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Environment

Communities of color speak out in push for Green New Deal

LOUISIANA WEEKLY — On Tuesday, May 7, hundreds gathered at Congo Square and marched to Mahalia Jackson Theater as part of the national Green New Deal tour. The Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy and more than forty other local organizations sponsored the event, in conjunction with the Sunrise Movement, a group of youth advocates dedicated to advancing climate change legislation.

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By Meghan Holmes

On Tuesday, May 7, hundreds gathered at Congo Square and marched to Mahalia Jackson Theater as part of the national Green New Deal tour.

The Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy and more than forty other local organizations sponsored the event, in conjunction with the Sunrise Movement, a group of youth advocates dedicated to advancing climate change legislation.

Indigenous and Black community leaders anchored the proceedings, with speakers highlighting the disproportionate impact environmental degradation and climate change have on communities of color, as well as insisting that future solutions to climate change honor Black and Indigenous communities.

“The purpose of this event is simple,” said Colette Pichon Battle, executive director with the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy. “We are here to honor Indigenous and Black leadership around caring for each other and caring for this earth; we are here to create a safe, inclusive, space so we can connect the dots between climate change, disaster and jobs, and we are here to launch Gulf South for the Green New Deal, a multi-state effort rooted in the unique reality of the Gulf South.”

The event began with drumming at Congo Square. Members of the Houma nation, as well as Mardi Gras Indians from the Golden Feather Hunters tribe both, participated, and Principal Chief August Creppell spoke first. “We are standing on sacred ground,” he said. “We did ceremonial dances here in the 1700s. We were the first people here, but we are all here as one people. We have so much power when we are together.”

After speeches honoring both Indigenous and Black traditions, event-goers marched to Mahalia Jackson Theater, where several speakers as well, as a panel of youth activists, discussed the Green New Deal and its potential impacts on the Gulf South. Several short films also played, one of which highlighted the impacts of industry in St. James Parish.

“This is not just about reducing carbon emissions,” Pichon Battle said. “We are at the intersection of climate change and environmental justice, and we want good jobs and restitution and reparations to the communities forced to live in this. We have to look at what oil and gas in Louisiana does to our communities. We do not just get to be proud of the jobs. We have to stand with the people of St. James Parish.”

At the national level, more than 90 congressional representatives and 13 senators support Green New Deal legislation. Current policy is nebulous but focuses on mitigating future impacts of climate change while also creating high-paying, sustainable jobs. Republicans and many moderate Democrats dismiss the plans, but youth advocates and more than 600 organizations across the country insist that action must be taken to stop the impacts of climate change.

“We want to make climate action rooted in racial and economic justice a national priority in every corner of this country,” said Varshini Prakash, co-founder and executive director of the Sunrise Movement, who spoke at the event. “We have known about climate issues for twice as long as the people on this panel have been alive, and our politicians have failed us, and are collecting profits from industries that are jeopardizing our future.”

Last fall, members of the Sunrise Movement went to Nancy Pelosi’s office along with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, demanding that the Democratic party embrace Green New Deal legislation. The movement has since begun traveling across the country and hosting events like the one at Mahalia Jackson Theater, encouraging communities to organize and demand action from local leaders.

“We have been here before,” said Flozell Daniels, executive director of Foundation for Louisiana. “This isn’t just Hurricane Katrina; this isn’t just the BP oil spill; this is decades of oppression and centuries of divestment and underinvestment in Black and Indigenous communities. Specific policies, especially those surrounding disaster recovery, make rich people richer, and poor people poorer. But, the good news is, because of this we have a history of resistance, and we know we have to protect marginalized people. Climate change isn’t just an environmental issue, there are consequences to tourism, transit, food access, and housing, as well as other sectors of our economy.”

Speakers stressed the Gulf South’s unique position in the fight to mitigate climate change and called on the community to advocate for Green New Deal policies to their local and national leaders.

“We rebuilt New Orleans and the Gulf Coast after Katrina, and we have learned what to do and what not to do,” Pichon Battle said. “We should be a leader rebuilding this country’s infrastructure, and creating millions of jobs while we do it.”

This article originally appeared in the Louisiana Weekly

Activism

Hundreds Support Fundraiser for Marin City Youth at SEQ CHAPTER Walk-A-Thon

People started on the walk at about 11 a.m. Several booths were set up along the route to serve the walkers with snacks and information. The tent booths included F45, Orangetheory Fitness in Mill Valley, Studio 30 in Mill Valley, and Lululemon.

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From top and left: Paul Austin photographing Terri Green speaking. Paul Austin and Terri Green. PlayMarin.org tent booth. Walkers on the trail. Booth at the end of the walk. Studio Thirty. Lululemon. F45. Orangetheory Fitness (Photos by Godfrey Lee)
From top and left: Paul Austin photographing Terri Green speaking. Paul Austin and Terri Green. PlayMarin.org tent booth. Walkers on the trail. Booth at the end of the walk. Studio Thirty. Lululemon. F45. Orangetheory Fitness (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

By Godfrey Lee

Marin City’s Walk-A-Thon 2021, which took place on Sunday morning, Nov. 14, 2021, was an enjoyable experience for the several hundred people who walked from Rocky Graham Park down the Mill Valley-Sausalito path toward Tamalpais High School, and back to the park.

The people started gathering around 9 a.m., greeting each other warmly — some dancing to the music. Most people got their printed t-shirts and number signs from the PlayMarin tent booth.

The program began with a talk from Paul Austin, the founder and executive director of Play Marin, who is working on developing youth sports activities in Marin City. Austin wants to include as many sports as possible in the program.

Terri Green, who directs the Marin City Climate Resilience and Health Justice, described the walk as the “March for Life.”

She spoke about the issues she sees as detrimental to the health and well-being of Marin City residents and pointed out that there is only one entrance and exit into Marin City: under the freeway.

This would not be sufficient if Marin City residents need to evacuate in the event of a major emergency, and so another entrance and exit is needed.

She wrote in her flyer that “80 years of walking in contaminated waters is INHUMANE!” and pointed out that the pond next to the Gateway Shopping Center and flood waters that enter Marin City are contaminated, much of the polluted water coming from the rain running off the freeway.

Green encouraged the audience to help solve these problems by contacting their public officials.

People started on the walk at about 11 a.m. Several booths were set up along the route to serve the walkers with snacks and information. The tent booths included F45, Orangetheory Fitness in Mill Valley, Studio 30 in Mill Valley, and Lululemon.

For more information on PlayMarin, go to www.playmarin.org or call Paul Austin at (415) 944-7141. Information on the Marin City Climate Resilience and Health Justice can be found on Facebook, and by calling (415) 324-7080.

From top and left: Paul Austin photographing Terri Green speaking. Paul Austin and Terri Green. PlayMarin.org tent booth. Walkers on the trail. Booth at the end of the walk. Studio Thirty. Lululemon. F45. Orangetheory Fitness (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

From top and left: Paul Austin photographing Terri Green speaking. Paul Austin and Terri Green. PlayMarin.org tent booth. Walkers on the trail. Booth at the end of the walk. Studio Thirty. Lululemon. F45. Orangetheory Fitness (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

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Black History

Fillmore Black Community Calls for Donation of Heritage Center

The Fillmore District in San Francisco was known as the “Harlem of the West” during the San Francisco jazz era. The neighborhood was bustling with Black-owned businesses, restaurants and professionals serving thousands of Black customers. The nightclubs featured top-tier talent like Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr., and Leona King, among many others.

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“San Francisco City leaders have a moral obligation to right the racist wrongs that destroyed that culture and that community and allow the Fillmore Heritage Center to live up to the full meaning of its name,” said Danny Glover, a Hollywood star and Bay Area social justice fixture.
“San Francisco City leaders have a moral obligation to right the racist wrongs that destroyed that culture and that community and allow the Fillmore Heritage Center to live up to the full meaning of its name,” said Danny Glover, a Hollywood star and Bay Area social justice fixture.

SF native and activist Danny Glover, Black leaders say center should serve the Black community which was ousted from the area by racist programs and policy

By Post Staff

San Francisco native and actor/activist Danny Glover joined local Black leaders Monday to call for the City of San Francisco to donate the mostly vacant, city-owned Fillmore Heritage Center to a nonprofit that would serve the Black community as a form of reparations for the disruption of what used to be a Black, thriving neighborhood.

The Fillmore District in San Francisco was known as the “Harlem of the West” during the San Francisco jazz era. The neighborhood was bustling with Black-owned businesses, restaurants and professionals serving thousands of Black customers. The nightclubs featured top-tier talent like Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr., and Leona King, among many others.

But by the 1960s, all but a few nightclubs had survived the city’s “urban renewal” initiatives.

“The Fillmore was the vibrant hub of San Francisco’s Black community before it was destroyed by inherently racist programs designed to remove Black families and culture,” Rev. Amos C. Brown, pastor of the Third Baptist Church and president of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP, said at a Nov. 15 press conference. “Deeding the Fillmore Heritage Center back to the local Black community is an extremely important first step in righting that immense historic wrong.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed has not yet responded to a request for comment by this publication, however ABC7 News has reported lukewarm responses from Breed, who said that the situation is complicated, and much is yet unknown about the prospect of donating the center. “I would like to see the venue become a huge success. I don’t want to continue to see the venue be a financial drain to the city,” Breed said of the site.

“San Francisco City leaders have a moral obligation to right the racist wrongs that destroyed that culture and that community and allow the Fillmore Heritage Center to live up to the full meaning of its name,” said Glover, a Hollywood star and Bay Area social justice fixture. He demands, with the support of the African American Reparations Advisory Committee, that the city deed the property and turn over its operation to a nonprofit group representing the array of Black business, cultural, spiritual and community interests in the city.

“My professional career in the performing arts began with mentoring by the kind of outstanding Black performers who made the Fillmore one of the most important cultural centers in the West,” Glover said.

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Business

Opinion: Different Summit, Same Story for the Polluters, Politicians, Privileged and Poor at Global Climate Meeting

So far, Glasgow has heard a lot of talk. President Biden and other world leaders touted two ‘major’ agreements earlier this week. One commits to ending deforestation by 2030, and the other to cut planet-heating methane emissions by 30%. But these aren’t binding. They are promises, an invitation to take leaders at their word. Many of these leaders promised to halve deforestation by 2020 back at a New York summit in 2014, a promise that was quietly broken.

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Despite the looming catastrophe, a tour of the COP26 premises makes it very clear that at these talks, nothing has changed.
Despite the looming catastrophe, a tour of the COP26 premises makes it very clear that at these talks, nothing has changed.

By Louis Wilson, Special to California Black Media Partners

Global negotiations kicked off this week in Glasgow, Scotland, in what John Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy, described as our ‘last best chance’ to avoid environmental disaster.

These talks matter to California – so much so that a delegation of elected and government officials led by Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis made the 5,000-mile trip.

The goal is simple: agree to a plan to reduce the emissions that cause dangerous heating. To do that, governments need to end our reliance on fossil fuels, and support less-wealthy nations and communities in their decarbonization process.

We’ve been here 25 times before. The 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference COP26 is a gathering of over 100 nations in search of a solution to the climate crisis. Sadly, since the first meeting in Berlin in 1995, global emissions have increased. By almost every measure, the climate crisis is getting worse. That’s visible to Californians in the record wildfires, drought, and extreme weather that has intensified in the past two years.

The science is clear – something needs to change right now, otherwise the climate will change it for us. The current business-as-usual trajectory is set to make the world somewhere between 4.5 degrees F to 5.4 degrees F hotter than it was before we started burning fossil fuels. That would mean more droughts, fire, hurricanes, famines, climate refugees, and the list goes on.

So far, Glasgow has heard a lot of talk. President Biden and other world leaders touted two ‘major’ agreements earlier this week. One commits to ending deforestation by 2030, and the other to cut planet-heating methane emissions by 30%. But these aren’t binding. They are promises, an invitation to take leaders at their word. Many of these leaders promised to halve deforestation by 2020 back at a New York summit in 2014, a promise that was quietly broken.

Despite the looming catastrophe, a tour of the COP26 premises makes it very clear that at these talks, nothing has changed. The same old faces are here – the politicians, the polluters, the big companies, and people representing privileged and largely white interests.

Companies sponsoring the talks for a seat at the center of the action include one of the world’s largest plastic polluters (Unilever), a bank (NatWest) that has financed billions of dollars’ worth of fossil fuel projects since 2015, and a consumer goods company (Reckitt) whose suppliers included, until very recently, companies tearing down one of the world’s last remaining tropical rainforests in Papua New Guinea.

One of these sponsors, SSE, is currently building a new fossil gas plant, even while hosting a friendly stall touting unproven future technologies that might eventually help reduce emissions. Reckitt, meanwhile, is organizing an official side-event titled ‘Changing Consumer Behaviour,’ which appears aimed at deflecting responsibility onto individuals.

Presumably, the main recommendation will be to steer clear of their products until they can remove deforestation from their supply chain.

While companies that have had a hand in causing the crisis are overrepresented, notably underrepresented are BIPOC communities, or representatives from the worst affected countries. It is, as many have called it, the richest, Whitest COP ever.

That’s a problem ethically, but it’s also a big problem because clearly, ‘business as usual’ hasn’t worked. If we want to prevent the worst of what is to come, we need to focus on the interests of people on the frontlines: those who lost their homes in wildfires this year, or who were forced off their land by agribusinesses, or whose air is being polluted by mining projects. We can no longer prioritize the narrow interests of a very noisy but destructive business community.

This matters for California – the state which has long been a leader in the U.S. on climate action but is suffering the most immediate impacts of the climate crisis right now. If Californians want this state to be liveable for future generations, we need to see through ambitious action at home – but we also need these global negotiations to be a success.

Right now, we’re on track for more warm words, more bold, unmet promises, and more degrees of global heating. Unless this COP and all future climate summits put the worst affected, most vulnerable communities first, we will continue on this disastrous path which will see California and many other parts of the globe become inhospitable for our descendants within generations.

Louis Wilson is a senior communications advisor with Global Witness, a climate advocacy group.

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