Ashley Fent: CAGJ builds solidarity from the ground up

You are invited! Join us SAT Dec 18 for CAGJ’s Holiday Party & Open Mic.
Register to receive the Zoom link. More details below.

SPECIAL APPEAL from Ashley Fent, AGRA Watch Researcher & Film-Maker

Dear CAGJ Supporters,

‘Tis that time of year, and yes, I’m about to hit you up for money to support the amazing work that Community Alliance for Global Justice is doing, in Seattle and beyond. CAGJ epitomizes the oft-cited phrase “Think global, act local.” While deeply rooted in issues affecting our local community, we work in solidarity with movements for justice, food sovereignty, and self-determination in Washington State, across the US, and around the world. We operate on the premise that we are stronger when we unite in struggle and when we build connections across the artificial divides (like national borders) that have been built up to separate us. Your support is instrumental in helping us do this important work fighting for more democratic economic and food systems. Please make a tax-deductible donation today!

Let me tell you a little about me. I first connected with CAGJ in 2007, while a college student majoring in Geography at the University of Washington. I was excited to be involved in organizing the first Strengthening Local Economies Everywhere (SLEE) dinner, and was inspired to continue volunteering with the organization throughout and after college, as a Steering Committee Member and then as a co-chair of AGRA Watch, which we started in 2007 to challenge the Gates Foundation’s role in promoting corporate-led, industrial agriculture in Africa, especially through the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Now, many years and a couple of academic degrees later, I am working with AGRA Watch as a research consultant, informing and supporting our campaign priorities.

AGRA Watch Theater at SLEE many years ago!

Personally, I am not a conventional protestor type; I’m always struck by the irony of people shouting “This is what democracy looks like!” while marching along a pre-approved route of closed-off streets, flanked by police officers in riot gear. One of the aspects of CAGJ that has always stood out to me is how artful our protests often are. Yes, we’ve participated in more conventional marches (who hasn’t?), but we also do creative actions, like the participatory street theater piece we did in front of the Gates Foundation headquarters in July of this year, as part of the global counter-mobilization against the corporate-dominated UN Food Systems Summit. Some of my fondest memories of past events involve cutting out and painting huge ears of corn made of cardboard, or staging a flashmob at one of our SLEE dinners (it was the early 2010s, when flashmobs were still a thing). Some of us dance, some of us sing, some of us paint and draw and build papier mâché food items, some of us research and write, some of us cook and bake for events… and some of us like to get out into the streets to make our voices heard. And for me, this is what democracy actually looks like–bringing all of our diverse interests, backgrounds, and creative energy together to nourish each other and nourish global movements for justice.

Disarming Gates: 2021 AGRA Watch Theater at the Gates Foundation

Building on our creative and multivocal approach, this year we launched a film series that we are co-producing with the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA). Rich Appetites: How Big Philanthropy is Shaping the Future of Food in Africa tells the story of how the Gates Foundation has been involved in the corporate and billionaire capture of African and global food systems and why this poses a threat to human rights and democracy. We are working with a South African animation studio and collaborating with members of our wider networks to produce five short episodes that hit on different aspects of Gates’ increasing control, as well as demonstrating through interviews and footage the power of agroecology, food sovereignty, and farmer-led solutions. This film series is an exciting culmination and continuation of many years of research conducted by AGRA Watch members, interns, and volunteers, investigating and monitoring the Gates Foundation’s investments, and it helps us to amplify our work in a widely accessible multimedia format. We released the first episode in September and the second yesterday, with the remaining episodes scheduled for release in early 2022.

Still from Episode 2: Seeds

Still from Episode 2: Seeds








Can you make a generous donation today to help AGRA Watch continue to hold The Gates Foundation accountable? Here is how we will put your end of year donation to work in 2022:

  • We will release 3 more short films for our Rich Appetites series.
  • We will continue to build our research and organizing capacity.
  • We are hoping to be able to create a full-time AGRA Watch coordinator position in July.
  • We will continue to host our webinars, which have been very successful in bringing people around the world into conversation with each other (although, of course, there are still profound inequalities in access to technology and internet connectivity).
  • We hope that 2022 will see an increased ability to hold in-person events and actions! (Of course, the ever-elusive return to normality will only be possible with an end to vaccine apartheid, which privileges wealthy countries’ access and prioritizes intellectual property over human lives.)

After our theater action at the Gates Foundation. Noel Hutton, Heather Day, Simone Adler, Ashley Fent

Participating in conversations with our partners this fall, I’ve found that many of them are shocked to learn that we only have one full-time staff person and a handful of consultants, given the huge amount of impactful research, organizing, and communications work we do. This is all made possible by our amazing volunteers, interns, and members who continue to show up for us and contribute money and/or time to our work.

As you likely know, CAGJ is a membership-based organization. We do receive some funding from small progressive foundations that are aligned with our values, but most of what we are able to accomplish is thanks to all of you. So I ask you to consider donating to support our work, either through a one-time donation or by becoming a monthly sustainer, and help us continue building powerful local and global movements for more just, equitable, and democratic food systems.

With thanks,

Ashley Fent
AGRA Watch Research Consultant

P.S. We hope you will consider becoming a Monthly Sustainer, or increasing your gift if you’re one already! These members give us peace of mind, as we know we can rely on a steady flow of funds to cover our monthly costs. Sign up today to have an amount securely deducted automatically every month, or increase your monthly donation if you are able. Your support is so appreciated!

SAT December 18, 7-9PM Pacific Time
CAGJ Holiday Party & Open Mic

Back by popular demand: Virtual Open Mic! Share a song, story, reading, joke or favorite poem (only if you wish)
Register to receive the Zoom link

YOU ARE INVITED! Let’s relax together, and enjoy each other’s company, COVID-style, as we move into the holiday season.
Please join even if you don’t plan to share anything, this will be a low-pressure and fun evening, to celebrate a full year, give thanks to CAGJ’s amazing members, volunteers and interns, and celebrate our 20th anniversary!

Please register, & we will send you the Zoom link.

Posted in Agra Watch Blog Posts, News, Slider.

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