LANGELLE PHOTOGRAPHY

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

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Some of the Indigenous Peoples from the Amazon region that attended the World Social Forum in Belém, Brazil (2009). photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Photo essay and commentary by Orin Langelle. This was submitted to Z Magazine in January 2009. Langelle, with Global Justice Ecology Project, also was the Media Coordinator for Global Forest Coalition.


Over 100,000 people from around the world participated in the World Social Forum held in Belém, Brazil from January 27 to February 1, 2009.  Belém sits at the mouth of the Amazon River.

Starting with the first World Social Forum held in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2001, World Social Forums have been the counter to the World Economic Forum which holds it’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland at the same time. 

[This photo essay, re-published on 23 January 2019, finds the WEF meeting occurring as usual in Davos; while Brazil has a new right-wing fascist president, Jair Bolsonaro, the antithesis of everything the WSF stands.]

Various types of boats ferried people from one venue to the other. photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC


The venues for this year’s WSF were held in the Universidade Federal Rural da Amazónia (UFRA) and the Universidade Federal do Pará (UFPA).  Unfortunately the universities were quite far apart, requiring people to take buses, taxis or boats to the many workshops and talks that overwhelmed the WSF.

A typical scene from one of the many workshops of the WSF. Langelle/GJEP-GFC


Despite the heat, humidity, torrential rain and long travel distances, this year’s WSF brought together very large contingents of Indigenous Peoples from the region with youth, women, social, environmental and climate justice activists as many different causes and issues were raised.

One of the many marches that seemingly spontaneously occurred during the WSF. Langelle/GJEP-GFC
An Indigenous Peoples’ protest at an impromptu press conference on 30 January 2009 during the WSF in Belém. They were protesting incursions into their territory that are disrupting their way of life and introducing new and deadly diseases. Langelle/GJEP-GFC


At the opening of the WSF, more than a thousand Indigenous Peoples from around the world send an urgent message making a huge human banner that read in Portuguese:  Salve a Amazonia (Save the Amazon).


The largest event was a meeting with the leftist presidents  Evo Morales of Bolivia, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. While many lauded this event, to some this was a contradiction to the spirit of the power of social and Indigenous Peoples’ movements that are looking for a more autonomous approach based in self-governance.

A ‘Solidarity with Palestine’ banner marked one of the entrances to the youth camp area. Langelle/GJEP-GFC


The motto of the World Social Forums, which continues to this day, is “Another World is Possible.”

Woman demonstrate with signs during WSF. Langelle/GJEP-GFC


Prior to the beginning of the WSF, organizers stated, “The Pan-Amazon will be the territory of the 9th edition of the World Social Forum. For six days, Belem, the capital of Para, Brazil, takes the place of the center of the region to shelter the greatest anti-globalization event of today and brings together activists from more than 150 countries in a permanent process of mobilization, articulation and search for alternatives for another possible world, free of neoliberal politics and all forms of imperialism.”

Cuban Revolution tent where the 50th anniversary of the revolution was celebrated. Langelle/GJEP-GFC


The WEF brings together the the economically and politically powerful: top business leaders, international political leaders, selected intellectuals and others to discuss how to keep market based mechanisms functioning for the benefit of the economically elite.


The World Social Forum (WSF) was created to be an open space where plural, diverse, non-governmental and non-partisan participation stimulates decentralized debate, reflection, proposal building, experiences, exchange and alliances among movements and organizations engaged in concrete actions towards a more democratic and fair world.

An anti-homophobia march took place during one of the many downpours. Langelle/GJEP-GFC


[One of the strangest interviews I ever was involved in was a midnight broadcast by Al Jazeera with Miguel Lovera from Global Forest Coalition. When we showed up to where Al Jazeera was broadcasting from the WSF, Miguel and I were informed this was going to be a live short back-and-forth between one of the people at the World Economic Forum in Davos and Miguel. The strange part of this was that the person at the WEF could hear Miguel but Miguel couldn’t hear him. Miguel had to wing it and he nailed it.] – Orin Langelle

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photo: Langelle

Photo taken near Paul Smiths in NY’s Adirondack Mountains, December 2018. Anne Petermann and I were staying on Kiwassa Lake near Saranac Lake during the Christmas – New Year’s holidays. It was up in the 40sF with rain melting a lot of the ice on the lake and then dropping to cold and snow and then to warm again and then cold and snow. People where we were we staying said that they never have seen weather like this in the Adirondacks.

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Copenhagen, Denmark: “Fingers” are pointed at Corporations and Bankers as the drivers of climate change during the UNFCCC (2009)                                                                            Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

The scientific UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released a report warning there are only a dozen years to prevent climate catastrophe. The time is ticking…above countdown as of 13 December 2018.

Intro from Orin Langelle 13 December 2018: I was going to wait until the final words were hammered out at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Conference of the Parties 24 (COP 24) in Katowice, Poland that began on 2 December and is scheduled to conclude 14 December 2018. But why wait when I already know the outcome.

The UNFCCC will agree to meet again next year and no binding deals by the parties will happen this year.

Why do I know that? From my first UNFCCC experience as an activist photographer in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2004 to my last consecutive UNFCCC in Durban, South Africa in 2011, all I ever saw was business as usual as Earth’s life support systems become more fragile. Already in 2004 it was widely understood that climate change was already well underway, but this year it is glaringly apparent as extreme weather around the globe gets even more extreme, with records breaking left and right.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report in October of this year (2018) warning there are only a dozen years to take the measures necessary to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C – beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people; not to mention non-human species.  The IPCC even went so far as to say that avoiding catastrophic climate change will require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” Quite a statement from a group of scientists.

We are already in the sixth massive extinction; the likes of which have not been seen on Earth for at least 65 million years. This is the alarming finding of a new study published in the journal Science Advances.

In other words, we are up shit’s creek without a paddle. The human race though, has an ethical and moral obligation to find that paddle. I have not seen any real efforts to find that paddle at any UN climate conference. Nor have I seen any political will from governments to acknowledge what it might take to find that paddle. No, it is up to us. It is up to us to work for radical systemic transformation. Not reform. Its too late for reform. We can see the iceberg up ahead. We need to stop the ship, not re-arrange the deck chairs.

Every year, the UN climate conference is the same – sort of like the Groundhog’s Day movie where Bill Murray relives 2 February over and over.

Below is an article I wrote from a hotel in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico one week after I attended the miserable UN climate conference in Cancún (2010).  I could probably write virtually the same piece after this year’s climate COP in Katowice, Poland.

Running to Catch a Bus to the Apocalypse

by Orin Langelle     First published in Climate Connections | 17 December 2010

Not just once but twice. Two times I had to run to catch the bus that was going from the Hotel Zone in Cancún to the Cancún Messe. From the Messe one had to take a shuttle to get into the main buildings of the Moon Palace where the UN climate talks were being held or to get to the media center. The UN made it quite hard to get to the Moon Palace from the Hotel Zone or downtown, so missing a bus was a big deal time-wise.

One of the shuttle buses from the Messe to the Moon Palace. California and the Mexican state of Chiapas recently made of a bilateral deal on REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) that involves African Palm plantations. The “Ecobus” was later seen being filled with normal petrol. photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Why to the apocalypse?  Because it’s the end of the world as we know it and the UN climate negotiations are about the commodification of life. To quote Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network on the UN climate talks, “It’s the World Trade Organization of the sky.”

And the sky is the limit.  Everything has a price. From trees to water to air; in fact the Earth and all life is for sale. They may as well put bar codes on tigers. But wait, they kind of are. Charismatic fauna should be used to create premiums on schemes to save the forest—as World Bank chief slimy asshole Robert Zoellick explained at a day-long conference devoted to REDD [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation]. (The UN doesn’t even know what a forest is—tree plantations, devoid of biodiversity are considered forests in their profit-motivated brains). This was my seventh United Nations Frameworks Convention on Climate Change. I started  in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2004 – then followed with Montreal, Canada—Nairobi, Kenya—Bali, Indonesia—Poznan, Poland—Copenhagen, Denmark—and finally Cancún, Mexico. [I held out one more year and attended the climate COP in 2011 Durban, South Africa.]

Buenos Aires was my first experience with how the UN climate talks function. Business comes in and runs the show while lip service is given to NGOs and Indigenous Peoples. Buenos Aires was a fucking trade show where Clean Coal, Nuclear Power and other industries had booths to sell their snake oils of destruction.

Are things really that bad?

Indigenous Peoples with UNFCCC gags in Bali, Indonesia (2007). photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Year after year these talks get worse and worse. Voices of opposition slowly were eroding with one the first egregious cases erupting in Bali [Indonesia].  Indigenous Peoples were invited to a meeting with the UN president. They went. He wasn’t there. He was at another place. The Indigenous Peoples went there. There, they were met by armed guards who wouldn’t let them in.  The next day, at a guerilla press conference, Indigenous Peoples showed up with UNFCCC gags across their mouths.

Fast forward to CorporateHaven (Copenhagen) last year [2009]. Finally people were catching on to what the climate negotiators were up to and finally people started to revolt. Climate Justice Action was formed to do outside actions and CJA teamed up with Climate Justice Now!, an inside group formed in Bali that promoted a more leftist analysis than the other inside NGOs associated with Climate Action Network. CJA and CJN! planned a “Reclaim Power” action where people from CJA planned to march to the convention center where the negotiators were huddled and have a Peoples’ Assembly with folks who marched out from the inside, led by a contingent of Indigenous Peoples.

The march out of the convention was met by police (2009). photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC

Both of the marches were stopped and CJA and CJN! never came together for the Peoples’ Assembly as activists from both sides were brutally attacked by Danish police.

CJA did manage to have its own Peoples’ Assembly, however.

Some of us knew the negotiators’ legitimacy was slowly dissolving and the UN climate talks would never be the same again.

The next UNFCCC was to be held in Mexico City, but officials changed the venue to Cancún. Could this be because they thought outside protests could be better contained, as they were in 2003 when the WTO met [there]? To use the words of an Alaskan buffoon and Tea Party icon [Sarah Palin], “You betcha!”

This month, in Cancún, the UNFCCC was stripped bare of any legitimacy.  Business was the order of the day and NGOs, IPOs [Indigenous Peoples Organizations], smaller nations, journalists and youth had no space unless they took it. Youth took it. Indigenous Peoples took it. Some NGOs took it. Through demonstrations that permeated the talks it was evident that the UNFCCC was no more than the World Carbon-Trading Organization. UN security even beat up a Reuters photographer and stole his camera for photographing UN security over-reacting to a youth protest. (When journalist[s] are attacked it usually means those in control are afraid of being exposed; it also means that those in control will start to get very bad press).

The so-called Cancún Agreements are a farce that would be laughable except for the fact that the UN negotiators are putting all life on Earth for sale.

And why shouldn’t it be with business, the World Bank and phony environmental organizations like Conservation International dealing the cards? There is some really evil shit going on.

Robert Zoellick and his eyes wide shut during the failed Cancun 2003 WTO talks. photo: Langelle/GJEP

I was in Cancún in 2003 where the WTO was held. The U.S. trade representative was Robert Zoellick. Zoellick is also one of the founders of the Project for a New American Century and one of the architects of the ongoing oil war on the Iraqi people. Now he is the President of the World Bank.

Can you say American Empire? An empire of death, racism, genocide, and colonialism. An empire that, with the other rich nations, thinks they are in control of the world.

So is it the end of the world as we know it? Yes. It has to be. Life can’t continue in the direction that it is headed, run by these greedy fucking jerks. Is the apocalypse nigh? It depends. One version of apocalypse means a dramatic and catastrophic conflict, typically seen as likely to destroy the world or the human race. It also could be interpreted that ‘destroy’ really means to destroy unjust economic systems. This will destroy the concept of putting a price tag on life as it is now but could also result in new way of life in harmony with the earth.

Zapatista Commandante Tacho in La Realidad, Chiapas, Mexico (1996). photo: Langelle/GJEP

So is there hope? Of course. Maybe when the Mayan calendar ends in 2012, we will see a much-needed rebirth in balance with the earth. Maybe people will figure things out and band together in solidarity. Maybe social movements will swell and overthrow the maniacs that are now in charge. If any of those scenarios occur—and it’s the end of the world as I know it, I will feel fine.

I continue to dream what many say is impossible. I’m sitting in a hotel in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico writing this blog post a week after the Cancún mess. In Chiapas, when the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect on New Years Day in 1994, a band of  Indigenous Peoples called the Zapatistas started a revolution in Chiapas stating that NAFTA “is a death sentence for Indigenous Peoples.”

That revolution continues to this day. It is a revolution of hope and dignity. Autonomous Regions and cooperatives exist in many parts of Chiapas.

The start of the Zapatista rebellion was summed up by these words:  ¡Ya Basta! (Enough Already) and La Lucha Sigue, Zapata Vive! (the struggle continues, Zapata lives!)

It’s time for a global ¡Ya Basta! or we certainly are headed toward the much more sinister meaning of apocalypse.

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Orin Langelle directs Langelle Photography, a component of Global Justice Ecology Project’s Global Justice Media Program. Langelle, along with Anne Petermann founded Global Justice Ecology Project in 2003. Petermann and Langelle have worked in struggles for justice from local to national to international for many years. GJEP is a co-founder of the Durban Group for Climate Justice (Durban, South Africa 2004), Climate Justice Now! (Bali, Indonesia 2007), and Climate Justice Action (Copenhagen, Denmark 2008), all of which have deep and powerful critiques of carbon offsets and carbon markets. GJEP is also a founding member of the U.S. Climate Justice Alliance.

 

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Grabbing by Capitalism

Jacqueline Patterson, NAACP’s coordinator of Environmental and Climate Justice Program addresses Buffalo’s 2nd Annual Anti-Gentrification Summit. Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Executive Director of PUSH (People United for Sustainable Housing) Buffalo is on the left. photo: Langelle

Buffalo, NY’s Anti-Gentrification Summit

plus land grabs, climate change connections

by Orin Langelle

On 17 November 2018, the OUR CITY coalition presented the Second Annual Anti-Gentrification Summit and said it would be “a day of inspiration and workshops that will help arm the citizens of Buffalo with the tools and information needed to combat the issues that matter most to us – the people!” The Summit took place at the East High School in Buffalo, NY’s East Side. The East Side is one of the most polluted areas in Buffalo.

Keynote speaker Jacqueline Patterson, NAACP’s coordinator and co-founder of its Environmental and Climate Justice Program, addressed the large diverse crowd on such themes such as climate change, capitalism and the power of the people to stand together in determination and love.

Some of the workshops scheduled at the Summit included ‘From Undocumented to Citizen: Building a City Where All Immigrants are Able to Live With Dignity and Their Rights Protected,’ ‘There’s More Than One Justice. How about Climate?’ along with ‘Collective Ownership for Community Wealth’ to name a few.

Global Justice Ecology Project‘s Executive Director Anne Petermann and I attended the conference after we were invited by Clarke Gocker, Director of Policy and Strategy of PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing). We both had heard of PUSH and knew a little about them, but  started to know more about them when I presented last month in Resilience: Through the Lens, a photo class for the community, organized by The Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, and the CEPA Gallery | Contemporary Photography and Visual Arts Center. Clarke was one of the people who attended.

The following week Clarke and I got together at the PUSH offices to discuss the Summit. He thought it would it would be good if I could do a workshop during the Summit. Due to a variety of circumstances the workshop didn’t happen this time.

Clarke told me when we met at the PUSH offices prior to the Summit that he was inspired by my work documenting the resistance of communities, both globally and nationally. And how my photos on displacements–such as schemes to take Indigenous Peoples’ lands that would lead to the relocation of those communities, to other communities standing up to displacement due to fracked gas pipelines–could connect to anti-gentrification work. I never thought of my work relating to gentrification, but it made sense.

Most of my life I’ve worked to find and expose the intersections between ecology and economics; helping bridge one issue to other issues to help build anti-capitalist solidarity. But like so many others there is almost always is a disconnect of issues somewhere and gentrification was my disconnect. It is no longer.

Many of us who have worked for the planet, for communities and for the people have had instances of not finding, or unable to build, the bridges necessary for open dialogue. It happens far more too often than it should.

Gentrification and other Land Grabs can be bridges of understanding between those who live in cities and those who live in less populated communities. And like it or not, climate chaos is a bridge to the mutual aid we all must practice because I don’t believe the government will be of much assistance except to help the ruling class that is predominantly white.

An interesting article, HOW THE RICH WILL SURVIVE CLIMATE CHANGE DISASTER was published online in The Outline. Here is the final paragraph:

We are entering a dystopian future in which class-privileged white people are using privatized systems and their obscene wealth to avoid the catastrophic environmental effects of the racist capitalist system that they forced upon the world. While they are funding these privatized resource systems with the wealth they built off of marginalized peoples, wealthy white people are simultaneously supporting Trump in droves, who blamed forest management for [the California] fires and derided a United Nations report released last month finding that the world has 12 years to avert global environmental catastrophe. These fires and their disparate impact demonstrate a necessity for structural action on climate change and support for those who will be most harmed—poor people and people of color.

On a much brighter note it was great to see and talk, unfortunately only briefly, with Jacqui Patterson. Anne Petermann I have known Jacqui for over a decade due to working on Climate Justice issues nationally and internationally. Not many people can say that they’ve driven into a hurricane so they could be there to be of assistance. Jacqui can.

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Degawenodas (right) gives serious stare to one of the board members.        photo: Langelle/GJEP-photolangelle.org

More on the Sacred Seneca Burial Grounds. This is from Buffalo Rising. It includes a conversation with Degawenodas Ni Ah Agatayonih, born into the Wolf Clan of the Onondowa’ga:’ “I come in peace, but I am armed with the weapon of truth.”

We are all excited to see the city of Buffalo reworked into a world class city. For some of us, nothing can stand in the way of making this happen, and that’s an admirable stance to take. But when we say “nothing”, do we really mean “nothing“?

Let’s take a step back and consider why Buffalo is different than other cities. We are a great city because of our people, our history, our heritage, and our love and respect for one another.

I want to see Buffalo built up, just as much as the next person. I want to see this city strong. At the same time, I understand that Buffalo is only as great as the sum of its parts. The parts that I am referring to include buildings, businesses, parks, schools, and people. All of its people. And when we talk about people, it’s important to talk about heritage.

Last month, I learned that there was a proposal on the table, to build an expansion of the Maritime

Recent rally where Carl Jamieson (Cayuga) gives a statement to the media outside of the Maritime Charter High School. Photo: Langelle Photography

Charter School on Buffum Street in South Buffalo. The charter school has outgrown its 266 Genesee Street location, and has purchased the former School 70 (long closed) at 102 Buffum to house its seventh and eight grades (now operational). This is great, considering that the building is already there – there’s no issue at hand. But moving forward, the school is looking to consolidate and expand to Buffum Street, which would further disrupt the site of the Indian burial ground. According to WBFO, “there is a $13 million plan for a gym and a high school building to open in September 2020. That would consolidate 450 students and 75 faculty.” The developer of the three-story, 65,000 sq.’ building, and 24,000 sq.’ gym is Ellicott Development. To continue

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*queenseyes

Newell Nussbaumer is ‘queenseyes’ – Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world’s largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter. Contact Newell Nussbaumer | [email protected]

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Seneca Carl Jamieson (center) gives a statement to the media outside of the Maritime Charter High School. photo: Langelle/GJEP- photolangelle.org

Buffalo, New York – Thursday 18 October – Maritime Charter High School

From Nekanęhsakt: Friends of Ękwehęwę

Seneca and allies entered a charter school board meeting where Carl Jamieson (rear left) spoke to the board. photo: Langelle/GJEP – photolangelle.org

Buffalo sits on what is traditionally Native land from time remembered, most recently it was the home of the Seneca of the Buffalo Creek Reservation. There is a proposed expansion by the Maritime Charter school on Buffum Street in South Buffalo on to Seneca Burial grounds. The proposed expansion is just a few hundred feet from Seneca Indian Park which was a Seneca burial ground where Red Jacket and Mary Jemison were once buried, and just one block from Indian Church Road where only a few years ago Buffalo Sewer Authority excavated and unearthed remains of the deceased. “Buffalo Creek and Buffum Street are sacred lands and very rich in history and I think that a lot of suggestions of putting a school on a place that’s

Degawenodas (right) glares at Charter School board member when his comments were cut short and he was told he would have to make an official request to speak before the Board at their next meeting in one month.  When asked if the Board would be making its decision about the school expansion before that meeting, the Board said it did not know.  photo: Langelle/GJEP-photolangelle.org

sacred territory, I think there are better places for Maritime schools,” Carl Jamieson said. We are asking the Maritime Charter school to stop their plans for expansion onto what even NYS’s Historic Preservation Office has described as a site having “high cultural, historic and archeological sensitivity”. The people who really stand to gain on this project is Carl Paladino’s Ellicott Development Company which has a big investment and involvement in this project.

More on the Sacred Seneca Burial Grounds from Buffalo Rising

 

 

 

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