Women of color led the way. This weekend we all helped to build the largest mobilization against the inauguration of a President in the history of the United States! From DC to Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, New York, Oakland, to countless cities and towns across the country and around the world, millions of people took to the streets. While many of the marches drew broad participation from primarily white women of many ages, the majority of these mobilizations were multi-racial, led by women of color and gender non-conforming folks.
#ItTakesRoots to #GrowtheResistance is an effort led by women of color on the frontlines of racial, housing and climate justice across the country, which brought together over 100 grassroots leaders in DC this past week to grow our resistance, and organized translocal actions in 8 cities on inauguration weekend. It is an outcome of years of organizing and relationship building across the Climate Justice Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network, and Right to the City Alliance.
We came together as four national grassroots alliances immediately after the elections because we heard loud and clear from our membership that our priority in this next period should be to build a visionary opposition to the racist, misogynist and xenophobic politics and practices of Trumpism. The leadership of frontline communities in the historic mobilizations of this past week are a testament for what is to come.
Within hours of taking office, President Trump signed an executive order to pave the way towards repealing the Affordable Care Act, and reinstated the global gag rule originated by Ronald Reagan in 1984 that prohibits US funding to any international organization that includes education about abortion in their reproductive health and family planning options. Today he signed executive actions to advance the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines–both of which have been the center of some of the largest environmental justice mobilizations in US history.
This President is intent on destroying our bodies, our communities, and Mother Earth. We will not let it happen. Join us to Grow the Resistance.
Training Labs and Strategy Exchanges
J20 Action at DOE and HUD
J20 Marches and the J21 Women’s March
Solidarity in Action
Where do we go from here?
Join us to #GrowTheResistance and build a world with liberation and justice for all:
Mark your Calendar
On February 8, 2017, we held a reportback from members of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Climate Justice Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network and Right To The City Alliance about the historic #ItTakesRoots to #GrowTheResistance mobilization in D.C. and around the country and discuss next steps in the first 100 days to grow the resistance.
We heard from this incredible group of women of color leaders:
- Angela Adrar and Liliana Molina, Climate Justice Alliance
- Bayan Jaber, SouthWest Organizing Project
- Cindy Wiesner, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
- Ahmina Maxey, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
- Shatia Strother, FUREE and Right to the City Alliance
- Melissa Miles, Ironbound Community Corporation
- Kandi Mossett, Indigenous Environmental Network
- Leticia Arce, Causa Justa::Just Cause
- Eva Cardenas, The Ruckus Society
- Maria Zamudio, Center for Story Based Strategy
El 8 de Febrero, 2017, hicimos una llamada con la Alianza Popular para la Justicia Global (GGJ), La Alianza para la Justicia Climática (CJA), la Red Indígena Ambiental (IEN) y la Alianza por el Derecho a la Ciudad (RTTC) sobre la movilización histórica de Se Necesitan Raices para Cultivar La Resistencia en DC y en todos partes del país. Discutiremos los pasos siguientes en las primeras 100 días para cultivar la resistencia!
Escuchamos de este increíble grupo de mujeres/líderes de color:
- Angela Adrar y Liliana Molina, Alianza para la Justicia Climática
- Bayan Jaber, Proyecto Organizativo del SurOeste
- Cindy Wiesner, Alianza Popular para la Justicia Global
- Ahmina Maxey, Alianza Global para Alternativas a la Incineración
- Shatia Strother, FUREE y la Alianza para el Derecho a la Ciudad
- Melissa Miles, Corporación Comunitaria Ironbound
- Kandi Mossett, la Red Ambiental Indígena
- Leticia Arce, Causa Justa::Just Cause
- Eva Cardenas, la Sociedad “Desmadre”
- Maria Zamudio, el Centro para la Estrategia Basada en los Cuentos
“What other than injustice could be the reason that the displaced citizens of New Orleans cannot be accommodated by the richest nation in the world?”
— Wynton Marsalis, Jazz musician
The storm hurtled across the land, bringing the sea and everything with it. Trees snapped, houses washed away, vehicles became projectiles into second story windows, coconuts became cannon balls smashing bone and wood beams. My great grandmother’s cashew farm splintered in the salt and the wind. This particular storm was called Typhoon Haiyan and it hit the Philippines in November 2013 – the largest storm on Earth ever to make landfall at that time. The Philippines has still not recovered from the impact of Haiyan —or rather its government and the corporations it is beholden to are trying to militarize and privatize it.
This year I was at work and another storm hit me right in the chest. The LA area Exxonmobil refinery a block away from where I grew up had an explosion that registered 1.7 on the Richter scale. A faulty fluid catalytic converter caused the blast and threw an 80,000 pound piece of equipment a hundred feet. Windows blew out and the sky filled with “ash”. I got on the phone and breathed again when I heard my mom’s uninjured voice, my dad was busy outside with a mask, watering the house down so nothing caught on fire—their vegetable garden ruined as sludge gray water loaded with heavy metals oozed over the front yard.
As it stands, the COP21 agreement is brewing another kind of storm for communities on the frontline. World leaders converged to talk about greenhouse gas emissions in the parts per million, keeping up endless growth through a force of green consumers, and making sure polluters and their false promises can come along for the ride without losing any profits. Without long-term vision, accountability, and concrete steps to de-carbonizing all economies, we’re headed towards destruction that neither we nor this planet deserve.
At the end of these talks much is being heralded about the US actually signing on to an agreement despite internal right wing pressure and climate deniers in Congress. There is a lot of talk about state-by-state innovations—including California Governor Jerry Brown pushing offsets agreements with regional partners. These steps are at best helping climate change become a daily conversation. At worst they are pushing for increased privatization, confiscation of Indigenous People’s lands, loss of cultural and biological diversity, and human rights violations. What we need now post-COP is bold action to keep fossil fuels in the ground, reject the fundamentalist ideology of globalization, a commitment to the well being of people over the profiteering of a few, and infrastructure and resource support for locally owned and controlled renewable energy solutions.
Earlier this month, I traveled to Paris as part of the It Takes Roots delegation to build towards just that: a community rooted deeply in place, connected globally through solidarity, and that has the strength and know-how to weather all the storms that are yet to come. We know our communities have been on the cutting edge of true climate resiliency work for generations. We have always been the ones hit first and worst—and we’re still here and will continue to lead the transformative path towards a regenerative economy and a living planet.
Community by community, we’re linking up to show our own solutions. At the Asian and Pacific Environmental Network, (APEN) we build leadership and power in the Asian American & Pacific Islander communities for bold action. Our members stand up to the largest stationary polluter in the state of California, educate legislators and neighbors on climate policy in six languages, and are working on building a living model of a just transition through community-owned solar power.
APEN and the groups who are part of the It Takes Roots delegation are just some of the many grassroots organizations in the US doing the work necessary to change the system, build people power, and save our climate. Amazing solutions are happening all over the world too. In the Philippines—a country of over 7,000 islands and 175 languages in a portion of the Pacific known as “Typhoon Alley”—solutions are sorely needed. Salugpongan International is one network that speaks to the core of climate justice: supporting Indigenous People’s local initiatives to protect rights to the land and culture, of knowledge of place, and of education by the people for the people. A global movement—against war, against warming, for community rooted power—is growing.
The indigenous people of the world deserve to thrive. The people of Richmond, California, deserve to thrive. Your community deserves to thrive. The COP21 process closed without real, durable and lasting commitments that bring us any closer to a cleaner, greener world—much less a more just one. But life goes on after the COP and so does grassroots organizing. So let’s feel our roots, keep an eye on where we can sprout and build the world we do deserve.
But there is unspeakable love:
we use our ten thousand tongues
let the tides loose and truths
be storm surge
in this surrender
to our humanity
–Of Storms and Tears, Aimee Suzara
Shina Robinson is a part of the It Takes Roots Delegation and works with the Asian and Pacific Environmental Network.
For decades the incinerator industry has been plaguing environmental justice communities worldwide. Now, rebranded as so-called “waste-to-energy,” this dirty industry is trying to position itself as a source of clean power. The US government, and many others, are using COP 21 to push for incineration as a solution to climate change. However, incinerators create very little energy— and a lot of climate and toxic pollution. To produce the same amount of energy, incinerators release even more carbon dioxide than coal plants. At the same time, the toxic air pollution from these facilities greatly harms local communities.
In the United States, in cities such as Detroit in the state of Michigan, residents suffer from the health and environmental consequences of incineration. Community leaders like Siwatu Salama-Ra of the It Takes Roots delegation became involved in the fight against incineration out of love for her family, community, and city. In Detroit, asthma rates are three times the state average, and many members of Siwatu’s family suffer from this preventable disease. These rates are only exacerbated with every year that the incinerator remains open.
After 23 years of climate negotiations, governments are no closer to meaningful action on climate change.
“GAIA (Global Alliance of Incinerator Alternatives) will not stand for corporations pushing their agenda of greenwashing (false solutions) to combat climate change during these negotiations, the only solution is a zero waste solution” said GAIA delegate Mahyar Sorour from Minnesota Public Interest Research Group.
To call out false solutions such as incineration, It Takes Roots and GAIA delegates protested on Wednesday, December 9th at the Ivry incinerator in Paris. We stood in solidarity with local community organizations – Collectif 3R and Zero Waste France – who are pushing for zero waste alternatives to incineration. The Ivry incinerator and others like it in the Paris region, are responsible for burning the majority of Paris’ waste. In fact, much of the waste currently being generated at COP 21 will be burned in nearby incinerators, leaving local communities to bear the burden of toxic and climate pollution.
In addition to pushing back against false solutions via direct action, GAIA members from around the world demanded that our government leaders and the COP21 delegation confront industry lies and promote community-based solutions.
Some highlights of these demands:
- We highlight the negative health impacts that incinerators impose on host communities and the environmental injustice this represents.
- We welcome the global consensus that carbon based pollution is driving dangerous climate change that cannot be ignored.
- We call for an end to climate finance for incineration.
- We urge all governments to remove the eligibility criteria for biomass burning in all renewable energy credits, benefits and subsidies.
- We call for investment in zero waste solutions to address impending climate threats.
Co-Written by Molly Greenberg from Ironbound Community Corporation and New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance and Ahmina Maxey from GAIA.
Molly, Ahmina and Siwatu are also It Takes Roots delegates.
To read the full GAIA declaration visit www.no-burn.org.
Watch A Powerful Video Of the It Takes Roots’ delegation’s Dec 10 Human Rights Day Action @ the Peace Wall in Paris:
One of the first big assemblies of the Climate Action Zone was the Just Transition Assembly put on by the It Takes Roots delegation. The event kicked off with a panel of climate leaders talking about the connections between labor and climate, and the importance of local economies in a just transition. Grassroots Global Justice board member and delegate Jose Bravo started off the discussion by talking about the history of a just transition. Workers and “fenceline” environmental justice communities are both impacted by irresponsible and global production at all levels.
Following the panel, participants were given the opportunity to talk about the vision and challenges of achieving a just transition in their communities. To learn more about work around a just transition, visit Our Power Campaign or Grassroots Global Justice Alliance.
For live coverage of the event via Twitter, check out Our Storify Feed.
On Wednesday, December 9, nearly 200 grassroots activists converged and marched, chanted, and sang with colorful banners, posters and outside the Vincennes detention center in Paris where several immigrants are illegally detained by the French government.
The Vincennes detention center where grassroots communities gathered is of particular significance, as it was the site of an historic uprising after the death of a Tunisian man while in custody in 2008. This uprising brought national attention to the inhumane treatment of migrants and refugees in detention in Paris.
It Takes Roots delegates participated in this march in solidarity with thousands of impacted refugees and migrants, detained by the French government. Local community leaders and activists working at the intersections of migrant and refugee rights joined our delegation.
This action was in deep solidarity with refugees fleeing situations of grave conflict, and made vital connections between migrant rights, Indigenous rights, gender equality, and climate change. Check out a few photos from our action today below and visit our photos page for more visual updates.
Key spokespeople at the march highlighted how social and environmental justice are deeply linked, and the largely US delegation expressed their solidarity with migrant rights, especially activists working with immigrant communities along the US-Mexico border, and Indigenous activists, who highlighted how colonialism is not really dead, but alive in new and dangerous ways. Watch a video highlight of this action!
The It Takes Roots delegates have real, community-based solutions to combat the climate crisis. They have come to Paris to present these solutions and move away from the climate crisis. Here are some memes to highlight the amazing work of these frontline leaders.
“Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island is fighting against National Grid to stop their LNG facility project from being placed in the Port of Providence where it is mainly populated with people of color, next to the state hospitals, the only trauma center and so much more medical facilities. This is environmental racism and it needs to stop now. This is why we are here with the #ItTakesRoots delegation, to demand that LNG is not a solution, that corporations like National Grid creates more pollution!
“Climate change is an extension of colonization. The colonizers of the Global North came into the formerly colonized countries of the Global South and stole their natural resources, the main one being fossil fuel. Now the pollution from these resources being burned is coming back to kill those in the Global South in the form of climate change. When people try to flee climate chaos, they are not allowed to leave. Currently, when people flee because of climate change they are not given refugee status and left to drown in the Mediterrean Sea or get shot on the US border. The Global North has a responsibility to take in all climate refugees because they are responsible for destroying their country causing them to flee.”
-Sarra Tekola, Got Green?
“APEN members in the Bay Area are standing up to Big Oil and the extractive economy while building community power–in six languages at a time. We reject militarization of the police and security forces, and the displacement and corporate land-grabbing they enforce from the Bay to our homelands. We fight for a new energy economy, good jobs on a living planet, and our right to build the better future we all deserve.”
-Shina Robinson, APEN’
Monday was the first day of the Climate Action Zone in Paris, and one of the first events was our Just Transition Assembly! Check out some of highlights of that and other parts of the day from Twitter.
Some say art is pointless. How can a work of fiction, a drawing, or giant puppet actually stop global warming? Surely, only constructing one art piece as the only strategy to bring corporations to their knees is a hollow one. Yet, as part of an overall strategy to change the narrative of what is going on at COP21, art is powerful and essential. Looking at art or listening to a song forces the people who are experiencing it to confront it. In our information saturated world, discussions and long dry proposals move little. Art that calls out the human rights travesty of Paris Accord plans and especially REDD+ forces the public to confront and decide for themselves: is this what we want our world leaders to do?
Activist art creation at the #COP21 resistance is central to the people-led mobilizations outside Le Bourget. Everyday activists gather to create art in a warehouse near the Alternatibas’ Global Village. The artspace changes every day. Clotheslines run through the place on exposed ceilings. Plastic tarp covers the floor with slogans that had been printed on cloth and dried. The overarching color is red, because of another organization’s slogan of a red line against climate change – a red line against carbon emissions.
People make tables out of saw horses and plywood. Art is strewn everywhere, with slogans like “Keep it in the Ground” and “Climate change is Climate Violence”.
It Takes Roots’ art table drew a lot of attention. One of our members, Arturo Trejo, developed 10 placards of the things we are fighting: genocide, patriarchy, false solutions, fracking, GMOs, environmental racism, pollution, poverty, Obama, and more.
In the art space, the delegation developed the main messaging: It takes roots to weather the storm. The storm is all the bad ideas at the #COP21 – which are placed on the placards. This is the storm frontline communities weather through roots. We are the roots, the representatives of our deep resistance to the storm. We have been called to plant the seeds for the next generation, to stop the #COP21 and all the apparatuses of exploitation. The deep resistance, the roots rise up to say: this our planet, for the people; not just for a few.
Now, we embodying this powerful metaphor through visuals and song. The first act will be the storm that is blocking the peace. The second act is our resistance, our struggle and tearing the placards down. Then, the delegation will come out and sow the seeds of a just transition, women leadership, keeping the fossil fuel in the ground, the wisdom of frontline communities being heard and made the law of the land. The final act is a joyous celebration of sunflowers and all our people dancing, chanting, celebrating that we are the ones we have been waiting for.
It was exhilarating to have everyone at the art space for the dress rehearsal. Other artists stopped what they were doing and watched our street theater; they clapped and chanted with us, they wanted to join us. The action is strong in its critique and solution and is deeply inspiring to all who watch it. It is an act of defiance that we will continue every day, until the world is at it should be.