It’s Giving Tuesday! CAGJ’s 2023 end of year letter to our Members & Supporters
From Director Heather Day: Looking to the Future
Hopefully you recently received this letter by mail. If not, please email us your address ([email protected]) so we can reach out to you in the future (only twice per year)!
This end of year appeal is different from all of the other letters I’ve written before, and that is because the future of CAGJ is uncertain. I am writing to ask you to help save CAGJ.
CAGJ is a weaver of webs. As the spider holding these webs, I love the strong silken strands that connect us. I feel the energy pulsing across these connections, and am eager every day to nurture these relationships. It is essential to CAGJ’s identity that these webs stretch across our state, our country and even the globe. We’ve been organizing transnationally since the very beginning of CAGJ, 22 years ago, when we were raising awareness of the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) in solidarity with our Latin American counterparts and in conjunction with coalitions across the US.
Sometimes the webs blow in the wind and I end up dangling by one thread, waiting to find the place we can start weaving again. Right now I feel like that spider – I am searching for a safe place to land, as the costs of living in Seattle soar.
Attaining financial stability is challenging right now, as CAGJ is facing a shortfall in our budget. One of the primary funders of AGRA Watch has shifted its priorities as it spends down. While we honor its priorities, this leaves a significant gap that is challenging to fill. Most foundations aren’t willing to take the risk of funding an organization dedicated to critiquing philanthropy and the Gates Foundation, which has a lot of influence. And while we have been successful in developing joint projects and funding applications with our African partners, as with our Rich Appetites film series, we need operating support and internal capacity to keep our programs and partnerships running.
We need to raise an additional $75k to bridge the gap, to increase organizing capacity and to stabilize our finances. CAGJ’s Steering Committee aims to hire additional staff, as well as provide a salary increase for me, in order to be able to continue our work and get on more sustainable footing.
You can help out this Giving Tuesday by becoming a Monthly Sustainer today (or increasing your monthly gift), or by making a one-time gift!
At the same time that we are facing budget shortfalls, the need for our organizing is growing. We are currently applying for grants to fund our revamped community education and leadership development program, “Food Fight! A Summer Crash Course in Grassroots Organizing for Food and Climate Justice.” During the pandemic we offered this program online, but we’ve decided that next year we want to make the program in-person again, with a more intimate cohort of youth and students aged 16-25, with a focus on concrete organizing skills and applied campaign practice, prioritizing participants of color. It is critical to train more young activists to be organizers who will advocate for food sovereignty within a climate justice lens.
AGRA Watch is being called upon by our African partners to help find new strategies for tackling the unaccountable power of the Gates Foundation. Organizers in Zambia reached out after learning that AGRA installed itself in their ministry of agriculture, and helped devise a draconian overhaul of agriculture at the national level, which was recently pushed through. In August we were invited to the 2nd Pan-African Seed Sovereignty Conference in Tanzania, where we witnessed an overview of the robust organizing for seed sovereignty taking place in many countries. Bill Aal and I were invited to give a keynote on new research by AGRA Watch, on how new technologies funded by Gates, AGRA and Microsoft capture African farmers’ knowledge. While it was disheartening to be the messengers of more challenges to these hard-working farmers, we know that this research comes at a critical moment to inform strategies as movements organize for seed sovereignty.
We will continue to seek grant support for our work, but we must rely on YOU, our members, for a considerable part of our budget! Your donations make a big difference in CAGJ’s ability to keep engaging in these local and global webs of solidarity!
We are very excited to have several opportunities this Fall to shine a light on the problems with the Gates Foundation, and solutions:
YOU ARE INVITED, WED Dec. 6, 7-9PM: Investigative journalist and author Tim Schwab will present the findings of his new book, The Bill Gates Problem: Reckoning with the Myth of the Good Billionaire at our event at Town Hall Seattle. We’re thrilled that he will be in conversation with representatives of all the sectors the Gates Foundation touches: Jesse Hagopian, on public education, Steve Gloyd, on public health, Daniel Maingi on African agriculture, and Ashley Fent from AGRA Watch tying it all together.
We are hosting Kenyan activist Daniel Maingi Dec 1 – 7, who will be visiting Seattle for the first time since our 2014 Summit! Daniel is currently a Fellow at Stanford University, and is collaborating with AGRA Watch member Matt Canfield on a research project in Kenya on the digitalization of agriculture. AGRA Watch just published our first report on this topic, “Corporate-Led Climate Adaptation: How the Gates Foundation, Microsoft, and AGRA are enabling the digital capture of African Food Systems.”
Our Rich Appetites film series has been screened at several film festivals and at events in Tanzania and Kenya. Leonida Odongo, a Kenyan women’s rights and food sovereignty activist, has also been using the films in her workshops. And Zambian activists screened two of the short films for parliamentarians.
Food sovereignty organizing continues locally as well! CAGJ continues to work in solidarity with Northwest tribes to counter GE salmon in partnership with Block Corporate Salmon; in our Spring screenprinting workshop, we created salmon artwork that was later featured at FarmAid. We marched in solidarity with our farmworker partners for May Day, carrying the banner we created in a blockprinting workshop. We led a workshop linking food sovereignty to protests of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), and worked with a coalition to raise awareness and resistance in Seattle and San Francisco. We amplified local and global black food sovereignty organizing through our SLEE Dinner.
Our call for help to save CAGJ comes with the understanding that it’s harder to fund solidarity work, as the needs on the frontlines are so great. We thank you for valuing the web weavers, including the ones who do the hard work of building coalitions and networks. CAGJ is unique in the Northwest for being active in the National Family Farm Coalition, US Food Sovereignty Alliance, and Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa. We also seek to make visible, strengthen, and amplify the essential organizing on the frontlines in our state, including by Familias Unidas por la Justicia Farmworker Union, Community to Community, UFCW 3000, Black Star Farmers, Northwest tribes and others.
These networks are stronger when working together. CAGJ will keep weaving webs – please donate to make them stronger, which will also create a safe home for me, the hard-working spider. And we will keep doing all we can to ensnare those who bring harm to our movements!
Thank you for considering a generous gift to CAGJ this holiday season! I am so grateful to everyone for your support.
With love & solidarity,
Heather Day, Executive Director
Help strengthen the web – Save CAGJ! All gifts are tax-deductible.
- Monthly Sustainers give by automatic deduction once per month, and help us concentrate more energy on organizing. Give $5, $20, $75 or $150 per month!
- One-time donations will help us reach our goal of raising $25,000 by December 31.
- Matching gifts are greatly appreciated! Do you work for a company that provides matching funds? Let us know how we can connect!
- Can’t donate, but want to become a Member or renew? Just fill out our online Membership form – Thank you!