During my time in Paris, I was constantly inspired by the work I saw represented by activists I met from across the globe. This is where I feel our strength lies: We will not progress, we will not save our planet by relying on mainstream NGOs to represent our interests, but rather by joining together our grassroots campaigns. Whether it was acting as a peacekeeper for the Indigenous Environmental Network and It Takes Roots (a coalition of several frontline POC and Indigenous environmental and social justice groups), providing media support for a European coalition treesit, or helping blockade the doors of a major Paris-based energy utility with Australians impacted by the company’s mining practices, the deepest connections I built and strongest friendships I made were forged by directly supporting the work of other warriors. It is the desire to continue to build those relationships that currently fuels the fire in my heart. It personalizes these struggles, makes them that much more real, that much more urgent. Our strengths come from ourselves and from each other, and the more we lend support in direct and meaningful ways to each other, the stronger our “movement” gets. As a network of small grassroots groups, all acutely aware of the dire situation we’re in, we are resilient and capable of building the future we want. We do not require the “leadership” of major NGOs who are interested in compromise. In a declaration put out by the It Takes Roots delegation, the failures of our climate leadership were juxtaposed with the need for our work to continue: “We leave Paris only more aligned, and more committed than ever that our collective power and growing movement is what is forcing the question of extraction into the global arena. We will continue to fight at every level to defend our communities, the earth and future generations.” It is that dedication that will save our planet, and nothing less.
“Syria can seem an endless black hole of misery, but in the northern, largely Kurdish region of Rojava, it is also the scene of a profoundly democratic and humanist revolution, which places the rights of ethnic minorities and women’s liberation at its centre.
Ironically, given the horror that surrounds it, Rojava is the site of the most profound experiments on grassroots, participatory democracy outside of the revolutionary projects in Latin America. Like in Venezuela, the ideal of “the commune” is at the heart of Rojava’s burgeoning democracy…..
“We believe that a revolution that does not open the way for women’s liberation is not a revolution. There have been revolutions in Libya and Egypt and Tunisia … but the same status for women has persisted.” Because of the war, devastation and isolation that Rojava is subjected to, its economy is largely geared toward survival. However, its socialist-oriented emphasis is on providing universal housing, nutrition, healthcare, childcare and education — none of which were provided by the Syrian government during peacetime. The revolution in Rojava is explicitly a multi-ethnic revolution. In its preamble, the constitution of the Rojava autonomous cantons describes Rojava’s cantons as “a confederation of Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs, Arameans, Turkmen, Armenians and Chechens”. It continues: “In building a society free from authoritarianism, militarism, centralism and the intervention of religious authority in public affairs, the Charter recognises Syria’s territorial integrity and aspires to maintain domestic and international peace.”
On the eve of the publication of her new book, Naomi Klein talks about the things that give her hope in a world that can sometimes feel very bleak.Naomi Klein rose to international acclaim in 1999 by explaining how big corporations were exploiting our insecurities to convince us to spend money we didn’t have, on stuff we didn’t need No Logo. In 2007 she masterfully dissected the ways those steering the global economy use moments of social and environmental crisis to justify transferring public wealth into the hands of the ultra-rich The Shock Doctrine. Less-known though are the alternatives Klein spends much of her time witnessing, documenting, and digging into, from the spread of fossil fuel divestment, to community-owned energy projects and resistance to tar sands pipelines.On the eve of the publication of her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate, Klein sat down with Liam Barrington-Bush at the Peoples Social Forum in Ottawa, to talk about where she finds hope in a world that can sometimes feel very bleak. She reminds us that in a culture that treats people as consumers and relationships as transactions, ‘we’re not who we were told we were.’::::::::::::::::::::::LBB: In a recent piece in the Nation, you wrote: “Because of the way our daily lives have been altered by both market and technological triumphalism, we lack many of the observational tools necessary to convince ourselves that climate change is real — let alone the confidence to believe that a different way of living is possible.” What has helped you to believe that a different way of living is possible?NK: I think part of it is just having been lucky enough to have seen other ways of living and to have lived differently myself. To know that not only is living differently not the end of the world, but in many cases, it has enabled some of the happiest times of my life.I think the truth is that we spend a lot of time being afraid of what we would lose if we ever took this crisis seriously. I had this experience when I had been living in Argentina for a couple of years; I came back to the US because I had agreed to do this speech at an American university. It was in Colorado and I went directly from Buenos Aires, which was just on fire at that moment; the culture was so rich, the sense of community was so strong. It was the most transformative experience of my life to be able to be part of that.So I end up staying at a Holiday Inn, looking out at a parking lot, and it’s just so incredibly grim. I go to this class and I do my spiel. I was talking about Argentina and the economic crisis. At this point the US economy’s booming and nobody thinks anything like this could ever happen to them. And this young woman says, “I hear what you’re saying, but why should I care?”
Maude Barlow received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from York University in Toronto yesterday morning. Here are her speaking notes for the Convocation ceremony.Chancellor Gregory Sorbara, President Mamdouh Shoukri, the Senate of York University, and all the graduation students, It is a great honour to share this convocation with you today. I am moved by your grace, energy and hope on this lovely June day.In the few minutes I have to share with you I would like to urge you all, no matter what your education specialty, what vocation you choose, or where you live, to give some of your precious life energy to the great environmental challenges that face us today.