For 100 years, people, mostly blacks, have lived next door to the booming Chevron Richmond Refinery built by Standard Oil, a plant so huge it can process 240,000 barrels of crude oil a day. Hundreds of tanks holding millions of barrels of raw crude dot 2,900 acres of property on a hilly peninsula overlooking the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. Five thousand miles of pipeline there move gasoline, jet fuel, diesel and other chemical products.
During World War II, African Americans like Clark’s family moved to homes in the shadow of this refinery because they had nowhere else to go. Coming to California looking for opportunity, they quickly learned that white neighborhoods and subdivisions didn’t want them.
The people of Richmond live within a ring of five major oil refineries, three chemical companies, eight Superfund sites, dozens of other toxic waste sites, highways, two rail yards, ports and marine terminals where tankers dock. The city of 103,701 doesn’t share the demographic of San Francisco, 25 miles to the south, or even Contra Costa County, or the state as a whole.
In North Richmond — the tiny, unincorporated neighbor of Richmond — Latinos, blacks and Asians make up 97 percent of the 3,717 residents, compared with 82.9 percent in Richmond and 59.9 percent in California, according to 2010 U.S. Census figures.
Most houses sell for below $100,000, among the lowest prices in the Bay Area, in the zip code shared with the Chevron refinery, and residents complain of a lack of paved streets, lighting and basic services. Short on jobs and long on poverty, there’s not a grocery store or cafe in sight. The median income in North Richmond, $36,875 in 2010, is less than Richmond’s modest $54,012 and less than half of Contra Costa County’s $78,385.
An Interview with Dr Vandana Shiva, one of the world's foremost environmentalist, anti-GM activist and an advocate of ecological farming and sustainable agriculture as a solution to climate change, food security, hunger and peace. The interview was taken on 16th March 2011, during "Grandmonther's University" a three day course at Navdanya Biodiversity Farm at Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India which Dr. Vandana Shiva founded in 1987 to help save traditional seeds. The farm also undertakes research and training, along with the important role of distributing native seeds to farmers in the region.
Please see the full article at http://www.ecowalkthetalk.com/blog/2011/
The interview was conducted by Geraldine, Emiliano and Bhavani. Bhavani Prakash is the Founder of http://www.ecowalkthetalk.com
Using simple locally manufactured machines that run on just water, these men and women are turning grass, leaves, and numerous agricultural fibres into handmade tree-free paper, and pulp, pens, string, books, post cards, new generation organic packaging, envelopes, invitation journals, sometimes biogas among many other products.
Mapepa - that is the project’s name. Through partnerships with other marketing agents, the products are sold to local and international artists, designers, distributors, retailers, tourists and hoteliers. People are making a “good living” out of this, recycling trash.
Chief executive Mr Walter Ruprecht, who is the founder and brains behind Mapepa, said the aim was to create opportunities for disadvantaged people through environmentally-friendly strategies.
“Yes, we are working very hard to educate and develop Clean Development Mechanism desks with a view of implementing sustainable community empowerment programmes utilising waste management as our catalyst to empowerment,” he said.
“Mapepa is a vital opportunity for over 450 men and women to improve their lives and those of their families in spite of the dismal situation they find themselves in. The programme is adopting fair practice and an effective mitigation against climate change and global warming, land degradation, desertification and also produces own renewable energy.”
The Mapepa products are made using mainly the Marina Bush Mill, a fossil fuel free machine designed and built by Mr Ruprecht in Harare in 1989. Mr Ruprecht, a Zimbabwean technician engineer, has also built some of the smallest, simple and complete eco-paper mills in Africa, which are being utilised alongside the Marina Mill in Mabvuku and elsewhere.
Running only on water, and without electricity, the hand-operated Marina Bush Mill is capable of reducing waste paper and a range of grass, leaves, bananas, river reeds or agricultural fibres such as maize and cotton into pulp within minutes.
Women and men are trained in simple and disciplined book binding techniques, box making, pulp painting, Mapepa sculpture, casting, and maintaining ancient cultural habits such as hand-spun fibre to make hand-spun string. At the mill, three to six people are working, which has also opened new opportunities for young sheetmetal workers, carpenters and weavers.
The vertical garden aims to scrub away both the filth and the image. One of three eco-sculptures installed across the city by a nonprofit called VerdMX, the arch is both art and oxygenator. It catches the eye. And it also helps clean the air.
“The main priority for vertical gardens is to transform the city,” said Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, 30, the architect who designed the sculptures. “It’s a way to intervene in the environment.”
Many cities have green reputations — Portland, Ore., even has its own vertical gardens. But in the developing world, where middle classes are growing along with consumption, waste and energy use, Mexico City is a brave new world. The laughingstock has become the leader as the air has gone from legendarily bad to much improved. Ozone levels and other pollution measures now place it on roughly the same level as the (also cleaner) air above Los Angeles.
“Both L.A. and Mexico City have improved but in Mexico City, the change has been a lot more,” said Luisa Molina, a research scientist with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has done extensive pollution comparisons. Mexico “is very advanced not just in terms of Latin America, but around the world. When I go to China, they all want to hear the story of Mexico.”
Partly, it is policy. Starting in the 1980s, Mexico’s government created mandates that reformulated gasoline, closed or moved toxic factories, and banned most drivers from using their cars one day a week. More recently, Mexico City added a popular free bicycle loan program and expanded public transportation systems.
Environmentalists are far less impressed with double-decker highways still under construction. But even the most optimistic Mexicans have never expected government to create “the best of all possible worlds,” to quote the character Pangloss in “Candide,” so many here prefer to rave about citizen-driven, cooperative efforts like VerdMX.
Mexico City has become an incubator for these kinds of groups, which mix corporate financing with new ideas. Some say the activity stems from the tangible nature of the problem; bad pollution is felt in the scratchy throats of all. But regardless, among the young, hip and educated — those opening new boutiques for modern Mexican design, and partying at the Vive Latino music festival — there is a growing civic consciousness.
Natasha Bowens was living in Washington, D.C. and working for the Center for American Progress as a healthcare advocate, earning a livable $35,000 per year, when she began longing to live and work on a farm, to put her hands into the dirt and cultivate fruits and vegetables.
In December 2009, the University of Florida graduate packed her bags and headed to Argentina for three weeks to do just that. The then-25-year-old was already an environmental activist and was starting to believe that one of the best ways to protect the environment and improve health was to grow food responsibly.
When she returned from Argentina, she began Google searching urban farms and community gardens where she could work in exchange for housing and food. She found a farm she liked in Brooklyn and in July 2010, with $1,300 in savings, quit her job and headed there.
Her journey — which she documented for the online magazine Grist — has been eye-opening, not only for her, but for dozens more black farmers and black-farmer-wannabes, who seldom see themselves represented in agriculture.
A century-and-a-half after plantation slavery, the last thing many black people want to be associated with is working on a farm and that’s exactly what Bowens and her fellow farmers want to change.
“A lot of my black friends are like, ‘What are you doing? You’re going back to picking cotton?’” Bowens says. “I kept hearing this kind of stigma especially from youth, from a lot of first generation immigrant youth whose parents would, over their dead bodies, let their youth go into farming.”
Yet farming is one way that black communities can increase their control over their food supply, reducing food deserts, hunger and the health problems that stem from them. It’s called food justice.
“It’s a beautiful, powerful thing to be able to feed your own community and we should be the ones to lead the way,” Bowens adds.MORE
The Ohkay Owingeh Tribe and Pueblo in New Mexico has returned to its roots with an award-winning, mixed-income housing project based on traditional Native forms. It's an exciting and inspiring project.
Built by the Ohkay Owingeh Housing Authority explicitly as an alternative to sprawl-type housing, Tsigo Bugeh Village is a $5.3 million residential community that reflects traditional pueblo living with attached units divided around two plazas, one oriented to the solstice and the other to the equinox, as the tribe’s original pueblo was built. As the Housing Authority’s website points out, the homes are attached, their scale and massing similar to the original Ohkay Owingeh pueblo: “this is key to our architectural heritage, and the idea of community living that is central to our way of life.”....
The Village was built pursuant to a larger master plan to guide the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo’s future. Bestowing a national award for smart growth achievement in 2004 (when the pueblo was known as the San Juan Pueblo), the federal Environmental Protection Agency hailed the plan as the first smart growth model for Native American tribes:
“It provides a long-term growth strategy, coordinates existing infrastructure with housing and commercial development, preserves the walkable historic plazas, and encourages retail and commercial uses in a ‘main street’ style. The plan also includes design guidelines that enhance the traditional building pattern to preserve the architectural heritage of the pueblo, fostering a distinctive sense of place.”
The Housing Authority’s website points out that “Tribal leaders realized that continuing to develop sprawl housing would severely limit the land base for agricultural use and open space for future generations.” A premium was placed on involvement from the Tribal community and respect for the Pueblo’s traditions:
One outcome of Occupy can be foretold by the example of Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement or Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST). Today, 350,000 families occupy 20 million acres of land, a challenge to global capital, which has setup white picket fences around the world, cordoning off what was once the commons. MST’s flag celebrates the industry of the landless worker, represented by a couple holding aloft a machete, and their willingness to fight for land reform, with blood if necessary. This flag accompanied MST leader Janaina Stronzake, when she visited the Occupy Wall Street encampment, before it was evicted from Zuccotti Park. “Occupation was a time to grow,” she told the assembly, “To grow education, empowerment, and food community.” The crowd echoed after her, amplifying Janaina’s words using the human microphone, “Occupy, Resist, and Grow!”
Janaina grew up in a MST occupation. Her family lost their land to banks in the late 1970s because, like many family farmers in the global south at the time, they borrowed money in order to adopt industrial agricultural techniques. Indebted and unable to pay back what they owed, the bank seized their land, displacing newborn Janaina, her eight older brothers, and parents to the city, where they survived precariously as field laborers. But, in 1985, her family joined the MST and they moved into a camp, with 225 other families, for two years, where they studied and prepared to occupy land in the western part of the Parana state.MORe
“The writer cannot be a mere storyteller; he cannot be a mere teacher; he cannot merely X-ray society’s weaknesses, its ills, its perils. He or she must be actively involved shaping its present and its future.”
Nigerian environmentalist, author, and television producer Ken Saro-Wiwa lived and died by the words above. Born on October 10, 1941, Kenule “Ken” Beeson Saro Wiwa was an Ogoni (an ethnic minority in Nigeria). Ogoniland, located in the Niger Delta, is rich in oil that has been looted by the petroleum industry — with the explicit consent of the Nigerian government — for decades. As a result, the Niger Delta is listed as one of the most polluted places in the world; its population is poor and powerless.
Saro-Wiwa spent a great deal of his life and resources trying to fight against the environmental destruction of the land and waters of Ogoniland. He founded the non-violent organization Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) as a way to bring international attention to the plight of his people. An outspoken critic of the Nigerian government and the multi-national oil companies, Saro-Wiwa was arrested and detained numerous times on bogus charges. A prolific writer, he authored many books about his imprisonment, such as Before I am Hanged and A Month and a Day.
In 1994, the Nigerian government under General Sani Abacha charged Saro-Wiwa and eight others with inciting the murders of four conservative Ogoni chiefs. Despite numerous evidence of witness tampering, the nine men were convicted and sentenced to death by a military tribunal. In his closing statement, Saro-Wiwa called out both his government and the Royal Dutch Shell Company:
In a small village in Nigeria, a solution has been applied to not only provide shelter in a poverty stricken country, but find a use for refuse. Packing sand into plastic bottles is a technique that started nine years ago in India, South and Central America. Named “bottle brick” technology, the compacted sand inside the bottles is almost 20 times stronger than bricks. The best part is that in a region that does not have much money to spend on building materials, the houses are estimated to cost 1/3 of a house made of concrete and bricks.
Adding to the appeal of the simple technology, the houses are ideal for the hot Nigerian climate because the bottle bricks buffer the house from the intense heat. Also, in a place known for violence, the houses are completely bullet proof. Bottles are mostly sourced from hotels, restaurants, homes and foreign embassies, so the 500 million bottles that are discarded each year in Nigeria alone are literally finding new homes instead of landfills or the ocean. The circular houses look cool too with the exposed round bottles producing a unique design.MORE
(CNN) -- Kenyan Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the Nobel Peace Prize, died Monday of an unspecified illness. She was 71.
"It is with great sadness that the Green Belt Movement announces the passing of its founder and chair, Prof. Wangari Muta Maathai, after a long illness bravely borne," her organization said.
Maathai, an environmentalist, had long campaigned for human rights and the empowerment of Africa's most impoverished people.
More than 30 years ago she founded the Green Belt Movement, a tree-planting campaign to simultaneously mitigate deforestation and to give locals, especially women and girls, new purpose. They have since planted more than 40 million trees.
In 2004, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote sustainable development, democracy and peace. She was the first woman from the continent to win the prize.
"Her departure is untimely and a very great loss to all of us who knew her—as a mother, relative, co-worker, colleague, role model, and heroine—or those who admired her determination to make the world a peaceful, healthy, and better place for all of us," said Karanja Njoroge, executive director of the Green Belt Movement.
Born in Nyeri, Kenya, on April 1, 1940, Maathai blazed many trails in her life.
She was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. In December 2002, she was elected to Kenya's parliament with an overwhelming 98% of the vote.MORE
In this video I talk about a new publication of mine in the book "Black Imagination" and how I utilize a critical ecofeminist vegan analysis of the heroine Lilith in Octavia Butler's Dawn.
Once again thousands of protesters have poured into streets of Tabriz and Urmia in Iran's Azerbaijan region on Saturday to call on the Iranian government to save the dying Urmia Lake, one of the world's largest salt water lakes.
From dying lake to saving country
Iranian authorities quickly reacted by repressing protesters. The news was censored in Iran-based media, but several video were posted on YouTube and bloggers flooded cyber world with their posts. Blogger Urmuiscierli writes [fa] that there were battles on the streets with security forces beating up and arresting protesters, and even tying them to trees. Some bloggers called on more Iranians to support the Azeri activists and relaunch anti-regime demonstrations around country.
The construction of a dam on part of the lake, accompanied by a recent drought has significantly decreased the annual amount of water Urmia receives. This in turn has increased the salinity, repelling many birds and threatening permanent damage to the ecosystem. If the lake dries out, millions of people in the region will need to resettle to survive.MORE
The government of Mozambique is ceding 6 million hectares [pt] of land to Brazilian farmers (this corresponds to two-thirds of the landmass of Portugal) to grow soy, cotton and corn in the northern provinces Niassa, Cabo Delgado, Nampula and Zambézia. The idea is to draw on the Brazilian experience in the Cerrado (Brazil's savanna), where since the 1960s the agricultural frontier has advanced into the interior with industrial livestock and soy plantations.
In Brazil, this inward push of agriculture and meat production has led to the devastation of 80% of the Cerrado, which is recognized as one the richest grasslands in the world in terms of biodiversity. The degradation of this habitat, which occupies a quarter of Brazilian land, has drained and polluted the hydrological basins of the region, considered the principal water sources of the country.
With the deal from the Mozambican government, the Brazilian agricultural frontier is now set to cross the Atlantic Ocean towards the African Savanna. For geographer Eli Alvez Penha, author of the book, “Relações Brasil-África e Geopolítica do Atlântico” (”Brazil-Africa Relations and the Geopolitics of the Atlantic”), the “ecological and cultural similarities” means there is a “good ecological match” between Brazil and the African continent.
In an interview [pt] on the website of the Federal University of Bahia Press, Penha discusses, among other things, a comment by Kenyan agricultural specialist Calistous Juma that “for each African problem, there exists a Brazilian solution.” Penha adds, “I would say, that the reverse is also true.”
Brazilian agribusiness, based on the depletion of natural resources, now hopes to export its unsustainable model of GMO seeds, soil management that leads to degradation, and land exploitation based on a failed model of agrarian reform. As early as 2006, the website Repórter Brasil [pt] pointed out the new direction for the Brazilian agricultural frontier:MORE
This will end well.
Like Witchsistah said today...
One thing I love about all the current and past talk about environmentalism (and by love I mean side-eye and severely smirk at) how First World Whites are all about blaming ALL of mankind for the current polluted state of the earth. "We need to save the planet!" "We are destroying the earth!"
Um, who is this "We," White folks?
Why not put blame where blame is due on Industrial Revolution-derived, White Western technologies?
As well as greedy-assed, I will steal your shit and how dare you try to stop me fuckery like this???? Why not, indeed?