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.

WEA’s New Partnership to Address Environmental Violence

Project: Shedding Light on Environmental Violence in North America

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We are so proud to be in partnership with The Native Youth Sexual Health Network on a community-based research and advocacy initiative to address the environmental violence Indigenous women and  youth face as a result of extreme extraction.

Everything that impacts the land in turn impacts our bodies.

Visit the link below to learn more about this initiative, how it aims to address the impacts of extractive industries on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of Indigenous communities, how you can get involved or share your knowledge, or other ways you can support.

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Environmental Injustice: Communities on the Frontlines

Project: Coordinating Advocacy to Protect Native Lands and Rights

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One of the key concerns in much of WEA’s work is around the continued presence of environmental racism and environmental violence in Indigenous communities around the world, and how that presence impacts women in particular.  We see this appear in many ways: the siting of hazardous waste facilities, American corporations’ sale and exportation of poisonous pesticides otherwise banned in the U.S., mining and exploitation on Indigenous lands, and much more.

To illustrate this point, here’s an infographic specifically highlighting the impact of hazardous and toxic waste facilities, and abandoned or working mines in racially, ethnically and socially underrepresented communities in the United States.

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