As I pray about our chaotic times, certain things have become clear. As said below, “there are moments of clarity that allow for society to challenge popular thinking and status quo solutions.” This is one of those moments of clarity. Our time for change is now. “Our” meaning all of us, globally, including all that is not human.
People who hadn’t already known this are being forced to realize we will not be able to return to the way things were before the pandemic. Many have known, and more are learning, that we don’t want to return to what was.
How do we envision the change we want now? And how do we implement these changes? As said below, listen to the frontlines!
“We understand that all of our efforts must begin with the narrative: our story and vision for the world we want and know is possible. Short, medium and long term organizing strategy—indeed, entire movements—grow and are derived from narratives.”
I’ve been truly blessed to be involved with two frontline communities. One group of communities are Native Americans in general, and Seeding Sovereignty, lead by my friend Christine Nobiss, in particular.
Seeding Sovereignty has many projects, one of which is “SHIFT the Narrative“, biweekly online interviews whose purpose is to change who is telling the stories. https://seedingsovereignty.org/shift-the-narrative
The other frontline community is the Kheprw Institute (KI) in Indianapolis. My friend Imhotep Adisa, one of the founders of the KI, recently published the following article related to this discussion.
Continue to push for something different
How can we create some processes and procedures to mitigate inequity in our social, legal and economic structures? How can we begin some conversations about creating a system that is equitable? What can each of us do in the present to advance equity in our society? And how do we continue to fight for equity during these difficult times?
First and foremost, all of us, every last one of us, must engage others in our work, home and play spaces to have honest, open and authentic conversations around the issue of inequity. Some of us, particularly those in positions of power, must have the courage and strength to look more deeply at the inequitable structures that exist within their own organizations and institutions.
Is equity possible in a world after COVID-19? By IMHOTEP ADISA, Indianapolis Recorder, May 15, 2020
Sorry for the length of this. Following is a guide for transforming to a regenerative economy.
The intersecting crises of income and wealth inequality and climate change, driven by systemic white supremacy and gender inequality, has exposed the frailty of the U.S. economy and democracy. This document was prepared during the COVID-19 pandemic which exacerbated these existing crises and underlying conditions. Democratic processes have been undermined at the expense of people’s jobs, health, safety, and dignity. Moreover, government support has disproportionately expanded and boosted the private sector through policies, including bailouts, that serve an extractive economy and not the public’s interest. Our elected leaders have chosen not to invest in deep, anti-racist democratic processes. They have chosen not to uphold public values, such as fairness and equity, not to protect human rights and the vital life cycles of nature and ecosystems. Rather, our elected leaders have chosen extraction and corporate control at the expense of the majority of the people and the well-being and rights of Mother Earth. Transforming our economy is not just about swapping out elected leaders. We also need a shift in popular consciousness.
There are moments of clarity that allow for society to challenge popular thinking and status quo solutions. Within all the challenges that this pandemic has created, it has also revealed what is wrong with the extractive economy while showcasing the innate resilience, common care, and original wisdom that we hold as people. Environmental justice and frontline communities are all too familiar with crisis and systemic injustices and have long held solutions to what is needed to not only survive, but also thrive as a people, as a community, and as a global family. We cannot go back to how things were. We must move forward. We are at a critical moment to make a down payment on a Regenerative Economy, while laying the groundwork for preventing future crises.
To do so, we say—listen to the frontlines! Indigenous Peoples, as members of their Indigenous sovereign nations, Asian and Pacific Islander, Black, Brown and poor white marginalized communities must be heard, prioritized, and invested in if we are to successfully build a thriving democracy and society in the face of intersecting climate, environmental, economic, social, and health crises.
A just and equitable society requires bottom-up processes built off of, and in concert with, existing organizing initiatives in a given community. It must be rooted in a people’s solutions lens for a healthy future and Regenerative Economy. These solutions must be inclusive—leaving no one behind in both process and outcome. Thus, frontline communities must be at the forefront as efforts grow to advance a Just Transition to a Regenerative Economy.
A People’s Orientation to a Regenerative Economy offers community groups, policy advocates, and policymakers a pathway to solutions that work for frontline communities and workers. These ideas have been collectively strategized by community organizations and leaders from across multiple frontline and grassroots networks and alliances to ensure that regenerative economic solutions and ecological justice—under a framework that challenges capitalism and both white supremacy and hetero-patriarchy—are core to any and all policies. These policies must be enacted, not only at the federal level, but also at the local, state, tribal, and regional levels, in US Territories, and internationally.
Narrative (Seeds). Represented by seeds, we understand that all of our efforts must begin with the narrative: our story and vision for the world we want and know is possible. Short, medium and long term organizing strategy—indeed, entire movements—grow and are derived from narratives. As the Center for Story Based Strategy teaches us, “The point is not to tell our own stories better. The point is to change existing stories. The currency of story is not truth, but meaning.” As we continue to craft our story of a Regenerative Economy, we understand that through greater meaning, we also establish a greater set of truths. The seeds of our narrative form the roots to weather the many storms ahead.
Base Building and Organizing (Water). Our narratives are nourished and made
tangible by the strength of our organizing, the water that provides life for our stories and vision. We view organizing as the vehicle that moves us from where we are, to where we want to be, as articulated and driven by our narratives derived from our collective wisdom, vision, and power. Many Indigenous traditions tell the story of the women being the “keepers of the water,” that is rooted in the important role of women in organizing.
Policy Development (Plants). With our seeds nourished by our organizing, we are
better positioned to design and develop the policies that are informed by our principles,
be they Just Transition, Just Recovery, Energy Democracy, Food Sovereignty, the UNFT
believes in the inexorable nexus between policy development and grassroots organizing.
Electoralization and Implementation (The Flora We Glean). Developing and
introducing policies is one part of the overarching process that gets us to a regenerative
economy. As organizers, we understand that the people we put in positions of power
through a fair, transparent, and accessible electoral process must be beholden to the people, the workers and their communities, not the wealthy few or corporations. This is the best way to ensure that even when policies are enacted, the implementation phase serves those on the frontlines of intersecting crises first and foremost. The people we put in power must act as nourishment that increases the ability for us all to live our power as individuals and collectives.
Direct Action (The Stewards Who Bring Our Visions to Life). We hold that
while transition is inevitable, justice is not. As Fredrick Douglass said, “Power concedes
nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Only through principled struggle in the form of organized defiance can we hold the people we put in power accountable to the masses. We all must become stewards of our movements and the struggles that guide them. It is incumbent upon us all to create critical connections that lead to critical mass to serve as a reminder that our lawmakers and our systems of governance must, and always, be by and for the people. We must struggle to fight the bad, build the new, change the story, and move the money. This is how and why we utilize direct action.
The five points of intervention serve as a guide and pathway to develop our narrative, shape our organizing, design and develop the policies required to uplift our people and communities, while ensuring that we place good actors into positions of power who will serve us through just implementation. We reserve the right to utilize and unleash our power through direct action when necessary to establish and maintain universal and bi-lateral accountability. A People’s Orientation to a Regenerative Economy offers three dynamic tools to advance these interventions. First, we offer a series of questions to inform narrative and policy development for Just Transition and Regenerative Economy. Second, to advance this transition, we provide a framework:
Protect, Repair, Invest, and Transform.
Following is an example of just one part of the overall plan. This is what led to this entire blog post, as I looked for examples of how to think about land theft, and what solutions might look like.
FOOD SOVEREIGNTY and LAND SOVEREIGNTY
From seed to harvest, too many of us are disconnected from our food. We live in food apartheid, where white and wealthier communities can access healthy foods, leaving the rest of us to be held captive by corporate agriculture and chemical companies that push unhealthy food options. Our food system is so unhealthy that in this current pandemic large-scale farms have thrown away food, while over 40 million people go to bed hungry each night.18 Not only are we disconnected from our food, we are disconnected from the land on which we live. The land provides the soil for our food and the ground for our homes, yet the land has been commodified and extracted to serve our economy, rather than being held with the sacred care that it should be given. We need to reshape our society’s relationship to the land and our food for us to cultivate a Regenerative Economy.