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Noyes News, October 2009

Grantees Noyes In Action Related News
Noyes Foundation in 2010

 

The worldwide economic crisis has hit the Noyes Foundation hard. Over the past year, the value of our assets have dropped, from $60 to $44 million. Nevertheless, the Foundation remains committed to continuing its grantmaking into the future, supporting social change movements around toxics and environmental justice, reproductive rights, a sustainable agricultural and food system, and an environmentally sound New York City.

 

The decision to sustain our work required making difficult choices. For 2010 the grants budget will be reduced by 18% or $500,000, from $2.7 to $2.2 million. As a result, we will not replace ten grantees that are cycling off Noyes support. Additionally, we will discontinue funding for some grantees earlier than we or they had planned.

 

For 2010, the Noyes Foundation will be unable to consider requests from organizations not already in our funding stream. This policy only affects the 2010 grantmaking cycle. A decision about the 2011 grants budget will be made in mid-2010.

 

Even with these reductions, the Noyes Foundation still will be making more than 70 grants to organizations working to restore an ecological balance on our planet, and to protect the rights of women, low-income communities and people of color. By making necessary adjustments now, we hope to reach our goal of providing grants for years to come.


Congratulations

 

Shirley Sherrod Named USDA's Georgia State Director for Rural Development

Shirley Sherrod, former Georgia Field Office director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives and cofounder of the Southwest Georgia Project, was appointed the U.S. Department of Ariculture's Rural Development Director for Georgia. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called the directors "important advocates on behalf of rural communities in states throughout the country … [who] help administer the valuable programs and services provided by the USDA that can enhance their economic success." Shirley is now responsible for the administration of loan and grant programs in support of rural housing, business development, cooperative development, community facilities and utilities, including broadband and renewable energy.

Shirley also served as Georgia State Lead for the Southern Rural Black Women's Initiative for Economic and Social Justice. She has been an active leader in the sustainable agriculture and food systems movement, serving on the board of the Farmers' Legal Action Group, and is the recipient of many awards, including a Kellogg National Fellowship.


José Bravo and Gail Small Receive Fellowship Awards for Working to Build a Fair and Just Society


The Center for Social Inclusion launched the Alston Bannerman Leadership Initiative to support leaders of color working to build a fair and just society.

 

José Bravo of the Just Transition Alliance was one of five selected from a field of 375 applicants. Each fellow received a $25,000 award to take a three-month sabbatical for reflection and renewal.

 

 

A new Senior Fellowship program aims to tap the enormous, but largely unrecognized, reservoir of intellectual capital among leaders of color working at the grassroots level. With this $25,000 award, fellows bring their experience and creativity to bear on critical issues of organizing, policymaking, and movement building. Gail Small of Native Action was one of three 2009 fellows. Her project is to craft policies to address the climate crisis through collective models of ownership that protect Native sovereignty, leave fossil fuels in the ground and develop alternative energy sources.

 

 

The Alston Bannerman Leadership Initiative is building an active network of grassroots leaders. Using on-line collaboration tools and convenings, the network will foster new ideas and alliances, and mobilize support for transformative policies.


Marylee Orr, executive director of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, received the Environmental Leadership Program's Environmental Leader Award from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality for her advocacy work in the state and throughout the nation. Marylee has served as LEAN's executive director for 22 years, leading its effort to work with more than 100 grassroots community organizations to make Louisiana's communities safer and healthier places to live.

 

In 2008, Marylee received the U.S. Office of Management and Budget Watch Public Interest Hall Of Fame Award, and was a runner up for the Conde' Nast Traveler Environmental Award.


Thomas Fritzsche Receives Pro Bono Publico and Skadden Fellowship Awards

Just Harvest USAcofounder, Thomas Fritzsche, received the Pro Bono Publico Award from the Public Service Law Network, which recognizes outstanding pro bono work by law students. Thomas cofounded Just Harvest, which brings together the causes of farmworkers' rights, and support for organic and locally-grown foods.

 

 

Thomas, a Bickel & Brewer Latino Institute for Human Rights scholar, also was one of four winners of the coveted 2009 Skadden Fellowship award. This prestigious two-year fellowship supports graduating law students pursuing public interest work by providing a salary, fringe benefits and tuition-debt assistance to pursue personally conceived projects. Thomas has chosen to work with the Southern Poverty Law Center's Immigrant Justice Project, developing and litigating cases on behalf of low-wage immigrant workers exploited by their employers. He previously interned for the SPLC and the Natonal Day Laborer Organizing Network, and led a Law Students for Human Rights team supporting Florida farmworkers' legal rights. "I am excited to support workers enforcing the minimum wage and other laws," said Fritzsche, "because their courage to take personal risks in order to change society inspires me as well."


 

Diana Lopez Wins 2009 Earth Island Institute Brower Youth Award


Diana Lopez of Southwest Workers' Union is one of six 2009 Earth Island Institute Brower Youth Award winners. Diana, 20, is an environmental justice organizer for SWU. In 2007, she helped create the Roots of Change community garden, the first urban garden in San Antonio. The garden provides healthy food at no cost, serves as an educational center and creates a positive space for community involvement. It also hosts training sessions, student work days and Texas-style barbeques where community members can come together to enjoy a meal and take home locally-grown produce. The Brower Youth Award, in its tenth year, recognizes teenage and 20-something activists for exceptional environmental leadership.


 

Geran Tarr Receives 2009 John Rader Award for Advocacy


Geran Tarr, executive director of the Alliance for Reproductive Justice, received the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest's 2009 John Rader Award for Advocacy in recognition of her significant contributions over the last year. She was joined in celebration by her father.

 

 

The Alliance is Alaska's primary reproductive justice organization. Two years ago it instituted the Women's Summit program to train women on policy issues, and to give them an opportunity to network and meet other activists from around the state. The 2008 Summit keynote featured Loretta Ross, national coordinator of the SisterSong: Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective; and the 2009 keynote was delivered by tribal leader Cecilia Fire Thunder.


Three Noyes Board Members Honored:

 

 
LaDonna Redmond - A Responsibility Pioneer
 

LaDonna Redmond was selected by Time Magazine as one of 25 Responsibility Pioneers for her work on food justice issues in Chicago.

LaDonna Redmond considers opening an organic-food market on Chicago's South Side the act of a freedom fighter…she recently opened Graffiti and Grub, a for-profit market staffed by inner-city youth who also work on urban farms in an employment program through the store.

 

LaDonna also was interviewed about the store on the Chicago TV show, Community, Media & You. And her article, Food is Freedom, was published in The Nation.

To change our food system, we need to change the way we talk about it…access not just to food outcomes but to the production and distribution methods…access to the land that grows food so I can grow my own.

Carol Kuhre Inducted Into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame

Carol Kuhre was selected for induction into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame. This prestigious honor recognizes her significant accomplishments, leadership and commitment to serving others. The Ohio Women's Hall of Fame was founded in 1978 to recognize Ohio women who have made - or are making - history.

 

 

Hall of Fame members come from all walks of life, but each has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to excellence, achievement and service to others. The Ohio Women's Hall of Fame serves as a daily tribute to these women who are an ongoing source of pride and inspiration for all Ohioans – especially the state's next generation of leaders.

 

These are women, who emerge as leaders in their fields, often against great odds, with courage, determination and compassion. By celebrating their accomplishments, their struggles and triumphs, we prepare our children for the choices they must make and the challenges yet to come.

Belvie Rooks Honored for Social Justice Work

On November 1st, Belvie Rooks will be honored by Savory Thymes and Growing a Global Heart. Belvie was selected because she has "consistently and generously shared herself, her resources and wisdom to support countless organizations, actions and campaigns and to mentor community leaders." Environmentalist Julia Butterfly Hill, who will speak at the ceremony, said she is "honored to support Belvie in this powerful vision of hope, possibility and healing for us as a human community and for this wonderful planet we call home." Savory Thymes convenes artists, grassroots organizers and activists to cross-pollinate ideas and build support for a wide range of social justice initiatives. Growing a Global Heart makes the connection between healing the earth and healing the heart. It is engaged in a project in West Africa to plant one million trees along the Trans-Atlantic slave route to honor the spirit and memory of the millions who lost their lives in the slave trade.


Grantee Updates

 

The Link Between Workers' Rights and Public Health


When we think of food safety, we usually think of E. Coli and Salmonella in foods like spinach and hamburger. Much of the attention has been focused on food contamination from farms, ranches and packing plants. A report by the Restaurant Opportunities Center United and the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York, done in collaboration with Queens College and Mt. Sinai's Seilkoff Center for Occupational Safety and Health, shows that serious food safety threats are as close as your favorite diner. The report, Burned: High Risks and Low Benefits for Workers in the New York City Restaurant Industry, documents how exploitative labor practices pose a little recognized, but significant threat to public health. It is based on surveys of over 500 workers and ten focus groups who reveal the restaurant industry has cooked up a sickening mix of stressful conditions putting workers with insufficient or nonexistent benefits at risk for injury and illness, resulting in sick workers too often preparing and serving food. With the H1N1 virus expected to return this season, the Centers for Disease Control has urged sick workers to stay home. However, many restaurant workers do not have paid sick days and cannot afford to lose a day's wages. ROC United and ROC-NY say that restaurants can be more responsible in protecting public health by offering workers safer workplaces and conventional job benefits, like paid sick days and workers' compensation insurance. Their campaign has educated New York City policymakers about this issue and the City Council responded by introducing a bill to ensure basic benefits, such as "earned paid sick days."


Omar Freilla, founder of Greenworker Cooperatives, and 11 others who have done great things for the environment, were highlighted in the children's book, Heroes of the Environment. Through photographs and illustrations, Harriet Rohmer, the award-winning publisher of bilingual and multicultural picture books brings these stories of environmental justice and stewardship to life. The chapter, Turning Waste into Good Business and Good Jobs, covers Omar's work to bring good, green jobs into the South Bronx, and the launch of ReBuilders Source – the world's first worker-owned reuse cooperative. Other heroes include a teenage girl who figured out how to remove an industrial pollutant from the Ohio River, a Mexican superstar wrestler working to protect turtles and whales, and a teenage boy from Rhode Island who helped his community and his state develop effective e-waste recycling programs. Heroes of the Environment can be purchased through Greenworker Cooperatives, with a portion of the proceeds going directly to support its programs.


Power To The People – All of Them


Building the power to make change starts young at Power U Center for Social Change. A new midwife program, the organization's first inclusive organizing/service program, graduated its first childbirth class with six new mothers. All are in housing struggles and learning the impacts of not only safe housing but also necessary food and care for a liberating, successful birth experience. These graduates will bring their new babies, experiences and strength into Power U's organizing programs. It's a safe bet that, before they walk, they will be part of marches and rallies, such as the March on the Mayors, hosted by Power U for the Right to the City Alliance during the 2008 U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Miami. The alliance unites urban struggles for racial and economic justice from across the country under the demand for a democratic human Right to the City, for current residents, their children and grandchildren.


The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility published Liquid Assets – Responsible Investment in Water Supplies. The principal author of the report is Leslie Lowe, a former Noyes Board Chair. Leslie, an attorney who specializes in environmental law and policy, directs ICCR's Energy & Environment Program. The report states:

Water is the world's third largest industry after oil and electric power. It is the most capital intensive of all utilities and the most essential. The challenges of preserving water resources from overuse and pollution, and of providing water for all can only be met if all stakeholders – that is to say, all members of society – are engaged in water governance.

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition organizer and 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize winner, Maria Gunnoe, was asked to testify before the Water and Wildlife subcommittee of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for a congressional hearing titled, The Impacts of Mountaintop Removal Mining on Water Quality in Appalachia.

In announcing the hearing, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), chairman of the subcommittee, said:

Mountaintop coal mining is a long-term assault on Appalachia's environment, economy, culture and the health of its citizens. We must put an end to this mining method that has buried more than a thousand miles of streams and created untold threats to some of the most beautiful and ecologically significant regions of our country.

 

Cardin and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have introduced legislation, the Appalachia Restoration Act, which, along with the Clean Water Protection Act in the House, would prohibit the dumping of mine debris into streams.

 

Gunnoe told the senators about the repeated flooding, the water contamination, and the noise and air pollution horrors associated with living near a mountaintop removal operation. She added:

Mountaintop removal is absolutely not about jobs. Mountaintop removal is a human rights issue. My children and I have a right as U.S. citizens to clean water, and that right is being taken away from us.

 

Congressional representatives aren't the only ones listening when Maria talks. Third grade students in California, hearing this year's Goldman Prize winner say everyone has a job in ending the destruction, decided their job was to send letters and artwork to those who have the power to stop MTR. One thing they really wanted was to help children their own age in West Virginia. Sample messages:

 

To Congresswomen Pelosi:
Why are you giving them permission to blow up the beautiful mountains? When people go there they want to see the mountains, not see them all destroyed. -- Irene

 

Mountaintop removal mining is destroying the Appalachias!!! If you could stop it, I would be much more happier and calmer. -- Kelly

To EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson:

Allowing this is horrible. Look inside yourself because you are killing yourself by making non-oxygen, and killing mother nature. Please shut it down, and if you do, great job! -- Anela

 

To WV Governor Manchin:

I am writing this letter because I want you to help Marsh Fork Elementary School to build a school in a safer place. I feel bad for them to be in a non-safe place and for me to be in a safe school. -- Natalie

To Massey Energy Company:

The valley fills are illegal under the Clean Water Act. This is so wrong. Please obey the law! Do not blow up our mountains. -- Kyle

Above drawings by Irene and Juliana, respectively

It's true, a picture is worth a thousand words!

 
ACCESS/Women's Health Rights Coalition launched an on-line health care reform campaign, Women Inform the Reform, make your voice heard for national Health and Justice Now! Women and Communities Demanding Health Care for All.


Dan Apfel is the new executive director of the Responsible Endowments Coalition. He replaces Morgan Simon, who will continue to work with REC as a strategic advisor. Dan has been an advocate for social and environmental issues for nearly ten years. Most recently he was a program officer at the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. REC works to build and unify the college- and university-based responsible investment movement, both by educating and empowering a diverse network of individuals to act on their campuses, and by fostering a national network for collective action. Its goals are to foster social and environmental change by making responsible investment a common practice amongst colleges and universities, and to support the next generation of activists.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld the right of a woman to proceed with her lawsuit against a corrections officer who kept her shackled throughout her labor. The ACLU's Reproductive Freedom and National Prison projects and other groups, including The Rebecca Project for Human Rights and National Advocates for Pregnant Women, played a critical role in this case, which began in Arkansas, but has had a ripple effect nationally. Rebecca Project's Malika Saada Saar's blog includes her article, In Labor and In Chains, and a video of Shawanna Nelson, the plaintiff in this shackling decision.


Originally, the client filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Arkansas Department of Corrections and several of its officials. A federal district court judge ruled that a jury should decide whether her treatment violated the Constitution. Then a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case, ruling that her shackling was not unconstitutional. Subsequently, ACLU represented the client in a hearing before the entire Eighth Circuit Court, which ruled that legal precedent clearly established the Constitutional protections against shackling pregnant women in labor, paving the way for this lawsuit to go to trail. This decision is important for the client, for other women in the criminal justice system, and for the development of the law and prison policy.


 

The Right to Free Speech Rules

 

U.S. District Court Judge Judith Herrera delivered a resounding victory to the Southwest Organizing Project and the greater nonprofit sector in New Mexico.

 

In a summary judgment, Herrera ruled that New Mexico cannot apply its campaign reporting law to SWOP and New Mexico Youth Organized, saying the state's threat to prosecute them for not registering as political committees violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

 

The judge's decision came in a dispute that began after two state senators accused the groups of skirting campaign finance law in mailers during the 2008 election campaign. The mailers targeted four Democratic lawmakers who were seeking re-election, criticizing their stands on measures in the 2008 session, highlighting their campaign funding, and urging constituents to contact them and ask that they "represent their interests rather than corporate interests." The N.M. Secretary of State weighed in with letters to SWOP and NMYO, saying they must register as political action committees and file campaign reports. Her letter did not explain why, but she later said her decision was made on the basis of the mailings. The groups then sued the Secretary of State for violation of their First Amendment rights.

 

"This is a solid victory for the First Amendment," said attorney John Boyd, who represented SWOP and NMYO.

 

"We are pleased with Judge Herrera's ruling," said SWOP Executive Director Robby Rodriguez. "Now we can get back to the business of educating the public about how our legislators vote – a critical service to keep citizens educated and activated."

 

Due to the Secretary of State's position, the groups noted, for the past year nonprofits throughout the state have been unsure about what they can and can't say about elected officials. In short, state officials created an environment where nonprofit advocacy has been fraught with uncertainty when it comes to the ability to speak publicly, which is exactly what the first amendment to the United States Constitution is supposed to prevent.

 

In her opinion, Judge Herrera acknowledged this environment:

… because the Secretary of State has unequivocally indicated that Plaintiffs are subject to penalties if they fail to register as political committees, Plaintiffs have 'suffered the constitutionally sufficient injury of self-censorship through the chilling of protected First Amendment activity.


 

Choice Advocates Battle Anti-Choice Ballot Initiatives for Fourth Consecutive Year

 

NARAL Pro-Choice Montana countered Montana Pro-Life Coalition's campaign to eliminate the right of women and families within the state to make private medical decisions regarding reproductive health care. This dangerous measure threatened to ban legal abortion, stem-cell research and in-vitro fertilization and birth control in Montana by establishing legal rights starting at fertilization. In 2008, anti-choice groups fell nearly 20,000 short of the signatures necessary to put this measure on the ballot. The amendment also failed in the 2007 and 2009 Legislative Sessions.


 

Heard, Seen & Read

 

John Burnett of NPR's Morning Addition aired Small Farmers See Promise in Obamas Plan, highlighting the work of the Organization for Competitive Markets, which he described as:

Small but influential, the nonprofit, nonpartisan group is made up of farmers, academics and others concerned about the gigantification of American agriculture.

The story stated that the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice has promised to scrutinize monopolies in agriculture. As part of this scrutiny, and to better understand the impact of anti-competitive practices on farmers and ranchers, the DOJ and USDA announced they will hold public "workshops" throughout rural America beginning in 2010.

 

For OCM, this announcement could not have been better timed, coming the day before its Confronting the Threats to Market Competition conference. More than 150 attendees heard Phil Weiser, Deputy Assistant General for Antitrust, DOJ's "top cop" overseeing big agriculture, report that the antitrust division plans to take a hard look at three areas of agriculture: seed companies, where according to the American Antitrust Institute, Monsanto controls 90% of the technology behind genetically modified seeds for cotton, corn and soybeans; beef packing; and dairy, where consolidation has accompanied the loss of more than 4,500 dairy farms every year.

 

Despite the positive signs from the Justice Department, OCM knew it had to strongly rebut a report issued by the U.S. General Accounting Office concluding that market concentration in agriculture has not adversely affected producer or consumer prices. It released a 77-page report entitled, The Debilitating Effects of Concentration in Markets Affecting Agriculture. According to OCM, market concentration for major raw food products hurts producers and consumers and debunks GAO methodologies and findings. More than 20 academicians, antitrust lawyers and informed producers reviewed the report before it was released.

 

The report's authors, lawyer David Domina and economist Robert Taylor, concluded that, like banks considered too big to fail,

Major firms in each of our top food sectors are so large that a failure by any one of them would have major ripple effect across the entire sector, and all of agriculture. These risks make agricultural market structure, in concentrated hands, a risk to everyone.

 

In the long run, the concentration and integration risk will continue to drive food prices up, bring an end to the nation's affordable food policy and contribute to a rapidly deteriorating agricultural and rural economy. GAO's conclusion that market concentration does not adversely impact prices is unfounded. To the contrary, market concentration in too few corporate hands poses price, biosecurity, and lack of redundancy risks to all American consumers. Corrective action is an urgent national need.


EPA Must Regulate Factory Farms!

 

The Dairy Education Alliance and several environmental organizations petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate air pollution from factory farms (massive industrial facilities confining thousands or even millions of animals in warehouse-like conditions). The 69-page petition detailed significant emissions of methane and nitrous oxide—two greenhouse gases—as well as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia. It also described how these pollutants negatively effect human health, the climate and the environment. The petitioners assert that regulating air pollution from factory farms will create a strong incentive for new facilities to employ production methods that reduce emissions.

 

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization deems the livestock sector "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." An FAO report entitled, Livestock's Long Shadow, found animal agriculture was responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions — even more than transportation.

 

According to DEA, the nation's confined farm animals produce 500 million tons of waste every year, more than 3.3 times the amount of waste created by humans. Nevertheless, the EPA does not require animal factories to meet any testing, performance or emission standards under the Clean Air Act. According to Charlie Tebbutt of the Western Environmental Law Center and co-chair of the DEA:

The people who live in the communities devastated by unregulated air pollution from animal factories deserve protection. Implementing this petition will get animal factories into the Clean Air Act process and give communities better opportunities to protect themselves.


 

Action Alert: Senate Committee Approves Sexual Health Education

 

Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health announced that the Senate Finance Committee approved two amendments to the health care reform bill to provide millions of dollars to fund comprehensive sexual health education and abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced an amendment allocating $75 million to states for the Personal Responsibility Education for Adulthood Training, a comprehensive sexual health education funding stream. Fifty million of that money would be used for evidence-based, medically-accurate, age-appropriate programs that provide information about abstinence, contraception, HIV/AIDS and healthy relationships. The other $25 million would fund new adolescent wellness programs, research and evaluation. The Baucus Amendment passed 14-9, with all the Democratic members and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) voting in favor.

 

Much to everyone's surprise, the committee also voted in favor of an amendment, proposed by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), to reinstate $50 million per year to the failed Title V program, a funding stream for rigid and ineffective abstinence-only programs. The Hatch Amendment passed 12-11, with support from all the Republican members and Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Kent Conrad (D-ND).

 

President Obama eliminated all funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, including Title V, from his 2010 budget. ICAH and other sexual health education advocates will continue to fight to ensure that Congress keeps abstinence-only money out of the final health care bill and budget. The Senate Finance Committee's bill will be debated in the full Senate, and then in conference with the House of Representatives.


Western States Center, in partnership with Expanding the Movement for Empowerment and Reproductive Justice, introduced a new reproductive justice project, Groundwork: Addressing Disparities. Working with nine social justice organizations over 18 months, Groundwork will form a strategic cohort and collective project.

 

Groundwork grew out of a 2006 Western States Center summit at which 17 organizations across the region discussed gender justice. Building a Movement from the Ground Up summarizes the research and captures the summit discussions. These organizations include:

 

Washington: Chaya; National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, Seattle Chapter; and Parents Organizing for Welfare and Economic Rights

 

 

Oregon: African Women's Coalition; International Center for Traditional Childbearing; and Urban League Idaho

 

Idaho: Mujeres Unidas de Idaho; Women of Color Alliance; and Idaho Women's Network

 

The support these groups receive through Groundwork will help them win progressive policies, improve the reproductive health and wellness of their communities, and begin to close the gap of disparities.

 

The first Groundwork meeting was packed with energy and exuberance! It included "Forward Stance," an approach to bringing the minds, bodies, and spirits that are often disconnected because of systemic oppression and control of women's gender, bodies and sexuality. Participants went deeper into their understanding of reproductive justice and started planning their work for the next 18 months.

 

Too often it feels like we're on the outside looking in when it comes to being included at the table on reproductive issues, the chance to feel included and have our work recognized and valued by The Center and EMERJ is invaluable!" – Dina Flores-Brewer, Women of Color Alliance, Idaho


The Real Dirt On Another "Clean Energy" Solution - Natural Gas

As residents of New York, Pennsylvania and other Eastern states listen to the growing debate over drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, many have been looking West to see how the industry has affected communities and property where thousands of wells already dot what once were rural landscapes and quiet neighborhoods. What they see shows that, once again, an energy source touted as "clean" can leave a big dirty mess where it is extracted.

 

The Oil and Gas Accountability Project has for years helped landowners and residents all over the West deal with the impacts on ranches and communities. Newer, noisier and more invasive technologies make more and more buried gas "economically viable" to extract when pollution and loss of water, health and peace are not factored into the economic equation. Most recently, OGAP has been working with residents of Texas where, in 2008, the Barnett Shale produced more than $12 billion worth of oil and gas. A new Texas OGAP publication, Drill Right In Texas, lays out best oil and gas development practices to advise landowners who decide to lease their mineral rights, and those who have no choice because they own only surface rights to their land.

 

 

The Barnett Shale is booming across 19 counties in North Texas. Landowners in East Texas, the Pecos Region, and the Rio Grande Valley are seeing production increase just as rapidly. In Fort Worth, amid the lush prairie hills and the Trinity River corridor, more than 1,100 oil and gas wells have been drilled within the city limits. One hundred new wells are being permitted every month. And more than 9,000 wells have been drilled in surrounding counties that make up the Barnett Shale play - with 5,000 more already approved. Drilling for gas brings toxic emissions, water contamination, water disposal issues, safety concerns and noise issues.

 

  • In Fort Worth, pipelines and wells are being located and drilled just feet from residences. Open spaces and native prairie lands are turning into industrialized landscapes, and drilling is encroaching upon drinking water supplies such as Lake Worth.
  • In Parker County and across the Barnett Shale drilling region, massive amounts of precious water are being used to drill the wells, and residents worry about the quantity and future of their water resources.
  • In Wise County, toxic and unfenced oil and gas waste pits dot the landscape, engines from drill rigs, trucks and compressors spoil air quality, and massive pipeline projects create industrial noise in once quiet communities.
  • Near an Aledo elementary school, a local rancher measured low-level radiation at the site of a tanker truck accident. The operator was hauling water produced from gas drilling when the truck overturned. The Barnett Shale formation, like most shale, contains naturally occurring radioactive material.

The impacts to people's health from living downwind or downstream from drilling and processing are significant, and homeowners are already wrestling with declining property values as neighborhoods and rural communities are turned into industrial drilling zones. Landowners in these areas and across Texas are struggling to produce their minerals and protect landowner rights, agriculture, environmental integrity, and recreational opportunities. - Gwen Lachelt of OGAP


Noyes In Action

 

What the Staff's Been Saying and Doing

 

Kolu Zigbi, Program Officer for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, spoke to the board of the Lawson Valentine Foundation on Funding Systemic Change in the Food System. She also co-authored, Setting the Table for a Sustainable and Just Food System, published in The Foundation Review, a peer-reviewed journal of philanthropy. Kolu and the co-authors, Kien Lee and Marjorie Nemes of Community Science, wrote about "a new theoretical model for building advocacy capacity in people of color-led organizations."

 

Kolu and Vic De Luca, Noyes President, were involved in the review and edit of Philanthropy New York's Diversity In Philanthropy: Surveys of New York Foundations and Nonprofit Organizations. Vic was also asked to write a pre-publication and the comment on the report for Philanthropy New York's blog.

 

Millie Buchanan, Program Officer for Toxics and Environmental Justice, was re-elected to the Executive Committee of the Funders Network on Trade & Globalization.

 

Chitra Staley, Noyes Board Chair, was busy at the Environmental Grantmakers Association's September retreat in Anchorage, Alaska. Chitra was a presenter at the Inclusive Practices session and a co-facilitator at the final keynote session: Changing the Face of Conservation: Audobon's Strategy for Engaging Diverse Communities.

 

 

The Noyes Foundation is included in the new book, How to Say It: Grantwriting – Write Proposals That Grantmakers Want to Fund. The Foundation was included in the section on funding activism and grassroots organizations.

 

Also, the Noyes Foundation received kudos from Richard Woo, CEO of the Russell Family Foundation. In the fall edition of The Mission-Based Investor,Richard said:

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then we pay great tribute to the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, whose Mission Related Investment statement inspired us in both language and spirit. Their foundation website is a treasure trove of MRI philosophy, policy and practice – which they freely offer for the common good.

Related News

Grassroots Organizing in the 21st Century

 

There's a lot more to building powerful community organizing capacity than just involving youth and new technologies. Building Movement Project released Alliances for Change: Organizing for the 21st Century, based on the work of three partner nonprofits committed to inter-organizational learning: Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, Miami Workers Center and Tenants & Workers United. The report also draws on interviews with eight other organizations, including the Farmworkers Association of Florida and Make the Road New York. These 11 organizations are described as "changing the face of traditional community organizing" by engaging in direct services, community development, and civic participation in addition to campaign-style organizing."


The report shows that organizing groups are building grassroots power in multiple ways and establishing a variety of organizational structures to support the work. For example, when PCUN hosted the Building Movement partners in Woodburn, Oregon, it led a tour of model affordable housing, developed through the Farmworker Housing Development Corporation it co-founded; discussed its legal status as a labor association with an affiliated nonprofit and separate political action committee; explained its use of a novel data management system during a visit to its immigration and legal assistance center; and brought the partners to a regional immigrant rights coalition it helps lead. The report found that organizing groups engaged in multiple functions, including service provision, can retain an "organizing culture" by ensuring all staff share values and critical analysis. Tirso Moreno, director of the Farmworker Association of Florida considers all of his staff organizers, even when their role may be primarily administrative. Although the report acknowledges that strategies for building the constituent power vary, some groups, like PCUN, have developed formal partnerships to build regional clout and a base of shared resources. Others, like Make the Road New York, have built a citywide base by merging two organizations, the Latin American Integration Center and Make the Road By Walking. Some of its services, such as its food pantry, are open to anyone in need, while others, like its employment and legal assistance programs, serve only dues-paying members. The report does not conclude with a prescription, but with a set of questions about going to scale, engaging in non-campaign activities, membership, and building alliances intended to help groups determine how to organize more powerfully


A Penny More Per Pound

 

Just Harvest USA, along with other organizations, helped build consumer pressure for the Coalition's wins that protect agriculture workers against exploitation in the fields of Florida. CIW's Campaign for Fair Food, known best for its demand of major food retailers to increase pay by "a penny more per pound" for the tomatoes they purchase, would result in a 75% wage increase, improved living and working conditions, and farmworkers being less vulnerable to exploitation. CIW has won penny-more-per-pound deals from McDonalds, Burger King, and Yum! Brands (whose subsidiaries include Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Long John Silver's and A&W).

 

CIW announced its latest victory along side Labor Secretary Hilda Solis at a press conference on Capital Hill. Also in attendance were representatives from the world's largest food service company, the Compass Group, which promised to pay an extra 1.5 cents per pound of tomatoes that it purchases, with one cent per pound going directly to the farmworkers. Compass Group purchases over 10 million pounds of tomatoes every year.

 

 

In her blog, Katrina vanden Huevel, publisher and editor of The Nation magazine, describes the important wins by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

The key difference between this agreement and previous ones is that Compass Group will only purchase tomatoes from Florida if there are growers willing to implement the pay raise and a "code of conduct" which includes: a system of clocking in and out to accurately record working hours; the ability of workers to voice labor and safety concerns without fear of retribution; freedom for CIW to educate workers on their rights on company time and at the worksite; and third party auditing for full transparency. If no Florida grower were to step up to these Fair Food standards, Compass Group would remove tomatoes from its menus and use the absence to educate customers about the working conditions that led the company to make this decision.

 

In the previous agreements brokered by CIW, the food retailers didn't take this extra step of mandating that they would only purchase from socially responsible growers. That's significant because the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange (FTGE) - a trade association representing over 90% of the state's growers - has threatened to fine any grower $100,000 for every worker that receives a penny per pound raise. The result? Growers refused to pass along the monies owed to the farmworkers so approximately $1.5 million is now held in escrow by the food retailers.

 

This time, however, Florida's third largest grower – East Coast Growers and Packers – broke ranks, dropping out of the FTGE in order to participate in the new agreement between Compass Group and CIW. This was a courageous decision. The Madonia family which founded the farm 53 years ago (to the day of the press conference) will be ostracized by a rather tight-knit group of growers and lose the services of the trade association that represents them. But it will also gain the business of Compass Group and the corporations that signed onto the previous agreements - because all of the CIW-brokered contracts require the companies to preferentially purchase from any grower who is willing to meet the specified Fair Food standards. CIW now has the four largest restaurant companies in the world, the largest foodservice company in the world, and the largest organic grocer signed on to its Fair Food contracts, with more undoubtedly to come.