The US fracking experience, according to Food and Water Watch Director Wenonah Hauter, should be a cautionary tale for movements on the other side of the Atlantic. In a recent short interview before the presentation of her book in Ireland, we spoke with the internationally renowned expert on the importance of connecting struggles in different places and learning from examples of successful resistance in order to strengthen the anti-fracking movement in Europe and internationally.
Friends of the Earth, as part of Friends of the Earth Europe’s School of Sustainability, have produced a series of resources for campaigners to help them focus their work on system change. The resources are categorized into sections on Power and Privilege, People Power, Organizing Trainings and Events, Organizing Projects and Campaigns, Work on Local to Global Issues, Work together Sustainably. They include tools for facilitators, case studies, and diverse articles.
A useful handbook for activists, including chapters on How to Choose Where to Put your Efforts, Staying Behind the Scenes, Creative Tactics, and A Culture that’s Hungry for Impact.
‘This is a Handbook for people seeking to work with others to change the world. In today’s world, the injustices we’re trying to overcome, the progress we’re trying to realise – they’re too complex to bring about alone: you need other actors in your ecosystem to work well together; you need to overcome vested interests; you need to spark innovation.
This Handbook is to help you unlock effective collective action and secure the systems change that’s needed.’
From the Yes! international social change program. Not recipes for making preserves but a jam-packed (sorry) manual of ideas on facilitation when working with groups of young changemakers, from setting context to discussing power and privilege to what happens next.
“Those who participate in a Jam usually come hoping to find their next growing edge. With Leveraging Privilege for Social Change, they are often pushing the envelopes around power and privilege and their relationships to these issues. With World Jams, they are trying to connect the dots of various movements and issues, hoping to attain greater clarity and engagement in their work, while living more full and balanced lives.
To put it simply, a Jam embodies two core principles: uncompromised truth and unconditional love. A Jam is, above all, a place to be real, to take off masks, to speak one’s truth, and to be fully oneself. Simultaneously, a Jam is a highly appreciative space, where compliments and love are given freely and received with dignity and gratitude, and where the intention is towards healing, learning and growing honest, healthy relationships.”
(Follow the link for the free version of the latest manual on Google Drive, or to order a hard copy. You can also download the 2010 edition.)
More on Yes! Jams and see here for the list of current/upcoming Jams
This toolkit from the Australia-based The Change Agency contains a unique and indispensable collection of more than 1,000 resources for activists and organizers including workshop tools, case studies, articles, and signposts to many other organizations.
You can explore particular themes such as ‘strategy’, or build your own toolkit by collating and searching specific terms as a group. Highlights include the extensive People Power Manual.
The Change Agency also runs the ‘Community Organizing Fellowship’, plus their website carries lots of great guest content – such as this review by Amanda Tattersall of Rules for Revolutionaries, the book about organizing the Bernie Sanders campaign in the USA in 2016:
“Take the “Rule” – “the work is distributed, the plan is centralised.” This is an argument for highly coordinated campaigns. That makes total sense in an electoral context where you have one objective – a candidate’s win – over a whole nation. It makes no sense, however, when it comes to running the climate movement. Climate issues don’t operate at a single scale – they run from the neighbourhood, to the state, the nation, the global and to corporations– all have potential targets and there are thousands of potential, integrated campaign strategies. If you “centralised” climate strategy you would risk losing many of your leaders (at best) if not totally pissing them off.”
If you’re curious about the Sanders campaign and where it went after the election, also check out ‘These Bernie Alums Think They’ve Found the Secret to Reaching Trump Voters’
A handy little guide from UK-based Global Justice Now, a veteran of campaigns and organizing and which has its own network of local action groups. This is one of a series of Activist resources available from GJN.
“Make sure each meeting has a purpose: use it to plan something new; do something practical during the meeting; invite a speaker for part of the meeting; show a film or have a social”
This guide was a collaboration with two other UK organizations – Common Weal and Campaign Against the Arms Trade
This is a visualization tool on how movements work from the New Economy Organisers Network (NEON) in the UK. It asks the following questions about how the roots of movements function:
1.Common values and principles: what guiding principles do we use to align our different struggles and ensure that we’re meaningfully tackling the root causes of the issues on which we work not just symptoms?
2. Unifying narrative: what story gives us the courage to transform society together?
3.Shared strategy: as a movement, of all the fights that we could pick, where should we be focusing our energy right now to make the most impact given the current context?
4. Active Liberation: we will only have a just movement capable of winning if we look like the society we’re trying to build – how are we cantering the voices of those most marginalised?
5. Strong leaders: if leadership means empowering others, how well are our movements doing at this?
6. Capacity: how do we build the resources we need as a movement needed to take on the fights needed from people to money or institutions?
This is just one of a host of Resources from NEON, which include a power and privilege guide, the Lumen open source group discussion platform, a systemic campaigns framework, and reading lists on things like leadership and neoliberalism.
by Lydia Caudill
I am an agricultural activist who steers away from the “NO” campaigns (‘Stop this’ or ‘No more of that’). I find strength and much more potential in fostering change by dedicating my energy to the “YES” people and causes, those that are successfully experimenting with diversifying and democratizing their agricultural systems – and I’ve committed myself to sharing their stories so that others can be inspired as well.
With this in mind, one year ago I bought a bicycle and began preparing for my journey home, from Paraguay to the NW United States. I’m giving myself two years to be on the ground, closer to the pace and the people who are producing the food for South America. I want to understand better what’s going on down here.
As an undergraduate student doing research, the challenges of small-scale farmers were always portrayed in such a dry and academic way. I wanted to see small-scale agriculture actually at work, befriending and working next to the farmers who are living this reality. With this driving force I picked up a camera, immersed myself in a teach-yourself- to-edit program, and am now sharing farmers’ stories from the view of my saddle.
I’ve now been cycling for nearly six months, through Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia, and am now in Peru. I’ve milked cows, butchered goats, harvested corn and quinoa, and celebrated birthdays and closures of community projects. I’m just starting to identify patterns. One of the emerging narratives that I hear from farmers explains why so many are leaving their farms and communities: WATER. The lack of water, disappearing rivers, contamination and the changing weather patterns. The older generations share their memories of how now-empty fields were once so full of farmers that there was no free land to be found. I am amazed by how many of the people I talk to, even those who speak a limited amount of Spanish, are powerfully and consciously using the term “climate change” to explain the altering state of their world.
I had read about climate change, but to hear it spoken about over and over again with frustration by farmers who just want to continue their lives in their homes, has been profound. The responses to it I’m finding have been even more inspiring. Watching their communities disappear, individuals are getting motivated and making changes.
In a community with 200 houses, historically very agriculturally based, the disappearance of its river is not a priority on the national level. However, watching 85% of their graduating youth leave for cities is a concern at a very local level, and Vitichi has decided to address it.
In recent years, water had depleted to the point that many households only had water for about a half an hour a day, or every other day. The community and the municipality all agree that climate change and being downstream from the large mines in Potosí are the causes of their disappearing water. Individuals organized and found funds for two major projects: one is a water harvesting project and the other a water treatment project.
Water is now pumped in from a spring 6km away, doubling the quantity and improving the quality for the town. The people also value this resource so greatly that they prioritized being able to process the water and release it clean, back into the river for the communities downstream from them. The capital city of La Paz may not have a water treatment program, but Vitichi does. As it is a recently completed project with an eye towards the future, they are hoping that this improvement will give the younger generations pride in their community and reasons to stay. Here is a link to the video documenting a bit of their story.
While walking through the streets of San Antonio, I asked people how they were doing and many responded, “We would be better with water!” The last five to ten years have seen tremendous, extensive drought, cutting their growing season in half and sending many people looking for jobs in cities. Doña Trinidad lives in a community of 40 houses and it is currently a disappearing community. After my time spent in her home and working with her in the fields, I saw in her an incredible potential for the future of San Antonio. Not only is she overcoming gender discrimination by having risen to be president of a local producers’ cooperative, she is passionate about educating herself and others.
Doña Trinidad has participated in any and all workshops offered to her by various organizations and is well versed in climate change and its effects on her community. She has participated in organic agriculture and international bee-keeping conventions, and women’s leadership development workshops. In her own words, “This information is an inheritance to me. I will share it with my children and grandchildren…. And I will share it with the other women in my community that have not had a chance to learn.”
The workshops and conferences have given her information that she has taken home and uses to better manage her farm and its production. I saw technologies new to her being experimented with, such as clay pots to water her trees. By using porous clay pots semi-submerged underground, moisture is pulled in the direction that it is most needed, effectively eliminating wasted run-off and evaporation, efficiently using every drop. It also requires less frequent monitoring and watering (this is a fantastic link for more information). She did an experiment with two trees planted side by side; the tree with this clay pot was twice the size of the tree planted at the same time and with a traditional bucket watering system.
With a shared larger vision and through their continued education, she and her husband are also saving money from their small budget to buy a drip irrigation hose, which uses less water by slowly and more directly watering the plants’ roots. This will further save the limited water they have. They see no other way and are adapting to the changing world around them.
Luis is another community leader who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting during my travels, and he shared his vision with me. He is of the original people Amaicha, and told me the story of his ancestry and his land. In a valley high in the Tucuman province, his people flourished for hundreds of years with an abundance of harvest and animals. The introduction of the Spaniards and mining in their region changed the landscape, most notably by deforesting their valley for use in those mines. Hundreds of years later, trees have not reforested the valley. Within the last 50 years, the community has seen their river run dry. As the reducing flow slowly receded up the valley, Luis said his people followed it and left the land as well, until it was completely vacant.
Until recently that is, when their community started drilling for water. Luis moved back to the land five years ago, and he and his community have since developed a cooperative to manage the well, lowering the price of the use of water and improving general maintenance. After nearly 50 years of his community being separated from their ancestral land, the last five years has seen a shift in the opposite direction; 27 families have already moved back to their land and 50 more are on a waiting list, wanting to first have their access to the water confirmed. The community intends to take advantage of their cooperative structure and use it to collectively sell their products.
What impressed me the most was a still greater vision. Luis had heard of communities all together changing their regional climate, such as Wangari Maathai’s Nobel Prize winning reforestation project in Kenya, The Green Belt Movement. This reforestation project brought jobs to people by offering agro-forestry projects, and has actually increased the rainfall in the area. Hearing about the success of another people that were on the verge of losing the strength of their community, Luis and his own people are organizing themselves to create a foundation, with the intention to reforest their valley as well. With this they hope to be recognized on a new level and seek support. They hope to fully bring back their people to their land. Luis spoke to me of this vision with a conviction and an assurance that it will happen. He told me that the river will run again, the trees will hold moisture, the grasses will grow strong, and he and his neighbors will be able to pasture their animals as they traditionally had for hundreds of years.
This trip across countries has been an inspiration to me. It is teaching me about resilience in a way I had not imagined. Of course, I’m personally developing a resilience of my mind and body, as I pedal through valleys and mountains. That is such a little thing in comparison to what I have seen from these farmers. These families are watching the weather patterns around them alter, which makes a difficult gamble of a job even more challenging and risky. Many have left their land for the cities. But many others have stayed. These farmers are experimenting with how they can adapt to their new reality and they crave new knowledge, techniques and technologies to continue to live the life they’ve always led, and that they want their children to continue living. This is the resilience that has hopefully taken root in my own life, one that I can take with me and spread to those around me, as we all are learning to adapt to the changing world and climate around us.
Lydia Caudill is from Washington State, where her interests began with her parents and their own work in agriculture. She has worked with African refugees in farming projects, as a Peace Corps Paraguay Agricultural Volunteer and on various small-scale farms. She is thrilled to have created a project that combines her passions – cycling and food sovereignty – and is excited to explore what lies ahead in her path. Lydia is thankful to her Pedal and Plow team for helping make this project possible in the meantime.
The Democracy Center had ‘boots on the ground’ in Cochabamba and Oruro in Bolivia, and New York, London and Dublin for the events on Sunday September 21st. We asked people: “What does climate change mean to you?”
Here we offer you some of their responses (in English and Spanish).
(You can see the whole album of over 60 responses here on our Facebook page.)