Apologies for not posting sooner, but I am on a much needed open-ended extended Sabbatical. I do not intend to post on this page until the Sabbatical is over. When i return I will be working on a new look for this outdated website. For additional information, please contact Anne Petermann <anne (at) globaljusticeecology.org> or contact Anne at +1.716.364.1188. Thank you – Orin Langelle
Dear friends and supporters Global Justice Ecology Project,
We, like you, are doing all we can to keep our families and loved ones safe and healthy.
At the same time, we continue to pursue our mission, which includes understanding the root causes of this crisis and its connection to social and ecological injustice. For the best way to prevent the next pandemic is to understand the roots of this one and ensure we do not make the same mistakes in the future.
Below is a new article that links emerging pandemics like COVID-19 to the destruction of the world’s wildest places. It turns out protecting forests isn’t just about protecting biodiversity, it is also about avoiding another pandemic.
In a March 18th article in The Guardian, John Vidal wrote:
“Increasingly [these] diseases are linked to … disruption of pristine forests driven by logging, mining, road building through remote places, rapid urbanisation and population growth [which] is …resulting [in] transmission of disease from wildlife to humans.
“…change must come from both rich and poor societies. Demand for wood, minerals and resources from the global north leads to the degraded landscapes and ecological disruption that drives disease … Otherwise we can expect more of the same.” – from ‘Tip of the iceberg’: is our destruction of nature responsible for COVID-19?
Meanwhile, social injustice and ecological destruction are not stopping for COVID-19. If anything, corporations are looking to the virus to distract people from their ongoing plunder–as well as the government’s support for same, such as the Trump administration’s recent bailout of the oil and gas industry.
We at GJEP are joining others in tracking how corporations and governments are using the COVID-19 virus to crack down on basic personal freedoms–just as they did after 9/11. Never before have so many borders been shut down, travel restricted, millions locked down or quarantined, and businesses shuttered as fear of the unknown mounts.
The data they are collecting on the crisis and its response could forseeably be used as a guidepost on the treatment of civil unrest caused by a future pandemic, climate catastrophe or other emergency that threatens government or corporate power.
Resources for COVID-19 community support and mutual aid, as well as a call to remember ongoing struggles:
As the coronavirus spreads across North America, communities are coming together to support those most vulnerable. Low-income workers, communities of color, people with disabilities, the house-less, and those who are incarcerated, are among those who will be disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and efforts to contain it.
Here are a few things you can do this week:
1. Act in Solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en:
The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs are continuing their fight to stop the Coastal GasLink Pipeline through their ancestral lands. Our solidarity cannot stop. This is when the companies will try to take everything.
What you can do: A company called KKR is in the process of buying 65% of Coastal GasLink. If we can stop the sale, we can help stop the pipeline from being built. Take 5 minutes to tweet, email or call KKR and tell them to divest from the Coastal GasLink Pipeline. Don’t forget to sign the #ShutDownKKR petition. It has 125,000 signatures and growing!
2. Take action for a just response to the coronavirus:
· When Every Community is Ground Zero: Pulling Each Other Through a Pandemic (Mutual Aid Disaster Relief)
· Demands from Grassroots Organizers Concerning COVID-19 (Transformative Spaces)
· Calls for a Just Recovery Response to COVID-19 that Centers The Most Vulnerable (The Climate Justice Alliance)
I hope that you find this information helpful in navigating the uncharted waters in which we find ourselves. Global Justice Ecology Project is taking pains to safely continue to advance our campaigns for protection of forests and defense of the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Thank you and best wishes to you and your family,
Global Justice Ecology Project
266 Elmwood Ave, Suite 307
Buffalo, NY 14222-2202
Buffalo, NY: Due to the current public health emergency and recommendations for events not to exceed fifty people, the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art is postponing our April 3 First Friday event. The opening reception for our new exhibit, Chile: Peoples’ Uprising, will be rescheduled for a later date. We will be sure to inform you of the new date for the exhibit opening when we make that determination.
Chile: Peoples’ Uprising
Images from the Front Lines
Exhibit Opens April 3
BUFFALO, NY – The ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art will present documentary photography and videography from the ongoing peoples’ uprising in Chile that started in October of last year. The images were shot by the gallery co-directors, Orin Langelle and Anne Petermann in the months of November and December, 2019 from the front lines of the uprising.
The Opening Reception of Chile: Peoples’ Uprising will be held during Allentown’s First Friday event on April 3 from 6 to 9 p.m. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served at the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art, 148 Elmwood Avenue at Global Justice Ecology Project space.
A massive popular uprising in Chile began on October 18, 2019, and continues to this day. Millions are demanding a new economic and political system in Chile and a new Constitution.Chile’s existing Constitution was written during the Pinochet Dictatorship, ushered in during a military coup supported by the U.S. in 1973.
Today Peoples’ Assemblies are taking part in all regions of Chile to create a process that will rewrite the new constitution. Chile’s President Piñera is trying to take control of this process and to crush the protests with extreme violence and repression.
Petermann and Langelle documented street protests including clashes between activists and Carabineros (national police) in the cities of Santiago and Temuco.
As of the first week of March of this year reports state that since the uprising began in October, 36 activists have died, more than 28,000 Chileans have been detained and 4,080 minors arrested. Additionally over 11,000 have been injured by the Carabineros. Shotguns loaded with rubber-coated metal pellets deliberately aimed at protesters’ faces have caused 445 serious eye wounds. Many people have partial or complete loss of vision in one or both eyes. In addition, several protesters have been run over by armored vehicles.
Langelle and Petermann also traveled to two indigenous Mapuche land re-occupations, where communities had taken back 1,500 hectares of their ancestral lands, stolen from them during the dictatorship. On U.S. Thanksgiving, they took photos and video interviews after Carabineros shot and teargassed people in the re-occupation.
On Tuesday, April 7, Jim Shultz, Executive Director of the Democracy Center, will launch his newest book My Other Country, Nineteen Years in Bolivia? in the BV Gallery from 7 – 9 p.m. The full moon event commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Cochabamba Water Revolt in Bolivia that Shultz was involved in and helped publicize.
The gallery is free and open to the public.
Contact: Theresa Church [email protected]
Santiago de Chile: Water cannons chase crowd. A caustic liquid was mixed with the water to irritate the skin and lungs. Water cannons were strategically used to target street medics and the Red Cross.
Santiago de Chile: Depicting blood and eyeballs in the hands of the government. This guerrilla theater on International Human Rights Day, December 10th, commemorated the (then) 350+ eyes injured, some permanently by the Carabineros de Chile (national police) who intentionally shot people in the face with shotguns filled with rubber-coated metal pellets during the protests.
This young Mapuche is from the community of Quilape Lopez, Chile, which is re-occupying stolen ancestral lands. Elders say the young are the future of the Mapuche, as is the land.
all photos by Orin Langelle / photolangelle.org
The CRISPR Craze? Or CRISPR Crazed?
24 June 2019 by Anne Petermann posted online. For more updates on the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) tree biotech conference in Raleigh, NC please watch The Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees through 28 June 2019.
“Should we really be manipulating the heredity of future generations given our lack of knowledge about so many things.”
“Humans are very good at inventing things, but they are very, very bad at looking at what the implications are.” (from the trailer for the movie Human Nature)
The IUFRO take on CRISPR:
The opening plenary presentation for IUFRO was by Rodolphe Barrangou, faculty of NCSU, which revealed a very interesting motivation for selecting NCSU for the IUFRO event: launching a new CRISPR startup focused on bringing CRISPR to forestry.
Barrangou’s assaulting high velocity hi-tech presentation on the wonders of the “6 year-old” CRISPR technology was at once mesmerizing and horrifying. He referred to the time in human history as “BC” – Before CRISPR” vs “AD – after the death of the other recombinant technologies.” He compared CRISPR to a 6-year old child. Which was a bit of an odd choice since he also insisted that, “the science, we know…the science is not in question.” Not too many 6 year old children are so fully formed.
I found the speed of his delivery combined with his huge wide screen presentation and his fantastical ravings of the miracles of CRISPR to be an all-out assault on the senses.
At one point, he showed a slide containing a diverse array of species, from domesticated animals, to chimpanzees, to crop plants, announcing proudly that “we can edit the genome or epigenome of any species on Earth!” Pointing to a pig he said “We can make CRISPR bacon!”
He also delighted in explaining how they can even change the color in the very complicated wing pattern of a butterfly, which he demonstrated on the screen with horrifying before and after makeovers of two species of butterfly.
He did add a few words on the work still needed to be done. CRISPR is not, he said, always reliable. Getting back to the child metaphor, he explained it occasionally “has tantrums,” and “still does not work 100% of the time in 100% of the cells in 100% of patients.” Undeterred, he proudly explained that thousands of labs across the world are “mining biodiversity” to improve it.
Which revealed the real reason his entire presentation sounded like a high-pressure sales pitch. It was.
Halfway through his presentation he announced, with great aplomb, the launch of his new CRISPR startup, which he was launching right then and there at IUFRO in partnership with four other faculty from NCSU and one from Duke University. Its purpose—bring gene editing technology into the forestry sector. CRISPR would not, he admitted, solve the demand side problem. Commercialization, he said, is the limiting factor, because “the science, we know… the bottleneck [is] acceptance by regulators and society.”
It is a public perception problem. But they are on it! He showed a trailer for the movie Human Nature scheduled to premiere this September at the same time as the upcoming IUFRO World Congress (a coincidence??) – a film designed explicitly to convince a wary public that CRISPR is the best thing since sliced bread (or, was that the OxO gene).
Another public relations strategy, he explained, was a CRISPR process that uses “DNA free RNPs, and that’s the path to a non-transgenic, transgene-free, non-GMO approval, and that’s what I think is going to change the game,” and be the perfect antidote to regulation and the anti-GMO movement.
He neglected to explain how a process designed to engineer genomes would not be genetic engineering. In fact, he feared this would be the downfall of the CRISPR movement–if people perceived it as genetic engineering. Which it is, so he should be concerned.
He wrapped up his talk explaining how the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning could be used to “predict what genomes, sequences and pathways should be targeted—and once you understand this you can knock them out, turn them on, turn them off, whatever you want to do and hopefully eventually get to the relevant trait that is of interest to the industry.”
Again: genetic engineering.
His fanatical worship of the CRISPR God was tempered slightly at the end of his talk when he admitted that CRISPR scientists are nowhere near understanding tree genomics as well as we understand human genomics due to the fact that tree genomes are so much bigger and more complex.
Not all Fertilizer and Roses
His stunningly depressing presentation, interestingly, was followed by James Holland, a USDA/NCSU corn researcher who provided comic relief with his explanations of everything that can and will go wrong in the pursuit of genetic knowledge. His honesty was like a breath of fresh air after the hard pitch CRISPR advertisement that proceeded him.
End day one…
For more updates on the IUFRO tree biotech conference in Raleigh, NC please watch The Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees through 28 June 2019.
Scaling up the Resistance
Strategies and Stories from the German Climate Justice Movement
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.”
North American Forest & Climate Convergence planned for October
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/
Cross-posted from Global Justice Ecology Project
Wally Menne: A Lion Among Men
The Loss of a Giant
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.
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.
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)
This Sunday, 31 January, Orin Langelle will be in Toronto for a Learning Activism launch party with the book’s author, close friend and colleague, Aziz Choudry at ‘Another Story Bookshop.’ The book was published by the University of Toronto Press. Langelle will give a slideshow of his photographs that illustrate the book, including the cover, as well as photos exhibited at Buffalo, NY’s ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery, which he directs. Langelle will explain history behind the photographs and the struggles they represent. Following the discussion by Choudry and Langelle, there will be a question and answer period.
Aziz Choudry is Associate Professor in the Department of Integral Studies in Education at McGill and Visiting Professor in the Center for Education Rights and Transformation at the University of Johannesburg. He has been on the Board of Directors of Global Justice Ecology Project since its its founding in 2003 by Langelle and Anne Petermann.
The launch party is free and open to the public. RSVP for the event on the bookstore Facebook page.
Below the poster is UTP’s description for the book followed by a paragraph about Langelle written by Choudry that appears in the book.
Described by the University of Toronto Press:
What do activists know? Learning Activism is designed to encourage a deeper engagement with the intellectual life of activists who organize for social, political, and ecological justice. Combining experiential knowledge from his own activism and a variety of social movements, Choudry suggests that such organizations are best understood if we engage with the learning, knowledge, debates, and theorizing that goes on within them. Drawing on Marxist, feminist, anti-racist, and anti-colonial perspectives on knowledge and power, the book highlights how activists and organizers learn through doing, and fills the gap between social movement practice as it occurs on the ground, critical adult education scholarship, and social movement theorizing. Examples include anti-colonial currents within global justice organizing in the Asia-Pacific, activist research and education in social movements and people?s organizations in the Philippines, Migrant and immigrant worker struggles in Canada, and the Quebec student strike. The result is a book that carves out a new space for intellectual life in activist practice.
Choudry from Learning Activism on Orin Langelle:
The photographs that illustrate this book are another important example of preserving movement histories. These photos by US activist and photojournalist Orin Langelle transcend the sometime clichéd “protest” images that we often see. Integrating photography into organizing/education initiatives, especially around climate justice, anti-globalization, food sovereignty, and Indigenous resistance struggles, his work is a historically informed look at social movements, struggle and everyday life. In Langelle’s words, his photographic work aims to ‘counter the societal amnesia from which we collectively suffer—especially with regard to the history of social and ecological struggles. This is not merely a chronicling of history, but a call out to inspire new generations to participate in the making of a new history.’ Langelle writes that he strives ‘not just to document and expose the harsh reality of injustice—much of which is linked with the struggle for the land—but to inspire viewers to participate in changing the world, while helping empower those striving for justice because they know that photographs of their struggle are revealed to a larger audience.’ As Langelle says, in contemporary struggles for change,we cannot afford societal amnesia.
Seven photographs from Orin Langelle’s last exhibit, The End of the Game – The Last Word from Paradise, Revisited are included in a show at the Gordon Parks Foundation in Pleasantville, NY. Langelle’s photos document Peter Beard’s first one-person show at the International Center of Photography in Manhattan in 1977.
The exhibit at the Parks Foundation, Gordon Parks: Collages by Peter Beard, features artwork made by Beard over the course of the long friendship between him and Parks. The exhibit is open through April 23.