A message from CAGJ Director, Heather Day
Dear CAGJ’s Members & supporters,
Living through this past year has been incredibly challenging, even more so for some than others. To fight off despair and find hope, it helps that we defeated a white supremacist facist on election day! It also helps to feel part of something larger, and to dedicate ourselves to creating a better world. For this reason, community organizing makes a difference in people’s lives, as our members have told us this year. CAGJ’s dedication to a radical transformation of the food system and organizing for change, both in community and across broad alliances, are an effective combination.
CAGJ emerged from 2020, one of the hardest years ever – for me, for the organization and for the world – stronger than ever. Our strength is our community, which is made up of relationships across the world, that collectively weave a political home where we put our beliefs into practice.
This home looks very different today than it did at the beginning of the pandemic. If you saw the web of connections amongst our members and allies drawn like an airline flight map, it would be most densely woven through Seattle, with relationships criss-crossing the US and around the world, but particularly with our African partners.
Yet, what would have been unthinkable before is now possible when all our organizing has gone online: Two of our Steering Committee members live in the Southwest, and one in Spokane! And our political education and leadership development program, Rise Up! Summer School, was an even greater success this year, reaching participants from all over the country, and even one person who lives in Guam. In its first iteration two years ago, we hosted around 25 people for in-person political discussions and field trips, but this year we had to cut off registration at 100!
While we faced great uncertainties this year, the work has continued to flourish. The Food Justice Project has more people involved than it has for many years, many of them excited about producing our new Zine. And the needs of our Solidarity Campaign partners have never been more urgent: food insecurity, food workers and farmworkers risking their lives on the front lines of this crisis.
AGRA Watch’s success in publishing two reports in 2020 has led to multiple publications, and while the Gates Foundation’s influence steadily grows, we are fielding intern requests from around the world.
All of this interest means we need greater capacity! I am so grateful for the able leadership of both Sara Lavenhar and Noël Hutton, who have been backing me up in their part-time Operations and Organizer roles. In 2021, CAGJ’s 20th anniversary year, we are going to dream bigger. It is time for CAGJ to grow, to be able to engage all who want to get involved, and most effectively respond to the urgent need for food sovereignty.
I thank you for all that you are doing, and for dedicating resources to help those in need around the world and in your own community. I am so incredibly grateful for everyone who showed up this year to build CAGJ’s beautiful, generous community of activists, who rejuvenated me after a hard year.
And thank you for considering a year-end donation to Community Alliance for Global Justice, who will continue to provide hope in the face of despair!
I leave you with this beautiful poem, by Nigerian poet and novelist Ben Okri from Mental Fight (1999), shared by Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa in their year-end letter.
In solidarity, and to a Happy New Year!
Heather Day, CAGJ’s Director
We are Greater than our Despair, by Ben Okri
We are greater than our despair
The negative aspects of humanity
Are not the most real and authentic;
The most authentic thing about us
Is our capacity to create, to overcome
To endure, to transform, to love
And to be greater than our suffering.
We are best defined by our mystery
That we are still here, and can still rise
Upwards, still create better civilizations
That we can face our raw realities
And that we will survive
The greater despair
That the greater future might bring.