Month: October 2019

Indigenous leaders mobilize in Paris to recognize the rights of “Mother Earth”

biodiversity

Invited by the Amazon Planet Association, Amazonian, Mexican, and Maasai spiritual leaders, people who have been protecting biodiversity for thousands of years, come together to convince world leaders and civil society to treat “Mother Earth” as a rights-bearing entity.

 

Our Earth has a fever, we are worried, we need to unify our energies to save life “.  In a wool vest, with beautiful deep thought and a dense voice, the leader Mindahi Bastida, Otomi Officer of the people of Mexico, powerfully explained, Wednesday, October 23 for mayor of the VI th district of Paris, the immense task which in the eyes indigenous peoples – 370 million people spread over more than 70 countries on five continents – must bring together the inhabitants of this planet ” with whom we travel in the cosmos “.

 

Which ones? Take all necessary measures to respect the sanctity of water, earth, fire and the life cycle. And break with anthropocentrism. ” If the territories of our peoples conceal 80% of the world’s biodiversity, added this doctor in rural development, it is because we have been working for thousands of years to preserve our sacred places.” At his side, the Amazon Ninawa Chief of the Huni Kui people (Brazil), wide headdress of long multicolored feathers, added: ” Can you live without breathing, without drinking? Without food? We are 100% dependent on Mother Nature to survive “. The energetic Maasai Magdalene Kaitei, in a green dress, completed: “In my country, Kenya, home to many wildlife and forests, the spirit of destruction deprives our pastoral farmers of the river water they need to survive . ”

 

These representatives of the “peoples-roots” were united in 2015 in Paris during the COP 21, in constitutive assembly – the alliance of the “Guardians of Mother Nature” – to weigh on the leaders of the world, the United Nations and the civil society, so that they treat “Mother Earth” as an entity with fundamental rights. And with this awareness, abandon the legal systems, inherited in their territories of the time of the colonies, who treat it only as a resource.

 

This Thursday afternoon, they will discuss their initiatives of reforestation, their battles to make their territories sanctuary. With the hope of provoking a sacred union around forests around the world. If their word moves so much their audiences, which many environmental activists of the ANV-COP 21, of Extinction Rebellion which recently occupied the place of the Châtelet and will proceed Friday to a new blocking to support them, it is because they emphasize how much the ecological crisis is also a spiritual crisis that forces us to reflect on the why of our presence on earth. ” Humans have come to take care of life, why have we forgotten the law of origin, how have we come to endanger life?“, calls Mindahi Bastida, for whom, if our institutions do not fulfill this mission, they must disappear.” Everything is transformed “.

 

>> The events take place at the 6th arrondissement of Paris, this Thursday, October 24 from 13:30 to 19 hours. And Sunday, October 27, at Espace Niemeyer, 2 place Colonel Fabien.

 

Sanctuarizing Forests: report

Originally Published by Normandy Chair for Peace

Event organised by Emilie Gaillard, General Coordinator of the Normandy Chair for Peace (Normandy region, CNRS, University of Caen in Normandy), in collaboration with Nadia Tahir (ERLIS, University of Caen in Normandy) and Vassili Rivron (CERREV, University of Caen in Normandy).

Its objective was to address the following points:

  • the Amazon rainforest as subject of deforestation
  • the world view of indigenous peoples: what link with the forest?
  • what impact on the anthropological approach to the relationship with nature?
  • which legal perspectives are open?

Programme:

Workshop with indigenous leaders from the Alliance of Guardians of Mother Nature

  • Magdalene Setia Kaitei, from the Maasaï people (Kenya), Executive Director of Emayian Integrated Development Organization.
  • Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz, Director of the Original Caretakers Program held by the Center for Earth Ethics,  General Coordinator of Otomi-Hñahñu Regional Council (Mexico), guardian of the philosophy and traditions of the Otomi people.
  • Ivanice Pires Tanone, cacique of the indigenous Kariri-Xocó people, one of the rare indigenous women leaders in Brazil.

Screening of the movie « TERRA LIBRE » – Debate with indigenous leaders / Guardians of Mother Nature

« TERRA LIBRE » – A film by Gert-Peter Bruch (125 min. Atmosphere Festival Audience Award). The screening, organized in collaboration with the Lux cinema, was followed by a debate with Gert Peter Bruch and two of the three indigenous leaders: Magdalene Setia K. and Mindahi Bastida. A call to the awakening of consciences, with the guardians of the world living for guides.

In the presence of Gert-Peter Bruch, founder of Planet Amazon. The event was presented by Vassili Rivron (anthropologist, specialist from Brazil, CERREV, University of Caen in Normandy) and Nadia Tahir (Lecturer in Hispanic-American Studies, ERLIS, University of Caen in Normandy).

To initiate the workshop, Mindahi Bastida explained how nowadays sacred lands in central Mexico have been demystified. Lands and territories that indigenous peoples maintain in a collective way to preserve life, are now in danger. From the indigenous perspective, land, water, and air are considered sacred elements and not resources. Therefore, they advocate for the legal recognition of their work protecting the Earth, by asking democratic governments, such as the French Republic, to sign the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention nº169, as a way of international support. In addition, he opens the reflection about how in the middle of this climate crisis, indigenous peoples cannot do this work only by themselves, and how important it is to raise awareness about this global problems that affect us all. He quoted: “What world are we leaving to the future generations? And, what generations are we leaving to the world?”

Read on…

‘Peace With Not Just People, But Also Nature’

Originally Published by The New York Jewish Week

29 October 2019, 5:42 pm

“Most politicians see the Jordan River as a border,” Bromberg said “We see the river as a bridge.”

For environmentalist peacebuilders in the Middle East, solving the climate crisis & the conflict go hand in hand. An interfaith water ceremony here showcased their unique approach.

 

New York City — Experts have long argued that the only way to effectively address the climate crisis is via a concerted, intergovernmental approach. It’s the issue world leaders and policy makers were in New York City to discuss at the United Nations Climate Summit last month and during a series of breakout sessions spread out over the week.

Among the over 150 Climate Week (Sept. 23-29) events and panel discussions, one particular one stood out for its unique approach. Faith leaders and environmentalists from the Middle East and New York came together at the Union Theological Seminary in Harlem for an interfaith water ritual ceremony to honor the shared risks communities and ecosystems face due to climate disruption.

The event was a collaboration of Hudson Riverkeeper, an environmental group that advocates for the Hudson River and its tributaries, the Center For Earth Ethics at the seminary and EcoPeace Middle East, an environmentalist peacemaking NGO with Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian directors.

Under the towering stained glass windows of the James Memorial Chapel, Karenna Gore, director of the Center for Earth Ethics, spoke of the importance of inter-community work and honoring the spiritual aspects of our shared water sources, both the Hudson and Jordan rivers. “This is holy and sacred work, and this gathering is powerful,” she said before welcoming Chief Dwaine Perry of the Ramapough Lenape Nation to share his community’s connection to the Hudson and surrounding land, their ancestral territory.

“Through our lack of connection to the land and the water and our drive to take and build and exploit, we … have ripped so many literal and figurative holes in the world,” Jessica Roff, director of advocacy and engagement at Riverkeeper, said. “From drilling fracking wells across the country, to tunneling pipelines under rivers, to allowing poisons in people’s drinking water, to damming rivers, to blasting giant quarries and then storing toxic materials in them. We have a lot to repair.”

Jordanian Director of EcoPeace Middle East, Yana Abu Taleb, speaks at the interfaith event at the Union Theological Seminary in N.Y.C. during Climate Week. Miriam Groner/JW

Gidon Bromberg, who as the Israeli director of EcoPeace Middle East has made this work his mission over the last 30 years, said it’s no coincidence that the Jordan River is holy to all three Abrahamic faiths. “For Jews the river is a place of miracles, for Christianity it’s the place where Jesus was baptized and for Islam it’s the place where several of the companions of Mohammed are buried.”

Now both rivers are suffering from ecological collapse due to climate change and over-development.

Read the complete article at NY Jewish Week… 

Spiritual waters

Back uptown in the chapel, Bethany Yarrow (daughter of Peter Yarrow) shared a moving musical piece honoring the life-giving nature of water. Later, Rabbi Burton Visotzky, a professor at Jewish Theological Seminary, noted the importance of water in Jewish liturgy and read the prayer for rain Jews recite at the end of Sukkot: “May it be for blessing and not for a curse; may it be for life and not for death; may it be for abundance and not scarcity.”

The environmentalists and faith leaders huddled around a bowl in the center of the chapel and poured from chalices that held water from the Hudson and Jordan rivers.

“It’s a symbol of blessing and to remind ourselves that we are all one,” Gore said.

In typical New York fashion what had been a beautifully sunny day turned grey and windy as the group, a motley mix of environmental activists many who came seeking a spiritual addition to their packed itinerary of Climate Week events, proceeded out of the seminary, down Riverside Drive and west a few blocks to a pier extending onto the Hudson River.

Pouring the water into the Hudson below. Miriam Groner/JW

Steps away from our own wastewater treatment plant, with the New York City skyline on one side and the New Jersey skyline on the other — the Hudson River a border too — Bromberg and Chief Perry poured the water into the waters below. An act of transnational solidarity to honor the life in all our collective waterways.

“Most politicians see the Jordan River as a border,” Bromberg said “We see the river as a bridge.”

Don’t Wait Until Next Week – Choosing to Serve & Protect the Earth Now

BEREISHIT BY BURTON L. VISOTZKYNATHAN AND JANET APPLEMAN PROFESSOR OF MIDRASH AND INTERRELIGIOUS STUDIES

Originally Published to the Jewish Theological Seminary Website

POSTED ON OCTOBER 25, 2019 / 5780 | MAIN COMMENTARY | NATURAL WORLD

Authored together with Karenna Gore, Director, Center for Earth Ethics, Union Theological Seminary

The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world and all its inhabitants. God founded it upon the oceans and set it on the rivers. (Psalm 24:1-2)

As the Jewish community once more begins its annual reading of the Torah, and as we recount the grandeur of God’s creation, we focus on God’s charge to newly created humanity: “The Lord God took Adam and placed him in the Garden of Eden, to serve and protect it.” (Gen. 2:15, authors’ translations).

If we want God’s world to be a garden, a place of beauty and abundance, we must recall God’s warning that we must serve and protect the Earth we have been given. As the book of Ecclesiastes (which Jews just read over Sukkot) tells us, “One generation goes and another generation comes, but the Earth remains forever.” (Eccl. 1:4)

Last month, a new young generation rose up in the streets and demanded action on the global ecological emergency. They made their point that this moment is about saving the climate, in which life on Earth can survive.

The book of Ecclesiastes (9:12) also emphasizes that human lives, like those of every other creature, are not guaranteed: “A person cannot know when their time will come any more than a fish taken in an evil net or birds caught in a trap; so people are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.

Creation is not merely the material substance of the Earth, Creation is also the laws of nature—gravity, the carbon cycle, the physics and metaphysics of cause and effect. Our rational minds and bodily senses can align with them and we can change our actions so as to help us escape the “evil net” in which we have ensnared ourselves.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, issued a detailed report this summer stating that “Climate change threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction . . . It could push more than 120 million more people into poverty by 2030 and will have the most severe impact in poor countries, regions, and the places poor people live and work.”

Think about what is changing in God’s creation before our very eyes. Did you eat apples and honey over the New Year? Our pesticides are wiping out the bees. We are already facing a crisis of less pollen, fewer apples, more expensive honey. And it’s not just the bees. The birds are affected, too. The New York Times reported that there are 2.9 billion fewer birds in North America than there were a half-century ago. Almost 3 billion birds—that’s a whole lot of canaries in the coal mine that is our fossil fuel-burning world.

But it goes even further than burning atmosphere-destroying coal, oil, and methane gas. In the Amazon forest they are burning trees, the very “lungs” of our world, in order to clear land for development. The same trees that exchange carbon and make the planet more breathable are literally going up in smoke.

We are all painfully aware of climate disorders: more frequent and stronger storms and hurricanes, palpably hotter summers, wildfires, droughts, melting ice-caps and glaciers, waters rising to slowly but surely inundate our coastal cities. And we all have been horrified at seeing the immense islands of plastics polluting our oceans: strangling birds and fish, and poisoning the water.

We live among a Great Extinction wave, with 1 million species threatened to disappear from the Earth due to the destruction of their habitat and the warming of the planet. We can and should make changes in our communities—to serve the Earth and protect it, by saying no to single-use plastics, switching to solar and wind sources, working for energy efficiency, conserving forests, and planting trees.

We have what we need to make this right; we need only make the choice to heed the Torah’s warnings. At this time of harvest, of cycles, of new beginnings, let us stand with our children and grandchildren, and make the choice for the sacred regeneration of life.

When God created the world, a cosmic clock began to tick. It ticks now toward disaster, much as it did during the first 10 generations that humanity lived upon the earth. Even as we read the Torah’s glorious account of the six days of creation, before this Shabbat’s Torah reading has come to an end we learn that “When God saw that humanity’s evil was great upon the earth . . . God regretted creating humanity on the earth, it pained God’s heart. So God said, “I will blot out the humans I created from the face of the earth” (Gen. 6:5-7).

We know how that story ended. Next week’s Torah reading tells the story of the great flood that destroyed almost all of humanity. Humanity is once more at the same inflection point. Start saving the Earth today, now, before it is truly too late. Don’t wait until next week!

The publication and distribution of the JTS Commentary are made possible by a generous grant from Rita Dee (z”l) and Harold Hassenfeld (z”l).

PLEASE ENJOY…

Indigenous Science of Time

In this video, Jennifer Wemigwans, professor at University of Toronto, and author of A Digital Bundle, Protecting and Promoting Indigenous Knowledge Online, explains Geraldine Ann Patrick’s approach to Maya conception of time and how, contrary to what Maya scholars have said for the past five hundred years, Mesoamerican calendars did have a way to account for the extra quarter day every year which in Western astronomy leads to the leap day. This video provides an excellent visual support to explain how the four extra quarter days are included in the sequence of four years.  Geraldine is a Center for Earth Ethics Original Caretakers Initiative Fellow and a Union Theological Seminary Scholar in Residence. Please watch and share!
 
Heber Brown III | Facebook | Fair Use

On Faith and Food Disparities

 

Last week, Rev. Dr. Heber Brown joined the webinar series CEE hosts with the Climate Reality Project. 

Through the work at his church, Pleasant Hope Baptist, and the organization he founded, the Black Church Food Security Network, He and his congregation are attempting to unravel the strangle hold Food Apartheid Zones – more commonly know as Food Deserts – have on black and brown communities throughout Baltimore and around the country. The semantics between Food Desert and Food Apartheids is important. A desert, as Rev. Brown relays, is a naturally occurring phenomenon. Their being is necessary to the vitality of creation as a whole and foster life found nowhere else.

There is nothing natural about apartheid. By definition, apartheid is “a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race” that is intended to harm or disadvantage an entire population. What we see with Food Apartheid are entire communities shut off from healthy, life sustaining foods. It is a conscious decision by grocery chains not to open stores in these locations because they don’t believe the communities will support their profit margins, think them too dangerous, or even that the communities wouldn’t know what to do with the fruits and veggies even if they were made available. Within this are layers of discrimination and racism that form a boot of oppression not easily lifted.

In this webinar, Rev. Brown helps unravel the history of  Food Apartheids, the misinformation that surround them, and actions that communities can take to reclaim power of their own food systems.

David Beats Goliath: Update on Louisiana Pipelines & Cancer Alley

After a sweltering summertime march to draw attention to the high death rates of now infamously titled Cancer Alley, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade has put out the Press Release below.

A March Through Heat, Felony Threats, and Pollution Brings Louisiana’s Cancer Alley to Governor’s Attention – DeSmogBlog

The Guardian’s Series of Reports on Cancer Alley

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PRESS RELEASE | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                               

September 6, 2019​

David Beats Goliath
Wanhua Chemical Withdraws Project in St. James Parish
Victory for grassroots groups standing up for health and property values

(Convent, Louisiana) — In capitulation to the power of local opposition, Wanhua Chemical has formally withdrawn its land use application to build a $1 billion dollar facility in St. James Parish. Opponents’ appeal and law suit slowed the project, making the Chinese owned company vulnerable to economic changes and additional scrutiny.  “This is a victory for all of us in St. James Parish,” said Sharon Lavigne, President of RISE St. James, a group that has long opposed construction on grounds that it would endanger parish residents and reduce property values. “We aren’t just going to sit back and accept that it’s open season for industry to build in St. James Parish. We are ready to fight, and next up is Formosa.”

Legal challenges to the Wanhua project – including an appeal of the land use decision and an open meetings law suit – were filed by the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic on behalf of clients Genevieve Butler, Pastor Harry Joseph and the organizations RISE St. James and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.  “I’m glad that Wanhua is gone,” said Pastor Joseph. “They were coming with all kind of sneakiness and our parish might have been in trouble. I am glad that the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic gave the Parish Council an idea of some of the problems. We don’t have to worry about Wanhua and hopefully with Formosa, they will withdraw their plans.”

The project raised concerns about the proposed emissions in the parish. “I am happy with these results,” said Eve Butler, a resident of St. James. “We hope that before anything else is let in we can have an environmental impact statement in the parish.”

Wanhua had requested help with tariff exemptions from Senator Bill Cassidy, whose office had ongoing communication with Wanhua representatives. Wanhua’s announcement today came after months of doublespeak by company representatives. The company now plans to build its facility in a different part of the U.S., contradicting its public claim that tariffs were the reason for cancelling the project. Company reports also showed that Wanhua is owned by the Chinese government despite statements to the parish government denying that fact. The company’s promise of local jobs was belied by job ads requiring residence in Houston and Baton Rouge. “St. James Parish officials were told half-truths and evasions by a big foreign company that wanted to come here and use our state as its dumping ground,” said Anne Rolfes of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “It was ordinary people who spotted the bad deal and stopped it. Today Wanhua, tomorrow Formosa.”

In June, the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic filed the appeal of the parish planning commission’s approval of Wanhua. The project crumbled during the delay, after the Parish Council voted unanimously on the appeal to remand the approval back to the Planning Commission. In the appeal, the petitioners opposed construction of Wanhua because of the hazardous air pollutants, the unfair concentration of polluting industry in the parish’s African American districts and the resulting destruction of property values. Wanhua planned to have the chemical phosgene on site, a toxic substance used for chemical warfare in World War I and for which there is no safe level of exposure. Tariff exemptions were critical to the project, as Wanhua planned to build most of the facility in China and import it and assemble it in St. James.

Today’s announcement came as welcome news to Wanhua’s nearest neighbors. “My great-great-great-great grandmother came out of slavery and bought my family’s land,” said Barbara Washington of RISE whose home is near the proposed site. “Our hard work has paid off. We will not stop til all those industries who want to come in here change their plans. We are tired of being sick. We refuse to be sick anymore. Don’t even try to come into St. James. We will not allow it.”

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RISE St. James is a faith based organization fighting for the removal of harmful petrochemicals in the land, air, water and bodies, of the people, of St. James Parish.

Louisiana Bucket Brigade uses grassroots action to support communities impacted by the petrochemical industry and hasten the transition from fossil fuels.


Get Involved! Contact: 

Anne Rolfes, Director, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, [email protected]

Eve Butler, St. James resident
Sharon Lavigne, President, RISE St. James
Barbara Washington, RISE St. James and Wanhua neighbor