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Noyes News, July 2006


In June the New York City Council inaugurated the Big Green Apple Award for Environmental Leadership. Elizabeth Yeampierre, director of the United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park, accepted the Council's "community group" award. UPROSE is dedicated to youth, family and community empowerment in Sunset Park - a working class waterfront community and site of many industrial uses, numerous truck routes, waste disposal and electric power plants. Through educational workshops, organizing and leadership development, UPROSE builds community power.

Omar Freilla was selected as a member of the Environmental Leadership Program Fellowship Class of 2006-2007. Omar formerly served as program director for Sustainable South Bronx, where he worked to improve the environmental and economic health of South Bronx neighborhoods. He also worked to coordinate efforts promoting environmental justice in transportation planning for the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. He is currently the founder and director of Green Worker Cooperatives, dedicated to the creation of worker-owned and environmentally friendly businesses in the South Bronx. Omar is working to develop a building materials reuse center and a recycling industrial park in the South Bronx that will create "green collar" jobs and reduce waste. Omar's book on community opposition to transportation racism in New York City, Highway Robbery: Transportation Racism and New Routes to Equity, was published last year.

Grantee Stories

Victories come hard in the Appalachian coalfields, so when they do come they are as sweet as water from an undisturbed mountain stream. Residents of Eolia, KY, are celebrating Cumberland River Coal Company's pledge to withdraw its permit application for a 390-acre valley fill that would have buried Rocky Branch and Joe Day Branch. The company announced this decision during a packed hearing on May 23 before a special meeting of the Letcher County Fiscal Court. Members of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) came out in force to support the community, attending the Fiscal Court meeting and sending letters opposing the permit. They proved community residents' claims that thousands of supporters were behind them, and validated KFTC's belief that people working together can win, even against King Coal.

George Naylor, National Family Farm Coalition'spresident and an Iowa farmer, is profiled in the opening chapter of Michael Pollan's latest New York Times bestseller, The Omnivore's Dilemma. Pollan's book looks at the industrial food system's biggest source of calories - corn.

George contacted Pollan four years ago when his earlier New York Times article, The Power Steer, ignored the connection between cheap corn and the expansion of factory dairy and livestock operations across this country and in other regions of the world.

After e-mail and phone contact, Pollan went to George's farm to discuss these issues and help him plant corn in the spring of 2003. In September 2004, George was a guest lecturer for Pollan's Berkeley graduate journalism class.

Pollan has been on a coast-to-coast speaking tour and George has joined him on a few events. They hope to do more joint appearances leading up to the Congressional debate on the 2007 Farm Bill.

George and NFFC assert that current farm policy assures cheap feed for industrial livestock production and cheap calories for unhealthy, highly processed food items that generate huge profits for multinational corporations. NFFC is calling for new farm policies that will return food production to family farms and reverse the increasingly energy-intensive, environmentally-destructive form of agriculture Pollan so rightly deplores.

Mothers on the Move (MOM) is featured in an article entitled, A Bronx Tale , by Michelle Garcia, in the June 19th issue of The Nation. The article describes the South Bronx group's efforts to grow its membership to include Mexican and Central American neighbors. MOM's members formed a human chain on the Grand Concourse to protest Congressional bills, which proposed criminalizing immigrants or anyone who helps them. Their organizing efforts are linking campaigns for housing, environmental justice and jobs with the immigrant rights movement. As executive director Wanda Solomon said, "We live with Mexicans, we live with Central Americans, we live with Africans. The same problems that immigrants are going through, [other] people go through."


Social justice labeling

Pilot project on five organic farms

El Comité de Apoyo a Los Trabajodores Agricoles (CATA) received a Sustainable Community Innovation grant from the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program to support a working group of farmworkers who are developing social justice labeling for organic and sustainable agriculture. This pilot Agricultural Justice Project is being implemented by CATA in collaboration with the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, Peacework Organic Farm, and Quality Certification Services on five certified organic farms in California, Wisconsin and Michigan.

The crops grown on these farms range from strawberries to cherries to mixed vegetables and, although the farms vary in size, all employ migrant workers (some in addition to farm family labor). One farm already has a unionized workforce and the others have pledged to respect workers' rights, including the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. In addition, the pilot project addresses fair pricing and contracts for the farmers. It also includes participation from retailers interested in promoting socially just products to their consumers. CATA's involvement ensures that farmworkers participate in drafting implementation procedures, in site visits to evaluate the on-the-ground experience on pilot farms, and in stakeholder meetings of organizations promoting domestic fair trade and social justice in organic agriculture.

Social justice activists across the globe created the World Social Forum (WSF) to provide an open platform for discussing alternatives to the type of globalization defined by multi-national corporations and the world's wealthiest nations. Those powerful entities meet each year at the World Economic Forum, formulating global strategies that rarely benefit the majority of people.

Using the theme, Another World Is Possible, the WSF began in 2001 bringing together a rich variety of participants to meet, exchange experiences and ideas, and begin to develop a vision that works for ordinary people. The first U.S. Social Forum (USSF) is scheduled in Atlanta, GA, June 27 to July 1, 2007. Grassroots Global Justice coordinated the first steps in the planning before transferring responsibility to a broad-based committee that includes a number of Noyes grantees. Regional forums leading up to the USSF began with one in the Southeast, June 16 - 18, 2006, in Durham, NC. Noyes grantees and former grantees are centrally involved in every step of the planning. Other groups can explore ways to participate by checking out the USSF web site.

Northwest Women's Law Center (NWWLC) joined with other Oregon advocates to pressure the Oregon Board of Pharmacy to preserve women's rights. In June, the Board voted unanimously for a policy that protects patients from pharmacists who refuse to fill lawful prescriptions. Although the new policy allows a pharmacist not to fill prescriptions that challenge his/her moral beliefs, the Board made it clear that it is unprofessional for a pharmacist to lecture a patient on moral grounds or to destroy, confiscate or otherwise tamper with any medication.

This was a collaborative victory, linking the Center's Reproductive Freedom Network with NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, Planned Parenthood of Columbia/Willamette, and many other groups and individuals who advocated for these policies.

In a related story, things are not going as well in South Dakota. In March, Governor Mike Rounds signed the most conservative abortion law in the nation, preventing doctors from performing abortions except in cases where the mother's life is in danger. The new law has propelled both pro- and anti-choice activists into a frenzy, each staking out next steps in this abortion battle. A recent USA Today article, Abortion in a Post-Roe World, shows that the nation is split down the middle on many of these issues.

Western States Center launched its Family, Community and Sexuality Project, a multi-issue, multi-constituency movement for gender justice in the Pacific Northwest, Northern Rockies and Great Basin regions of the country. The growing attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer families, combined with the consistent chipping away of support for reproductive health and rights in state legislatures and at the ballot box, was the impetus for this project.

This spring, the Project held a summit in Idaho and has published a report, Building a Movement from the Ground Up, which provides a step-by-step account of the inclusive process used to envision and develop a gender justice agenda around progressive family value principles.

What do the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and contaminated drinking water in the Western U.S. have in common?

Hurricane Halliburton: Conflict, Climate Change & Catastrophe, An Alternative Annual Report on Halliburton, May 2006, documents new evidence of wrongdoing on the part of one of the world's richest and most powerful corporations. CorpWatch and five allied groups, including the Oil & Gas Accountability Project, report on bribery, waste and sweatshops in Iraq; abuse of immigrant workers under no-bid contracts in hurricane clean-up in the U.S. Gulf Coast; and the practice of hydraulic fracturing, which introduces toxic chemicals into underground drinking water sources in the U.S. West. OGAP has also published a fact sheet detailing the dangers fracking poses to drinking water and human health.

In March 2006, on behalf of Southern Mutual Help Association, Hank Herrera of the Center for Popular Research, Education and Policy authored the above titled report, which compiles information on the storms' impacts on agriculture, fisheries, food manufacturing and supply chains in Southern Louisiana. The costs of recovery and restoration for Louisiana's food and agriculture sectors exceed available resources. An important next step will be a complete, detailed inventory of funding streams available for this critically important work.


Noyes In Action

What the Staff's Been Saying and Doing

Vic De Luca was the keynote speaker at Michigan State University Community and Economic Development Program's 19th Annual Institute, Responsibly Investing in Michigan's Future: Community Development Investment Strategies.

Vic and Wilma Montañez were presenters at the Council on Foundations' 57th Annaul Conference in Pittsburgh. Vic spoke at the session entitled, Walking Our Talk: Implementing Principles, Maximizing Effectiveness. Wilma presented at the session, Leadership Through Diversity: Building an Inclusive and Diverse Foundation.

Kolu Zigbi was a reception speaker at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation's Food and Society Networking Conference. She described the New England Food System Funders, a regional network for funders interested in sustainable agriculture.

Noyes Foundation Profiled in New Book

In Effective Philanthropy, Mary Ellen Capek and Molly Mead offer strategies for strengthening organizations through a commitment to diversity and gender equality. The authors show how foundations have used "differences that divide us" – race, class, gender, sexual orientation, geography, age, religion, physical ability and others – to become learning organizations, a proven strategy for organizational effectiveness. Six foundations, including Noyes, were "selected because they have reputations among their peers for effective funding of women's and girl's organizations, as well as for institutionalizing deep diversity that includes gendered cultural competence within their own organizations." Noyes board members Ann Wiener (granddaughter of Charles Noyes) and Steve Carbo (former chair) are quoted along with staff members Millie Buchanan, Wilma Montañez and Vic De Luca.

Earlier this year, the Minority Environmental Leadership Development Initiative at the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources published The Paths We Tread – Profiles of the Careers of Minority Environmental Professionals. It was edited by former Noyes board member Dorceta Taylor and includes profiles of Leslie Lowe and Chitra Staley, current Noyes board members, and staff member Kolu Zigbi.

Congratulations to Noyes Board member Pame Kingfisher. Her essay was included in a new book, Eating Fire, Tasting Blood: Breaking the Great Silence of the American Indian Holocaust. In the book, 40 established and up-and-coming American Indian writers from disparate nations and tribes reflect on the history of their people.

Noyes Staff Working With Other Funders

Vic was re-elected treasurer of the Funders Network on Population, Reproductive Health and Rights and as vice-chair of the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers.

Millie is on the Planning Committee for the 2006 Rural Funders Forum of the Neighborhood Funders Group. She also co-sponsored the Central Appalachian Mountaintop Removal Tour for eight foundation program officers who got to meet representatives from 13 organizations working on mountaintop coal removal issues. Millie is also one of five funders working on the Blue Mountain Project Committee, evaluating ways in which to develop the capacity of grassroots environmental organizations.

Kolu is co-chair of the National Network of Grantmakers' (NNG) Strategic Directions Committee and co-chair of NNG's Racial Equity Committee. She co-chairs and is on the 2007 forum Planning Committee for the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders group.

Wilma has been participating in the Women of Color Working Group of the Funders' Network on Population, Reproductive Health and Rights. She is also on the Planning Committee for the Network's 2006 annual meeting.

Noyes As an Investor

The Noyes Foundation, along with As You Sow and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, published the Proxy Season Preview, Spring 2006. The purpose is to help foundations learn about important upcoming proxy votes and to ensure that they vote in an informed manner on social and environmental issues that are directly relevant to their missions and programs.

With total endowments of more than $500 billion, foundations are major institutional investors. Yet when it comes to using the proxy process to enhance both their missions and investments, most foundations passively follow corporate managements' recommendations, even when they are not aligned with foundations' interests or values. Foundations annually grant five percent of their endowments to support their missions, but how many utilize the remaining 95 percent to promote those same missions? Proxy voting is an easy first step for foundations wishing to align their missions and investments.

Proxy Voting at the Noyes Foundation


As of June 15th, the Noyes Foundation voted its proxies with 74 companies. With 42 companies (57 percent), we voted in favor of the proposed slate of directors. With 32 companies (43 percent), we withheld our votes for the slate of corporate directors. Our votes were withheld because in each case the company had no women on its board of directors. The Foundation's investment policy states that we will ratify directors unless governance or a program interest issue has been raised, or there is a lack of diversity on the board.
In addition, we voted in favor of two shareholder resolutions, both of which required a majority of shareholder votes for the approval of board members.