All posts by Carmen
I’m sure you’ve all read the articles, seen a bit of the video footage, or caught a blog or two on the linkage between racism and reform on the heels of the passage of the Health Care Bill last week. The shift from accusing President Obama of not being a U.S. citizen and forcing Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor to publicly apologize for describing herself as a “wise Latina” to spitting on Representative Emanuel Cleaver and screaming the ‘n-word’ at Representative John Lewis was seamless and to be expected. This hatred has been fostered and fomented by leaders in the Republican party, encouraged by the non-stop media coverage from all ends of the political spectrum, and driven by a fearful white mass who is nervous about the changing demographics in their communities.
Along with these clear links between Racism & Political Reform, this moment is also a clear example of the difference between the Law and Justice. I urge you to consider the following questions:
- What would happen if it were Black, Latino, Arab, Native American or Asian protesters waving guns at political events, spitting on elected officials, or yelling slurs at Representatives?
- What would happen if it were Black, Latino, Arab, Native American, or Asian elected officials screaming “No You Can’t”, “Liar”, or “Baby Killer” to their colleagues in public debate?
- What would happen if it were a Black, Latino, Arab, Native American, or Asian publicly stating their desire to kill the president?
You could be assured if any of the above scenarios was the case, the perpetrators would be incarcerated, ostracized, and placed on the fridge of public debate as opposed to the center. The law in the above cases would work to it’s fullest extent, but as the perpetrators of the crimes are white the threats and acts of extreme violence are transformed from ‘terrorist’ to ‘minor threats’. For example, the longest charge for plotting and publicly threatening to kill President Obama was one month. Justice would insure equal protection and punishment, but this debate about race and reform reveals that the Law is far from anything equal.
Who would have thought the days of 2010 could go by so fast? It’s already February and we’re in the midst of a convening frenzy at the Foundation. We are planning a number of really exciting convenings and conferences and to kick them off, we are sponsoring a fundraiser for Art in Action featuring Van Jones and Phaedra Ellis-Lampkins from Green for All. Art in Action empowers youth leaders by engaging arts for social change through personal, social, political, and cultural education. They work collectively with youth from diverse historically disenfranchised communities impacted by violence through programs in music, media arts, spoken word/poetry, dance/theater, storytelling, and painting. 2009 was a great year for Art in Action as they were able to rehabilitate an office space and transform it into an amazing Green Youth Arts Media Center. With support from the Mitchell Kapor Foundation as well as from the Pea Pod Foundation, they opened the doors this January to a space with recording studios, dance space, and a community garden.
This fundraiser is to make sure they are able to keep their doors open through 2010. Since we recognize these are hard economic times and $200 maybe too steep for interested individuals, a number of tickets will be held at a discounted price.
Over the course of the last couple of weeks, particularly in the midst of the holiday shopping madness, I’ve spent some thinking about how and what we value. I keep coming back to this question: Do Americans value consumption over citizenship? Believe me, these are not my random thoughts.
It all started with this story on National Public Radio about a 3-D television that would make the Super Bowl a ‘greater’ experience for sport fans. I turned to my husband and was outraged that advances in technology could allow us to watch football practically live in our living rooms, but that we, as a society, did not prioritize preventing voter fraud or providing all people with accessible quality organic food over this experience. It all seemed crazy.
Thankfully, there are people like Raj Patel in the world who are thoughtful about these contradictions and are able to offer some insight on how we can transform this madness. Raj Patel is what my graduate school adviser would call a ‘double-agent’. He worked at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and is now at the forefront of battling these institutions by calling into question how we come to value goods in our current economic and political configuration. In the ‘The Value of Nothing: How to reshape market society and redefine democracy,’ he asks a simple question: Do we really know what goods and services cost in our society? His response is no and that we really need to wake-up and smell the impact of not knowing this cost soon or we’re going to be in serious trouble.
In his recent talks and interviews throughout the Bay Area, he gives the example of knowing the cost of how and what we eat. One in five health care dollars in the United States is spent treating someone who has diabetes. We know that there are food choices that can transform the impact of diabetes, but we do not place a value on trying to eat well nor in staying away from processed sugars or fats. On the contrary, it actually costs more to eat better. He offers the solution of having a tax on goods that we know have less value on our health. Just imagine a soda tax or a juice benefit! The world is already a little better.
P.S. from Cedric: I’ve known Raj for about four years through his wife/partner Mini Kahlon, one of my former colleagues at the Level Playing Field Institute. Lots of brainy pizazz in that family! I’m so proud of him!
Hi everyone! It’s been an exciting couple of months in the world of Green Access to say the least. We’ve been planning for the Foundation’s 2010 roll-out, following the amazing work of our grant recipient organizations and partners like Green for All and Movement Generation fighting the good and hard fight for racially and economically just climate change solutions in Copenhagen, Denmark, and we had our end of the year convening documenting what works in the movement for green jobs, climate justice, and food security in low-income communities of color. We’ve been a busy bunch at the Foundation to say the least.
Our end of the year What Works! zero-waste convening was a great success with almost 100 participants, 3 panels, and 15 presentations from some of the nation’s leaders in building a racially and economically just green movement. The panels were rich reflections of on-going work in our neighborhoods, across our state, and throughout the country. On the local panel we heard from people like Adam Kruggel from Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organizing, which is organizing families to fight for a just green economy in Contra Costa County and Joshua Arce from Brightline Defense Project describing their strategies to shut down power plants throughout San Francisco. On the regional panel we heard from Juliet Ellis from Urban Habitat describe the need to build political power by training our community leaders to run or be appointed to local and regional boards and commissions and Nikki Bas from the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy who has been working tirelessly to green our ports. Our final presented the work of Nile Malloy from Communities for a Better Environment, which is working tirelessly to extend local power to Sacramento in order to shape and inform California’s toxics exposure policy and Jakada Imani from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights highlight the organization’s ability to inform and shape the State’s green jobs training program. All in all, the day has been described as inspiring, innovative, and energizing. In closing 2009 on such a high note, we are ready and waiting for the movement building and systems change to come in 2010.
Happy Holidays and we’ll see you next year!
Hi there! It’s been a booming and bustling couple of months with trips to Alaska and Washington DC, planning for next year, and making sure that all of our ts are crossed before we let go of yet another year. On the Green Access front, we’ve had an amazing couple of months.
I was lucky to work with a couple of amazing leaders in social justice philanthropy to pull together a panel for this year’s Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA) convening in Anchorage, Alaska. The panel titled, “Broadening the Base: Redefining Environmentalism in the Age of Ecological and Economic Crisis” featured the work of amazing leaders from WeAct from New York, Power U from Miami, and the Indigenous Environmental Network from Arizona. The panel was a great reflection on how low-income communities of color are building power to address these pressing issues. That same month, I contributed a journal article to the EGA journal titled, “Minding the Justice Gap: Bay Area Collaborations Offer a Model for Hard Times”, which you can find here.
Last week I was in Washington, D.C. with an amazing collaborative of funders at the 10th anniversary Health and Environmental Funders Network meeting. The meeting offered a rich learning environment and an opportunity to connect with progressive funders that are building bridges between climate change, community health, reproductive justice, and food security. The highlight of the meeting was learning about the Cleveland Green Co-op model, which has been an amazing engine for economic development, a solid pathway out of poverty, and a hands-on strategy to fight climate change.
This weekend is the Green Festival. If you haven’t been, you really can’t miss it! Its three days filled with the best in green with more than 150 renowned speakers and 400 green businesses, this event is great for everyone, so get out there and fight the green fight!
I went to bed last night and did that thing you’re never supposed to do in order to get a good night’s sleep: opened my laptop, went to the New York Times, and started poking around.
About half way down the page was the news of Van Jones’ resignation from the Obama Administration as the Special Adviser for Green Jobs. Within seconds of reading the article, the sad truth about the limits of this presidency became very, very real. I met Van briefly when I first moved to Oakland in 2000 and our paths crossed numerous times as my great friend Zachary Norris deferred NYU law school because he was so inspired by the work of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and the leadership Van offered. Van is a true intellectual, an amazing orator, and the most down to earth human being you will ever meet.
Over the course of the last months, I’ve been a giggling skeptic of the power that Glenn Beck has over the state of American politics. I imagined it to be peripheral, on the margins of American society, and at the end of the day powerless. Today, I can’t help but think: What have we done? As progressives, we have let one of our great leaders, activists, and thinkers fall and still the streets of Oakland, DC, and New York are quiet. As progressives, we continue to let the administration fall under the relentless scrutiny of Republicans and, worst yet, right-wing talking heads and assume that it will have little to no effect on the movement we worked so hard for. What have we done? And more importantly, what can we do to make sure this never happens again?
Can’t stop won’t stop: http://cantstopwontstop.com/blog/time-to-knuckle-up-on-van-jones-resignation/
Sierra Club: http://sierraclub.typepad.com/carlpope/2009/09/we-all-blew-it.htm
Looking for some food justice? How about a good fight for the planet? Or maybe seeking out a venue to hear your favorite activist or poet give a 20 minute talk? If your answer is yes to any of these, here go 3 places you should be at at in the next couple of months
August 28-30, 2009
Jack London Square, Oakland, CA
Street food, fresh summer fruits and veggies, live music, handcrafted local beers, ice cream sold from the back of a bicycle. Come find it all and more at Eat Real, a free festival, taking place August 28-30 at Jack London Square. Buy from your favorite street food vendors, pick up a ticket for the Beer Shed and sample from among the 40-something microbrews, or shop in the Market for local produce and artisanal snacks. In between the good eats, enjoy the non-stop entertainment and activities that include chef demonstrations, dance performances, bands, films, food competitions, and lots more, for free
Proceeds from the event benefit People’s Grocery, La Cocina and Community Alliance with Family Farmers
September 7-9, 2009
W Hotel, San Francisco, CA
Momentum brings together some of the world’s most innovative thinkers and dedicated activists to challenge, inspire, and energize each other. It’s a conference and it’s a community where ongoing connections are built between key social issues and strategies. Tides first convened Momentum in 2005 as a way to keep the energy and dialog from the 2004 elections open and productive. From that first gathering of donors, Momentum has evolved to embrace the larger Tides community in active, authentic dialog. In 2008, Momentum was re-envisioned with a unique format, placing the spotlight on innovative, emerging and challenging ideas while fostering collective experience. With each Momentum gathering, the forum expands and evolves to embrace a broader vision of community. Momentum’s engaging and brilliant speakers share their passion for new approaches to familiar problems, giving their most intriguing presentations in just 20 minutes.
September 25- October 1, 2009
Landmark Lumiere, San Francisco, CA
Three years in the making, Crude is the epic story of one of the largest and most controversial environmental lawsuits on the planet. The inside story of the infamous “Amazon Chernobyl” case, Crude is a real-life high stakes legal drama, set against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures. Presenting a complex situation from multiple viewpoints, the film subverts the conventions of advocacy filmmaking, exploring a complicated situation from all angles while bringing an important story of environmental peril and human suffering into focus.
The landmark case takes place in the Amazon jungle of Ecuador, pitting 30,000 indigenous and colonial rainforest dwellers against the U.S. oil giant Chevron. The plaintiffs claim that Texaco – which merged with Chevron in 2001 – spent three decades systematically contaminating one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth, poisoning the water, air and land. The plaintiffs allege that the pollution has created a “death zone” in an area the size of the Rhode Island, resulting in increased rates of cancer, leukemia, birth defects, and a multiplicity of other health ailments. They further allege that the oil operations in the region contributed to the destruction of indigenous peoples and irrevocably impacted their traditional way of life. Chevron vociferously fights the claims, charging that the case is a complete fabrication, perpetrated by “environmental con men” who are seeking to line their pockets with the company’s billions.
IN OTHER NEWS!
Carmen and I (Tiffany) attended CompassPoint’s Nonprofit Day today. It was an exciting day that started out with an inspiring opening plenary by Benjamin Jealous, CEO of the NAACP. Ben got everyone even more jazzed about movement building with strong statements about being clear about our convictions, being clear about who shares our conviction, and always trying to act like ‘converts’ who are passionate about the causes we’re working for. My favorite quote from his speech was about Ben’s pastor who said, “Success is going from failure to failure without lack of enthusiasm.” Now THAT’S conviction!!
I also listened to a strong panel of experts who also spoke about movement building, learned about how to build coaching into my communication with colleagues and others, and many other hot topics. If you went to the event, I hope you gained some great networks and kernels of wisdom just like I did!
See you at the next event!!
This last Wednesday, August 19th, I joined the family members and friends of the Supportive Housing Employment Collaborative’s (SHEC) Recycling Interns to recognize their success in completing their program. If you haven’t heard of the SHEC or their training programs… stop reading and look them up right now. They are at truly at the forefront of the green jobs movement! Over the course of a three-month paid internship, formerly homeless individuals work with staff and mentors to learn about the 4 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot) and work in their individual buildings and in city-wide events to expand recycling and increase waste diversion throughout San Francisco.
The recycling program is just one of the SHEC’s employment readiness and job training programs. They also provide previously homeless individuals with multiple barriers to entry into the labor market with a set of wrap around services, which include counseling, retention and placement services, and adult education and GED preparation. Their success rate is outstanding. In 2008, they served 261 people:
- Over 75 percent of those who enrolled in a job training or education program graduated.
- 71 percent of graduates were placed into permanent employment.
- 65 percent maintained employment for three or more months.
- 90 formerly homeless individuals were placed into permanent employment in the last year.
As we continue to see the growth of the green jobs movement, it is important that we include those in our community that are so often forgotten and remember what Van Jones has so often noted: “As the new ‘clean and green’ economy emerges, there will be countless opportunities for people to improve their work, wealth, and health. Those opportunities must be made available to everyone–especially those people who have found opportunities so hard to come by in the pollution-based economy… If not, it will be tainted by the same racial and class stratification that has for so long prevented America from fulfilling its promise of freedom.” The SHEC is the first step towards green jobs for everyone.
Mitchell Kapor Foundation grantee’s have been on the move this summer. The work of VoICE and Green Access grantees has come together through the national Green the Block campaign . On August 4th, Green For All and the Hip Hop Caucus announced the launch of their new partnership ‘to educate and mobilize communities of color to ensure a voice and stake in the clean-energy economy’. The four pillars of the Green The Block campaign are:
- Education and awareness
- Legislative advocacy
- Youth activism
- Private-sector development
These organizations are working together because they understand that a clean energy economy can address both the crisis of poverty and pollution and we agree. Congratulations Green for All and Hip Hop Caucus for your leadership in our communities!
IN OTHER NEWS, Compasspoint’s Nonprofit Day is just around the corner! It’ll be held on August 27th at the San Francisco Hilton. NAACP (one of our grantees) CEO, Ben Jealous, will be the keynote speaker at the conference, and there will be numerous opportunities to learn about nonprofit leadership, movement building, and how to cope during these difficult economic times. Plus, there are always great networking opportunities at this event. If you haven’t registered already, do it fast!! Registration fees increase after August 14th!! See you there!
Looking back, 2009 will be remembered as a critical moment in the movement towards a greener, leaner, and cleaner U.S. Whether we are looking to Michelle Obama’s garden and the growing understanding of why fresh, local, and organic matters or the Cash for Clunkers program, which trades old fuel inefficient cars and replaces them fuel efficient vehicles, this presidential administration has been making moves in the greening of the economy, our society, and our communities. A critical part of this move has been the introduction and partial passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES).
On June 26, 2009, ACES passed the U.S. House of Representatives. A critical force in the passage of ACES has been Green for All, which has insured that the act benefits low income communities and communities of color as well as the environment. By linking environmental protection with economic revitalization, Green for All has called for wide-spread support of the act for two reasons. First, it allows the government to take immediate action to repair our deteriorating atmosphere. And second, this bill takes a first step not just towards a green economy, but also towards a fair economy.
Recognizing that the bill is limited in its ability to address the issues of emissions reduction and has created an incentive market that could be manipulated by heavy polluters, Green for All has tried to push an equity framework into the act. As a result the cleaning of the environment will happen hand in hand with the revitalization of low-income communities and communities of color. The two additions offered by Green for All are the inclusion of direct funding for the Green Jobs Act, which will provide training and employment opportunities to individuals with multiple barriers to entry into the labor market. The second addition is community-benefit requirements to ACES. They argue that by ‘mandating that well-trained, local, low-income workers perform a certain amount of the work on ACES-funded construction projects, we can guarantee that these projects do not just improve the local environment, but also invest in the local economy’.
Although the bill is not a panacea for addressing environmental and equity issues, we are definitely making moves towards having low income communities and communities of color breathe cleaner air and access to quality jobs.
Act Language: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h2454/show
Green for All: http://www.greenforall.org/