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Noyes News, July 2010

Grantees Noyes In Action
 
Noyes Welcomes Nikhil Aziz to Its Board

Nikhil is the Executive Director of Grassroots International, a human rights and international development organization that supports community-led sustainable development projects. Before joining Grassroots, Nikhil was Associate Director at Political Research Associates, where he led a team that studied the conservative movement and the political Right in the U.S. As a progressive, immigrant, gay man of color, Nikhil continues to speak, teach and write on human rights, international development and social change. He has served on the boards of Africa Today Associates, Resist, Massachusetts Asians & Pacific Islanders for Health, and MASALA; and currently serves on the steering committee of the International Human Rights Funders Group and the Funders Network on Transforming the Global Economy.

 

The Noyes Board consists of sixteen members, six family and ten non-family members, who live around the country. Nikhil's term will run from 2010 through 2014.


Congratulations


 

Silvia Henriquez Honored As a "Woman of Vision"

The Ms. Foundation for Women honored Silvia Henriquez, executive director of National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health as one of three 2010 Women of Vision awardees at its 22nd Annual Gloria Awards (in photo from left to right: Silvia, Gloria Steinem and Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas).


"I am deeply honored to receive the Ms. Foundation's prestigious Women of Vision award," said Ms. Henriquez. "Since NLIRH's inception, the Ms. Foundation has been a partner in our work to mobilize Latinas and demand full health care access, including abortion coverage, for all women and immigrants."


Under Silvia's leadership, NLIRH has become one of the organizations on the forefront of the reproductive health and justice movements for Latinas and immigrants. During the health care reform debates, NLIRH organized local advocates to contact members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, headlined a national abortion rights lobby day in Washington, DC, and solidified relationships with immigration rights coalitions to build support for upcoming reforms that recognize the reproductive health and rights of all immigrant women. NLIRH is also a founding member of the National Coalition for Immigrant Women's Rights, which defends and promotes equality for immigrant women and their families, and has been a vocal opponent of Arizona's discriminatory immigration law.

The Ms. Foundation is thrilled to honor Silvia for her outstanding work leading NLIRH. Her exemplary vision and passion for social change have helped propel the organization to remarkable success in the fight for reproductive justice, health-care reform and immigrants' rights. We are truly honored to be a partner in their groundbreaking efforts. Sara K. Gould, President & CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women

Diane Takvorian, founder and executive director of the Environmental Health Coalition has been appointed by President Obama to the Joint Public Advisory Committee of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. In 1993, environmental objections to the North American Free Trade Agreement resulted in the establishment of the CEC, the first international organization created to address regional environmental concerns, help prevent potential trade and environmental conflicts, and promote the effective enforcement of environmental law. JPAC is made up of five members from each of the participating countries, Canada, Mexico and the U.S. Its mission is to promote continental cooperation in ecosystem protection and sustainable economic development, and to ensure active public participation and transparency in the actions of the Commission.


UPROSE Staff Receives Awards


Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of the United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Parkwas recognized by El Diario La Prensa for outstanding community work with a "Mujeres Destacadas Award" on April 18. Three UPROSE youth leaders – Celeste Delbrey, Fabiola Medina and Leticia Hernandez – were also recognized as the next generation of destacadas (outstanding leaders).


Grantee Updates

A Decade of Work Makes Clean Water Flow


The residents of Pajarito Mesa celebrated the recent opening of their new water filling station, marking the culmination of a decade's worth of organizing. The station will provide more than 400 families on the Mesa with clean, potable drinking water. SouthWest Organizing Project with residents of the mesa, where developers promised utilities, water and roads, none of which materialized. SWOP helped residents form the Pajarito Mesa Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association.

The water station was blessed, the ribbon was cut and the water flowed. Ballet folklorico performances, food and music rounded out the celebratory event, and residents began filling their water tanks. Next on the organizing agenda are solar power and roads.



Reproductive Justice Defeats Discrimination at the Georgia State Capitol


With support from its constituency and many activist partners, SPARK! Reproductive Justice NOW lobbied, arm twisted and demanded that legislators oppose the race and sex selection bill that targeted women of color and criminalized their physicians. AND THEY WON!


The bill never came to a floor vote. Working in coalition with other reproductive justice organizations, SPARK accomplished an unbelievable task….defeating the Georgia Right to Life bill in a Republican dominated state legislature in one of the most conservative regions of the country. Georgia Right to Life, in partnership with the Radiance Foundation, sought to shame black women who had abortions, politicize abortion data and drive a political wedge between members of the black community by manipulating churches, schools, and anyone willing to listen, using a well-financed, racist and sexist propaganda campaign.


SPARK firmly states: "We were not silent, we were not invisible, and we refused to let them advance sexist, racist, anti-choice legislation in our name!"



 


 

Legal Voice Wins Anti-Shackling Effort

In March, Washington became the seventh state to restrict the practice of shackling incarcerated women. The new law prohibits the use of restraints during labor and delivery, and restricts the use of shackles during the third trimester and during postpartum recovery. It also bans the use of waist chains and leg irons at any point in pregnancy.


In 2009, Legal Voice filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Tacoma, Washington, on behalf of Casandra Brawley, a woman who was shackled during childbirth while incarcerated in Washington State. The same day the anti-shackling bill was signed by the governor, Legal Voice filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the trial court to rule that Ms. Brawley's federal and state constitutional rights to be free from cruel punishment were violated. If the court grants this motion, Ms. Brawley will have won her case.


Legal Voice is investigating similar cases, and is working to change state laws to end shackling of laboring women with the ultimate goal of eliminating this inhumane, demeaning practice in the Northwest.



Photo by Vivian Stockman


Victory follows 15 years of advocacy!

Marsh Fork Elementary School, which sits precariously just 255 feet from a coal silo and 400 yards downstream from a leaking 385 food tall sludge dam holding back over two billion gallons of toxic sludge (industry's other favorite method of dealing with slurry waters) in the Coal River Valley of West Virginia, will finally get a new home in a safer location.

Coal River Mountain Watch has been in the forefront of a community fight for a new school for years. In 2007, thirteen Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition members and allies, including members from CRMW and Ed Wiley (shown at right in red jacket, who walked 455 miles in 2006 from Charleston, WV, to Washington, DC, on behalf of his granddaughter's school) were arrested for refusing to leave the governor's reception area until Governor Joe Manchin agreed to relocate the Marsh Fork Elementary School.

A Win for Patients

 

Breast Cancer Action was one of several plaintiffs in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation, which led to the recent decision by a U.S. District Court judge invalidate seven patents related to the "breast cancer genes" BRCA1 and BRCA2.


Before this ruling, Myriad Genetics held exclusive rights to these genes, their mutations and all research performed on them. At the moment, testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations can only be performed at Myriad labs and currently costs patients over $3,000. The hope is that this will change as the case proceeds through the courts.


The judgment will be appealed by Myriad. Nevertheless, BCA's lawyers declared this an "enormous victory."


ACLU's recently released video explains the dramatic impact restrictive gene patents have on women. And, according to the New York Times:

[This]case could have far-reaching implications. About 20 percent of human genes have been patented, and multibillion-dollar industries have been built atop the intellectual property rights that the patents grant.

BCA reminds us: "We were able to join the suit because we don't depend on funding from Myriad or any company that profits from cancer. BCA can, and always will, put patients first."



New Opportunities Seeded in 2008 Farm Bill

Take Root in 2010 for Immigrant Farmers


The Massachusetts Office of the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service announced the approval of eight grants, totalling $85,936, to Hmong immigrant farmers for the installation of high tunnels (hoop houses). This funding is remarkable because only a year ago NRCS did not fund high tunnels and very few immigrants benefited from NRCS programs. The grants are part of a three-year, 38-state USDA pilot study to verify if high tunnels are effective in reducing pesticide use, keeping vital nutrients in the soil, extending the growing season and increasing yields.

 

High tunnels used by Hmong farmers in Fresno

This is a monumental achievement for these beginning farmers who worked very hard to learn how to grow crops from their native country and market them at the many farmers' markets in Massachusetts. The high tunnels will address conservation issues, and also will truly make a difference in the income for these farmers and their families. Maria Moreira, Project Director of Flats Mentor Farm in Lancaster, and a board member of the Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural.

The journey began with the persistent advocacy of the Farm and Food Policy Diversity Initiative, coordinated by the Rural Coalition, for the equitable participation of socially disadvantaged farmers in USDA programs. Diversity Initiative members worked with Congressional committees to secure language in the 2008 Farm Bill that allows NRCS to pay up to 90% of the cost of conservation practices for socially disadvantaged (and beginning) producers, and to advance up to 30% of that amount so producers could make upfront investments to their land.

Rural Coalition and its partners achieved some significant policy changes of real value to producers who deserve these benefits. John Zippert, Rural Coalition Chairperson and Program Director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives.

High tunnels used by Hmong farmers in Fresno


The journey continued from Farm Bill advocacy to grassroots organizing. Rural Coalition and its members and partners were aware that the socially disadvantaged producers they served were interested in easy-to-construct, maintain and move seasonal high tunnel systems. However, NRCS had not approved these structures for funding as a conservation practice. Last summer RC organized members and partners to take advantage of an NRCS request for public input. The groups sent a common message that NRCS should allow cost-shares for hoophouses and greenhouses.


The Rural Coalition then worked with leaders inside the office of the Secretary of Agriculture and the Natural Resources and Conservation Service. Next, action moved to the state level where, from the 39 states seeking participation in the high tunnel pilot project, Masachusetts was selected to offer the program to its producers. When NRSC' high tunnel project was announced, Flats Mentor Farm in Massachusetts and its immigrant farmers were able to meet all eligibility requirements as a result of training and technical assistance over the past ten years from various organizations and with USDA support.


Shoppers at farmers' markets may never know how much work went into enabling the produce they enjoy! It took a focused effort coordinated by the Rural Coalition to secure policy changes in the Farm Bill, the adoption of new regulations approving high tunnels as a conservation practice, the creation of pilot funding, and the training and hard work of the staff and farmers at Flats Mentor Farm to deliver results. Sometimes it's best just to savor the flavor and leave the sweaty details to the wonks and farmers!


USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and other Obama administration officials highlighted opportunities available for producers in a video posted on USDA's YouTube channel, which shows high tunnels recently installed in the White House garden.


 

Texas Pushes Back


Southwest Workers Union has joined the Pushback Network, a national collaboration of indigenous, grassroots organizations and networks committed to building bottom-up, state-based alliances that change both the composition and levels of participation of the electorate. The addition of SWU, based in Texas, brings Pushback Network's presence into nine states, and adds new depth to the network's capacity for outreach and mobilization. The Network has built learning and collaborating relationships among community-based organizations through peer learning, resource development and technical assistance in voter turnout and civic engagement.


PCUN Breaks Ground on
The CAPACES Leadership Institute

 

Piñeros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste broke ground on its new CAPACES Leadership Institute (CLI), which provides a structure and home for an innovative approach to collaborative capacity building. CLI serves PCUN and its eight sister organizations, which cover immigrants' rights, farmworker housing, youth leadership, social service, women's economic development, faith-based solidarity, education reform, and voter organizing and civic engagement. Collectively, these organizations have housed 1,000 farmworkers and family members, assisted 6,000 immigrants to gain legal status, and trained 500 parents to advocate for their children in public school.

 

Beyond courses, classes, and one-on-one work, the CLI will facilitate structured conversations on generational change in leadership and issues like the global economic crisis.

 

At least 80 percent of those served by the CLI are Latino immigrants or from Latino immigrant families, more than half are under 35 years of age, 60 percent are women, a sizeable portion has had no formal education in the U.S. and less than eight years of school in Mexico, and most had no prior leadership experience and no formal leadership training.

 

CLI-trained leaders will organize and mobilize thousands of young Latinos — the fast-growing electoral demographic — and educate and engage them to support progressive positions. These two advances alone will significantly close the gap between Latinos' marginal political and labor power, and their immense contributions as workers and consumers.

The Gulf


The extent of the devastation to the Gulf Coast area from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster is unclear, and probably will be for years. Already it has caused extensive and crippling damage to a region battered from a series of hurricanes, most famously Katrina and Rita in 2005, and from loss of wetlands and coast exacerbated by thousands of miles of oil and gas canals and development. (Left, Grand Bayou residents show off concertainers, that were deployed to rebuild the marshes in more optimistic days just a year ago.)

 

A funders' tour sponsored by the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health highlighted visits with groups on the front lines, including Grand Bayou Community United, a group based on the tip of the Birds Foot Peninsula. (Photo right: Rosina Philipe of the Atakapas Nation speaks with donors touring the Grand Bayou Area of Louisiana.)


 

The funders rode with Rosina of Grand Bayou in small boats through the marshes that have sustained her family and her community for generations as she shared her deep knowledge of the coast and its waters. Working with a diverse coalition of coastal communities, GBCU also hosted four Alaskan veterans of the 1989 Valdez spill in Alaska who shared lessons learned from dealing with another huge corporation promising cleanup while delivering pollution. What they heard was not encouraging. Twenty years later, one resident told them, some residents are still dealing with health effects that first appeared after they took to their fishing boats to help with cleanup.







YAHOO! The Washington State Food Policy Executive Order is Official!

In June, Governor Gregoire signed an Executive Order, Strengthening Washington's Food System Through Policy and Collaboration, directing state agencies to collaborate with non-governmental organizations on food policies and programs. The order calls for an assessment of existing food policies and programs, and gaps and issues to be addressed. Among those present at the signing were Ellen Gray (in red sweater, standing behind the governor applauding), executive director of the Washington Sustainable Food & Farming Network.

 

Photo by Paul Haeder

Washington's food and agriculture generates $38 billion dollars annually and grows more apples, cherries, grapes, pears, raspberries than any other state, yet it is 28th in the nation – indicating very low food security.


We lose 70,000 acres of farmland every year, the average age of our farmer is 57, obesity is epidemic and hunger is on the rise. Our local food system needs attention. Collaboration across all sectors of the food system is critical toward addressing these unsustainable trends. We applaud the Governor for taking this important and innovative first step and look forward to the Food Policy Council's recommendation. Ellen Gray, WSFFN executive director

Zoning for Food Gentrification?



FUREE Fights Back!

The problem with gentrification is that it inevitably results in the displacement or removal of low-income people. In May 2004, New York City rezoned downtown Brooklyn in order to promote private development, including 14,000 new or planned luxury housing units. The process was criticized for insufficient community input. Several public housing developments are located in the redevelopment zone, and while public housing residents may have some degree of tenancy stability, their only accessible supermarket has been closed to make way for condominiums.


Land use decisions created a food desert in downtown Brooklyn even as New York City documented the area's below average share of fresh food retailers. As state and city officials heralded other zoning changes aimed at attracting supermarkets and grocery stores to underserved neighborhoods, residents of the three Housing Authority developments were forced to either purchase food at expensive specialty shops or travel long distances to a more affordable supermarket. Families United for Racial and Economic Equity FUREE) organized residents, who worked with members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500, to win shuttle bus service to a supermarket across town. FUREE also worked with the Urban Justice Center to survey residents about their experiences and priorities when it comes to accessing food, document the need for an affordable grocery store in the neighborhood, and recommend improvements to the supermarket incentives initiative, called Food Retail Expansion to Support Health.


The findings were published in December 2009 in Food Fight: Expanding Access to Affordable and Healthy Food in Downtown Brooklyn.


Noyes In Action

2010 Noyes Board of Directors

 




What the Staff's Been Saying and Doing

 

Vic De Luca, Noyes President, was a session presenter at the annual conference of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, speaking about effective diversity policies and practices within philanthropy. He was a luncheon plenary panelist on social justice philanthropy at the conference of the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and moderated a CEO discussion on diversity at Philanthropy New York. Vic also joined the planning committee for the January 2010 Council on Foundation's Family Philanthropy Conference in New York City.

 

In addition, an interview of Vic was included in Diversity in Philanthropy A Strategy for Change, a video providing a final review of the Diversity in Philanthropy Project.

 

Millie Buchanan, Program Officer for Toxics and Environmental Justice, was very involved in organizing funders to support and participate in the U.S. Social Forum. She did phone presentations on the USSF to members of the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, and funder briefings during the Social Forum in Detroit.

 

Wilma Montañez, Program Officer for Reproductive Rights, visited New Mexico where she made presentations in Albuquerque and Santa Fe on reproductive justice issues as part of the program sponsored by the New Mexico Community Foundation. She was joined by Jenifer Getz, Noyes Board Member and great granddaughter of Charles F. Noyes.

 

Wilma and Vic appear in Growing the Reproductive Justice Movement: A Toolkit for Funders, a four-part video series produced by the Women of Color Working Group of the Funders Network on Population, Reproductive Health & Rights.

 

Kolu Zigbi, Program Officer for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, was a planner and discussant for two funder briefings at Philanthropy New York: Nourishing Strong Communities II; and For the Record: Ensuring and Measuring Diversity. She also was a webinar presenter for the National Good Food Network for its session: Linking Diverse Communities Through Healthy Food. In addition, Kolu continued to provide leadership with the emerging New York Food, Jobs and Health funders working group.

 

Kolu spoke on Structural Racism in the Food System at Just Food's Community Supported Agriculture Annual Conference. She also was the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for the Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners conference on What's for Dinner? Food, Farming and Policy in the Black Community.

 

Ann Wiener, Board Member and granddaughter of Charles F. Noyes, spoke at Resource Generation's Creating Change Through Family Philanthropy retreat.

 

The Noyes Foundation co-sponsored the publication of Proxy Preview 10 Helping Foundations Align Investment and Mission. The prime sponsor, As You Sow, seeks to move corporations toward becoming more environmentally and socially responsible through dialogue, shareholder advocacy and innovative legal strategies. Former Noyes Board member and chair, Leslie Lowe, has left the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility after seven years to join As You Sow as a consultant.