When Paul Hawken was presenting his “Blessed Unrest” keynote to the 2007 Bioneers Conference, he had a video of more than 130,000 organizations working for social and environmental justice….”Pachamama, Mama, the Earth, talking back, waking up.” The causes listed below are a few that speak to my heart …
If there is a single watershed cause of our time, this is it: the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline, led by the Dakota Sioux Nation of the Standing Rock Reservation, with allies among hundreds of indigenous nations from around the world, as well as environmentalists, churches, civil rights organizations, politicians, celebrities, municipalities, communities, and individuals across the pipeline’s 1,200-mile, 4-state, 50-county length from the Bakken fracked-oil fields in North Dakota to Patoka, Illionois, where it could connect with a pipeline to the Gulf Coast for storage, refinement and export, or be transported to the East coast by rail.
The reason for the resistance: the pipeline, originally slated to run past the town of Bismarck, SD, had been rerouted to run across the Standing Rock Reservation, in violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty – crossing Lake Oahe and the Great Oglala Aquifer, and crossing the Missouri River 200 times – and endangering the water supply of millions of people, both Native and non-Native, from North Dakota to the Mississippi Delta. As countless pipelines around the world have proven already, the question of a leak is not an “if” – it’s a “when.” The nonviolent stand of the Standing Rock Sioux became a flashpoint for Indigenous peoples facing their own struggles to defend their land and resources, as well as the families, farms, and communities whose land and livelihoods had been taken by Eminent Domain for the uses of Big Oil.
At this point there are countless articles, videos, and personal accounts of the action at Standing Rock, and the parallel #NoDAPL actions in Iowa and elsewhere (here is a fact-checking site that counters pro-DAPL propaganda). Here are a few of the pages that list ways for supporters to help:
NoDAPLSolidarity.org – provides information about the DAPL project, the resistance, national actions and updates, and ways to support the water protectors.
The Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition – provides information about the organizations and landowners fighting the pipeline along its length.
Grow Permaculture (formerly the Permaculture Guild) is “a permaculture and sustainability consultant and teaching organization dedicated to consciously designing human systems to produce more, while doing less harm.” They focus on culturally rich areas of dire poverty within degraded environments – including Pine Ridge Reservation and Haiti – “connecting resources and knowledge and put them in the hands of the people at grass roots level so they can create their own destinies within their own cultural context.”
Grow Permaculture offers their courses and services for free to individuals from those impoverished areas. Their paid design and consulting projects help to fund these humanitarian projects, donations and volunteer helpers enable them to do more.
Earth Activist Training
I spent two weeks in Vermont at an Earth Activist Training Permaculture Design Certification camp in 2010, and came away viewing the world with new eyes…seeing genuine, practical solutions for global and local environmental and social challenges; creative, magical ways of achieving them; and new ways of sustaining my own energy through connection to the Earth and Spirit.
EAT trainings have helped to establish inner-city urban agriculture programs, build intentional communities, and more. The organization has a three-part mission statement: “1) To bring the knowledge and resources of regenerative ecological design to communities with the greatest needs and fewest resources. 2) To teach visionary and practical solutions and personal sustainability to social change activists, and to teach practical skills, organizing, and activism to visionaries. 3) To cross-pollinate the political, environmental, and spiritual movements that seek peace, justice, and resilience.”
A donation to EAT helps to pay for representatives of communities that would not be able to afford the (low) tuition otherwise.
Founded in 1998 and staffed by conservationists, Trees Water People is dedicated to helping communities to protect and manage their own natural resources for the coming generations. TWP is establishing self-sustaining renewable energy services on direly poor tribal lands in the Great Plains. They have created successful community reforestation projects, helping to establish sustainable tree nurseries to restore the forests devastated by Hurricane Mitch in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. And they are helping communities to create watershed protection programs in the arid Rocky Mountain region.
A donation to TWP does not pay for a quick short term fix, but a long-term solution giving hope for a sustainable future for the people who need it most.
In January, 2009, I attended a symposium called Awakening the Dreamer/Changing the Dream. It was a consciousness-changing experience – looking at the present environmental, social and personal well-being in the world, stepping back to see how we got to this point, and then looking forward to see what is possible in changing our ways of relating to each other and to the Earth. Finally, the program invited each of us to commit to a new practice, or a new action reaching out to service in the world.
Refreshingly, the focus isn’t on doom and gloom (though the program pulls no punches on the issues of environmental and social degradation) but rather on a positive, proactive approach – where do I fit in this picture, what can I do? – and the evidence that change is possible, even one person can tip the balance.
The symposium is just one outreach of The Pachamama Alliance, a coming-together of traditional shamanic peoples from the Amazon with awakened, committed men and women of the modern world. Originally the vision of shamans among the Achuar people of Ecuador, the goal of the Alliance is to protect the rainforests through a double mission:
- Creating “tangible, real-life projects through which rainforests provide more direct economic benefit standing than cut” and
- Broadening the general economic view so that the value of standing rainforests and the costs associated with their destruction are measured and counted.
The Alliance focuses both on social and economic development projects in the South and education and awareness building in the North. through programs such as:
- Rights for Nature: a campaign to have Rights for Nature adopted into the legal structures of the other Andean nations of Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.
- Eco-Tourism: training for the Achuar in financial and natural resource management aspects of eco-tourism, and funding for Achuar students to complete a two-year university program in eco-tourism management.
- International Expansion: Responding to international demand, Awakening the Dreamer Symposiums and/or Facilitator Trainings were presented in roughly 20 countries in 2010.
- Fostering Youth Leadership: High schools and universities have begun including the Symposium in their curricula, and young people are creating the educational projects using the principles of the Symposium, including a bus tour with mobile classrooms, and climate-awareness bike treks.
A donation to the Pachamama Alliance helps to further these educational and environmental initiatives.