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“Ain’t no power like the power of the people ‘cause the power of the people don’t stop!” was the message to take away from the Ella Baker Center’s15th Anniversary celebration.
The Ellas brought in hundreds of people: some new energetic activists with fresh faces, some old salty organizers willing to stop at nothing and artists of all ages ready to motivate us through the toughest times through creative and inspirational messaging.
Organizing for environmental and social justice is no easy task and the only way it’s even possible is with the power of the people.


So why do we do it?  Why do we commit ourselves so deeply to challenge the biggest, richest and most powerful corporate interests in attempts to change the existing power structure?

Now these questions will most likely produce an array of answers, just as diverse as the movement.

But, the real answer is that all of us believe in a better world, a better society for our families, children and neighbors.

Last week at the Young Nonprofit Professional Network’s annual party someone asked, ‘What do you do?’  My response was ‘I do Environmental Justice work’ and somehow I felt more empowered just by saying that.

Empowered because I know I am working in solidarity with hundreds of communities, coalitions and other nonprofits around the world.  

Just by empowering one person with the tools they need to be an effective activist, the entire community is lifted up and society will forever be impacted.

And, we will never stop because the more we push the more we win.  We refuse to be defeated.

We believe in clean air for Detroit, a healthy high school for West Oakland students and climate justice for Port Arthur.  We stand together with the residents of Richmond, CA and Durban, South Africa who are both fighting the same fight against big oil.

This work is fun and rewarding, but I do it because I can’t not do it.

We need to “be the change we want to see in the world.”  There is no other work to do until these injustices are rectified.

An injustice to one is an injustice to all and if we don’t come together and take a stand for that, who will?

We just got to keep remembering that there ain’t no power like the power of the people ‘cause the power of the people don’t stop.

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Erin Heany and Natasha Soto from Western New York, send their congratulations to GCM for our ten years of breathing new life into communities.

Courtesy of Politico

Just days after hundreds were arrested in Washington D.C. for protesting the proposed Keystone pipeline, nearly a hundred people perished in a pipeline explosionin Nairobi, Kenya. What costs are we willing to tolerate?

Image from LAProgressive

Pipelines can be dangerous when poorly maintained.  We saw that in San Bruno last year.  Responsibility fell solely on PG&E for poor maintenance, yet PG&E is still trying to hold rate-payers accountable by hiking rates  for upgrades needed to meet safety regulations. Although PG&E already made $10million in rate hikes in 2007 and 2009 designated to repair the exact pipeline which had already been identified as ‘high risk’.  AND, currently, they are still positioned to turn a profit on the San Bruno pipeline explosion.

Getty Images

But, accidents like San Bruno are not isolated to one horrendously mismanaged energy company.

Almost a year after the San Bruno explosion, a pipeline ruptured in Nairobi, Kenya.  It occurred in a slum, where many people live right next to an exposed pipeline.  This caused an instant inferno with limited escape.  Emergency personnel couldn’t even reach the scene in a timely manner due to poor road access that is often seen in low-income areas.

From Detroit Metro Times

 

This environmental injustice and lack of safeguards plague low-income communities around the world.  While residents from countless communities are fighting for their safety through stricter regulations, energy companies in North America are spearheading a new pipeline to run from Canada all the way to Texas in order to carry tar sands heavy crude.  Does anyone think we are really moving in the right direction?  How can we safeguard human health along pipeline routes, is it possible?

The power of the Buckets continues to grow.

From August 4th through 7th, GCM staff participated in and co-sponsored our 3rd international conference. The Campaigner Training Workshop was organized by our India-based partner Community Environmental Monitoring (CEM) and held at Deer Park Institute in Bir, Himachal Pradesh.

We are proud to report that we met the goal of the workshop by training and empowering new and developing environmental and social justice campaigners with practical and important tools to immediately apply in the work of their local communities.

We had an incredible turn out with 50 participants attending the training. These participants came from all over India, nine Indian states were represented: Tamil Nadu, Nagalaand, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Kerala, Delhi, Sikkim, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. GAIA India co-sponsored the event with us.

Additionally, we were joined by folks from the Southeast Asian countries of Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar.

Participants from the host facility, Deer Park, also attended with staff representing Sweden, the Czech Republic and Germany. Deer Park is a Zero Waste facility and is currently actively campaigning on the issue in Himachal Pradesh.

Participants are active on issues ranging from air toxics/communities and industrial pollution, forest rights, zero waste, waste picker rights, pollution and tourism, and hydroelectric project expansions.

The conference began with introductions about the issues and challenges each community is addressing, and the rest of the time focused on workshops covering campaign/organizer tools.

Sessions on campaign and organizer tools included: Researching Corporations, Media, Developing Campaign Materials, Use of Data & Graphs, E-Activism, Fundraising, Photography, Bio Monitoring, Air Monitoring and Fact-finding missions.

Sessions on specific laws were also covered: Right to Information Act, Environmental Impact Assessment, Forest Act, and Public Hearings.

Also, two case studies were examined more in depth: the industrial community of SIPCOT Cuddalore and the pesticide endosulfan.

The weekend closed with a feedback session that included comments from each participant.

We are proud to be helping grow the international environmental health movement and are inspired by the dedication and energy of the activists and organizers who participated in the training.