wo’se Church of the African Way/Ile Omode charter school—a center of spirituality and learning for the East Oakland community—for a tree planting ceremony. Greg Hodge, a former Oakland school board president and father of nationally-known poet and playwright Chinaka Hodge, led the impromptu congregation, which included local residents, volunteers, and tree stewards from the nonprofit urban forestry organization Urban Releaf.

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How We Play: Play as a Form of Cultural Resistance

Prescott Circus Theater © Jarrel Phillips
Editor’s Note: How We Play is a photography exhibition curated by Jarrel Phillips (featured at the City College of San Francisco earlier this year), focusing on three art forms—Acrobatics (Circus), B-Boying (Break Dance), and Capoeira—that are a culmination of art, culture and resistance. These art forms are brought to life through play, a universal phenomenon as innate to life as breath. All three began as forms of resistance in response to oppressive environments. If play were given the cultural significance it deserves, civilization as we know it would allow us the much needed opportunity to review and reimagine our cultural values, traditions and processes in reference to what we do and how we do things.

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