PIMA BULLETIN NO 49
Part Three: A pluriverse of activities
Resources: Websites, Links, and More
There are an inordinate number of creative initiatives to arrest climate injustices whether in areas of arts and culture, economy, religion, women’s struggles, food sovereignty and much more. Each of these links tells a new story. Astrid von Kotze shares a fairly random collection of inspiring ideas and websites/organisations which caught her attention. If you are looking for case studies or illustrations of specific initiatives, start here!
Please expand this list for sharing in future bulletins or on the PIMA website!
add other, similar stories of collective action for justice.
circulate other interesting sites and resources – widen the circle!
Preserving the right to protest and act for justice
Increasingly, governments are cracking down on protests and environmental and climate activists. A research brief from the CIVICUS Monitor (2021), entitled ‘Defenders of our planet: resilience in the face of restrictions’ details bans, protests, responses, based on collaborative research information, generated by over 20 civil society and human rights organisations. It makes for chilling reading and stands as a warning about the importance of solidarity.
Imagination gone wild?
Describing itself as a directory of climate justice organisations ‘to suit everybody’, this directory introduces art, media, music, dancing, films and festivals - initiatives that illustrate how climate justice activists are working to take back their world! It’s an inspiring collection, indeed!
Ideas for alternatives
There are radical alternatives to the dominant capitalist, patriarchal, racist, regime. This website illustrates how slowly, step by step, the network grows….as alternative initiatives learn from and with each other.
Food sovereignty, not industrial food
The industrial food system makes both the Earth and us sick. If we regenerate the Earth, respecting her laws and limits, we can heal it - and us! Earth to tables legacies respond to deepening inequalities, taking growing food insecurity and legacies that encouraged local, collective food production and consumption as a starting point. The website is an extraordinary example of how radical popular education can work on-line. Deeply interactive, visually engaging, epistemologically challenging and creativity inspiring the site opens vista into many pluriverses. ‘Earth to Tables Legacies thinks and acts like an ecosystem.’ Every part is connected to another, across time and spaces.
Crucially, the Earth to tables legacies decolonise knowledge discourses: stories rooted in histories told by elders demonstrate how a wider ecological consciousness celebrates the reciprocal relationship with the living world and challenges us to think how we can reciprocate the generosity of an insect or a plant that contributes to food on the table. One way might be to communicate what we learn from other living beings and thereby increase peoples’ awareness of the gifts we receive.
The metaphor of pollinating infuses relationships and demonstrates how everything is connected – if only we open our senses to the world around us. Language, histories, borders, rituals etc all express relationships – but they are all related, thus ‘pollinating’ each other. (See the article by Deborah Barndt in this bulletin)
Food sovereignty at Higher Education Institutions
In South Africa, at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, staff and students responded to increasing food insecurity and hunger amongst students. They set up a student-led food sovereignty and climate justice forum with a food garden, co-organised a protest where they handed over a memorandum to the administration, demanding support for zero waste, zero hunger and zero carbon. This initiative eventually culminated in what has become the Food Sovereignty Centre at Wits. The centre comprises, firstly, a community engagement and eco-demonstration space that serves to advance education and learning about eco-centric living issues such as water harvesting, renewable energy, insulation, waste recycling and sustainable architectural design and building. Secondly, a space of dignity for food-stressed students includes a communal kitchen, culturally appropriate food and eating spaces. This is linked to the harvested vegetables and fruit from the gardens. Chefs instruct in the preparation of nutritious foods as an alternative to the fast food sold on campus. Thirdly, the centre is a support space to advance food sovereignty in society. The centre is run by student organisations – with the support of academic/activists.
A similar attempt to respond to student hunger by creating food gardens and using those as a form of practical instruction in Agricultural Science faculty degree programmes was started at the University of Stellenbosch. Sustainable student support and bureaucratic hurdles remain ongoing challenges.
The Food Sovereignty campaign at the University of the Free State led to some victories such as a task team, the inclusion of food sovereignty into the university’s integrated Transformation Plan, and resources for community activities towards addressing hunger. Again, sustainability remains a big challenge.
The African Biodiversity Network Barefoot Guide Writer’s Collective (2023) Restoring our home in nature: the story and practice of the African Biodiversity Network.
Like previous issues, this ‘barefoot guide’ is informative, accessible, friendly, with wonderful illustrations, and a trove of stories that bring ideas and ‘lessons’ to life. The guide offers useful activities, based on story-telling and radical pedagogy inspired by Freire. It is freely downloadable.
Stories of struggle and resistance - WoMin African Alliance
WoMin is an NGO that supports women’s organising and building a movement across Africa, aimed at challenging the destructive large-scale extraction of natural resources. Their website opens a large collection of inspiring stories of women acting for justice and change. It has invaluable resources.
WoMin works to shape understanding of extractive industries and pan-African alternatives. Their movie ‘Women hold up the sky’ shows how women in mining communities in Africa learn, teach and struggle for change. (see the article by Maggie Mapondera in this bulletin)
Storytelling for climate justice
Earthjustice’s new storytelling project, LIT: Stories from the Frontlines of Climate Justice, connects the dots between climate change, systemic racism, and extreme inequality. Take, for example, the story of an offshore windfarm: Working together and supported by Earthjustice, local groups, national advocacy organisations and on-the-ground organisers blocked the proposed gas plant in favour of building wind energy infrastructure. “With this victory, the coalition is writing the playbook for other communities around the country that are tired of being told that there is no other way to power their economy without fossil fuels.”
Delinking art from Fossil fuels
The Gallery Climate Coalition (GCC), an international community of arts organisations works to reduce the sectors’ environmental impact. It seeks to educate and advise its members to avoid conventional offsets in favour of initiatives to decarbonize the art sector and directing support to groups working to keep fossil fuels in the ground, defend forests and shift the world towards sustainable agriculture. Queens, the fine art shipping company, has already taken GCC’s advice, donating money to campaigning environmental lawyers ClientEarth instead of buying offsets. Many more in the art world are set to follow.
Dismantling the house of modernity
Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures (GTDF) is an arts/research collective that uses this website as a workspace for collaborations around different kinds of artistic, pedagogical, cartographic, and relational experiments. This open-access platform aims to identify and deactivate colonial habits of being, and to gesture towards the possibility of decolonial futures. Climate justice is one clear interconnected aspect of such a future.
Movement for EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility)
If you think that wearing second-hand clothing is a good idea, Alice McCool is critical of second-hand markets in poorer countries. If people in poorer countries could produce their own material/ fabrics and clothes themselves, it would be far more ethical and beneficial. She argues for EPR (extended producer responsibility), an environmental policy which extends a producer’s liability for a product to the disposal stage.(NI 4 August 2023)
In South Africa, divestment was a central component of the anti-apartheid sanctions campaign and proved to be a hugely important tactic against the apartheid regime and those that supported it. The divestment movement gave citizens who might not otherwise get politically involved the opportunity to act on their opposition to unjust and oppressive systems.
One form of protest is by withdrawing investments from banks that invest in fossil fuels and extractive industries. Boycotts can be immensely successful – the pressures brought to bear on Shell illustrated how powerful consumers can be through small tactical acts of avoiding particular companies.
Mobilising faith leaders for climate justice
SAFCEI (Southern African Faith Communities' Environment Initiative) believes that multi-faith dialogue based on equity, justice, and mutual respect for the Earth, is a way to build a sustainable future for all. SAFCEI actions and campaigns demonstrate how climate justice can be co-created more effectively when different faiths come together to address common problems.
The institute works through a range of energy and food programmes ranging from agroecology and animal justice, to vociferous opposition to nuclear energy and uranium mining and fracking. Education and training at the community level is an important component of their work in Southern Africa. Details about their campaigns and approaches can be found on their website.
Dance Exchange’s Climate Initiative.
Dance Exchange is a community of artists that cultivates creative opportunities across generations, cultural experiences, and disciplines to help shape a just and life-giving future in the face of the climate crisis. Activated by the urgency of the times, they are committed to institutional change while expanding partnerships locally, regionally, and internationally.
Dance Exchange recognizes that Black communities, Indigenous communities and communities of people who have been historically marginalized continue to be disproportionately affected by the climate crises globally. In light of these truths, Dance Exchange’s Climate Initiative includes a strengthening and increase of commitments to racial justice and community healing both internally, and through partnerships and program activities.
Vancouver Writers Festival, Not Too Late – The Climate Conversation.
On the evening of October 22, 2023 Shauna attended the last event of the Vancouver Writers Festival, Not Too Late – The Climate Conversation. It was recorded and will be aired on the CBC sometime (https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent). Guided by CBC host Matt Galloway, the panel discussed important aspects of Elizabeth Lange’s shift away from the old story of modernity to the new emerging story of relationality.
· Rebecca Solnit and Thelma Young Lutunatabua (2023, Haymarket Books) Not Too Late:
Changing the Climate Story from Despair to Possibility
· Chris Turner’s How to be A Climate Optimist: Blueprints for a Better World (2022, Penguin Random House)
· John Vailliant’s Fire Weather – The Making of a Beast (2023, Penguin Random House) examined
the fire that devastated Fort McMurray, a town in northern Alberta, and our rapidly changing
relationship with fire.
A central theme of this panel was the existence of an alternative view to the doom narrative of the climate crisis, one of hope and optimism, based on current developments.