Mi Gente, 

I hope you find yourselves safe and close to those you love. COVID19 has given me the time to deeply think about the last 50 years and what it has meant for those of us in the environmental-climate justice movement. As Earth Day approached, I found myself overwhelmed with sadness over what the last 50 years could have birthed had there been alignment, respect for frontline leadership and collective commitment to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in this country. For the frontline of the climate crises, we don't think about the last 50 years - we think about 500 years of colonialism, extraction and racism and how it has shown up in our bodies, our air, our water, and our soil. 50 years is a drop in the bucket that does not tell the full story of how long and how hard we have fought for our survival and how in the midst of all of it, we also had to fight to be at the green tables until it became clear, we had to build our own.

At the 50 year mark, we are compelled to look back in order to lay a path forward that builds on the lessons of our ancestors and addresses what this moment and climate change demands. So we ask, what if…

  • What if environmental and conservation organizations had shared power and resources and built alignment with the frontline for 50 years.

  • What if they had not used millions to push for cap and trade and other extractive strategies contrary to frontline needs and solutions .

  • What if they did not insist on speaking for us, try to determine our priorities for us, further deepening our colonization.

  • What if when we created a body of work and came close to success, they didn’t set up meetings with policy leaders to undermine our efforts, but instead supported and helped amplify our work.

  • What if they respected & honored the long history of intergenerational movements that have often been led by young people of color.

  • What if people with privilege stopped mining our ideas and thinking of how they can pick our brain instead of how to build a new future centered in racial justice and respectful collaborations. 

  • What if they stopped the incessant need to create new alliances, coalitions, advisory groups, workgroups and movements every 5 minutes that duplicate work, waste resources, supplant local leadership and make work led by people of color more challenging. 

  • What if the work was anchored in eliminating white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism, and de-colonizing contemporary missionary culture and building a new culture of practice. 

  • What if big greens, emerging greens, empire builders, universities, academics and writers took a moment to think of the climate crises, not as a fundraising, institution ego-boosting, resume enhancing, empire-building , capitalist opportunity- but rather, as a threat to human rights and our existence and built from a place of love, real strategic collaborations, and justice- not just empty rhetoric.

  • What if instead of posting the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing on their websites or even tattooing them on their chest, a culture of practice was birthed that recognizes that how we treat each other and how we deal with race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, age and more is central to building climate justice solutions.

On the heels of Hurricanes Katrina, Irma, Sandy, Harvey and Maria, ICE raids, police abuse, mass incarceration and displacement - we are now dealing with #COVID19 and witnessing our people - those who have always lived in the midst of environmental burdens be devastated by this virus. But we continue, we resist , we fight back and delve deeper into building a just recovery and strengthening the collective care that honors mother earth and our people.

On Earth Day, we are deeply grateful to all our beautiful partners- to those who walk the walk with us and make it possible for us to believe that self-transformation and just relationships are possible- those that together with us have transformed the landscape and made it possible for all of us to breathe. In these challenging times, moving away from conventional, extractive models of leadership is central to our survival. Good was undeniably done in the past 50 years, but what if as we move forward we fearlessly embrace a different WE  💚

Paz y Poder,