LANGELLE PHOTOGRAPHY

Using the power of photojournalism to expose social, economic and ecological injustice

Posts from the ‘Activism’ category

Ray Luc Lavasseur who co-founded United Freedom Front, was convicted for organizing a series of bombings to protest South African apartheid, which he helped carry out from 1976 to 1984. He was transferred to the Colorado supermax prison ADX Florence in 1995 – the land alongside it was known to contain toxic nuclear waste.                photo: Orin Langelle

This photograph [see Note below] of Ray Luc Lavasseur that I took was part of an article written by Michael Waters and published in The Outline.

How Prisons are Poisoning Their Inmates

Hundreds of U.S. prisons and ICE detention centers are built on toxic sites, and people inside are getting sick.

A week after Richard Mosley arrived as an inmate at Pennsylvania’s maximum-security SCI Fayette prison in 2008, he started getting sick. The air outside was so contaminated that his nose kept closing up. Then came the weight loss, followed by the gastrointestinal problems. Pretty soon, Mosley was relying on asthma masks to breathe. “I was going back and forth to medical trying to get some kind of relief or diagnosis,” he told The Outline. “I think I went maybe 35, 40 times.”

Meanwhile, Mosley started writing letters to local officials three days per week. “I was making a big stink,” he said. “If I was going to die there, I wasn’t going to die quietly.” He knew something was wrong. All around him, inmates were suffering. Skin rashes, gastrointestinal problems, and breathing issues were common across the prison. Everyone had a runny nose. The water quality was so abhorrent that guards brought bottled water for their onsite patrol dogs, according to Mosley. But the inmates still had to drink from the tap.

To continue this article, please go to How Prisons are Poisoning Their Inmates

 

[Note] This was the second of a series of candid portraits of radical movement figures I took in collaboration with Burning Books.  The point of this endeavor is to document some of the people who have participated in the making of history as part of the ongoing struggle for freedom and justice – a history of victories, losses, mistakes and successes, that we can and should learn from.

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Souparna Lahiriri [see NOTE below] (right) at the Global Forest Coalition World Cafe that discussed forests, trees and GFC’s climate change campaign (which includes the Life as Commerce, post-Paris plantations and bioenergy campaigns). photo Orin Langelle

Montreal, Quebec, Canada (4 July 2018) – The Global Forest Coalition started day two of their 2nd Members Assembly with regional meetings that included Indigenous Peoples, forest activists and researchers from around the world.

The morning’s proceedings discussed regional proposals for GFC’s work programs from 2018 to 2022 and suggestions for improvements in GFC’s functioning as a coalition.

GFC’s 2nd Members Assembly is occurring while the United Nation Convention on Biological Diversity is holding a Subsidiary Meeting (SBSTTA) which has a major focus on synthetic biology and other dangerous new technologies such as gene drives, also taking place in Montreal.

Anne Petermann and Orin Langelle represented Global Justice Ecology Project in the day’s meeting. GJEP attended GFC’s Members Assembly to discuss GJEP’s work on the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees. – Orin Langelle

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Breaking news

[NOTE] 6 May, OPINION/INDIGENOUS RIGHTS: Al Jazeera by Souparna Lahiriri,  Saving tigers, killing people – States are evicting and murdering Indigenous people in the guise of biodiversity conservation

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Be realistic, ask for the impossible slogan in Paris uprising, May 1968

To me it is very important to remember the events of May 1968 – not only in Paris but in the U.S. as well. Events that occurred fifty years ago were a glimmer of hope that strengthened an anti-war and anti-imperialist youth movement. This movement eventually helped bring other critical issues to the forefront including race, women’s rights, and the environment. For many reasons, there are no mass movements in the U.S. today that are as vibrant and militant as they were fifty years ago. The anti-corporate globalization movement from the 90s and early 2000s is still recuperating from the draconian police state in the U.S. that keeps intensifying as I type. While ‘Black Lives Matter’ provides another important glimmer of hope, most people today organize around single issues and do not incorporate a vision that unites all of the issues confronting us with a view addressing their common root causes. As a result, peoples all around the Earth suffer, the ecosystems and life support systems that enable life on Earth are further degraded, and climate chaos runs rampant.

Now is time to be realistic and demand the impossible. – Orin Langelle

(More information and analysis follows)

This photograph was taken on 3 November 2004, in the streets of Burlington, VT, U.S. Incumbent Republican President George W. Bush was named the winner of the presidential election that occurred one day earlier, defeating challenger John Kerry. Outraged over the election results, students and radical activists took over the streets all day and evening, causing traffic jams throughout the town. photo: Orin Langelle

Daniel Warner writes in his article From May 1968 to May 2018: Politics and Student Strikes for CounterPunch:

“For those who struck in 1968 at Columbia, Berkeley and Paris, just as for Martin Luther King Jr., there was a larger picture. King spoke of a society that was imperialistic at home and abroad. The lack of social justice in the United States, for King, was intertwined with America’s unjust foreign adventures. Student demonstrations in 1968 were against the university as part of a societal/political injustice. The university was a small manifestation of that injustice.

“I would hope that today’s French students, as well as students elsewhere, would be able to mobilize around other issues than university admissions and guaranteeing employment. There are more than enough issues to be outraged about today, and their solution requires the energy and determination of the young. That activism is what should be highlighted as the legacy of May 1968 and any comparisons with May 2018.”

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from Wikipedia:

The volatile period of civil unrest in France during May 1968 was punctuated by demonstrations and massive general strikes as well as the occupation of universities and factories across France. At the height of its fervor, it brought the entire economy of France to a virtual halt. The protests reached such a point that political leaders feared civil war or revolution; the national government itself momentarily ceased to function after President Charles de Gaulle secretly fled France for a few hours. The protests spurred an artistic movement, with songs, imaginative graffiti, posters, and slogans….

The unrest began with a series of student occupation protests against capitalism, consumerism, American imperialism and traditional institutions, values and order. It then spread to factories with strikes involving 11 million workers, more than 22% of the total population of France at the time, for two continuous weeks. The movement was characterized by its spontaneous and de-centralized wildcat disposition; this created contrast and sometimes even conflict between itself and the establishment, trade unions and workers’ parties. It was the largest general strike ever attempted in France, and the first nationwide wildcat general strike.

The student occupations and wildcat general strikes initiated across France were met with forceful confrontation by university administrators and police. The de Gaulle administration’s attempts to quell those strikes by police action only inflamed the situation further, leading to street battles with the police in Paris’s Latin Quarter, followed by the spread of general strikes and occupations throughout France.

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from The Guardian:

France’s 1968 uprising, 50 years on: ‘It’s harder for the youth today’

‘If there’s one thing in common … it’s young people’s despair,’ says Antoine Guégan, whose father Gérard staged campus sit-ins in 1968.

“It’s terrifying to see that this is becoming the norm for riot police to be sent into universities,” said Guégan, who is doing a doctorate on representations of slavery in American cinema and teaches at the campus while studying at another university in Paris’s suburbs…

“If there’s one thing in common between 1968 and today, it’s young people’s despair,” he said. “But it’s a different kind of despair, because the social and economic context is not the same. In 1968, there was a global movement, there was rock music, new sexual freedom, a different culture and a desire to change the old world. Today’s youth is facing a moment of stagnation, with little to lean on, which makes the struggle harder.”

One of Gérard Guégan’s favourite slogans from May 1968 was “Be realistic, ask for the impossible”. He said: “We were constantly thinking of what we called dreams, and what could be called utopia … Everyone was convinced that something massive was happening.”

– Angelique Chrisafis is The Guardian‘s Paris correspondent

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Note: The quote “Be realistic, ask for the impossible”, is one of Ernesto Che Guevara’s most most popular quotes. Che Guevara image (below) is a world wide symbol of resistance, especially in Latin America.

The 2003 march on the World Trade Organization meeting in Cancun, Mexico. When the march had to stop due to chainlink fences blocking the marchers from the WTO meetings, a South Korean farmer committed suicide. photo: Orin Langelle

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Please view the exhibit here HERE

PREMIER EXHIBIT @ CEPA: CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY & VISUAL ARTS CENTER

January 26 – February 24, 2018 at CEPA’s FLUX Gallery (1st Floor), 617 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14203

Shut out – Indigenous Peoples’ protest at United N Climate Conference. (Bali, Indonesia 2007)

CEPA Gallery is pleased to present, Portraits of Struggle, a selection of photographs spanning four decades by award winning photographer and activist Orin Langelle. Continued on CEPA’s Portraits of Struggle page.

 

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Marchers at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark point at Corporations and Bankers as the drivers of climate change. photo: Langelle (2009)

This article is by Dave Bleakney, 2nd National Vice-President Canadian Union of Postal Workers. It was originally translated and published in a German daily, OXI, about the recent UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Congress of the Parties 23 (UNFCCC COP 23) in Bonn. The German translation follows the English below.

I chose the image above as part of my goal of illustrating articles on this website with relevant historical photographs in an effort to ensure that movement history is never forgotten nor the lessons lost. – Orin Langelle

Deutsche unten

COPPING OUT AT COP, Avoidance and possibility in a burning world

During the recent Bonn summit a taxi driver provided a clear summary. Asked what he thought of COP 23, he replied “the climate is in crisis, but here, this is about money”. He had provided what had been missing inside. As we race toward certain and expanding catastrophe, he underscored that profiteering off a destructive cycle production, consumption, shipping, the unnecessary transport of products over vast distances and continuous growth models form the basis from which these discussions are framed. It is as though the elephant in the room is never acknowledged, with few exceptions.

How does this appear? In North America you can try this experiment. Turn down the volume of your TV and watch the myriad of commercial advertisements where someone is unhappy until they possess a certain product and suddenly, presto! Everything is great and everyone is happy. The same rubric repeats, again and again. Buy and smile. Smile and buy. Crave to belong as if this will somehow connect us together and create momentary windows of happiness while the earth burns. A crude system of modern feudalism has engulfed the planet where a handful of men – eight, to be precise – own half the planet. In this obscene reality a man can be worth more than a nation. Political leaders and major institutions act as though by convincing a handful of rich sociopaths we can save life on the planet.

Yet power does not, and never has, surrendered anything without a fight or creation of something new. Our uncomfortable future demands that climate criminals should not be enabled with our caps in hand with appeals to do the right thing – certainly those outcomes have been far too modest to date. The rules of the game must change that would remove them from their pedestals of power and our addictions to things we really do not need (and often having them increases the cycle and need for more) while altering the current definitions of value including patriarchal approaches thousands of years old of competition and “winning” at the expense of another.

At COP we are like hamsters on a wheel, living off the ripples of colonialism and wealth accumulation while discussing the speed at which the wheel turns through a series of silos and frameworks. What is needed is to get off that wheel and reconnect with our essence, the earth, and one another.

In this madness, the darker your skin the more you pick up the slack now resulting in myriads of climate refugees fleeing a crisis created while a minority of the planet went shopping. Under current conditions this phenomenon will play out over and over. Hungry people intent on survival will be blamed and shamed, even attacked for doing the only thing left to them: escape to a better place. When people are hungry, what can you expect? Famine breeds war and conflict. The world’s greatest militarist, the United States, built on dispossession has essentially been at war with someone on a continuous basis for nearly two centuries of conquest, often aided by one ally or another. Since 2001, that nation alone has spent $7.6 trillion on the military and Homeland Security in an ongoing war economy.

Little was accomplished at COP, a few very modest breakthroughs (or diversion) lacking any enforcement mechanisms or meaningfully incorporating a gender or Indigenous analysis into the core of action. While climate talks are essential, they are rendered ineffective by living in this bubble. One former UNFCCC official told me that people know this but are locked into a series of “frameworks” and disconnected silo building that does not dare upset the apple cart, a centuries-long mercantilism built on exploitation, greed and accumulation at the expense of the other and all living systems. This same system that uses the atmosphere as a chemical sink for profit. The oil continues to flow and the coal dug.

No longer can it be business as usual where the new normal is unprecedented and frequent catastrophic weather conditions (which can only get worse) and will be normalized for new generations. A tweak here and there won’t cut it.

Indigenous peoples appear to have a better grasp of living with the earth rather than against it as their lands continue to be exploited for resource extraction and profits. Indigenous voices are tolerated, welcomed even, but rarely is this wisdom applied to our reality. In the Canadian context, this vision is met by a system where Indigenous colonized peoples are undermined by super mines, pipelines and general disrespect.

It does feel good to see any progress whatsoever and we hang our hat on that. Political cachet can be earned by playing to domestic audiences as part of this theatre. No better example exists than the myth of Canada as a progressive nation and its new proposed phase-out of coal policy. Through carbon offsets, which shall keep the coal burning until at least 2060 and exports continuing after that date (hardly a victory). While presented as progress it is ineffective, and a diversion which obscures the continuing plan to build pipelines and keep dirty Canadian oil flowing. The tyranny of oil extraction and the use of the atmosphere as a chemical sink for profit remains while the human and animal population subsidize this senseless tragedy.

Who will take on international transport, shipping and aviation? If these sectors were a country they would be the seventh largest polluter where products that could be produced locally at less environmental cost are shipped vast distances.

What does this mean for workers? As we say, don’t oppose, propose. The Union I represent, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers know that a just transition out of destructive practices requires better approaches that we all need to be a part of. We live in a society where some work too much and others have no possibility at all. Incorporation of other more holistic and sustainable values allows us to step outside the box and refocus. Our Delivering Community Power initiative, driving Canada Post to be an engine of the next economy including the use of renewable non-polluting energy, transforming and retro-fitting post offices to produce energy at the local source and eliminate carbon from delivery systems– the latter which has already happened in over 20 cities in Norway (and is growing). Putting more postal workers on the street and less cars also means more face to face contact and added community value by checking in on senior citizens who are isolated. Postal workers have put climate change on the bargaining table. By incorporating Indigenous and feminist values of nurture and care into our future we shift the nature of work and become meaningful actors in solutions. This approach was energized and inspired by the LEAP Manifesto which calls for a restructuring of the Canadian economy and an end to the use of fossil fuels. This is framed by respect for Indigenous rights, internationalism, human rights, diversity, and environmental stewardship. We cannot leave it to corporations and politicians. We are all part of this solution now and have the opportunity to claim the space to do it.

The indigenous Ojibwe have a saying about the seven generations. They say that for every move we make, it must always be done with a view on how it could impact people seven generations from now. The leaders of this planet would do well to listen to that advice.

We require a new kind of COP. There will be no shopping on a dead planet and reassembling the deck chairs of the Titanic will not help. Creativity and better value systems can.

 

Dave Bleakney (Canadian Union of Postal Workers) über den Bonner Klimagipfel, die Notwendigkeit Spielregeln zu ändern und feministische und indigene Ansätze in die Bekämpfung des Klimawandels zu integrieren. Ein Gastbeitrag.

Ein Taxifahrer fasste den vergangenen Klimagipfel in Bonn sehr treffend zusammen. Auf die Frage, was er über den Gipfel dachte, antwortete er: »Das Klima ist in der Krise, aber hier geht es um Geld.« Und genau das ist das Problem. Was der Taxifahrer meint ist, dass es im Hinterkopf der Beteiligten nicht etwa die drohende Klimakrise ist, sondern die Profite aus destruktiven Produktionszyklen, Konsum, Verschiffung, Wachstumsmodellen und dem Transport von Produkten über weite Strecken. Bis auf wenige Ausnahmen wird dieses Problem ignoriert.

Wie äußert sich das? In Nordamerika ist es beispielsweise so, dass man die Lautstärke des Fernsehers runterregeln kann und auch ohne Ton sehen kann, dass eine Vielzahl an Werbungen anhand eines Schemas ablaufen: Jemand ist so lange unglücklich bis er ein bestimmtes Produkt besitzt und dann ist alles toll und jeder ist glücklich. Dieses Schema wiederholt sich immer und immer wieder. Kauf und lächle. Sehne dich nach Besitz als ob dieser uns irgendwie verbinden würde und ein Glücksmoment kreieren könne während die Erde brennt. Die Erde wurde von einem primitiven System des modernen Feudalismus verschlungen. Nur eine Handvoll Männer – um genau zu sein acht – besitzt die Hälfte des Planeten. In dieser empörenden Realität kann ein einzelner Mann mehr wert sein als eine ganze Nation. Führende Politiker und wichtige Institutionen tun so, als ob man durch das Überzeugen eine Handvoll reicher Soziopathen das Leben auf der Erde retten könnte.

Bis heute hat Macht noch nie etwas ohne Kampf aufgegeben oder etwas Neues erschaffen zu haben. Unsere unbequeme Zukunft verlangt, dass die Klimasünder nicht auch noch mit den Möglichkeiten ausgestattet werden sollten, für uns zu handeln. Sie haben bisher nur sehr selten das Richtige getan. Die Spielregeln müssen sich ändern. Die Klimasünder müssen vom Sockel der Macht gestoßen werden. Und wir müssen gegen unsere Sucht nach Dingen, die wir nicht wirklich brauchen ankämpfen. Diese treibt uns nur in einen Strudel aus Besitz und Verlangen. Außerdem muss man die gültigen Definitionen von Wert anpassen – auch indem man jahrhundertealte patriarchale Ansätze von Konkurrenz und Gewinn überdenkt.

Wir sind wie die Hamster in einem Rad. Wir zehren von den Wellen der Kolonialisierung und Wohlstandsakkumulation. Auf dem Klimagipfel konnten wir lediglich die Geschwindigkeit, mit der sich das Rad durch Silos und Gerüste dreht, diskutieren. Wir müssen von diesem Rad runterkommen und mit dem Wesentlichen in Einklang kommen: mit der Erde und miteinander.

In diesem Wahnsinn gilt: je dunkler die Hautfarbe, desto mehr ist man betroffen von den Auswirkungen der Klimakrise. Unzählige Klimaflüchtlinge fliehen von einer Krise, die sich entwickelt hat während eine kleine Zahl an Menschen auf dem Planeten einkaufen war. Unter den gegenwärtigen Bedingungen wird sich das nicht ändern. Hungernde Menschen, die versuchen zu überleben, werden selbst verantwortlich gemacht, ja sogar attackiert, dafür dass sie das Einzige tun, was ihnen übrigbleibt: an einen besseren Ort zu fliehen. Was kann man anderes erwarten, wenn Menschen hungern? Hunger verursacht Krieg und Konflikte. Die USA, die auf Enteignung gegründet sind, führen seit fast zwei Jahrzehnten ununterbrochen Eroberungskriege – oft mit Hilfe von Verbündeten. Seit 2001 haben die USA über 7,6 Billionen US-Dollar nur für Militär und Staatssicherheit in einer dauerhaften Kriegsökonomie ausgegeben.

Wenig wurde beim Klimagipfel in Bonn erreicht. Es gab einige, sehr kleine Durchbrüche, doch denen fehlt es an Durchsetzungsmechanismen. Indigene und Geschlechteranalysen fehlen völlig. Obwohl solche Klimagipfel essentiell für unsere Zukunft sind, sind sie unwirksam. Ein früherer Mitarbeiter der Klimarahmenkonvention der Vereinten Nationen erzählte mir, dass dies den Menschen durchaus bewusst sei, Rahmenbedingungen die Handlungsmöglichkeiten jedoch einschränken würden. Man würde nur die Pferde scheu machen, wenn man versucht, alles über den Haufen zu werfen: den jahrhundertealten Merkantilismus, das System aus Ausbeutung, Gier und Akkumulation auf Kosten anderer. Und so fließt das Öl weiter, wird die Kohle weiter abgebaut.

Es kann nicht weitergehen wie bisher. Das neue Normal ist beispiellos und die katastrophale Wetterlage kann auch nur noch schlimmer werden. Wir können den Zustand nicht für künftige Generationen normalisieren. Es hilft nicht, nur hier und da ein wenig zu verändern.

Indigene scheinen ein besseres Verständnis vom Leben im Einklang statt gegen die Erde zu haben während ihr Land weiterhin für Profite ausgebeutet wird. Indigene Stimmen werden oft ignoriert und nur selten wahrgenommen. Ihr Wissen nicht genutzt. Im kanadischen Kontext zeigt sich dies folgendermaßen: Indigene wurden kolonialisiert und heute durch Superminen, Pipelines und generelle Missachtung gefährdet.

Jeder Fortschritt, so klein er auch sein mag, fühlt sich gut an und wir halten daran fest. Politische Mehrheiten werden gewonnen, indem ihnen etwas vorgespielt wird. Es gibt kein besseres Beispiel als der Mythos des progressiven Kanadas und seinem Weg aus der Kohleabhängigkeit. Der Emissionsausgleich lässt die Kohle noch bis mindestens 2060 brennen und ermöglicht Exporte, die auch nach diesem Jahr noch weitergehen können. Was als Erfolg verkauft wird, ist in Wahrheit ineffektiv und eine Ablenkung von den Plänen, weitere Pipelines zu bauen und das dreckige kanadische Öl weiter fließen zu lassen. Die Ölgewinnung und der Schadstoffausstoß gehen weiter, zu lasten von Mensch und Tier.

Wer kann es mit dem internationalen Transport, dem Schiffs- und Flugverkehr aufnehmen? Wären diese Branchen ein Land, wären dieses der siebtgrößte Umweltverschmutzer. Produkte, die zu geringeren ökologischen Kosten lokal produziert werden könnten, werden über große Distanzen in diesem Land verfrachtet.

Was heißt das für die Arbeiter? Wir sagen: bekämpfe nicht, mache Vorschläge. Die Gewerkschaft der kanadischen Postangestellten (Canadian Union of Postal Workers), die ich vertrete, weiß, dass der Übergang aus einer zerstörerischen Praxis besserer Ansätze bedarf. Wir leben in einer Gesellschaft in der Arbeit sehr ungleich verteilt ist. Einige haben sehr viel, andere gar keine Arbeit. Ganzheitliche und nachhaltige Werte erlauben es uns, aus unserer kleinen Blase herauszutreten und uns neu zu orientieren. Unsere Initiative »Delivering Community Power« treibt die kanadische Post dazu an, ein Motor für eine neue Ökonomie zu sein – unter Einbeziehung von lokaler erneuerbarer und umweltfreundlicher Energie und der Nachrüstung von Poststellen. So kann die Post den CO2 Ausstoß ihrer Zuliefererkette reduzieren. In über 20 norwegischen Städten wird die Post schadstofffrei ausgeliefert. Weniger Autos auf den Straßen, dafür mehr Postangestellte. Das bedeutet auch mehr Kundenkontakt. Wir Postangestellte haben den Klimawandel auf den Verhandlungstisch gepackt.

Wir können das Wesen der Arbeit ändern, in dem wir indigene und feministische Werte für die Erziehung und Pflege einbeziehen. Unsere Ansätze werden inspiriert und angetrieben vom LEAP Manifesto, das eine Restrukturierung der kanadischen Ökonomie und ein Ende der fossilen Energien fordert. Dieses wird gerahmt vom Respekt für indigenes Recht, Internationalismus, Menschenrechte, Vielfalt und ökologische Verantwortung. Wir können es nicht der Politik und den Konzernen überlassen. Wir alle sind Teil der Lösung und haben Möglichkeiten, den Raum einzufordern, um etwas zu verändern.

Ein Sprichwort der indigenen Ojibway sagt: Jeder Schritt, den wir tun, muss immer mit Blick darauf passieren, wie er die Menschen in sieben Generationen beeinflussen kann. Den Einflussreichen der Welt täte gut daran, diesem Rat zu folgen.

Wir fordern eine neue Art des Klimagipfels. Auf einem toten Planeten kann man nicht mehr einkaufen. Es wird nicht helfen, die Stühle an Deck der Titanic wieder aufzubauen. Kreativität und ein besseres Wertesystem hingegen können helfen.

Dave Bleakney
2nd National Vice-President
Canadian Union of Postal Workers

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Wally Menne with Ana Filippini of World Rainforest Movement in front of the European Parliament in Brussels, 2007. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC/photolangelle.org

Cross-posted from Global Justice Ecology Project

Wally Menne: A Lion Among Men

The Loss of a Giant

Wally Menne in Kuna Yala 2010. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC/photolangelle.org

My partner Orin Langelle and I were shocked and saddened this morning to learn of the death of friend and colleague Wally Menne who passed away on Thursday 26 October.

We had known Wally for many years and his loss was like a dagger. I had met Wally when he organized the founding meeting of the Durban Group for Climate Justice in his hometown in 2004.

Orin met him a couple of years later at a gathering of the Global Forest Coalition.

The loss of this important South African activist was sudden and surprising. Wally was a powerhouse, a giant. His force was impossible to ignore. He was dedicated and uncompromising with a seemingly endless supply of energy despite his years at the grindstone. Even now, it is difficult to imagine a movement without him.

I heard from Wally only a few days ago with information on a possible volunteer for GJEP—someone whose writings he had come across who impressed him with her no-nonsense critique on the problem of industrial tree plantations—his personal crusade.

The Durban Group for Climate Justice. Wally with arms folded, far left.

Anyone who knew Wally knew this about him. He was passionate about ridding the Earth of the scourge of timber plantations and was one of the most knowledgeable on their extensive social and ecological impacts. He had no qualms about laying the blame for this devastating problem squarely at the feet of those responsible–not merely the corporations whose plantations they were, but the agencies and organizations who laid their groundwork and made up excuses to enable their expansion. In particular he targeted the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

The FAO won Wally’s wrath through their insistence on promoting a definition of “forests” that included industrial timber plantations. This despite the obvious fact that forests support communities, biodiversity, clean water and climate stabilization; and plantations destroy forests, communities, biodiversity, clean water and the climate. 2 + 2 will never equal 5 no matter how many reports the FAO puts out claiming it does.

Wally Menne, in center with hands above head, during a protest against a SAPPI pulp mill in South Africa. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC/photolangelle.org

The FSC was dogged by Wally’s incessant criticism due to their support and legitimation of the timber plantation model. The FSC became a multi-billion-dollar brand by giving corporations sustainability certification for their timber monocultures, enabling them to sell their plantation-derived products as “green,” despite the real, on-the-ground consequences of that model.

On October 22nd, Wally wrote the piece below, promoting a new blog on the problem of plantations. I think it is a wonderful example of the anger and passion that Wally wielded with such skill, and of his ability to address not just the problem of plantations, but all of the issues connected to them. In this case, wood-based bioenergy. A timely post, given the upcoming UNFCCC Climate Convention early next month.


“The debate around the negative impacts of burning tree biomass to generate energy or to manufacture liquid biofuels has been escalating over the past ten years, with ample evidence having been presented of the harmful effects of government and UN policies that promote this false solution to climate change.

“However, the extremely greedy and powerful land-grabbing industry has managed to capture most of the international institutions that are supposed to act as the protectors of our planet, its people and its biodiversity. The prime example of this is the FAO. The FOOD and AGRICULTURE organisation of the United Nations, which has been co-opted by big bad business through tireless propaganda campaigns to undermine and to weaken the outcomes of political processes and to promote false promises under the guise of projects and programmes such as the Green Economy, REDD+, renewable energy targets and even targets to reduce biodiversity loss and deforestation.

“It is becoming increasingly obvious that these efforts are highly unlikely to bring about their intended results, and that instead they are only creating a false sense of there being no urgency for governments and individuals to take the initiative and to act decisively on their own in implementing the changes that are needed. In other words, all the hot air being pumped out at meetings of the CBD, UNFCCC, FAO, UNFF and the rest, is only serving to delay the implementation of real solutions, so that the owners of the industrial corporations that benefit from these long drawn-out processes can continue to profit at the expense of the majority of the people on our planet.”

—Wally Menne, Timberwatch, South Africa


We will miss Wally and the huge hole left by his absence. We hold his wife Rose and son Adam in our hearts at this terrible time.

Rest in peace Wally. You’ve earned it.

We miss you.

Anne Petermann (Orin Langelle and the staff and Board of Global Justice Ecology Project)

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NEWS on Chile delegation investigation

An international delegation from the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees arrived in Sanitago, Chile on 20 March 2017 to document the social and ecological impacts of industrial tree plantations in the country, and their link to the recent wildfires that were the worst in Chile’s history.

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This above a one minute trailer for a short video we recently completed about the struggle of Brazil’s MST (Landless Worker’s Movement) against the vast expanses of industrial eucalyptus plantations in the country.

The trailer and the full video is in Portuguese, with Spanish spoken translation and English subtitles.

The video is an interview with an MST militant, Eliane Oliveira, that we conducted in March during a delegation of the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees in Chile.

We were there investigating the social and ecological impacts of industrial timber plantations on people, water, wildfires and ecosystems, as well as the potential for GE tree plantations to worsen these already severe impacts.

We brought Eliane Oliveira and two other organizers from Brazil to speak with the Indigenous Mapuche and other rural communities in Chile about the campaigns waged against eucalyptus plantations and GE trees in Brazil and the overlaps with the struggles against tree plantations in Chile. Eliane spoke about the MST campaign that is taking back land from the plantations to give to landless peasants in Brazil.

This interview emerged from that delegation and those conversations:

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UPDATE: The international delegation from the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees (CSGETREES) completed their journey in Chile to document the social and ecological impacts of industrial tree plantations in the country, and their link to the recent wildfires that were the worst in Chile’s history.

Reports such as this from Biofuelwatch: Stop GE Trees Delegation Investigate Expansion of Wood-Derived Bioenergy in Chile are starting to be filed. Also posted was a radio interview with Anne Petermann from Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP) and CSGETREES on Pacifica’s flagship station, KPFK, in Los Angeles: GE Trees and Plantations in Chile.

Expect new postings several times a week. GJEP is going to release a video soon of a MST militant who was ob the delegation from Brazil. She speaks about land use, tree plantations, political prisoners and much more.

Please stay tuned to the Chile Blog

Photo of Chilean flag in front of some of the fire devastation. Photo: Langelle

Chile: Water is Life

(Posted while in Chile on the delegation.)

MAPU [Chile]-An international delegation from the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees arrived in Sanitago, Chile on 20 March 2017 to document the social and ecological impacts of industrial tree plantations in the country, and their link to the recent wildfires that were the worst in Chile’s history.

The delegation also traveled to Mapu, the ancestral lands of the Indigenous Mapuche (People of the Earth) to investigate the depletion of water caused by the timber plantations and how this loss of water is impacting Mapuche sovereignty and the ability of the people to stay on the lands they have occupied for thousands of years. Only 13% of Mapuche people still live in the countryside, largely due to the loss of water on their lands.  The delegation also examined the impacts on other communities’ water rights, climatic disruption, repression, as well as gender issues and effects on women. Please view the ongoing fact-finding trip on the Chile Blog.

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(Rio Cautín near Temuco, Chile) Before an early morning water ceremony, Alfredo Seguel from Red de Defensa de los Territorios, an Indigenous Mapuche organization, speaks about the significance of this river to the Mapuche and the importance of water to all life.  Photo: Orin Langelle

From Santiago, the delegation traveled to Concepción where it visited communities devastated by massive wildfires.  It also traveled into the countryside to see the impacts on the people and the ecological damage caused by industrial monoculture pine and eucalyptus plantations. Members of the delegation visited several universities and were involved in presentations and community discussions. The delegation was sponsored by OLCA (Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales).

Due to the water required to grow pines and eucalyptus in the plantations, the communities' water supply is scarce. Photo Orin Langelle

Due to the water used by industrial monoculture plantations of pine and eucalyptus trees, there is a serious lack of water in rural communities, and some communities have no water at all.  Photo Orin Langelle

The community members that the delegation spoke to blamed the timber industry for starting the forest fires for insurance money. Many of the trees were heavily infested by insects and the fires provided insurance money to the industry for their lost trees.

All signs point to the potential in Chile for future plantations of genetically engineered trees, which would make these impacts much worse.

There will be a full report of the findings of the delegation’s investigation.


Additionally on 22 April there will be a gathering and march in Concepción called for by social movements with the theme Water is Life. This is prior to the International Union of Forest Research Organization’s (IUFRO) Tree Biotechnology Conference from 4-9 June in Concepción. Most of the scientific and industry people going to the IUFRO conference are pro-GE Trees.

For more information about the fact-finding trip to Chile with the international Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees on the Chile Blog.

 

 

 

 

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I am running Standing Rock news on the Langelle Photography web page for many reasons. LANGELLE PHOTOGRAPHY is part of the Social Justice Media Program of Global Justice Ecology Project and we Stand With Standing Rock. Even though I am not in Standing Rock taking photographs, as a concerned photographer, my goal is to document and expose the reality of social and ecological injustice—much of which is linked with the struggle for the land— and to educate and change the world, not just to record it. For more up to the minute news please go to our ally’s site: Indigenous Environmental Network’s Standing Rock – Orin Langelle

PRESS CONFERENCE

Source: RT

Standing Rock activists said they would continue to stand their ground in the fight against the crude oil Dakota Access Pipeline, in defiance of a US Army Corps notice which stated that the location of a protest camp will be out of bounds from December 5.

Supporters of indigenous tribes oppose the 1,172 mile pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois over water contamination fears and its proximity to the Standing Rock Indian reservation.

In a press conference held at the Oceti Sakowin protest camp, members of the indigenous community gave a united response to a letter sent to Standing Rock tribal chairman Dave Archambault II informing of possible evictions north of the Cannonball River.

Protesters, who call themselves water protectors, are currently camped on federal land alongside North Dakota’s Highway 1806 and the Missouri River.

On Friday, the US Army Corps of Engineers announced plans to close the portion of federal land occupied by the water protectors due to “violent confrontations” and risks of serious injury due to the “harsh North Dakota winter conditions.”

In response, Dallas Goldtooth, a member of the Indigenous Environmental Network, described the Army Corps of Engineer’s letter as a “disgusting continuation of 500 years of colonization and systemic oppression”.

“It’s absurd for us to see such a declaration a day after Thanksgiving but that’s the state of affairs that we are in,” he told reporters at a press conference on Saturday.

He added that all tribes concerned with the pipeline will “stand strong”.

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langelle-killsme_dsc_02761Featured Langelle Photography home page slider (right) was taken by Langelle during a protest march in Durban, South Africa during the United Nations Climate Conference in 2011. Langelle has six photographs in this touring show

 

Critical Information Collective Exhibit – World Social Forum 2016

Indigenous protesters at UN climate negotiations in Cancun 2010) Photo: Luka Tomac

Indigenous protesters at UN climate negotiations in Cancun (2010) Photo: Luka Tomac

Montreal, Canada – A photographic exhibit, Climate Change: Realities and Resistance, will be shown at the World Social Forum 2016 in Montreal from 9 – 14 August. This is the Canadian premier of Critical Information Collective‘s touring exhibition.

The World Premier took palace in Paris, France during the United Nations Climate Conference in 2016 and the North American debut was at the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art in Buffalo, New York, 1 March through 29 April 2016.

CIC’s photos in Buffalo, Climate Change—Realities and Resistance, were part of the show Climate Change, System Change, Personal Change. Langellle Photography and ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery Director, Orin Langelle’s portion of the show in Paris, Buffalo and Montreal is entitled Struggles for Justice.

The exhibition in Montreal will include new panels focusing on the theme of industrial livestock farming and its impact on climate change and biodiversity.

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Volunteers Needed for the !Buen Vivir! Gallery

The ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art at 148 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo NY, is currently seeking volunteers to help with staffing the gallery during open hours on Fridays 6 – 8 p.m. &  Saturdays 1 – 3 p.m., as well as helping with special projects. Our educational gallery with free admission hosts 3-4 shows per year and was founded to present an historical look at movements for change, struggle and everyday life. If interested please email Carolyn Lansom, Gallery Manager, <carolyn@globaljusticeecology.org> or call 716.931.5833.

Our current show runs through, April 29th Climate Change, System Change, Personal Change features two exhibits:

1. Climate Change—Realities and Resistance, photographs by Critical Information Collective (CIC)
2. Black on the Ground, White in the Air, artwork by Ashley Powell
This multi-faceted art and photographic show is designed to challenge viewers to think about what type of changes are necessary to effectively confront the root causes driving the extreme weather that is occurring globally.

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