DEMANDING CLIMATE ACTION NOW
The People’s Climate March brought nearly 400,000 people to the streets of New York City in September. Also joining the call were activists in more than 2,000 events in 160 countries.
Frontline communities were front and center in New York, organized by the Climate Justice Alliance to demand climate action rooted in justice. The official march press conference highlighted community members from seven frontline communities, including Appalachia’s coalfields, embattled Indigenous lands, urban communities in the shadow of polluting industries, island nations and more.
The following day, CJA and Occupy Wall Street activists took to the streets of Lower Manhattan. Several thousand protesters marched up to the symbolic center of capitalism with the message: "Stop Capitalism. End the Climate Crisis. The economy of the 1% is destroying the planet, flooding our homes, and wrecking our communities." Hundreds participated in a mass sit-in on Wall Street, with about 100 arrested for civil disobedience.
One of the most hopeful things about the march, in addition to numbers that even national media had to notice, including a front-page article in the New York Times and The Wisdom of the Crowd in New Yorker Magazine, was the cooperation and coordination between traditional environmental groups and activists from communities at most risk as climate change accelerates. The flow of the march was organized to prioritize the voices of directly affected communities, who are too often left out of national environmental advocacy.
The first contingent, Front Lines of the Crisis/Forefront of Change, included Indigenous Peoples, environmental justice communities, communities impacted by climate disasters, migrant justice and housing justice groups, farmworkers and domestic workers, and more. They were immediately followed by a banner “We Build the Future” with labor union representatives in the lead. On it went, with the final contingent “To Change Everything, We Need Everyone” emphasizing the overall theme of inclusion. The scope of this event was filmed in Into the Streets by Meerkat Media, which shows a close up look of the people, the march and work behind the scenes of this event.
Celebrities and politicians posed to have their pictures taken with the activists, some even showing up at Wall Street. But there was little sign of enthusiasm for real change inside the conference halls as the United Nations met to debate. Even so, the mass turnout and the broad mix of voices brought new attention not only to the issue of climate disruption, but also to those who are feeling its first effects.
Food Report Irony – Servers Go Hungry
The Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York and the Food Chain Workers Alliance released their report, Food Insecurity of NYC Restaurant Workers – the first wide-ranging look at food security and employment conditions of workers in the restaurant industry. The report states that 41 percent of NYC restaurant workers surveyed are food insecure, and tipped workers are 30 percent more likely to be food insecure than non-tipped workers. "It's ironic that we’re serving food and we are going hungry," said Carolina Portillo, a server and ROC-NY member who conducted surveys with her peers.
On the day the report was released, New York’s Governor Cuomo announced the creation of a Department of Labor Wage Board to consider making changes to the subminimum wage for tipped workers – currently at $5.00 per hour and affecting approximately 229,000 tipped workers across the state. Public hearings are being held by the Department of Labor across the state to help the Wage Board make a recommendation on this issue by January 2015. ROC-NY's fun new, must-see video, Tipped Off, explores, with people on the street, what it's like to be a tipped worker earning $5.00 per hour.
ROC-NY has helped workers win millions of dollars for illegal industry practices; been a key player in winning critical policy campaigns, including a minimum wage increase and paid sick days, built solid employer “roundtables” in both Manhattan and Brooklyn; and trained approximately 2,000 low-wage workers to help them obtain good jobs in the industry.
Over 200 people from NYC participated in the The BLK ProjeK’s 2014 Not Just Talk conference, cosponsored by Green for All and MomsRising. This event provided a forum for fierce food justice moms to discuss school meals, increasing access to healthy food and ending junk food marketing to children. Tanya Fields, director of The BLK Projek opened the event by discussing the need for spaces where communities of color can come together to talk about making changes to improve their communities. Workshop participants discussed community resiliency, safer neighborhoods, environmental equity, and also enjoyed culinary treats and brunch (sponsored by MomsRising), performances and art. Year after year, this event just keeps on growing.
CIW Fair Food Program – Honored by Clinton Global Initiative
Since the Coalition of Immokalee Workers established the Fair Food Standards Council three years ago, it has enlisted 12 of the country's biggest food corporations, including Wal-Mart, McDonald's and Whole Foods, to pay Florida farmworkers one more cent per pound for tomatoes they pick. Its model of worker-led, market-driven social responsibility stands as a potential solution to long-standing exploitation in supply chains beyond the FFP’s current field of operation. To date the program’s “penny per pound” agreements with growers and corporations has provided $14 million to improve poverty-wage worker salaries.
Warns on Fracking
Communities throughout the State of New York celebrated a Court of Appeals’ decision in the Dryden/Middlefield cases, offering a much-needed victory for communities mobilizing to ban fracking. Still, Mari Margil, associate director of the Community Environmental Defense Fund warned in Should Your Town Have the Right to Ban Fracking? These Laws Will Have to Change First, featured in Yes! Magazine, of the ease with which these victories can be overturned “unless the legal foundation for local self-governance is truly built on the rights of communities:”
CATA gets the word out
Due to the hard work of CATA - The Farmworker Support Group and other community organizers, over 176,000 comments were submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on proposed revisions to the Worker Protection Standards, which could have an impact on the more than two million men, women and children working in the fields that are exposed to pesticides. CATA wants the EPA to maximize protections for these workers because exposure to pesticides causes farmworkers to suffer more chemical-related injuries and illnesses than any other workforce nationwide. CATA’s video, The Harmful Effects of Pesticides on Farmworkers raises awareness on this issue.
CATA also recently received approval for a low-power FM radio license, enabling it to begin broadcasting next year to its members and the wider Latino community. The radio station will create a space for them to talk about workplace and communities' questions and concerns.
Check out CATA’s Siembra newsletter for more.
Young Women United based in Albuquerque, NM, advocates for policies that decriminalize drug use and encourage health-based approaches to substance use, including alternatives to incarceration. According to YWU, pregnant women who are substance using are at a dangerous intersection of difficult-to-navigate medical and criminal justice systems. In the process of developing proactive strategies to address these issues, YWU organized a series of working groups with women who had previously been substance using while pregnant. YWU’s report, Everyday Struggles, Everyday Strength, uses these stories to help assess prenatal care and treatment services statewide. This information has helped YWU to create a variety of venues for women to work within their communities and with policymakers to ensure that ‘respectful family friendly’ solutions are put into place, instead of further debilitating communities already ravished by persistent poverty, racism and violence.
Dedicated to Charity Hicks
The U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance dedicated Preliminary Report on Seeds and Seed Practices Across the U.S. to EAT4Health Fellow Charity Hicks who died last July as a result of a hit and run accident in NYC:
Building Reproductive Justice
Last year, Western States Center launched the We are BRAVE (Building Reproductive Autonomy and Voices for Equity) project in response to the onslaught of attacks on reproductive justice nationally. The We are BRAVE Toolkit was the result of WSC's work with over 30 leaders of color, including community health workers, organizers, directors and staff of base-building organizations, professors, students, and faith leaders.
This toolkit is designed to help activists: strengthen their understanding of how work on reproductive justice intersects with immigrant rights, youth movements, health equity and Tribal sovereignty efforts; coach organizations and leaders to take a public stance on reproductive rights and reproductive justice; and foster alliances to build a strong field of reproductive justice advocates. Ultimately, this collaborative effort is designed to elevate diverse communities’ experiences and assists in the pursuit of eliminating systemic barriers that prevent women from exercising sovereignty over their own bodies.
WVFree Releases Women & Water Report
As the state’s leading reproductive health and justice organization, West Virginia Free conducted listening sessions to learn directly from women about their concerns following one of the country’s worst incidents of chemical contamination of drinking water, which affected over 300,000 West Virginians.
The Women and Water report. documents the intersection of reproductive and environmental justice issues. It is being used to educate the public and policymakers on the spill, its implications, and future prevention measures. The report describes how 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, a known irritant and reproductive health toxin is used as soap for ‘cleaning’ coal, one of the state’s most profitable exports. No surprise that there is very little toxicological data available.
At a public hearing, Genevieve Ireland made a statement regarding the chemical spill: “I refuse to drink tap water because I feel it is not safe if pregnant women are warned not to drink it. My friends and I are the future of West Virginia, and we are aware.”
Vic De Luca, President, spoke to investment professionals at the Mercer Hammon Nonprofit and Private Wealth Conference. His topic was Sustainable and Impact Investing: Maximizing Mission and Return. Vic also moderated a webinar by Confluence Philanthropy on Corporate Influence, Food Systems and Shareholder Engagement. Vic’s interview on philanthropic leadership was included in the video of the 2014 Impact Awards of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.
Kolu Zigbi, Program Director for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems and EAT4Health, moderated a panel discussion following the Off-Broadway musical, This Will All Be Yours, "where the past and the future collide on one family's farm."
Wilma Montanez, Program Director for Reproductive Rights, spoke at Philanthropy New York on the different ways and reasons why funding of women and girls is imperative today.
The Noyes Foundation was highlighted as a model for reporting of diversity statistics in The Green Insiders’ Club, the companion piece to the report: The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations & Government Agencies.
The Foundation was also one of nine foundations featured in Foundations Facilitate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, a report by the OMG Center for Collaborative Learning commissioned by the D5 Coalition.
The Noyes Foundation’s Board and staff were well represented at the Environmental Grantmakers Retreat in New Mexico. Here Jaribu Hill, Jim Enote, Millie Buchanan, Nikhil Aziz, Martha Matsuoka and Vic De Luca join Kim Wasserman, 2013 winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize for North America and executive director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization in Chicago.
Dorceta Taylor, former Noyes Board member from the University of Michigan, was joined by Martha, Jim and Nikhil. Dorceta wrote the report “The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations & Government Agencies.”