One month and thirty years ago, activist John Wallace and I walked together through a clearcut in southern Illinois’ Shawnee National Forest. I suppose it was destined to happen a few more times and the last time just happened on May 2, 2019. It was not a pretty sight. – Orin Langelle
Hardin County, Illinois – On an incredibly rainy May 2, heavily loaded log trucks passing by alerted activist John Wallace and photojournalist, Orin Langelle, to investigate a nearby Shawnee National Forest logging site, known as the Lee Mine Project in Hardin County. The clearcut logging site included a recently pushed-in road, a log landing, and punched-in roads or trails sprawling in different directions. A bulldozer, a feller-buncher and a mud-caked forwarder (for hauling out logs) were setting idle on site, after the end of the work day. Muddy ruts and stumps dominated the scarred landscape.
Tree cutting, bulldozing and road building were well underway on April 20, when a resident neighbor, Patti Walker first noticed the atrocity, in direct contradiction of the agency’s own standards detailed in a 2007 Environmental Assessment. As if the simple disregard for forest inhabitants weren’t enough, the project was in full swing on May 2, a day that locally received more than 2″ of rainfall. Logging in mud destroys forest soils.
The Lee Mine Project is an industrial logging scheme that USDA Forest Service (FS) staff has dishonestly characterized as “Hardwood Restoration.” The smaller, hardwood trees of the forest understory are being destroyed along with the larger, harvested pine trees. In the midst of the forest songbird nesting season, agency officials have turned a blind eye to their own previously stated mitigating measures of protecting nesting birds from damaging project activities in the locale.
On a site located just across the road from the current Lee Mine Project area the FS took the following stated measures to protect nesting birds. “[T]o minimize effects on migratory birds and other reproducing animals, no prescribed fire, site-preparation or tree-cutting would be conducted during the most active part of the nesting season (April 15-July 15).” (Responses to Comments, Revised EA, Harris Branch Restoration of Hardwoods in a Pine Stand, #8, pg. 6)
Adding insult to injury, the hilly and recently muddied landscape drains directly into Big Creek, a candidate stream for Wild and Scenic Riverway designation. Because of its biological diversity, the stream is also designated as a Zoological Area on the Shawnee National Forest.
“Big Creek is a beautiful, clear, rocky, spring-fed stream that flows through limestone formations of Shawnee Hills…”, “the clear cool water provides a stream environment suitable for fauna that is intolerant of sluggish, silty, warm waters,” are typical descriptors of the stream as detailed in Biologically Significant Illinois Streams, An Evaluation of the Streams of Illinois, (INHS, L.Page, K.Cummings, C.Mayer, S.Post, 1991). It is known to contain two state endangered crayfish, Ordonectes kentuckiensis and Orconectes placidus. Big Creek is also believed to contain a state threatened fish, least brook lamprey, Lampetra aepyptera. (citation above). The Illinois Water Quality Report (Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, 1990) rated the stream as “Full Support,” and the Biological Stream Characterization (Hite and Bertrand, 1989), rated this stretch of Big Creek as an “A” Stream, a Unique Aquatic Resource. It was also rated as one of the “Outstanding” streams in the system (INHS, L.Page, K.Cummings, C.Mayer, S.Post, 1991).
Following a day of industrial logging operations near its banks, and in the midst of heavy and consistent rains, the typically clear flowing stream was compromised by turbid water, clouded with sediment from the nearby denuded hillsides, trails and bulldozed roadways of the logging site. Other nearby streams that had no drainage from the logging operations were flowing with amazing clarity.
The FS has once again allowed the timber industry to run roughshod over one of its project sites to the detriment of the Shawnee National Forest, the land, the water, the forest inhabitants and the citizens of this country, at the Lee Mine Project logging site. There is frankly nothing about this project that can be considered consistent with the Forest Service stated motto which is, “Caring for the land and serving the people.”
Please join Indigenous Environmental Network, Global Justice Ecology Project and Shawnee Forest Defense! in October for The Resurgence: 2019 Forest & Climate Movement Convergence where we will join together diverse movements to build strategies with action to fundamentally transform the system that is destroying life on Earth. The event will take place in the Shawnee National Forest.
420 W Simpson St, Alliance, OH
Free and Open to the Campus Community and the Public
420 W Simpson St, Alliance, OH
Free and Open to the Campus Community and the Public
For Immediate Release April 9, 2019
Available for interviews: Orin Langelle <[email protected]>
Buffalo, NY— Award-winning documentary photographer Orin Langelle shows his exhibit, Extreme Weather – Portraits of Struggle, this month at the University of Mount Union. The exhibit opens on April 17 and runs to May 1 in the Hoover-Price Campus Center, 420 W Simpson St, Alliance, OH.
Langelle’s body of work spanning over five decades specializes in social and environmental justice struggles. He was recently interviewed on WBDX in Southern Illinois about this exhibit at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. The interview can be found here.
There will be an Artist Reception and Presentation on April 25, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Hoover-Price Campus Center’s Alumni Room. Langelle will speak on the many social and political reasons why the Earth is facing climate catastrophe.
Langelle stated, “My photographs are united by the intertwined threads of social, economic or ecological injustice and peoples’ resilience or resistance to them. Showing how these issues are intrinsically linked is crucial to understanding the whole–to seeing the big picture–instead of compartmentalizing each separately. I believe we must understand that everything is interconnected. The root causes of these problems are often one and the same.”
Jeff Conant, Director, Friends of the Earth’s international forests program said, “Orin Langelle is one of the great documentarians of the last several decades…You look at his photos and you cannot forget that power concedes nothing without a struggle…and that this struggle takes place somewhere, somehow, everyday and everywhere”
Both events are free and open to the campus community and the public.
Saturday, April 6, 2019, 7-9 p.m.
¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art (148 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo NY 14201).
Pittsburgh-based #notwhite collective and Buffalo poets celebrate National Poetry Month
The Pittsburgh-based #notwhite collective, a group of 12 women artists of bi/multi-racial/cultural, immigrant- or descendant-of-immigrants backgrounds, will present an evening of poetry and spoken word with Buffalo poets on Saturday, April 6, from 7-9 p.m.
The event kicks off the first weekend of National Poetry Month and is presented in conjuction with the Buffalo premiere of the collective’s art exhibit, In Between the Middle the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art.
Performers include Buffalo artists Danielle AJ, Bianca L. McGraw and N’gana, who will be joined by #notwhite collective members: Madame Dolores, HollyHood, Fran Flaherty, Carolina Loyola-Garcia, Liana Maneese, Maritza Mosquera and Sara Tang. The event is open to the public, and ASL interpretation will be provided. Visit www.notwhitecollective.com or ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art for more information.
2019 North American Forest and Climate Convergence Planned
St. Louis, MO (U.S.) – Speakers from the diverse German radical climate justice movement, Ende Gelände (“Here and No Further”) spoke to a packed crowd on 26 March 2019.
The German activists were on the Scaling Up the Resistance U.S. Tour, that started in February and ends in April, to share stories from Germany’s successful mass climate justice mobilizations — including their 6,000 person direct action against enormous open-cast lignite coal mines.
Last fall they organized to collectively block a coal mine. Demonstrators invaded mining pits, danced in front of the diggers, slept on the railways, and created aerial photo ops to make the connection between climate chaos and capitalism and exposed the truth behind the German Energiewende (“energy transition”).
“Ende Gelände together with the Hambach Forest Occupation and it’s dozens of tree-sits, local resistance and national mobilizations, the German Climate movement is on the brink of stopping coal. Time to bring that mass organizing here,” said Daniel Hofinger, an organizer with Ende Gelände, on tour in the U.S. “We organized a mass movement to stop coal and transition to renewables. We are honored to exchange experiences and align our common struggles for climate justice.”
“Climate change is part of the matrix of causation of everything from border issues, to mass migration, to super-storms and fires. Where it isn’t the driving factor, it is a major player. The fact that corporations and governments refuse to take the dramatic and predicted outcomes of climate change seriously means that people need to refuse to participate in the status quo. We can learn a lot from our German allies about how to do this in the U.S.,” said Rising Tide North America spokesperson, Heather Doyle.
Doyle continued, “In the age of Trump, the national focus on climate justice has been complicated by conservative attacks on collective action and a continued denial of the basic facts of climate change in favor of wholesale support of the economic elite. A movement like The Green New Deal has been amazing at maintaining a focus on the legislative priorities of the climate movement, but it does not replace the need for a large scale direct confrontation with corporate actors that influence government. In the end we need to build a mass movement that approaches climate, capitalism and other root causes equally.”
Rising Tide North America is using this tour to help build a mass direct action movement in North America. Invited to speak in St. Louis were Tabitha Tripp from SAFE: Southern IL Against Fracturing our Environment, and Shawnee Forest Defense!, and Global Justice Ecology Project‘s Anne Petermann.
Both Shawnee Forest Defense! and Global Justice Ecology Project along with Indigenous Environmental Network make up the core coordinating committee for The Resurgence: 2019 Forest & Climate Movement Convergence in October.
“The convergence is a call to action to radically transform the economic and political systems that drive climate change, forest destruction and the commodification of life,” stated Global Justice Ecology Project’s Anne Petermann. She emphasized, “This is not another conference.”
Shawnee Forest Defense! and SAFE’s Tripp added, “This convergence will be an opportunity to come together as many people working on the interconnected issues of forest destruction, climate change, Indigenous sovereignty, racial and gender oppression, corporate domination, fossil fuel extraction, and social and environmental injustice.”
A written statement from Rising Tide North America stated: “From the months-long tree-sits against the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Virginia and West Virginia, to the felony charges thrown at activists in the Southern Bayou L’eau Est La Vie camp, to the frigid winter campaign in Northern Minnesota opposing Line 3, the U.S. movement needs to grow if it is to be successful.
“To win, we need to build a mass grassroots movement that uses direct action to bring down the fossil fuel industry and demand a just transition to decentralized and democratized energy systems. We also need to abolish false solutions like carbon trading and green capitalism; confront far-right ‘populist’ lies for what they are; build international solidarity; use local and municipal power-building strategies; and take leadership from the first and worst hit by pollution and climate catastrophes.”
The St. Louis event was co-hosted by: Earth Defense Coalition, SAFE: Southern IL Against Fracturing our Environment, Shawnee Forest Defense!, Sunrise STL, Extinction Rebellion STL, 350 STL, Fossil Free WashU, St. Louis Democratic Socialists of America Environmental Committee, and Radical Revolution
National Tour Sponsor: Rising Tide North America
German Resistance Photos: https://www.flickr.
Ende Gelände Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BaggerStoppen/
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.]
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.
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.
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.
The motto of the World Social Forums, which continues to this day, is “Another World is Possible.”
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.”
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.
[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
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.
I was honored last week to present some of my photography for a class, ‘Resilience: Through the Lens’ to community photographers in Buffalo, NY.
‘Resilience: Through the Lens’ was organized by Rebecca Newberry, the Executive Director of The Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, and Lauren Tent, the Education Director for the CEPA Gallery | Contemporary Photography and Visual Arts Center. My presentation to the class was held on October 4, 2018 at the CEPA Gallery.
I’m a member of CEPA and a co-recipient of Gallery’s 2017 Member’s Exhibition Award (please see the bottom of this post for further information regarding that exhibition and my subsequent solo show at CEPA’s Flux Gallery).
Although part of my presentation concerned my national and international photography that I have used to expose social, economic and ecological injustice, my main focus was my work with people of different communities. I showed photographs of the first concentration camp of Ayoreo Indigenous Peoples in Paraguay (above left), resistance in Amador Hernandez, an Indigenous village in the jungle of Mexico’s state of Chiapas (second above left) and most recently a detailed look into my work with Union Hill, a historic Black community founded by Freedmen and slaves.
The community of Union Hill is fighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and a 55,000 horsepower compressor station planned by Dominion Energy. There are Freedmen and slave unmarked burial sites on or near the site where Dominion wants to build the compressor station.
Local residents see Dominion Energy’s disregard for their community as part of an established pattern of environmental racism in Virginia. The African American community fighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a strong and proud community.
While at the burial site in Union Hill (above right) I was allowed to capture the intense feelings of the people present. To all it was a sad moment but, also a sense of closure to know where their ancestors are buried.
I discussed the impact that my photos and strategic communications had – and are still having.
This was no doubt one of my best experiences in sharing my images that are meant to foster social change while documenting history. The attendees at CEPA asked very pertinent questions and we engaged in an inspiring dialogue about photography and social change.
More on Orin Langelle and CEPA
On January 27, 2017 the CEPA Gallery (Contemporary Photography & Visual Arts Center) opened its yearly CEPA Gallery Members’ Exhibition. CEPA Gallery’s 2017 Members’ Exhibition featured the photography and photo-related work of some of Western New York’s most talented artists.
Photographers Natalie Dilenno and Orin Langelle received the 2017 Exhibition Awards.
The Exhibition Awards provided both Langelle and Dilenno to have solo exhibits at the CEPA Gallery in 2018.
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.
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.
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
[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