Weathering the Storms Together: Grassroots Women’s Response to Climate Change

Project: Planting Seeds of Resilience in Southern India

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WEA shares our thoughts on women, climate change and more in Earth Island Journal‘s online edition.

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“Tomorrow, September 29, is Global Women’s Climate Justice Day of Action. As nations prepare for the UN COP21 climate negotiations in Paris, women across the world will tell their stories, demonstrate their solutions, and demand that our world leaders take meaningful action on climate change. As the late Dr. Wangari Maathai said, “…not only are women bearing the brunt of environmental and development setbacks — they are also a powerful source of hope in tackling climate and other environmental threats, and their voices must be heard.”

On this day of action, we have a chance to remind our global community that when we invest in women, we invest in food and economic security, community health and protection of land and our precious natural resources. Join us as we deepen the conversation: how can we powerfully stand with the leadership of grassroots women leaders who are on the forefront of struggle and transformation? Because when grassroots leaders can share best practices, access resources, and take collective action, they build a foundation that communities can stand on to weather storms together.”

Read the full article here.  And we’d love to hear how women in your life are driving solutions to change!

Everything Connnected to the Land is Connected to our Bodies

Project: Shedding Light on Environmental Violence in North America

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The links between land and body have never been more apparent than in recent years, with extractive industries drilling, mining and fracking lands on or near traditional Indigenous territories, providing economic benefits to transnational corporations and national economies at a cost impacted communities are still grappling to understand. A cost most deeply felt by Indigenous women and young people.

This is why WEA is currently working in partnership with Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN) to explore this critical intersection and ways to support the leadership of young Indigenous women who are resisting environmental violence in their communities.

To learn more about this work, please visit our website.

This beautiful piece was done by WEA Intern, Katie Douglas, for WEA’s initiative on environmental violence.

 

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From the artist: Each day that I spend interning at WEA teaches me more on the intersectionality that binds women’s rights, indigenous communities, and the environment. While the natural symmetry of these three elements is beautiful, the reality of their existence in our world is often one of destruction and injustice. As the greed of industry spreads, it is impossible not to see the direct correlation between detrimental environmental practices and their impacts on women with regard to health, culture, and actions of violence. From this, I was inspired to create an image that could begin to express humanity’s violation of the Earth as a parallel to humanity’s violation of the women’s bodies.

The open copper pit mine of the her belly shows that humanity is not only extracting Earth’s resources, but also that by plundering straight from her womb we are destroying any chance of future life. An oil well symbolizes the pollution that degrades the environment of so many native communities, while the flag is a symbol of the widespread domination of the Earth, indigenous peoples and women. Deforestation and waste are represented by the stump and can, and placed on her breasts to show our extreme dependence on these non-renewable resources. Despite the bleak outlook of the image, the ball of light in her hand represents my feeling of hope. Because if WEA has taught me anything, it is to trust to in the immense and impenetrable power that women hold in our hands to change this world for the better.

A Mother’s Day Call to Protect the Earth

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This Sunday is the day of the mother, the day we honor the source of life. As we give thanks for our very existence, for all the nurturing and resources our mothers provide for us so that we may grow and thrive, we also celebrate our shared mother—the Earth itself. Without her flowing waters, warm sun, rich soil and fresh air, even our most advanced technologies wouldn’t be able to sustain our collective life here. 

It feels like just yesterday that WEA’s Co-Directors, Melinda and Amira, were both becoming new mothers—and then mothers once more! But today, they each have two sons, all under the age of three, and it’s taken us just a moment to realize how quickly time has flown. 

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The women of RENAMITT. Photo by: Semillas, a partner of WEA

At its heart, our work here at WEA has always been about nurturing women at the grassrootshonoring and uplifting the work of women and community caregivers around the world who are mothering children and mothering movements. We do this because we recognize the undeniable connection between our experiences as women—as mothers—and the experiences of our first mother, our shared planet earth. 

Last week, WEA had the oppotunity to attend the Indigenous Birthways convening at  BirthKeepers Summit here in Berkeley, CA. There, we heard Mohawk elder and midwife, Katsi Cook, speak about these links, and her wisdom is reflected in her written work. “Women are the first environment,” she teaches. “We are privileged to be the doorway to life. At the breast of women, the generations are nourished and sustained. From the bodies of women flow the relationship of these generations both to society and to the natural world. In this way is the earth our mother, the old people said. In this way, we as women are the earth.” 

Our grassroots partners around the world remind us of the truth in these words. In India, the traditional knowledge women hold of seed saving, home gardens and climate adaptation help rural communities usher in locally-centered and sustainable futures. And in North America, young indigenous women leaders resisting environmental violence bear witness to the simple truth that everything connected to the land is connected to our bodies. 

These fierce women are birthing transformation, not only in their communities, but in the world. WEA is committed to standing alongside these leaders as they do the essential work of safeguarding our environment and generations to come. 

This Mother’s Day, please consider making a tax-deductible gift in honor of Mother Earth and the amazing mothers in your world. Your contribution will help us to continue supporting grassroots women today who are stepping forward to demand clean water and healthy food, protect sacred lands and traditional knowledge, resist dirty energy that harms our lands and bodies, and design sustainable solutions.

Most of all, we invite you to take a moment today to stand on the earth, give thanks for all that she provides, and make a commitment to protect her, for the sake of future generations and all life.

We wish you a peaceful Mother’s Day.

Seeking Solar Power Instead of the Grid

Project: Native Women Leaders and Advocates Promoting Energy Justice

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For many, electricity is a luxury; it can even be magical. Derrick Terry remembers the first winter when there were lights on at his grandmother’s house.

“You see the Christmas lights in the distance, it’s like seeing that unicorn,” he says. “It’s an indescribable feeling, I guess, when you first get electricity.”

Many Native Americans living on reservations live off the power grid. More than half live at or below the poverty line, and the the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 40% of Navajos live without power. It can cost up to $50,000 to extend the power lines by one mile.

So many are turning to a much more cost effective option: Solar power. One solar panel, large enough to provide energy to a home, costs about $17,000. The maintenance and upkeep cost per month? $75.

Find the full story on NPR here.

Keystone XL Pipeline: The Effects on the Environment and Indigenous People

Project: Coordinating Advocacy to Protect Native Lands and Rights

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“I urge our allies to stand with Native people, heed our call for systemic change to how we create and utilize energy and the policies that regulate both, support our right to self-determination, and join our movement to protect the territorial integrity and sacredness of Mother Earth.”                    

 –Dallas Goldtooth

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Dallas Goldtooth, the Keystone XL Campaign Organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network, wrote a fantastic article concerning the devastating effects the 1,179 mile long oil pipeline would have on drinking water, tar sand development, carbon emissions, and especially the indigenous people. As an Oceti Sakowin, he cannot remain silent with the possibility of his people’s traditional knowledge and teachings totally being disregarded. WEA’s comments to the State Department on the Environmental Impact Statement for the pipeline, along with the collective effort of indigenous people, helped to delay the approval of the pipeline project.