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Building Solidarity Through Genuine Relationships

#Blog#Ecological Justice
May 2023

The path to real solutions is defined by the quality of our relationships with one another. We need to invest our time in nurturing these relationships. On May 25, we formally launched our 2023 Solidarity Encounter series — virtual, live gatherings where our community of donors and allies comes together for learning and community-building.

The 2023 series kicked off with a dialogue on the topic of Ecological Crisis: False Solutions and Climate Justice Frameworks. The presenters were Gopal Dayaneni, an Oakland-based academic, organizer, and long-time supporter of Grassroots International, and Nnimmo Bassey of Health of Mother Earth Foundation, one of our new West African partners based in Nigeria. Nnimmo’s relationship with Grassroots International dates back over a decade when he was the chair of Friends of the Earth International. Interestingly enough, Gopal and Nnimmo have both also served as board members of ETC Group, another Grassroots International ally. Hosting this powerful duo was a gift for our staff, donors, and funders.


The central idea shared by both speakers was that the climate crisis will not be solved by false solutions that are based in and further consolidate unjust power relationships. Finding a sustainable, regenerative way forward will depend on a radical transformation of power structures — of how we relate to one another, to other living beings, and to the planet.

The speakers emphasized that the tech-based “solutions” being proffered allow those who have caused the climate crisis to continue to profiteer off of it, but do nothing to address the root causes of the crisis: systems of oppression that date back to the beginning of colonialism. The misguided emphasis on the capture of carbon and similar technological fixes belies the fact that there is actually a radically practical solution to the climate crisis: end the practice of extractivism and support grassroots struggles for land, territory, water, and seeds.

Another key point raised by the speakers was that in the climate justice framework, reparations need to be centered. This is not in the sense of correcting past harm through mere monetary compensation, but rather doing the more profound work of repairing relationships with one another in such a way that the harm cannot ever happen again. This requires a radical re-envisioning of the systems that govern our relationships with one another, and of those relationships themselves.


The speakers also emphasized that all work to dismantle these oppressive systems is climate justice work; as Gopal put it, “The path to climate justice travels through a free Palestine… We have to use climate justice as an opportunity to articulate the systemic nature of our struggles and the interrelationships of our struggles. You can be part of the food sovereignty movement, the transformative justice movement, the prison abolition movement; all of that is the work…We are not going to bring the salmon home in a world of policing, prison, punishment, and putting humans in cages. It is the same system that puts humans in cages that puts dams on our rivers. My invitation to anybody who is inspired by climate justice is to…see the interconnectedness of everything.”

We share Gopal’s perspective. Collective liberation takes more than imagining. It requires courage to build alliances across class, race, geographies, gender, and faith. Grassroots International has a 40-year history of deep engagement in building those foundational blocks based on genuine relationships.

The 2023 Solidarity Encounter series continues in June with a dialogue on Community-Led Agroecology led by Gabi Linares Sosa of UNOSJO in Oaxaca, Mexico, and Jovanna Garcia Soto of Grassroots International. That session will be followed in July by a dialogue on Grassroots Feminisms led by a representative of our Guatemalan partner Sector de Mujeres and Lydia Simas of Grassroots International. The final session of 2023 will be on Healing Justice in Black Feminist and Palestinian liberation movements, led by writer, activist, and doula adrienne maree brown; Devin Atallah of UMASS Amherst and CURCUM Collective; and Trina Jackson and Ayman Nijim of Grassroots International.

We invite you to join us! For more information and to register, please visit the Donor Engagement page of our website. If you are inspired by this work and want to help it continue, please consider becoming a Grassroots International donor by making a contribution today.

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