Category: News

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.”

Karenna Gore on the Intersection of Faith, Climate Change, and Social Justice

Originally Published by State of the Planet, Earth Institute at Columbia University

September 25, 2019

By Jeff Berardelli

For the past five years Karenna Gore, age 46, the eldest daughter of former Vice President Al Gore and Tipper Gore, has been working in the family business of climate change. While that may seem an obvious course, given her father’s prominence in the space, the path that led her there, and the methods she is employing to tackle the challenge of climate change, make up her own unique story.

After attending Harvard College, Columbia Law School and working for many years in child justice organizations, Karenna Gore went back to school in 2011, attending Union Theological Seminary.

Affiliated with Columbia University, Union is a historic-looking complex in Morningside Heights, Manhattan. Founded in 1836 by Presbyterian ministers, the vision was to respond to the growing urban social needs of the day with a mix of academics and faith. Today, Union is a training ground for progressive Christian academics, whose community embraces other faith traditions and works on inter-religious engagement and social justice.

Read on for more…

What was your goal in starting the Center for Earth Ethics?

As we were exploring reframing climate change as a moral issue in galvanizing faith-based activism about it, we also explored deeply the root causes, as we saw them, of the crisis that we’re in and we discovered that it’s really two root causes. One is this illusion that we are separate and superior to the whole rest of nature. The other root cause is the development paradigm/ economic growth paradigm — the way that we measure successful societies.

Also…

CEE Announces new affiliation with the Earth Institute at Columbia University beginning October 2019

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CBS News covers climate change at UN General Assembly 2019 – Karenna Gore contributes

Climate Change Front and Center at UN General Assembly 2019

Originally published on CBSNews.com.  September 17, 2019

CBS News’ Pamela Falk covers the Climate Crisis ahead of the UN Climate Summit.  CBS has joined 250 news sources committed to a week of climate coverage – Climate Coverage Now.

“There is good reason why most world leaders consistently identify it as the preeminent and central challenge for humanity in our time,” Karenna Gore, director of the Center for Earth Ethics at the Colombia University-affiliated Union Theological Seminary, told CBS News.

recent CBS News Poll found that a majority of Americans say action needs to be taken right now to address climate change. Most consider it to be at least a “serious problem” — including more than a quarter who say it is a “crisis.”

The U.N.’s Climate Action Summit begins on September 23, and is expected to be a forum to hold countries accountable to the international commitments they made to cut global warming as part of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

That summit will be preceded by the Youth Climate Summit — a gathering of young global climate campaigners who have organized worldwide demonstrations this year. They’re calling for another “global climate strike” this Friday, with 800 events planned in the U.S. alone and corresponding rallies around the world.

The “climate strike” initiative was sparked by teen activist Greta Thunberg, who first made news last year with her solitary strike against climate change in her native Sweden. Since then she has been joined by millions of supporters rallying in more than 150 countries. She told “CBS This Morning” last week that she hopes world leaders will “step out of their comfort zones to prevent the worst consequences from happening.”

“Climate change threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction,” U.N. Special Rapporteur Philip Alston told diplomats recently, warning that “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.”

Read more…

The Remarkable Life of the First Woman on the Harvard Faculty

Alice Hamilton, an expert on public health, foresaw the rise of fascism in Germany.

In late August 1919, 50-year-old Alice Hamilton was sitting onboard a steamship typing quickly on a borrowed Corona typewriter, oblivious to the approaching New York skyline as she finished her return trip from Europe. She wanted to record the searing images she had just seen during an extended tour behind former enemy lines with her friend Jane Addams. In town after town across Germany, she had encountered starvation and disease, in a country reeling from the peace as well as the war, thanks to a continued British blockade designed to force the Germans to accept the harsh terms of the Versailles Treaty. Germany had become, in her words, a “shipwreck of a nation.”

Hamilton knew that the report would not be welcome by most Americans, eager to put the war behind them. Her gender would make it that much easier to dismiss. But she was determined to call Americans to conscience.

Read on…

PBS News Hour Reports on UN Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty Visit

CEE’s Senior Fellow on Environmental Justice and Civic Engagement, Catherine Coleman Flowers, was among those interviewed by PBS for The Story of American Poverty.

More than 18 million Americans live in “extreme poverty,” according to a report from the United Nations, which ranked poverty in the U.S. alongside some of the poorest areas in the world. The UN Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty paid a visit to the U.S. last year, drawing worldwide attention to his findings. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Simon Ostrovsky followed in his footsteps to report from Lowndes County, Alabama. This is part of an ongoing series of reports called “Chasing the Dream,” which reports on poverty and opportunity in America, and is supported in part by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Va NAACP, 28 Members of the General Assembly, CEE File Amicus Brief: Union Hill “deserves our protection and our respect”

See below for the amicus brief filed today with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. According to the brief:

“Amici curiae are 28 members of the Virginia General Assembly, the legislative body for the Commonwealth of Virginia and the longest continuous law-making body in the world; Virginia State Conference NAACP, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons; and the Center for Earth Ethics, a national civic organization working on environmental justice and civic engagement. Together the 28 members of the General Assembly represent over two million Virginians.”

General Assembly members signing on to the brief – all Democrats, not surprisingly – are: Delegate Dawn Adams (D-68th), Delegate Lashrecse Aird (D-63rd), Delegate Hala Alaya (D-51st), Delegate John Bell (D-87th), Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-2nd), Delegate Lee Carter (D-50th), Delegate Kelly Convirs-Fowler (D-21st), Delegate Karrie Delaney (D-67th), Delegate Wendy Gooditis (D-10th), Delegate Elizabeth Guzman (D-31st), Delegate Patrick Hope (D-47th), Delegate Chris Hurst  (D-12th), Delegate Jay Jones (D-89th), Delegate Mark Keam (D-35th), Delegate Kaye Kory (D-38th), Delegate Paul Krizek (D-44th), Delegate Mark Levine  (D-45th), Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-49th), Delegate Kenneth R. Plum (D-36th), Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-11th), Delegate Marcus Simon (D-53rd), Delegate Kathy Tran  (D-42nd), Delegate Cheryl Turpin (D-85th), Delegate Debra Rodman (D-73rd), Delegate Ibraheem Samirah (D-86th), Senator Jennifer Boysko (D-33rd), Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25th) and Senator Lionell Spruill (D-5th).

Here’s a key excerpt from the conclusion (bolding added by me for emphasis):

For the African-American community of Union Hill, the marker of belonging is both life and death: the place where the first generation of free people came to life, and where now their ancestors rest in the ground. Union Hill is a unique, living, breathing community where the American history of slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction resides both in the cemeteries of former slaves and the memory of their descendants. It deserves our protection and our respect. For the above reasons, amici respectfully ask the Court to vacate and remand the permit order for further consideration.

Full article and complete brief here…

CEE Travels to Virginia to Say No to Pipelines

Most content originally published by ARTivism Virginia and Virginians for Justice!

On May, 17, 2019 Virginians and allies from the region walked with Union Hill to demand environmental justice and a stop to the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley fracked gas pipelines. They were joined by William Barber III and Karenna Gore of the Center for Earth Ethics. Returning to the route across the Robert E. Lee Bridge into Richmond traveled by civil rights advocates 51 years ago during Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic Poor People’s Campaign march to Washington D.C., hundreds called for an end to environmental racism and new fossil fuel infrastructure that threatens our ability to protect our homes, our water, and our children’s future.

“We’re not here by accident. Every single one of us is here for a reason. We are all gathered together for a reason. We hold these truths to be self-evident. We will treat each other with equal dignity and justice. We will make democratic self-government work. And we will live responsibly on this planet – it’s a sacred place.” – CEE Director Karenna Gore.

 

“This struggle is going to have global significance…

1968, Dr. King, in true prophetic form declared that we have in our lifetime an opportunity to avoid a natural disaster of grand design and to create a new spirit of economic and social harmony.  An opportunity to write a luminous moral chapter in American history – if we only choose.” – William Barber III

 

 

Jessica Sims of Sierra Club Virginia Chapter led the collaboration of dozens of Virginia environmental and grassroots organizations, including the Virginia Poor People’s Campaign. Musical support was provided by the SUN SiNG Collective of ARTivism Virginia.

Hand in hand, ART and ACTIVISM stoke our imaginations and remind us of our creative, beautiful, renewing, and resilient capacity for change. 

 

Featured here is singer, BJ Brown and speakers Queen Shabazz, Genesis Chapman, Karenna Gore, William Barber II, and Marie Gillespie. Other speakers for this event included: Beth Roach, Pastor Paul Wilson, Evelyn Dent, Lakshmi Fjord, Richard Walker, Andrew Tyler, Swami Dayananda, John Laury, Andrea Miller, Travis Williams and Chad Oba. Other ARTivists included All the Saints Theater, Lilly Bechtel, Tom Burkett, Tom Elliott, Kay Ferguson, Gabe Gavin, DeRon Lark, Jameson Price, Mara Eve Robbins, Graham Smith-White, Laney Sullivan, Siva Stephen Fiske and Joshua Vana.

Many Thanks to ARTivism Virginia – for capturing Walk with Me:

Also:  Video From May 17th March from Chesapeake Climate Action Network

In the News: Faith Leaders March in Protest of the ACP, ABC News 8

Yes Virginia, We Can Stop Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines.  Here’s how.

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“To the River” No Pipeline Anthem written by Joshua Vana, arranged, performed by the SUN SiNG collective . “To the River” was recorded and filmed along the MVP & ACP fracked gas pipeline routes in areas of devastation using the Sun Bus and videographer, Sarah Hazlegrove.

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Herring, Stand with Appalachia: No Mountain Valley Pipeline

May 18th, activists and Artivists also gathered in Leesburg, VA, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s hometown, to ask Herring to stay on the side of the people and clean water.

“We request that Mark Herring
1) halt work on Mountain Valley Pipeline,
2) pursue his lawsuit against MVP to its fullest and refuse to settle the case for petty fines,
3) and affirm the state’s authority to revoke the 401 water quality certification that it granted.”

Speakers included Del. Sam Rasoul, Del. Chris Hurst, Del. Elizabeth Guzman and Professor Emily Hammond, George Washington Law.
The event included music by Rachel Eddy and the SUN SiNG Collective, including  Joshua Vana, Bj Brown, and Graham Smith-White.  And also featured CEE’s Karenna Gore, and Rev. Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus.

Video From May 18th, 2019 – Herring, Stand with Appalachia: No Mountain Valley Pipeline

In the News: Pipeline Protest Comes to Herring’s Hometown

#NoMorePipelines #NoMVP #NoACP#WeAreAllUnionHill

Original Caretakers Participate in the UNPFII 2019 and Side Events in photos

Dr. Mindahi Bastida and Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina of the Center for Earth Ethics Original Caretakers Initiative joined indigenous leaders from around the world in dialogue at the United Nations Headquarters and at events throughout New York City during Earth Week.  Topics included care for the environment, trade agreements and human rights.

At The New School, NYC with Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina, Scholar in Residence at Union Theological Seminary, Center for Earth Ethics.

 

At Columbia University with Tiokasin Ghosthorse of First Voices Indigenous Radio.

 

18 UNPFII — at United Nations Headquarters

 

CEE’s Mindahi Bastida with Tom BK Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network, Paty Gualinga and Grandma Catalina Chumpi

 

With the Siberia-Russian Delegation together with Chandra UNPFII 18

 

Mindahi Bastida with Taily Terena, Brazilian Forest and Land Defender, Youth Activist for Women and Gender