CART NOTES: Eric Holt‑Gimenez & Jill Mangaliman, Climate, Food & Race: Challenges for the Food Movement, October 27, 2015
NOTE TO READER: This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a verbatim record of the proceedings.
Lisa K. Hutchinson
Eric Holt‑Gimenez, page 12
Jill Mangaliman, page 49
>>BRANDEN: Hi there. Good evening.
Really nice to see so many people.
Can folks in the back, can you hear this podium mic?
>>AUDIENCE: A little bit.
>>BRANDEN: I think it’ll be a little bit better, yeah.
Eric is a little more vertically challenged than I, so it’ll sound better.
And I’ll just kind of bend over.
Just a couple of quick announcements.
We do have some seating for deaf and hard of hearing as well as scent‑free seating for those who are sensitive.
Those seats are down here in front.
If we can ask you to put your phones on silent. You can sure as heck live tweet this. I’m sure CAGJ has a hashtag.
There you go.
My name is Branden Born. I’m an associate professor here at the University of Washington in the Department of Urban Design and Planning.
And I would like to welcome you all to the University of Washington and this fine nicely renovated building Architecture Hall which is the home of the College of Built Environments.
One of the things I would just like to very quickly say before I [turnover|turn over] the mic is that the UW is not well known for being community engaged, and I think that that’s unfortunate, because there are a lot of things happening at U‑Dub. I’m going to mention some of the departments that have helped bring Eric Holt‑Gimenez here. And I think if you know them, you know that all of them are actively engaged and working with the community, oftentimes directly towards social justice causes.
Hopefully, we can continue the relationship that has been building between CAGJ, other social justice organizations, environmental organizations, and the university to really kind of bring larger messages of social importance to a wider audience.
So I really like to think of the U‑Dub as a home for engaged public scholarship, and tonight I would like to think we’re delighted to be hosting a public intellectual, Eric Holt‑Gimenez.
Tonight’s topic is sponsored both by the Community Alliance for Global Justice, as you probably well know, and the following units at the University of Washington. And one of the neat things about this is when we started to talk to these units, how many people were so excited to have this kind of talk here.
And so when I think about these units, I can see the people involved and I see the relationships involved, from the departments of Anthropology, Comparative History of Ideas, Geography, Landscape Architecture, Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the Henry Jackson School of International Studies, the Program on the Environment, the School of Public Health and Nutritional Sciences Program, the School of Social Work, and my home, the Department of Urban Design and Planning.
Just like to commend that wide number of interdisciplinary, tightly knit, and yet very [diverse|adverse] faculties for making this happen.
And now I would like to introduce a friend, an activist extraordinaire, and the executive director of CAGJ, the Community Alliance for Global Justice, Heather Day, to introduce our speakers.
>>HEATHER: Yay. There are so many people here. I’m so excited.
Thanks so much for turning out.
So in addition to the sponsor and cosponsors who helped publicize, I want to give a special thank you to my sister Tash Hansen‑Day who graduated from the U‑Dub last June and was an organizer at the D Center and is the one supporting Community Alliance for Global Justice and ensuring our events are as accessible as possible, which is a very important thing for social justice.
Thank you, Tash, for helping us again tonight.
So, for those of you who don’t know Community Alliance for Global Justice, we’re a member‑led Seattle‑based grassroots organization that came ‑‑ was founded by folks who helped organize a protest against the World Trade Organization in 1999.
We were formed in 2001, so we’ve been around for a little while.
And we still work on trade justice. Specifically right now we have to do everything in our power to stop the Trans‑Pacific Partnership from being passed by Congress over the next few months.
We also organize for Food Justice Project through political education and by working in solidarity with frontline communities. For example, we’re part of the Seattle Boycott Committee standing in solidarity, organizing weekly pickets with Familias Unidas por la Justicia, Families United for Justice, which is an independent and really historic farmer union that formed two years ago near Mount Vernon, and that’s getting a lot of support from the amazing organization Community to Community, based in Bellingham.
Our third program is AGRA Watch, our campaign targeting the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their role in agricultural development, so‑called development, in Africa.
Tonight’s events evolved out of two desires. One was to recognize the significance of the 40th anniversary of Food First, which is an essential part of the movement for food justice and food sovereignty.
They are a people’s think tank that provides a valuable analysis and leadership.
We urge you to become a member. It’s also a [membership|men] organization.
To give an example, when we learned that the Gates Foundation was promoting a new Green Revolution in Africa, we went to Food First. And of course they were already writing about it. We learned about ‑‑ you know, the early days, we sort of figured out what was happening from them, and it’s gone from there.
Our other goal tonight is to participate in the increasingly rich conversations happening in our state and, of course, globally, but really excited in our state around climate justice.
So, first I want to mention two specific things.
One is the Gates Divest campaign that’s demanding that the Gates Foundation divest from their $1.4 billion investment in major fossil fuel companies.
The Guardian newspaper is also doing this organizing, but they have a five‑year time line.
Gates Divest is a local branch. They started independently, actually. Their demand is that they divest by November 30, which is the start of the climate talks.
And we totally salute their organizing.
They are doing great work.
They got the former mayor on their side.
They are doing creative protests frequently outside of the Foundation, which we have done over the years as well.
We’re really excited to have a great partner in pressuring the Gates Foundation.
And we also really appreciate that they ‑‑ you might have gotten our great new flyer tonight, that they welcome ‑‑ they are addition to the message, but it’s not enough to divest from fossil fuel investments in those big companies if the Gates Foundation wants to make a difference, because they are promoting agribusiness and agribusiness is one of the greatest contributors to global warming and to climate change.
Please don’t let the Gates Foundation off the hook.
We have a fear they will be the good guy if they divest, and they certainly should not be allowed to be seen as a good guy or any green washing to come out of that if they were going to take that action.
The second thing is the statewide organizing being led by Communities of Color for Climate Justice and under the umbrella of a new coalition, the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy.
This is an amazing development in our state. Really, really important.
And so excited that we’re able to ground the big analysis that Eric will give tonight in a specific local organizing being led ‑‑ especially we’re really excited to see the leadership of both Got Green and Community to Community in this work. And the executive director Jill Mangaliman is here to talk about that organizing after Eric.
So we really appreciate Jill being here as well.
As a group focused on food sovereignty, our AGRA Watch campaign takes our lead from our African partners.
As a whole, our organization takes a lead from the leadership of global organization ‑‑ the global organization of peasants La Via Campesina, both of whom promote agroecology as a climate justice strategy.
One of the groups we work with is AFSA, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa. Last week they released a statement calling agroecology the future of farming in Africa.
Part of the purpose of this event tonight was to be highlighting that work that’s being done, and I just want to read a short part of their statement.
They say: In many ways agroecology is the antithesis of current conventional corporate‑driven monoculture‑based agricultural systems.
Where conventional agriculture seeks to simplify, agroecology embraces complexity.
Where conventional agriculture aims to eliminate biodiversity, agroecology depends on diversity and builds upon it.
Where conventional agriculture turns farmers into unskilled laborers, agroecology is knowledge‑intensive, building on traditional agricultural practices with modern research and technology, strengthening the sovereignty of small‑scale family farmers.
Where conventional agriculture is based on one‑size‑fits‑all fixes, like GMOs, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, agroecology provides local solutions to local problems.
The strongest resistance to agroecology comes from the vested interests of agrobusiness, fertilizer, agrochemical, and biotech companies that are, quote, claim they are feeding the world as a narrative to increase their profits from input sales.
Does Africa want to take its farmers down the industrial agricultural route just because there is money on the table? This is the crucial question for policymakers across the continent.
So Eric Holt‑Gimenez is the perfect person to help us make all these connections.
He’s an author, he’s an organizer, he’s a researcher, but most importantly for this moment in our movement‑building, Eric is an agroecologist. In his role as executive director of Food First, the Institute for Food & Development Policy, Eric is familiar to a Seattle audience. Last year he moderated a panel that we organized at Town Hall during the Africa‑U.S. Food Sovereignty Strategy Summit.
Another really memorable event, that Branden Born was also a big part of, was the tenth anniversary, to the day, of the WTO protests.
Were any of you at that event in Gould Hall? We got 300 people that night. It was an amazing event as well.
Of Basque and Puerto Rican heritage, Eric grew up milking cows and pitching hay in Point Reyes, California, where he learned that putting food on the table is hard work.
After studying rural education and biology at the University of Oregon and my alma mater Evergreen State College, Eric spent the next 25 years working in Mexico and Central America with farmers.
His first book, Campesino a Campesino: Voices from Latin America’s Farmer to Farmer Movement for Sustainable Agriculture documents his involvement with the Campesino a Campesino movement. And the significance of the farmer‑to‑farmer movement was recognized when the farmer‑to‑farmer movement was awarded the Food Sovereignty Prize in 2011.
He earned his Ph.D. in environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and has taught at many universities around the world, including UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, Antioquia University in Colombia, and the International University of Gastronomy in Italy.
Eric served as the Latin America program manager for the Bank Information Center in Washington, D.C. before becoming executive director of Food First in 2006.
Please join me in welcoming my friend and comrade Eric Holt‑Gimenez.
>>ERIC: Well, thank you, Heather, and thank you, Branden.
I love coming to Seattle.
I lived in the Pacific Northwest for a number of years.
Before I went to school in Evergreen, I lived in the San Juan Islands for a while. And I got here the other day and I didn’t know where I was because it was sunny and warm and pleasant. And now it’s good old miserable Seattle again.
I feel right at home.
It’s really an honor to be here.
And because Food First is really about this connection between intellectual work and activism.
And so it is no mistake that we’re here at the University of Washington in partnership with CAGJ and other activists.
I’m sure many of you in the room are students and activists and professors and activists and activists and activists, and that’s what Food First ‑‑ that is who Food First tries to serve.
We’re a people’s think tank.
And we have been around for 40 years thanks to the people. We don’t get money from foundations.
We get a little bit of grant money from time to time, but we’ve stayed active for 40 years researching the injustices that cause hunger and what to do about it, amplifying the voices of the social movements, and trying to inform the general public, thanks to individual contributions, people who give us anywhere from five, I’m not kidding, $5 a year, and then call on the phone and want to talk for half an hour about Food First (laughter), to, you know, maybe $5,000 a year or more.
And we have around 5,000 to 7,000 supporters at any one time.
And that’s how we stay independent. That’s how we get to set our own research agenda. And our research agenda, we make sure that it’s accountable to the people which ‑‑ for whom we believe.
So, tonight I want to talk about climate, food and race, challenges for the food movement. Some of you who have [heard|h squared] me speak before will recognize a number of the themes, but I really want to address ‑‑ look at how our food system and our food movement and the inequities and the injustices of those also link with climate and the injustices that are taking place today around climate.
I want to start with a story.
So, once upon a time, in a land not too far away, an enormous hurricane slammed into the isthmus.
It was called the Hurricane of the Poor because the 10,000 people who were killed were primarily poor people.
They were primarily peasants, slum dwellers. The three million who were displaced were primarily peasants and slum dwellers.
This hurricane was not the most powerful hurricane in the history of the region, but it was the most destructive hurricane in the history of the region.
Damages were calculated above 13% of regional gross national product.
The reason that it was so destructive was that the region had been made highly vulnerable over the last 100 years through deforestation, the expansion of industrial agriculture. Soils were exposed. Peasant farmers who had been farming on the bottom land had been pushed off to make way for industrial agriculture.
Had gone up into the hillsides and mountains, living very precariously. Of course when the hurricane hit, they were washed downhill, except the farmers from this movement called Campesino a Campesino.
Because the farmers in the Campesino a Campesino movement had spent about 30 years forging their own agriculture, farmer to farmer; doing their own experimentation; weaning themselves from chemicals and hybrids and from Green Revolution techniques; implementing very labor‑intensive but extremely effective terracing and soil building practices.
And when the hurricane hit and pretty much destroyed agriculture throughout, okay, it’s Central America. These farmers, their farms were not destroyed. The neighbors’ farms were destroyed, but these farmers made it through.
Their farms were resilient and resistant to the impact of the hurricane.
And when everybody sort of dug themselves out and looked around, they realized the farmers still had a lot of food, and they were selling the food. They were actually making some money because nobody else had any food.
And they said, you know, we want to rebuild our region. We shouldn’t rebuild it using conventional agricultural techniques because they’re too vulnerable.
Look what’s happened.
They’ve been destroyed.
We should use our agroecological techniques, our sustainable farming techniques. We should rebuild sustainably.
They knew no one would believe them, so, they carried out a massive study in three different countries in Central America where they measured the impact of the hurricane on their farms and then on their neighbors’ farms.
It was a comparative study between agroecological farms and conventional farms under the exact same conditions across the entire isthmus in conditions of low, medium, and high impact from the hurricane.
Two thousand farmers participated, most of whom were illiterate.
Took about three or four months to pull this off.
There were about 100 teams that worked together.
These were all the spots where they made observations.
And there were about 40 nongovernmental organizations and farmers organizations that participated in this tremendous research, popular research, mobilization.
And when the data came in, it was overwhelming.
The agroecological farms, the “A” up there, had fewer landslides, had more topsoil, had less erosion, had more vegetative cover, had fewer losses, actually made some profits, managed to conserve more soil and water.
Every single one of the indicators, the agroecological farms from these farmers won.
They published in peer‑reviewed journals.
They called the ministries of agriculture and the ministries of foreign cooperation together in great conferences in each of the capital cities.
They presented their work.
And they made their case. It was a scientific case.
They said: Look, let’s rebuild Central American agriculture.
Let’s rebuild it sustainably.
We know how to do it.
We’ve proven it.
You have not believed us for 30 years.
Here’s the proof.
We are more sustainable.
And we can teach everybody else.
And it’ll be cheap.
And everybody applauded and said: Okay, look, we’re going off to Spain and we’ll be back in a few months with a plan for Central American reconstruction.
And when they came back, farmers looked through the plan. And they couldn’t find the Campesino a Campesino movement.
They couldn’t find any reference to sustainable agriculture or agroecology.
In fact, they couldn’t find any reference to agriculture at all.
The plan for the reconstruction of Central America after Hurricane Mitch was to abandon these farmers, to abandon the [peasantry|peasant entry].
They figured the richer farmers would be able to refinance their own reconstruction.
But they were not going to help the poor farmers refinance anything or rebuild anything.
They decided what the poor farmers had to do was they had to move to the Pacific plain where they were going to set up a whole chain of sweatshops and infrastructure so that Central America could enter the global economy by selling manufactured goods and cheap clothing, and in one fell swoop do away with the [peasantry|peasant entry] and enter into the modern world.
I don’t know what blithering idiot at the World Bank thought up this scheme or maybe it was the Inter‑American Development Bank.
But whoever thought that Central America could compete with China in textiles. So the plan was a horrible flop, a complete failure.
No one invested.
Farmers were abandoned.
They started going hungry.
Then the free trade agreements hit.
The price of their goods fell through the floor because of all of the corn and which was being imported without any duties from overseas.
They went bankrupt.
And we get what were at that time, and talking about 1998, 1999, 2000, what I consider to be the first climate refugees, because people start to leave en masse.
The farmers from Campesino a Campesino didn’t leave.
They stayed.[However|How Have], they’re producing at about 25% capacity because they have got no market, and their children have to leave because there’s no future in peasant agriculture.
So, I wanted to tell this story because I think it’s emblematic of our climate dilemma, our food dilemma, and our agricultural dilemma. I think it’s emblematic because what we find in the story is globally underserved communities, people of color, they [develop|down] a visionary strategy for climate‑resilient food production, which is tremendously effective. And yet there are structural decisions ‑‑ this is very important ‑‑ structural decisions which are made by the institutions that control the global economy that dismiss this contribution to the public good, in the name of economic development.
And they take advantage of the disaster to dispossess people of their livelihoods, who then become the first climate victims.
And the communities shift from constructive socioenvironmental proposals to survival strategies.
So, they should have had a Climate Action Plan.
They should have had a Food Action Plan.
Luckily for you, you do. Seattle has a Climate Action Plan and a Food Action Plan.
I found them online.
Take a look.
They’re not so bad.
Unfortunately, they don’t relate to each other at all, but (laughter) that’s okay because from what I hear, no one’s paying attention to them. (Laughter.) But they are there and you could use them. I think they’re very important.
Because as you can see, what failed for Campesino a Campesino was precisely this engagement in the public sphere to determine the future, to determine policy, to determine reconstruction, to determine how people were going to face the hazards of climate and the imperative of producing food.
And luckily in Seattle and in the United States and in California where I live and am from, we have a very vibrant food movement. And we’re really proud about it in California.
We’re sort of inseparable that way.
We’re like Vermont (laughter).
We think we’re really something with our food.
But then so does Portland. And I think you guys kind of do too. But ‑‑ and you should. I mean, there’s all kinds of things happening which are extremely important.
You know, the farmers markets and school gardens and farm‑to‑school programs, food hubs, and CSAs, organic farming, urban farms, locally grown stuff. You know, it’s bursting out all over.
This is really important because we have such a terrible food system. We want to replace it with something.
But if we’re as concerned about people as we are about our food, we can’t ignore the fact that we have a racialized food system.
And you can start by realizing that one in seven people in this country is food‑insecure.
California, we’re the most productive agricultural state in the union, has around ‑‑ has from 11% to 13% of food‑insecure people.
So do you, actually.
And who are these food‑insecure people? Overwhelmingly, people who are food‑insecure in our country are people of color.
African American, Latino, Islander.
These are the people who are food‑insecure.
Twice as much as are Anglo populations.
And not only are they food‑insecure, they suffer the highest rates of diet‑related disease.
You probably all know this.
You may not know that most of the people ‑‑ the highest levels of food insecurity and diet‑related disease are on the food sector.
Those people who pick the crops, process the food, cook the food, might even serve the food but mostly they are in the back of the house, are people of color and have the highest rates of food insecurity.
We did studies in New York and in San Francisco, and we find that restaurant workers have the highest rates of food insecurity in the Bay Area and that this is correlated with how fancy the restaurant is.
The fancier the restaurant, the higher the food insecurity.
Think about that next time you order arugala.
This parallels the global situation because globally one in seven people are food‑insecure.
And yet we talk about the poor countries as being where we have food insecurity. Right? Here in the richest country in the world we reflect the levels of food insecurity worldwide.
And, of course, Bill Gates is convinced that he’s going to be the one who [finally|timely] brings the Green Revolution to Africa and he’s going to save Africa from hunger.
If Bill Gates was really concerned about hunger, he would be working in Asia and the Pacific, because that’s where most of the hungry people are. So why is he working in Africa? Well, the simple answer is ‑‑ the generous answer is because Asia and the Pacific already had a Green Revolution, so ‑‑ it clearly didn’t end hunger, so we [can’t talk|Canta] about that.
We’ll talk about Africa not having had a Green Revolution and that’s what’s going to end hunger.
Fact is, we’ve been producing one and a half times enough food for every man, woman, and child on the planet for decades.
And this green line which you see there is food production per capita.
That’s 12% per person per year.
It keeps going up and up and up.
And you can take this back several decades.
That means each one ‑‑ doesn’t matter how many people are born each year. Everybody who is born gets 12% more.
And we all get 12% more, theoretically.
But because of those blue diamonds which are absolute poverty, you get the orange dots, which is undernourishment. Because the problem is not that we don’t have enough food.
The problem is not scarcity.
The problem is people are too poor to buy the food.
Who is too poor to buy the food?
Farmers. Farmers are too poor to buy the food.
The hungriest people in the world are farmers.
70% of the world’s hunger are farmers. And 70% of those are women.
And those women happen to produce half of the world’s food.
So the people who feed half the planet are going hungry and these people happen to be people of color.
So you begin to see how our racialized food system is structured in on a global level.
At the time of the famous 2008 food crisis, where prices skyrocketed and a billion people went hungry, we had actually ‑‑ that was record hunger.
We never had a billion people go hungry before.
We also had record harvests.
We had never produced so much food as in 2008, and there were record profits for Archer Daniels Midland, Monsanto, Cargill, Syngenta, General Foods, Wal‑Mart, Safeway, Tesco. You name it.
The monopolies who dominate our global food system.
So they were making record profits at the time we had record hunger around the world.
If you look at the history of the price of food, this is the Food Price Index.
You can see that it’s been going down ever since the 1900s.
You can also see it’s very volatile.
If you have wars or if you have the oil crisis or something, they’re going to spike.
Spike and drop and spike and drop.
But basically, this is a curved line going down which means what?
The price of food is going down all the time because we’re producing too much of it.
So, counterintuitively, it’s not scarcity that produces hunger.
It’s overproduction that produces hunger.
And how is this? How can this be?
Because it is industrial agriculture that’s producing this food, ostensibly cheaper, because they don’t pay any of the externalities and they don’t pay the labor force what it is worth.
So food is sold very cheaply and that puts small farmers out of business or makes them extremely poor and these are the people who go hungry.
So increasing industrial production of food is what causes hunger.
You can see these are the two spikes, one in 2008 and another in 2011.
You can see that the red lines are the incidence of food riots.
The second set of red lines is the Arab Spring.
So you got to watch out for these food riots.
They can topple governments.
And you can also see that when food gets above ‑‑ the Food Price Index gets above 180 or so, you pass a threshold and you enter into a state of sort of food rebellion.
You can begin to expect a lot of unrest unless you quickly solve the problem.
A lot of talk about why this happened, the spikes.
I’m not going to get into the details of it, except as the price of food began to [bump|bumper] up a bit because of agrofuels made grains [scarce|scares] on the market, because of low value of the dollar, because so much food was being channeled into feed lots and whatnot, because the price of oil went up, and so since our food travels something like 2,500 miles from producer to consumer, the price of food begins to go up.
Then when Wall Street gets a gander of this, they begin to bet on the price of food and they pump the price of food up, and speculation basically sends the price of food higher than anything we’ve ever seen in the history of capitalism.
But the real reason why this is even able to happen is because we have a food regime with a very concentrated food system which is structurally vulnerable to environmental and economic shock, because we only ‑‑ because it’s dominated by just five crops, just a handful of varieties, it is dependent on fossil fuels and very high external inputs, and it’s controlled by the grain traders, the seed and genetic engineering companies, and most of all, the most powerful concerns in the food system are the retailers, the supermarkets. They control it at both ends.
This didn’t happen overnight. We’re probably in our third regime stage of food regimes.
The first food regime was the [colonial|clonal] food regime which was accomplished basically through genocide and dis[possession|petition], slavery, and indentured and bonded coerced labor, in which the Global South produces cheap food and raw materials for the industrialization of the Global North.
This switches around after World War II where we have a lot of nitrates and poisons left over and a tremendous machinery capacity, and so we plow them into agriculture in the United States, because our mainland was not touched by the war, and we had all kinds of money left over from the war. Wall Street did, at least. Tons of money to invest in agriculture.
We begin to overproduce in this country and send the surplus to Europe because they are rebuilding and they need the food. Pretty soon we start sending the machines over there and start sending the [seeds|seized] over there. They start overproducing. And then the big inversion takes place and the North begins to send food to the Global South.
All this time it’s been the South sending the food to the North.
Now the North sends the food to the South, but the South already has food.
So they have to destroy the food systems of the South.
They have to convince everybody that the South is dying of hunger and needs this technology, needs this food, needs all of this Yankee know‑how.
But to do that, they have to destroy what’s there, otherwise there’s no room for it.
This is what capitalism calls creative destruction.
The food regime we’re in now is the neoliberal or corporate food regime, basically came about through the structural adjustment periods of the 1980s and ’90s, the gene revolution with GMOs through the ’90s, and the free trade agreements up to the present day, NAFTA, CAFTA, now we have got TTIP and the European free trade agreement, and the move by Wall Street and Bond Street to invest less in the real economy, in things that actually produce things, and invest in the finance economy, the finance sector.
The finance sector has an uncanny ability to squeeze wealth out of existing sectors and products and amass it [elsewhere|else where].
We also see a lot of land grabs because they don’t know what to do with all this money, so they’re buying up all this land because you don’t want to keep it in the bank because it’s going to lose value.
And we’re in a recession, so what are you going to invest in? No one’s buying anything.
So invest in [lapped|land]. They are not making any more of it.
This is paralleled by massive immigration. Out‑migration from the Global South into Europe, into the United States, from dispossessed agrarian communities, and the explosion of the prison industrial complex, and the New Jim Crow laws, and we begin to see that the brunt of this process, of the destruction of food regimes falls heavily and most violently on people of color from the Global South and here in communities in the North.
So the results have been devastating.
The South used to produce a surplus of a billion dollars of food ever year. Now they import $11 billion.
Industrial agriculture uses up 80% of the world’s fresh water, and produces, depending on how you calculate it, 20‑40% of the world’s greenhouse gases.
We’ve lost 75% of the crop [diversity|adversity].
And of course massive immigration and explosion of diet‑related diseases in the U.S. cost $150 billion a year.
This is paid by the public. This is an externality from our food system which the private concerns don’t pay.
But we all pay.
And certainly the families who are subject to diet‑related disease, like diabetes, pay the hardest, the worst.
We also see the destabilization of the climates, the frequency of severe weather events, and the increased vulnerability to environmental and economic shock of communities around the world.
But I think one of the most tragic losses strategically is the loss of the public sphere, because over the last 30 years what we’ve seen is the privatization of everything, right down to our relationships. So those social institutions which used to protect us from the volatility of the market, which used to protect us from the volatility of the climate, which used to ensure that we were fed, we were educated, we were housed, not just governments, community organizations as well, social organizations as well, have all been destroyed, and this is why you see the rise of violence in so many poor communities, because these institutions are under such strain from globalization, which is what this process is commonly referred to.
So it’s not ‑‑ shouldn’t be ‑‑ we shouldn’t be surprised to see an explosion of police violence and murders of young black men and women by the police departments around the country, given that all of these institutions, including our local government institutions, have been defunded and hollowed out and disintegrated.
And this is precisely at a time when we need our public sphere more than ever before to deal with the problems of our food system and of climate.
So I have to say that I think the corporate food regime has overlaps.
It has an analogy with the corporate climate regime, particularly because of its dependence on petroleum, but not just that.
And I think that if we look at industrial agriculture as a major contributor of greenhouse gas, deforestation, and species extinction, global warming, and we look at the GDP ‑‑ you know, GDP and global warming kind of go hand in hand. The better your GDP, the worse your global warming is going to be.
That’s sort of how capitalism works.
But these are all correlated.
They are all going up.
Agriculture is the major source of land use change today.
Agriculture for soybeans, for palm oil, not necessarily for food that people eat. It’s for animals and for cars.
But this is where you begin to see the inextricability of the climate crisis and the food crisis.
And, of course, the hazards of the corporate climate regime are well [known|nope] to all of us, I’m sure.
As the temperature goes up one degree, two degrees, three degrees, we begin to unleash a series of hazards across the globe.
And they don’t fall evenly, of course.
They fall unevenly.
What’s important to understand about climate hazards is that they can become climate disasters.
And they become disasters if the population which is subjected to the hazards, like a hurricane or like a drought or a flood or a heat wave, is vulnerable. If the population subjected to the hazard is not vulnerable, then you don’t have a disaster.
You just have a lot of rain or it gets really hot. But nobody dies. Nobody has to immigrate because you’re resilient.
Well, that resilience isn’t just biological.
That resilience is social.
That resilience depends on the level of poverty or hunger, or the level of market power, or how much land you have access to, or what quality of land you have [access|axis] to.
So, if we really want to mitigate climate disasters, we have to reduce vulnerability.
To cope with climate change, there are two main strategies.
One is adaptation, which means we adjust to severe climate events by reducing vulnerability to the impact. The other is mitigation, which is you reduce greenhouse gas emissions and try to capture some carbon so things don’t get worse.
But what nobody wants to talk about in Paris or Kyoto, Copenhagen, you name it, is remediation, which is you address the causes of greenhouse gas emissions and you address the causes of social environmental vulnerability.
Why are people vulnerable?
How can we change that?
Why are we continually emitting greenhouse gases through this agricultural model? Why don’t we change the model? Why haven’t we been able to change this model? Why is the model itself so resilient when in fact ‑‑ oh, dear, ten minutes. When in fact society’s not?
>> Thirteen, actually.
So people don’t sit around with their arms crossed.
They stand up and fight.
We have a very vibrant climate justice movement.
And I think that the climate justice movement, at least in the United States, has grown from the environmental justice movement, which grew from the Civil Rights Movement, very much addressing the environmental justice concerns of poor communities continuing to be overly polluted and contaminated, and now having to address the worse effects of climate change with the least amount of resources to build their resilience.
Because climate is a global issue, the climate justice movement is also global. It’s not just about local, what’s happening in our backyard or our region, but in fact how do we actually mitigate climate change. And so you have some very radical proposals from the climate justice movement to cut greenhouse gases 50% by 2020, 90% by 2050.
Reparations: Pay for the climate debt of people who are suffering from climate change, and, of course, massive investments in renewables, and decommissioning these carbon markets which is another way to make money off of somebody else’s disasters.
And incorporation ‑‑ incorporating human rights into the UNFCCC.
Incorporating human rights into the agreements around climate change. So not just about ensuring human rights: the right to food, the right to live in one place, the right not to migrate. A series of rights.
And, of course, the other side of it is very practical.
It’s about building local living economy, ending extreme energy, bringing in green jobs, zero waste, looking at public transportation, clean community energy, regional food and water systems.
You can see where a lot of these things really overlap with the local food movement.
These are the types of things we need for a healthy local food movement.
And the food movement in its most radical form is about food sovereignty.
It’s about democratizing the food system in favor of the poor.
It’s about taking back control over the food system, not just access to good food, but controlling the system itself.
Controlling the wealth of that system so that the food dollar stays in the community, stays closer to the farm. Isn’t gobbled up by monopolies.
And it is about agroecology.
It’s about cooling the planet by capturing carbon, through farming. Not emitting greenhouse gas emissions. Capturing them.
And establishing a sanctuary of GMO‑free agrobiodiversity, because when GMOs crash, and they have already started to crash, where are we going to get the new genetic material? Not from the seed banks.
And here we have the food justice movement which is really a movement of movements.
If the food sovereignty movement is very international in scope, very structural in its focus, the food justice movement is based on the Civil Rights Movement, based on equity, based on economic justice, environmental justice. Has many different roots.
So, if you don’t remember anything else from what I said tonight, because I have covered a lot of ground, remember that we have a capitalist food regime.
It’s no other kind. It’s not socialist. It’s not anarchist. It’s not social democrat.
It’s a capitalist food regime.
Thank you, Occupy. I can now say “capitalism” out loud and not be laughed off the stage.
Capitalism, we know some things about it. It always goes through two periods. It goes through a period of liberalization and a period of reform.
We’re in a period of liberalization right now.
They have liberalized the market.
Everything is privatized.
And you get tremendous concentrations of wealth.
Last time this happened was in the Roaring Twenties.
But if liberalization was able to continue indefinitely, it would destroy the social and material basis of capitalism itself, so usually the reforms come in.
When you get a reform, it’s a period like the New Deal.
But these only come in if you have a strong social movement which ushers them in.
Roosevelt would not have been able to bring in the New Deal had it not been for the fact that everybody was taking to the streets.
We had powerful labor unions. We had powerful political parties.
It looked like capitalism was going to fall in the U.S. It looked like the government could fall.
Then it came to the negotiating table and they introduced reforms.
So, where we are today, and I think this is historically really very promising, because I know I have probably depressed you, but if we look historically at capitalism and we look at the corporate food and climate regime, we see it’s made up of neoliberal and reformist trends. But the neoliberals are really the ones with power.
The reformers are pretty weak.
But our counter movement are the food and climate movements, the food justice movement which is very progressive and the food sovereignty movement which is very radical.
The food justice movement is getting it done, in the hood.
And the food sovereignty movement is really political: Okay, let’s take agriculture out of the WTO.
In fact, let’s abolish the WTO. Let’s change the rules. Let’s change the institutions.
Otherwise, these great things that the progressives are doing don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.
So, the challenge is: Can we build strong alliances between the progressives and the radicals powerful enough to usher in reforms to create the political will within the regime to usher in reforms, to scare them enough that they bring in reforms.
Because they don’t do it until they are scared shitless.
Pardon me for saying “regime” (laughter).
This is an historical project. And unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of experience doing this.
And there are a lot of obstacles to this. It’s very hard to do, otherwise we would have already done it.
We need to build a transformational movement.
I would say it is in construction, but we are identifying some very important obstacles.
One is we have all these [diverse|adverse] movements.
How are we going to bring them together? And how are we going to converge in all of our [diversity|adversity]?
We don’t have a plan for doing that.
Political parties [don’t|tonight] seem to work anymore.
The unions don’t work the same way they worked before.
Things are very different today than they were back in the ’30s.
We’ve got to somehow bring these different groups together.
We need to repoliticize a lot of these social movements because many of them become depoliticized. Why? Because the old [politics|application] stop working.
Capitalism moved on.
So people gave up.
Can’t give up. We need to build strategic alliances and overcome the historic [divides|devised], the things that keep us apart.
I think that racism is one of the main things keeping us apart.
Of course sexism and of course classism.
But I think we’ve just got racism so embedded within the structures of our food movement and within the structures which produce climate change, that if we don’t address racism, we’re not going to be able to build a powerful movement, and we are not going be able to bring about the changes that we need. Why is it so hard? Well, for one thing, internalized oppression is devastating. And for another thing, white privilege is too. And we need to figure out ways to address both of these things.
Because if there’s anybody who can lead these alliances, it is those people who have no other options.
It’s those people who are most negatively impacted by the food and climate regimes.
It’s the people of color of this world.
And so that’s the leadership that we have to [develop|down].
And to do that, those of us who are white need to address our white privilege.
And as a man of mixed heritage, I can say those of us of who are people of color need to address our internalized oppression.
And this isn’t easy to do because it is extremely painful and traumatic. I mean, genocide, that was pretty traumatic.
Dispossession, that’s pretty traumatic.
Indentured slavery, indentured service, that’s pretty traumatic.
Luckily, we do know how to deal with trauma.
And I would refer us to many of the indigenous communities in this country who have been dealing with trauma for quite some time, the trauma of genocide and dispossession for quite some time, and know a lot about it.
They are not the only ones.
But we have to find a way to bring this into the food movement, because not [open|ohm|only|own] do we have to dismantle racism in the food system, but we have to dismantle racism in the food movement itself, which means we have to dismantle racism in our organizations and within ourselves.
So, this is a massive and unavoidable project.
The tools are there to do it.
We need the will.
And I always say we need a vision.
I think we can do this if we envision a world and if we envision a food system in which our food workers are food‑secure.
In which farmworkers get living wages and have decent working conditions for dignified livelihoods.
And when women are recognized as producing half of the world’s food.
And a food system in which Black lives matter.
Jill is going to present, but she’s got ‑‑ they have to get the presentation ready.
Meanwhile, I can take a few questions.
Does anybody have a comment or question?
>>AUDIENCE: My name is Nat.
I’m curious, in your travels, in your research, and your work with farmworkers if you came across a similar kind of interest in movement surrounding traditional medicines, herbal medicines, and like natural ways of healing, and I think that that can be folded into this movement as well.
>>ERIC: Are natural ways of healing and herbal medicine and traditional medicines ‑‑
>>AUDIENCE: Eric, can you repeat the ‑‑
>>ERIC: That’s what I am doing.
Are natural ways of healing and traditional medicines part of the social movements that we’ve come into contact around the world working with food movements? Absolutely.
They are inextricable.
We worked with a Campesino a Campesino movement in Mexico, for example. We’re working with them now.
And the indigenous people in the state of Puebla, in the mountains, just carried out a whole classification system of plants and what those plants ‑‑ the three different names, because there are two different indigenous languages and in Spanish; what they are for, in terms of medicine and/or food; and what are the best agroecological associations in which to grow those plants.
So for a healthy agroecosystem, and healthy diet, and they have general preparedness things and whatnot.
So it’s a tremendous part of agroecology, and a tremendous part of traditional farming systems.
>>AUDIENCE: There was so much great information in your presentation, PowerPoint. I wonder if there is any way we can access it. There was so much.
Online is [from|Mr. |there] a way to access that information?
>>ERIC: If you would like to access this PowerPoint or one like it, it’s on the Food First Web site, www foodfirst.org.
>> And the film will be posted.
>>ERIC: Okay. So CAGJ will post a YouTube link of this presentation that’s being filmed.
>>AUDIENCE: What are your thoughts on land ownership and whether it is better to have a cooperative system. I know you talked about strategic alliances. And our land ownership obviously has ‑‑ there’s ownership of resources, versus ownership of actual, you know, production on the land, so I just kind of wanted to hear your thoughts about that.
>>ERIC: So: What about land ownership? The important thing at this stage in ‑‑ of late capitalism is that land is being used as a repository for wealth.
It’s being gobbled up around the world, right? So we have to decommodify that and take it off the market. And once you take it off the market, there are many things you can do with it.
You can work it cooperatively, you can work it collectively, it can be a trust, it can be in communal holdings.
The possibilities are endless depending on the community with whom you are dealing.
But the first step is we have to decommodify it.
Very soon most of us in this room, our children, won’t have any chance at all of owning any land. It is concentrating that quickly. You can probably see it with the gentrification of neighborhoods here in Seattle.
We certainly see it in the Bay Area. And farmland around the United States is being financialized and going through the roof.
It’ll be a bubble that bursts and whatnot.
Basically, we have to take it out of the market.
>>AUDIENCE: What about those that don’t own land, the homeless? How would you see and how can we move past food banks that are clogged with the industrial waste? What types of solutions do you see for those that don’t have access to CSAs and farmers markets and things that are prevalent within food justice and food sovereignty movements?
>>ERIC: So, I mean, you’re dealing with a very immediate problem. Right?
The first thing in the longer term is we have to decommodify land so people can have [access|axis] to it.
We can see it as a public good, a social good, a community good by which we can [access|axis] it, right, even if we don’t have it.
We don’t have to own it. We can [access|axis] it several different ways.
Right now what do we do? People need land.
And not ‑‑ everywhere.
They are being pushed off and they want to grow their food.
They need to grow their food.
And you can ‑‑ you can take it back.
You can occupy it.
You can break the laws.
Just as we have to break the laws around GMOs.
Just as we have to break the laws around [seeds|seized].
Break those laws.
So like the MST in Brazil, the Landless Workers’ Movement, they take back the land and then they negotiate.
So they occupy the land and then negotiate.
It has gotten to that.
And we’ve done it in the Bay Area too.
We have occupied the farm.
We took back the land of the Gill Tract, the University of California. They tried to sell the last good piece of agricultural land in the Bay Area, tried to sell it off to Whole Foods.
And students and community members took it back and stopped the sale.
Are you folks ready?
>> I want to put you back on this mic.
>>ERIC: I’ll be around afterwards for more questions and answers, but we have got the next presentation.
>>JILL: Hello. Can you hear me all right?
Thanks for your patience.
I’m not very tech savvy, so ‑‑
My name is Jill Mangaliman.
I’m with Got Green. I’m their executive director.
I have all sorts of feels listening to Eric’s presentation.
I’m also sitting with it right now.
I’m here today to represent the Communities of Color for Climate Justice coalition and also to talk about the work that’s happening locally.
Who in this room has [heard|h squared] of Got Green?
Raise your hand.
That makes me so happy.
So, for folks who have not [heard|h squared] of us before, we were founded in 2008.
We are a people of color‑led grassroots community organization based out of southeast Seattle.
We believe that the green economy ‑‑ and by green economy, we define it as access to healthy foods, local green jobs, [access|axis] to healthy and green housing, and also a reliable, affordable public transit ‑‑ benefit communities of color and low income communities.
And just a little side note. Before I got involved with Got Green in 2009, I didn’t really think about the environment.
It was ‑‑ I was really inspired and learned a lot through ‑‑ I got a gig doing weatherization, of all things, you know, installing like low flow shower heads with Got Green when ‑‑ during one of the early pilot projects, and really started to see like how it impacted my community.
And so the joke is that I didn’t consider myself an environmentalist. And I’m sure a lot of young folks don’t really name themselves that until they see the connections themselves, until they build that relationship with their community and with others. And so really our ‑‑ what we do is community organizing and building relationships and building the power of our community.
And it is a place I call my home. And that’s what the environment has meant to me, learning and [growing|going] with this group, that this is our home, and that we’re going to defend it no matter what.
And so I’m going to figure out how to use this thing, so bear with me.
No, that’s not it.
There we go.
So, something that happened recently, we did a showing of Trouble the Water on August 29. It’s the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
And I believe, and this is my understanding, it’s the largest displacement of black folks in our country. And also we saw, you know, in most recent times what a climate chaos and climate disaster would look like in the U.S., and also saw the displacement, saw the abandonment of poor communities, mostly black communities, and also the racial bias that occurred following, with the media and with law enforcement, and so we saw a lot of violence that occurred from that.
And after we watched this film, it was interesting. We were at ‑‑ Hillman ‑‑ City collaboratory.
There was a storm outside and people afterwards stuck around for discussion. We started ‑‑ there was about 80 of us crammed into the Hillman collaboratory.
It’s a really s[market value|mal|mall|small] space.
And people wanted to stay and talk about what climate preparedness would look like in Seattle.
I felt those conversations had not been had and really were moved by the bravery and the response that the communities at that ‑‑ from what they learned in that documentary.
It was really the communities who responded first in the neighborhood, in the neighborhoods that were abandoned.
Then most recently during the summer we’ve seen the worst drought and also the worst fire wildfires in our state on the east side of our state. This is a family who lost their homes in Colville, Washington.
From what we know, hundreds of folks in rural areas and also native communities lost their homes, and firefighters lost their lives.
But also the air from these wildfires also blew westward towards the cities, towards Bellingham, towards Seattle, and Portland, and people with respiratory problems had aggravation.
I don’t know if you remember. I definitely went outside and got like burning eyes and really felt really sick.
But also knowing that our communities didn’t know what to do. My friend sent me information about, you know, what to do about the air and stay indoors, but it wasn’t something that was widely accessible for folks.
And just to also drive home that there are existing environmental racism in our communities.
If you look at a map in Seattle, that the south end actually has dirtier air than the north end, where a lot more of the highways and the airports and the industry are located in the south neighborhoods. According to the Puget Sound Air ‑‑ I always forget acronyms and names of organizations, but they measure the air quality in our area. The Puget Sound folks said that ‑‑ consider South Seattle as one of the most dirtiest ‑‑ has the most toxic air in the country.
And just to reiterate that, again, you can see our city, north and south, just as you can look at the world. The Global North has much more resources and much more [access|axis] to, you know, healthier conditions, and you see the Global South as well as the south of our city, you know, struggling with access to resources and access to healthier conditions.
In Rainier Beach also, as a result of that, this is another example of the cumulative effects of being exposed to these unhealthy conditions, economic instability as well as polluted sites, that it impacts our health.
So looking at how people who live in the south of Seattle also have higher rates of health issues such as cancer, diabetes, and also that it is not just because they don’t have, you know ‑‑ it kind of goes hand in hand, like as far as like access to resources, but also [access|axis] to where you can live, and so those sites have more ‑‑ unhealthier buildings, cramped spaces, located next to polluted sites.
And as our city is also changing, we see the rise of cost of living in our city, and what we’ve been hearing a lot from our community members when we asked them what are your priorities, it is about, you know, [access|axis] to where you can live. So displacement is on the minds of a lot of our community members as the cost of living in Seattle rises.
But also going hand in hand with the cost of living that will occur with climate change, we know that the cost of energy, the cost of food, cost of water will go up as well, so those same communities who are struggling right now to, you know, live in the city will also struggle further and these conditions will be exacerbated.
Go backwards now.
So just to note that, you know, as, again, like as resources are impacted by climate, that it will make it worse.
So just as Eric was saying, like people are struggling to be food‑secure.
The cost of food will even go up further.
And so all of this, you know, these conditions are on the daily ‑‑ felt by communities of color, low income communities. It’s also where the solutions lay, those people who are living and breathing those conditions themselves. So organizations like Community to Community, Got Green, who engage with these folks are led by the people who are directly impacted, also hold those ‑‑ know what they need to thrive and survive.
And so something that we’re often doing is, again, you know, having these conversations on the ground, coming up with a solution ourselves, imagining a new economy that puts people over profit and also puts the health of the earth over the health of business as usual.
And so some of the things that we’ve been doing has been community‑based research in order to identify the priorities that: What is the work that we are to do? What are we going to organize for? We often have discussions with people out on the streets. We go to bus stops, we go to community presentations, we go to grocery stores and ask people, who may or may not stop, but we often ask them things like: What is your priority? What do you think about this?
Our first community‑based research was women and the green economy in 2012, where we [interviewed|intrude] 212 women of color in South Seattle and they identified that [access|axis] to healthy foods, two to one, was a priority of theirs.
And the reason ‑‑ the main barrier for them wasn’t that because they didn’t know. It was because they couldn’t afford it.
And so from there, we formed a grassroots leadership of women to basically fight for healthy food dollars in their community. And so from there, again, like how do we, you know, again, identify what are the things that a community needs and wants.
And also, something that we’ve been learning more and more about: How do we say no to false solutions, things that aren’t going to make our communities strong and healthy? And so really having a lot of discussions and discussions around things that are presented to us, and learning about what are the [impacts|compacts] on us, and really making sure that information is readily available for our communities to make those decisions.
And so false solutions: We had a People’s Movement Assembly over the summer at C to C in Bellingham and really started to break that down, what are things that are not ‑‑ such as, let’s see, carbon markets, such as reforms that don’t address root causes of poverty, of the conditions in our community.
So, I’m also here as a representative of this coalition, Communities of Color for Climate Justice, and it was ‑‑ I was thinking about that last slide where we were showing the different places where, you know, organizations fell. And I was thinking like: Got Green is kind of like way over there. But there is a necessity to work together with other organizations and not just try to do things alone.
There is something about [growing|going] a movement with other organizations. And so last year I had the opportunity to sit down with other organizations who work with communities of color, who hold racial justice values and economic justice values, not your usual players in the environmental movement, sit down and say: What would climate justice look like for us?
And so groups included Community to Community, Puget Sound Sage, El Centro de la Raza, Washington CAN, OneAmerica, and also Latino Community Fund.
We sat down and were: Okay, so what does this look like? And drafted together some principles that we would present to the mainstream environmental movement. And so these are those principles for last year.
And we, since then, have been able to get 50 other organizations led by people of color serving communities of color to sign [onto|on to] these principles and have the coalition Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy to adopt these principles as well.
So they are to center ‑‑ any climate policy should center equity, ensure that efforts are benefiting communities of color, low income communities and workers, and making sure there are co‑benefits, not just environmental benefits, but also economic.
Demand accountability to big polluters who put toxins in our environment, and create [access|axis] to clean renewable energy, and build our relationship with the land and the community.
So, and together with this coalition, we have spent the, I guess, this time since July engaging with different communities who may not also see themselves environments and making those connections from their daily lives why this is important, doing educational discussions, surveys, workshops, meetings, just getting that out there to folks so that this isn’t an issue that leaves people behind but also involves the input from our communities.
This is a picture from our Green‑a‑Thon we have every year where we train volunteers to go door to door and give out free stuff (laughter) and also talk to people about what’s going on in the community.
It’s kind of fun because you get to see folks just have a good time.
I used to think canvassing was really stressful, but when you are giving out free stuff, people get really excited (laughter).
And also, something that’s really important is that we stress the difference between equality and equity, and knowing that there is not going to be a one‑size‑fits‑all solution to any kind of policy.
That there isn’t going to be a silver bullet that’s going to correct all the wrongs of the past and we really do need to listen to what communities need.
And so when we talk about even like the discussion around climate preparedness, what do communities really need or really want, and when you think about like, well, what are our options. And just giving one option may not be enough.
And so, again, like really taking the time to have those discussions now before, again, it is too late. And I think right now ‑‑ actually, the Climate Action Plan and the Food Action Plan, we’ve been able to ‑‑ Got Green has been able to read some of them and try to engage with them, but, yeah, there’s a lot of stuff in there that needs to be implemented, and I think that it also needs to be grown, and I think the more people who are reading them, the more it will be more holistic, because, again, it’s only according to who gets to see it and who gets to use it.
And so I do think that there are many, many great ideas and solutions out there. We just need to figure out a process to incorporate them.
And so that kind of brings us back to the reason why we need to take equity into account.
There are communities who are not starting on the same page as others. Definitely due to historical racism, sexism, and colonialism, these communities, color, native communities, women, youth, are often facing a lot of barriers to being able to have what they need to be their whole selves, and so really addressing that and addressing their needs.
And like I said earlier, the top priority that we’ve been hearing from our communities is displacement. We did another survey recently, our climate justice survey. Our top one was displacement and our second one was around food, so, again, although those are not surprising to me, it just reiterates how important it is to engage more and more people, because they may not make those readily connections that it has something to do with climate change or economic, you know, inequality, or the rising cost of our city are all linked. It really is having the discussions with people and making ‑‑ and bringing the science to the sidewalk so that folks understand what’s happening to them and creating that space for them to dialogue about it.
Again, I talked about this already, but [access|axis] to local healthy food has been a really big priority. In our organizing when we talk to our community members in South Seattle, we’ve also been able to build a relationship with Community to Community over the years and farmworkers, showing solidarity with them because building this connection between the urban and rural has been key because it’s not just about us getting our food, but our food has to be also picked by healthy workers who are treated with dignity and respect.
And bringing that conversation to our communities has been really important in our growth of understanding our food system and really valuing the food that [we get|wetting] at a table.
Our latest one was the Fresh Bucks and how we increase dollars at farmers markets, but also moving beyond just buying our food, but also needing and learning about the conditions of farmers and where the food is coming from.[Access|Axis] to local green jobs: This has been an ongoing project for Got Green, but has also been incorporated in our work at the Communities of Color for Climate Justice coalition, ensuring whatever benefit happens from any kind of policy, that people are getting to work and getting to also be participants of a new economy.
But really especially those who have been underemployed or unemployed historically, Targeted Local Hire was passed into law earlier this year. (Applause.)
And we’re hopeful that that model will be also, you know, transferred to other sectors, to other areas, just ensuring that the people who live in the community are able to work in the community as well as people who have been displaced be able to move back and set their roots.
I do want to end, actually, with a couple of things before I read this awesome quote.
I had the fortune of, you know, learning about the environmental justice movement this past year and beyond. Last year I had the opportunity to go to Richmond, California for the Our Power Campaign’s conference.
I met a lot of members of Grassroots Global Justice and the Climate Justice Alliance and really realized that, you know, environmental justice isn’t just about trees or isn’t about this hole in the ozone.
It really is about our communities and building a wide movement. And so Got Green was able to join CJA and Grassroots Global Justice and have been working together with CJA and growing that movement here, an intersectional movement that just doesn’t address one thing but addresses the many conditions and issues that are happening in our communities and really looking at what is happening and how are we going to move beyond just one‑off solutions and false solutions.
And so one thing that we’re also doing is demanding justice at the talks in Paris.
We have a couple of representatives who are going to partake in the civil disobedience there.
But I want to read the demands of the Grassroots Global Justice frontline communities:
One: To establish mandatory, not voluntary, emissions cuts at the source.
Two: Leave fossil fuels in the ground.
Three: Reject fracking, nuclear power, carbon markets, and other dangerous technologies and false solutions.
Strengthen the inclusion of human rights and particularly the rights of the indigenous peoples, and support community‑rooted solutions, including regional and local economic structures that support the production of renewable energy.
I’m hopeful that folks can also join in that movement and lend your names to the petition that will be carried off to Paris.
And I will pass that around.
But, yes, I wanted to end with this quote. It is something that our Young Leaders Committee brought to me. And Damu Smith is one of the original ‑‑ one of the folks who were involved with the People of Color Council in 1991 who drafted the environmental justice principles.
At Got Green we study that a lot. And I can send out the [Olympic|limping|link] if people are interested.
There are 18 principles.
But this is something that we really hold when we’re doing this work.
It’s [knots|not] just one issue.
It’s really about how do we put ‑‑ how do we work at the intersections and really draw those connections.
And so I’ll read this quote.
(Read the PowerPoint.)
>> HEATHER: Thank you so much, Jill.
So appreciative that you’re here.
So, we have about 20, 25 minutes for questions for both Jill and Eric.
And then we’ll do a couple announcements and wrap up at 9:00.
Jill and Eric, do you both want to come up and ‑‑ yeah, best to stay on this mic. And I’ll just ask the two of you to facilitate.
>>AUDIENCE: Hi. So, I wanted to hear your thoughts on the food justice and the food sovereignty movements. And kind of in that chart you had, they were divided. And what are your thoughts ‑‑ both of your thoughts are on how those two movements could come together, or should they stay divided, or will there be compromise if they come together.
How do they continue to work separately, and if not, how could they combine.
>> Please remember to repeat the question or summarize it.
>>JILL: The question was: In the chart there was ‑‑ food justice and food sovereignty were separated.
What are our opinions on that and how do we see them coming together.
Is that right?
>>ERIC: Take a couple more questions.
>> I think you both talked about building alliances with other types of organizations. And so if you could just repeat quickly what other large types of organizations that you’re talking about. Labor unions? There are so many different types of movements and organizations in the world.
So what are your main targets that you would love to partner with?
>>JILL: Okay. You want to start with that?
To answer the first question, I think for Got Green, we are looking at how do we at first address ‑‑ it’s kind of a balancing act. I want to say like we’re, as the Black Panthers saying goes, we’re survival pending revolution.
So, I think where we’re at right now, in our evolution is that we want to be able to, yes, get food on our tables, and so been focused on how do we increase food dollars. But then also learning about other ways that we can ‑‑ alternative methods to move away from that kind of economy and consumption.
So right now, how do we buy more food at the farmers markets, and also learning about worker cooperatives and community gardening and closed loop systems. So, one of our alliance partners, Cooperation Jackson, is really involved with that, so they came here and were teaching us about it. And also we have learned a lot from Community to Community up in Bellingham about what that looks like.
And so I think the possibilities are endless.
But at the end of the day, we also have to meet the needs of our communities here and now as well.
>>ERIC: That’s ‑‑ I think that’s great.
I couldn’t improve on that.
>>JILL: The other question around alliances.
So, right now, I mean, Got Green has ‑‑ I have to say that we’ve been mostly working locally for the last few years, and this is the first time we’ve joined a statewide and also a national alliance. In the statewide alliance that we’re a part of, Communities of Color for Climate Justice, which has organizations that, just as I said earlier, community organizations serving communities of color, but also that is in itself a caucus within the ‑‑ we have joined the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy which is an even broader statewide coalition.
So normally, I often hesitate to join such broad coalitions, especially when, you know, we’re a little grassroots organization based out of southeast Seattle. However, I feel this time has been different in that we’ve been able to be seen as partners and have our ‑‑ and be brought in in the beginning stages of the process, versus where historically smaller organizations and communities of color have been brought in as an afterthought or: Hey, let’s tack on equity.
So I feel hopeful about this process and that we are actively influencing the policy at this time and really are working to build relationship and being listened to, and so I think it has resulted in a different outcome so far, like really ‑‑ it’s really been about, you know ‑‑ I think that the folks in the room have learned from past mistakes and are really trying to address historical conflicts and historical racism that has happened in these kinds of coalitions, and so really are challenging past tendencies. So as long as we’re ‑‑ I feel like the Communities of Color for Climate Justice table has been really ‑‑ has had a different process experience than before.
>>ERIC: The food justice movement or local food movement oftentimes is about gardens and getting healthy foods into local communities, very often in underserved communities and communities of color. Typically ‑‑ the difficulties about diet and diet‑related disease and how to improve diet. And it might take ahold of production.
But what we found is that it is really important to build alliances with food workers between communities, organizations which are based in community and organizations which are labor‑based within the food system.
So building alliances with restaurant workers, for example, or alliances with the workers of Wal‑Mart, or, you know, for raising minimum wages at the fast‑food restaurants, or alliances with ROC, the Restaurant Opportunity Center.
I mean, let’s face it. I don’t see how we’re going to change the ‑‑ transform the food system if we don’t do something about Wal‑Mart.
And I don’t think you can do anything about Wal‑Mart unless you work with the workers, because Wal‑Mart is the largest employer in the world.
And many of those workers are very poor and are forced to eat lousy food and suffer from diet‑related disease and as well as wage theft and everything else.
It seems to me that’s a very natural alliance that is being [built|about the] and a very important one.
Another strategic alliance ‑‑ I have to distinguish between strategic and tactical alliances.
Another strategic alliance is between Via Campesina and World March of Women.
Because Via Campesina said: Well, we can’t have women produce half our food. We can’t have food sovereignty unless there’s an end to all violence against women.
So an end to violence against women is our platform for food sovereignty.
They came to this and dialogued with the World March of Women and said: We can’t have justice for women unless we have food sovereignty, because women produce most of the world’s food.
So you can see it was a very deep structure alliance and strategic alliance where it has tremendous implications for Via Campesina as a federation and how they make decision, and what campaigns they decide to do, how they decide to structure their leadership and these types of things.
So those are the strategic alliances I think that we need to pursue.
>> HEATHER: Could you talk about the ‑‑ would you be comfortable talking about the Food Sovereignty Alliance?
There’s a flag there.
>>ERIC: This is the flag of the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance.
We both belong to it, the Food Sovereignty Alliance.
The Food Sovereignty Alliance was started at the height of the food crisis to figure out what can we do immediately.
And it was mostly NGOs, mostly nongovernmental organizations which started the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance.
It was those who could afford to fly to Washington on their own dime for the first meeting.
And that was good because it got things going.
But it was bad because it determined the demographic of the group.
You could imagine it was a fairly privileged group, and almost all white.
And since that time, the Food Sovereignty Alliance has taken very strong steps to ally itself with specific community struggles from peoples of color.
In other words, not expecting people of color to come into the alliance, but, rather, going to communities and asking: What can we do? How can we help? How can we mobilize?
And slowly but surely, the Food Sovereignty Alliance is beginning to take on a different form of leadership. And so, for example, now ‑‑ at first there was only one Food Sovereignty Prize and it almost always went to someone who was international.
First one went to Via Campesina.
They are so radical. Right?
This is the Food Sovereignty Prize.
Supposed to be radical.
And then we decided: You know what? We have to do two prizes.
We have to do a national prize and we have to do an international prize.
And the national prize inevitably goes to some food justice organization.
This year, for example, it went to the Federation of Southern Cooperatives and to OFRANEH, an indigenous Honduran group in the united coast in Honduras.
We’re splitting the prize now.
I think it’s reflective of the changes which are taking place within the Food Sovereignty Alliance.
>>JILL: Question this one and there.
>>AUDIENCE: I think you had mentioned how the supermarkets were controlling a lot of the market, and I saw the film ‑‑ the documentary by Eva Longoria talking about this. And that seems to be something that when I talk to friends, they are shocked about that. And so how can we focus on that? I mean, how is that impacting us? Can you speak a bit more in our communities, the Whole Foods, the this’s and that’s that come into our neighborhoods and then leave.
>>AUDIENCE: I had a question for you, Jill, about ‑‑ a little bit more about ensuring food sovereignty in communities of color.
As somebody who has worked intimately with your community, I was curious what strategies you have in ensuring like healthy, affordable food to people without resources. Like do you feel that ‑‑ a lot of information I have [heard|h squared] about like ensuring EBT access at farmers markets is not always successful.
Farming may be a little disconnected sometimes.
I am [curious|cures] what you find to be good strategies.
>> Repeat the question when you get a chance.
>> One more question down here.
>>AUDIENCE: Also I wonder if you might address some of the food justice issues around industrialized slaughterhouses and not human animals ‑‑ all the mass industrial agriculture including you.
>>ERIC: What was the first part of the question?
>> Addressing industrial agriculture as it relates to slaughterhouses.
Talking about food justice, can you also expand that to include nonhumans that are receiving injustice?
>>JILL: Three questions were addressing the role of grocery store supermarkets, and then I will answer the question about ‑‑
>>ERIC: One about EBT.
>>JILL: And food strategies.
>>JILL: I could answer the food strategies one.
And so definitely food stamps, EBT, were never meant to be a long‑term solution.
They were always a solution that was meant to weather people through the storm of unemployment. And so it’s always been a band‑aid.
However, so it goes back to the defending and also building the concept we have in Got Green. A lot of our members rely on ‑‑ our low income rely on EBT. Knowing that EBT is not sustainable, we definitely fight for the food dollars but also address other issues related to economic instability, and so that’s why we always pair off our work and relate the work around food insecurity with also job [access|axis] and [access|axis] to housing, because if families are secure in their households and have living wages, and also have a much more ‑‑ are much more whole, then they can also [access|axis] food.
So it is kind of like a piece of the pie.
Also, starting to have more and more conversations about localized food systems, really how do we support not just local farmers, but also local businesses who provide food and keep those dollars within the community.
I believe there’s a lot of studies that show when small businesses and local businesses are thriving, that it also bolsters up the community as a whole.
So we’re really interested in learning about, you know, cooperatives and how do we keep those resources within the community, but also our communities aren’t there yet either.
We did work on the ground in Skyway to have a conversation about the food desert, and we presented different ideas: Do you want a food cart? Do you want another farmers market? That failed. Would you like another one? Just kind of like what are some other ideas out there? And ultimately a [majority|maintain] of the people said “I just want a grocery store I can go to after work,” and so really it is having, you know, the conversations. What do you want? But also, what are the things that are possible? And in order to get there, we have to build relationship and do the community‑building relationship‑building necessary to get there and vision hard beyond food stamps.
>>ERIC: Yeah, I mean, the whole supermarket question is key. We have to realize that the supermarkets are heavily subsidized, the chains. So, when a Wal‑Mart comes in, usually wherever they go in has to cough up at least a couple million dollars, particularly because the wages are so low, that most Wal‑Mart workers have to get food stamps and have to get EBT. They rely on public assistance in one way or another. So the public pays and this has been calculated in different studies, how much it really costs society to put in a Wal‑Mart in your neighborhood. It costs a lot of money.
And what also tends to happen is very often they are given tax incentives and paid to come in and whatnot.
So first of all, we need to stop doing that, and then second, don’t let them in. I mean, don’t let them in. There are many other models for food provisioning and grocery provisioning that can be used. In particularly in underserved communities, in Oakland, we’re working on a model that ‑‑ the people’s community market is a model which is fairly small [compared|x squared] to a Wal‑Mart, like a large grocery store, but the grocery store also has a whole range of community services, and is a center point for community discussion, for child care, for youth activities. You know, it’s a very vibrant part of the community.
And the difficulty now is that land has become so expensive in Oakland that it is necessary for the government to step in and subsidize the acquisition of this land.
You kind of need the three legs of the stool, you know.
You need the public to step in.
You need the government.
You need the private sector.
They all have to be there.
And the question is: Who has the power in that? We think that the public should have the power in that.
So, I think that we can go a long way to changing the supermarket model. And there are many allies there, including farmers, who are getting gouged by the supermarkets, particularly Wal‑Mart, and the workers.
>>JILL: I will share that Wal‑Mart was interested in moving into Skyway and when we asked ‑‑ we had a meeting with the community groups and community members about it and they were like: Oh, hell, no (laughter).
So, I do think that, again, like the work that people are doing against Wal‑Mart and really highlighting their inhumane conditions and what they’re doing to our communities reaches people and has been effective in deterring some folks from allowing them to come in.
>>ERIC: So the industrial meat complex is also subsidized. It is subsidized environmentally and it is subsidized directly by the state, by our tax dollars.
So, if, for example, it would stop subsidizing the production of soy, soybean, you would kick the legs out from under the industry overnight.
If we started charging large soybean plantations for the amount of nitrates they produce, for the amount of methane they produce, for the amount of greenhouse gases they produce, they would become uncompetitive.
And if we paid the true price of petroleum for the transport of all these goods, they would be knocked right out of the market.
So, you know, these large CAFOs (phonetic) ‑‑
If they had to pay for the contamination they do in terms of the manure, manure contamination, whatnot, they would not be competitive.
So, basically we have to internalize the externalities. Make them pay. And then these are people who all they talk about is the free market. The free market would kick them right out.
>>JILL: Question. Do we have enough time?
>>AUDIENCE: I wanted to make a comment about your presentation.
The last presentation reminded me of something. Long, long, long ago in 1968, I was working in the Federal Air Pollution Program, and a study was produced there called Our Most Endangered Species, and it was about the urban poor and the level of air quality. Your comments about North Seattle versus South Seattle reminded me of this.
The study was suppressed. It was never released.
It was done in great detail so that a number of cities ‑‑ they plotted out census tracts by income and they overlaid what are called isopleths of equal pollution.
Let’s take sulfur dioxide, you know. And the correlations visually were really quite stunning, quite amazing.
And I want to make this point because it really precedes ‑‑ and at that time, environmentalism was seen as a white issue.
I was working in that area and I was also dealing with social justice issues, so I know what that conflict was like. And the suppression of that kind of stuff, it really relates very directly to what you’re saying. It’s not happenstance. It’s not whatever.
There was knowledge of this a long, long time ago, like in many other areas.
And I just wanted to offer you that [observation|occasion] and that information that you might find interesting and useful. Your presentation just brought it right back to me. I remembered it exactly.
So, thanks very much.
And the other thing was the drawing you had of the differences between equality and equity is very, very powerful and that needs to be sent around and shown in a number of different venues.
I personally would like to speak to you about ways of doing that.
>>JILL: Thank you.
>>AUDIENCE: Thanks very much.
That graphic by itself is so, so powerful.
>>JILL: Who made that graphic? It might have been the United for a Fair Economy.
But I’ve seen it floating around in different [memes|peoples].
>>AUDIENCE: Not copyrighted?
>>JILL: I don’t know. I’ll look into it but, yeah.
>>AUDIENCE: You should know if you used it (laughter).
>>JILL: It was on the Facebook.
>>AUDIENCE: Or even to give people credit. But I will speak to you further about it.
>>ERIC: What’s nice about the graphic is the redistribution of the boxes.
>> Hand over there.
>> Way down there.
>>AUDIENCE: I was wondering, I mean, all of these pieces are incredibly complex.
Oppression, racism, the food system, climate change.
And I feel like, I mean, the interactions I have had is very ‑‑ movement around like, for example, addressing racism in the food system, addressing racism, oppression in environmental problems, climate change. But where I’m having difficulty understanding is how we bring the issues of the food system and climate change together, because I feel like these two pieces are sort of existing side by side.
And I wonder: How do we make this connection clear for folks? Like what examples could you maybe speak of locally or even what are the barriers of bringing these together?
>>JILL: I don’t see them as separate, actually.
>> Can you repeat the question.
>>JILL: The question is how do you bring the issues of food sovereignty and climate together.
I agree when we saw that the Climate Action Plan and the Food Action Plan were separated, I agree with you. It shouldn’t be that way. It really has to include the people who are, again, doing work on food sovereignty and doing work on food justice into the spaces where they are talking about climate justice.
I do think that people who are working on food issues are talking about climate, though, because it’s one of the things impacting food security.
And so it really is having these conversations and putting them together.
Like earlier when I was saying we were doing a survey of climate justice, people ranked rising cost of food as their second major concern about that.
And so people’s relationship to, you know, providing healthy food and feeding their families is key, and it resonates more than talking about, you know, the ice caps melting or polar bears sinking, unfortunately.
There’s a running joke: I don’t care about polar bears. But I do. But I also care about my community.
And so I think that it really is about listening to our communities and where they’re at and drawing those connections and really building an intersectional movement.
Because some people may say that, you know, their biggest concern is about immigration and climate refugees, and so how do we also talk about how that’s also related to all these different factors.
And it isn’t going to be just one issue.
I think that the days of being siloed into different and single‑issue campaigns is no longer.
We [captain|can’t|capture] look at things one at a time anymore. We have to look at these very complex issues together and come up with very complex solutions as well.
>>HEATHER: I just want to give you a chance to ask a question.
You have had your hand up for so long.
That’ll be the last question.
Then a couple announcements before we wrap up.
>>AUDIENCE: Thank you.
You both talked about sort of rejecting false solutions. And an example that I remember is carbon markets.
And I wonder, your perspective on sort of having high aspirations for quick movement on like reducing greenhouse gases, so 50% reduction by 2020. How are we going to get there if they are not feasible in a political sense? And that means market‑based solutions that are sort of palatable, like carbon market.
So like is there an intermediary (inaudible) solutions that we [don’t|cooperate] want on the long term?
Like what’s the ‑‑ what’s the balance there?
>>JILL: I have many thoughts on this one.
I want to hear what you say.
>>ERIC: Well, first of all is realizing the carbon markets are not going to get us anywhere.
It’s not a midterm solution.
It’s not a solution at all.
That’s ‑‑ once we realize that, then we can begin to talk about: So, how much carbon do we have to reduce?
And in terms of political viability, I mean, if something’s politically viable, it doesn’t work, I mean, how viable is it really?
And, you know, the other down side of carbon markets, aside from the fact that they have not worked, is that the potential for dispossession and displacement through carbon markets and through offsets. So that only exacerbates the other problems that we have.
So, I really don’t think that we have that much time to search for middle‑ground solutions, quite frankly.
And the levels of reductions which are being discussed officially in the meetings, and in Paris, are so meaningless as to being criminal.
And that’s exactly why you have mass mobilizations protesting this type of framing. Why do we have to accept that the market determines everything? As long as we accept that, I think we’re doomed, because the market is only going to work in one way. And we don’t have time to make those types of adjustments.
So I’m sorry if I don’t have a mid solution. I don’t think there is one.
>>HEATHER: Give it up. (Applause.)
>>JILL: Yes, I agree. Basically, too long communities of color, frontline people, frontline communities, have been sacrificed, compromised, and it’s going to take drastic actions to undo all of that.
And the same mess that was created by the market, by this capitalist economy, again, favors profit over people, are not going to create the solutions that we need, so really it is looking to the communities who have survived for so long, have been businesses for so long, and those are the solutions that we can see how do we get out of this mess.
And I just want to end with like when I went to Richmond last year and met with the people who are living next to the Chevron refinery, they told me how they fought so hard against cap and trade in California and really were still fighting to this day, and also just warning, saying, you know, warning me that it’s coming to Washington state and that we also have to do the same, because that would, you know, undo a lot of the work that’s already been done to be resilient.
So really listening to the communities who are being directly impacted, listening to those who are struggling the day‑to‑day, those conditions, those workers whose risks ‑‑ the health risks they are facing in those jobs. We need to create a just transition for them to get out of those economy jobs, those dirty jobs, so really it is about creating a new economy again and not replicating those very systems that got us here in the first place.
>>HEATHER: Please join me in giving both of these amazing organizers a big hand of appreciation.
Thank you all for being here and I just want to make a couple of quick announcements.
There’s an opportunity to hang out with Eric one last time tomorrow. He’ll be at U‑Dub farm hosted by the CHID program at the Center for Urban Horticulture from about 2:00 to 3:30.
So anybody’s invited to check out the U‑Dub farm.
Gates Divest is having an action at the exact same time at the Gates Foundation. If you want to join us for that, please do.
One of the ‑‑ the Honduran group who won the Food Sovereignty Prize, the international prize this year, their leader Miriam Miranda will be in Seattle, along with the other most important movement leader from Honduras, on November 15 and 16.
CAGJ is hosting a film screening about one of the resistance movements, called The Fight for the Aguan Valley.
Those two leaders will be there, Sunday, November 15.
This flyer is outside. You can grab that.
We do weekly pickets. This Sunday is the next one. Boycott.
Join us in that solidarity work.
Finally, if you want to find out how to get involved with the Community Alliance for Global Justice, we have a community meeting coming up. There’s a flyer for that outside as well. It’s Thursday, December 5.
We are a [membership|men]‑based organization.
All you do is say that you love us.
Give us money if you can because we’re grassroots funded, but you don’t have to.
It’s not a condition of membership.
We’ll stay in touch and we’ll organize together.
So, thank you so much for being here.
Thanks for your support.
NOTE TO READER: This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a verbatim record of the proceedings.
Lisa K. Hutchinson