Monday, 16 September 2013


(three new stories for those left of liberalism)

* Big Green NGO's are NOT winning - they're not even fighting
articles by Naomi Klein, MacDonald Stainsby, and Dru Oja Jay

* BCFED SELLS BC OUT TO THE FRACKERS: Union bosses fall for Christy Clark’s LNG pipe dream
by Rafe Mair

Big Oil funds "Reconciliation" in Vancouver
by Khelsilem Rivers



"Green is the Color of Money" by The Stimulator

And Cory Morningstar's site and pages

Naomi Klein: Green Groups May Be More Damaging Than Climate Change Deniers

By Jason Mark / Earth Island Journal September 5, 2013 

Canadian author Naomi Klein is so well known for her blade-sharp commentary that it’s easy to forget that she is, above all, a first-rate reporter. I got a glimpse into her priorities as I was working on this interview. Klein told me she was worried that some of the things she had said would make it hard for her to land an interview with a president of the one of the Big Green groups (read below and you’ll see why). She was more interested in nabbing the story than being the story; her reporting trumped any opinion-making.

During your career you’ve written about the power of brand names, populist movements around the world, and free market fundamentalism. Why now a book and film on climate change?

You know, The Shock Doctrine, my last book, ends with climate change. It ends with a vision of a dystopic future where you have weak infrastructure colliding with heavy weather, as we saw with Hurricane Katrina. And rather than working to prevent future disasters by having lower emissions, you have all these attempts to take advantage of that crisis. At the time, it seemed to me that climate change was potentially going to be the biggest disaster-capitalism free-for-all that we’ve seen yet. So it was quite a logical progression for me to go from writing about disaster-capitalism in The Shock Doctrine to writing about climate change. As I was writing The Shock Doctrine, I was covering the Iraq War and profiteering from the war, and I started to see these patterns repeat in the aftermath of natural disasters, like the Asian tsunami and then Hurricane Katrina. There are chapters in that book on both of those events. Then I came to the idea that climate change could be a kind of a “people’s shock,” an answer to the shock doctrine – not just another opportunity by the disaster capitalists to feed off of misery, but an opportunity for progressive forces to deepen democracy and really improve livelihoods around the world. Then I came across the idea of “climate debt” when I was doing a piece on reparations for Harper’s magazine. I had a meeting with Bolivia’s climate negotiator in Geneva – her name is Angélica Navarro – and she put the case to me that climate change could be an opportunity for a global Green Marshall Plan with the North paying climate debts in the form of huge green development project.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy you wrote about the potential of a “people’s shock.” Do you see that it’s happening, a global grass-roots response to some of the extreme weather we’re experiencing?

I see a people’s shock happening broadly, where on lots of different fronts you have constituencies coming forward who have been fighting, for instance, for sustainable agriculture for many, many years, and now realize that it’s also a climate solution. You have a lot of reframing of issues – and not in an opportunistic way, just another layer of understanding. Here in Canada, the people who oppose the tar sands most forcefully are Indigenous people living downstream from the tar sands. They are not opposing it because of climate change – they are opposing it because it poisons their bodies. But the fact that it’s also ruining the planet adds another layer of urgency. And it’s that layering of climate change on top of other issues that holds a huge amount of potential.
In terms of Hurricane Sandy, I really do see some hopeful, grass-roots responses, particularly in the Rockaways, where people were very organized right from the beginning, where Occupy Sandy was very strong, where new networks emerged. The first phase is just recovery, and now as you have a corporate-driven reconstruction process descending, those organized communities are in a position to respond, to go to the meetings, to take on the real estate developers, to talk about another vision of public housing that is way better than what’s there right now. So yeah, it’s definitely happening. Right now it’s under the radar, but I’m following it quite closely.

In a piece you wrote for the Nation in November 2011 you suggested that when it comes to climate change, there’s a dual denialism at work – conservatives deny the science while some liberals deny the political implications of the science. Why do you think that some environmentalists are resistant to grappling with climate change’s implications for the market and for economics?

Well, I think there is a very deep denialism in the environmental movement among the Big Green groups. And to be very honest with you, I think it’s been more damaging than the right-wing denialism in terms of how much ground we’ve lost. Because it has steered us in directions that have yielded very poor results. I think if we look at the track record of Kyoto, of the UN Clean Development Mechanism, the European Union’s emissions trading scheme – we now have close to a decade that we can measure these schemes against, and it’s disastrous. Not only are emissions up, but you have no end of scams to point to, which gives fodder to the right. The right took on cap-and-trade by saying it’s going to bankrupt us, it’s handouts to corporations, and, by the way, it’s not going to work. And they were right on all counts. Not in the bankrupting part, but they were right that this was a massive corporate giveaway, and they were right that it wasn’t going to bring us anywhere near what scientists were saying we needed to do lower emissions. So I think it’s a really important question why the green groups have been so unwilling to follow science to its logical conclusions. I think the scientists Kevin Anderson and his colleague Alice Bows at the Tyndall Centre have been the most courageous on this because they don’t just take on the green groups, they take on their fellow scientists for the way in which neoliberal economic orthodoxy has infiltrated the scientific establishment. It’s really scary reading. Because they have been saying, for at least for a decade, that getting to the emissions reduction levels that we need to get to in the developed world is not compatible with economic growth.
What we know is that the environmental movement had a series of dazzling victories in the late ’60s and in the ’70s where the whole legal framework for responding to pollution and to protecting wildlife came into law. It was just victory after victory after victory. And these were what came to be called “command-and-control” pieces of legislation. It was “don’t do that.” That substance is banned or tightly regulated. It was a top-down regulatory approach. And then it came to screeching halt when Reagan was elected. And he essentially waged war on the environmental movement very openly. We started to see some of the language that is common among those deniers – to equate environmentalism with Communism and so on. As the Cold War dwindled, environmentalism became the next target, the next Communism. Now, the movement at that stage could have responded in one of the two ways. It could have fought back and defended the values it stood for at that point, and tried to resist the steamroller that was neoliberalism in its early days. Or it could have adapted itself to this new reality, and changed itself to fit the rise of corporatist government. And it did the latter. Very consciously if you read what [Environmental Defense Fund president] Fred Krupp was saying at the time.

It was go along or get along.

Exactly. We now understand it’s about corporate partnerships. It’s not, “sue the bastards;” it’s, “work through corporate partnerships with the bastards.” There is no enemy anymore.
More than that, it’s casting corporations as the solution, as the willing participants and part of this solution. That’s the model that has lasted to this day.
I go back to something even like the fight over NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Big Green groups, with very few exceptions, lined up in favor of NAFTA, despite the fact that their memberships were revolting, and sold the deal very aggressively to the public. That’s the model that has been globalized through the World Trade Organization, and that is responsible in many ways for the levels of soaring emissions. We’ve globalized an utterly untenable economic model of hyperconsumerism. It’s now successfully spreading across the world, and it’s killing us.
It’s not that the green groups were spectators to this – they were partners in this. They were willing participants in this. It’s not every green group. It’s not Greenpeace, it’s not Friends of the Earth, it’s not, for the most part, the Sierra Club. It’s not, because it didn’t even exist yet. But I think it goes back to the elite roots of the movement, and the fact that when a lot of these conservation groups began there was kind of a noblesse oblige approach to conservation. It was about elites getting together and hiking and deciding to save nature. And then the elites changed. So if the environmental movement was going to decide to fight, they would have had to give up their elite status. And weren’t willing to give up their elite status. I think that’s a huge part of the reason why emissions are where they are.

At least in American culture, there is always this desire for the win-win scenario. But if we really want to get to, say, an 80 percent reduction in CO2 emissions, some people are going to lose. And I guess what you are saying is that it’s hard for the environmental leadership to look some of their partners in the eye and say, “You’re going to lose.”

Exactly. To pick on power. Their so-called win-win strategy has lost. That was the idea behind cap-and-trade. And it was a disastrously losing strategy. The green groups are not nearly as clever as they believe themselves to be. They got played on a spectacular scale. Many of their partners had one foot in US CAP [Climate Action Partnership] and the other in the US Chamber of Commerce. They were hedging their bets. And when it looked like they could get away with no legislation, they dumped US CAP completely.
The phrase win-win is interesting, because there are a lot of losers in the win-win strategy. A lot of people are sacrificed in the name of win-win. And in the US, we just keep it to the cap-and-trade fight and I know everyone is tired of fighting that fight. I do think there is a lot of evidence that we have not learned the key lessons of that failure.
And what do you think the key lessons are?
Well one of them is willingness to sacrifice – in the name of getting a win-win with big polluters who are part of that coalition – the communities that were living on the fence line. Communities, in Richmond, Calif., for instance, who would have been like, “We fight climate change and our kids won’t get as much asthma.” That win-win was broken because you get a deal that says, “OK you guys can keep polluting but you’re going to have to buy some offsets on the other side of the planet.” And the local win is gone, is sacrificed.
I’m in favor of win-win, you know. The book I am writing is arguing that our responses to climate change can rebuild the public sphere, can strengthen our communities, can have work with dignity. We can address the financial crisis and the ecological crisis at the same. I believe that. But I think it’s by building coalitions with people, not with corporations, that you are going to get those wins. And what I see is really a willingness to sacrifice the basic principles of solidarity, whether it is to that fence-line community in Richmond, Calif., or whether it’s with that Indigenous community in Brazil that, you know, is forced off their territory because their forest has just become a carbon sink or an offset and they no longer have access to the forest that allowed them to live sustainably because it’s policed. Because a conservation group has decided to trade it. So these sacrifices are made – there are a lot of losers in this model and there aren’t any wins I can see.

You were talking about the Clean Development Mechanism as a sort of disaster capitalism. Isn’t geoengineering the ultimate disaster capitalism?

I certainly think it’s the ultimate expression of a desire to avoid doing the hard work of reducing emissions, and I think that’s the appeal of it. I think we will see this trajectory the more and more climate change becomes impossible to deny. A lot of people will skip right to geoengineering. The appeal of geoengineering is that it doesn’t threaten our worldview. It leaves us in a dominant position. It says that there is an escape hatch. So all the stories that got us to this point, that flatter ourselves for our power, will just be scaled up.
[There is a] willingness to sacrifice large numbers of people in the way we respond to climate change – we are already showing a brutality in the face of climate change that I find really chilling. I don’t think we have the language to even describe [geoengineering], because we are with full knowledge deciding to allow cultures to die, to allow peoples to disappear. We have the ability to stop and we’re choosing not to. So I think the profound immorality and violence of that decision is not reflected in the language that we have. You see that we have these climate conventions where the African delegates are using words like “genocide,” and the European and North American delegates get very upset and defensive about this. The truth is that the UN definition of genocide is that it is the deliberate act to disappear and displace people. What the delegates representing the North are saying is that we are not doing this because we want you to disappear; we are doing this because we don’t care essentially. We don’t care if you disappear if we continue business-as-usual. That’s a side effect of collateral damage. Well, to the people that are actually facing the disappearance it doesn’t make a difference whether there is malice to it because it still could be prevented. And we’re choosing not to prevent it. I feel one of the crises that we’re facing is a crisis of language. We are not speaking about this with the language of urgency or mortality that the issue deserves.

You’ve said that progressives’ narratives are insufficient. What would be an alternative narrative to turn this situation around?

Well, I think the narrative that got us into this – that’s part of the reason why you have climate change denialism being such as powerful force in North America and in Australia – is really tied to the frontier mentality. It’s really tied to the idea of there always being more. We live on lands that were supposedly innocent, “discovered” lands where nature was so abundant. You could not imagine depletion ever. These are foundational myths.
And so I’ve taken a huge amount of hope from the emergence of the Idle No More movement, because of what I see as a tremendous generosity of spirit from Indigenous leadership right now to educate us in another narrative. I just did a panel with Idle No More and I was the only non-Native speaker at this event, and the other Native speakers were all saying we want to play this leadership role. It’s actually taken a long time to get to that point. There’s been so much abuse heaped upon these communities, and so much rightful anger at the people who stole their lands. This is the first time that I’ve seen this openness, open willingness that we have something to bring, we want to lead, we want to model another way which relates to the land. So that’s where I am getting a lot of hope right now.
The impacts of Idle No More are really not understood. My husband is making a documentary that goes with this book, and he’s directing it right now in Montana, and we’ve been doing a lot of filming on the northern Cheyenne reservation because there’s a huge, huge coal deposit that they’ve been debating for a lot of years – whether or not to dig out this coal. And it was really looking like they were going to dig it up. It goes against their prophecies, and it’s just very painful. Now there’s just this new generation of young people on that reserve who are determined to leave that coal in the ground, and are training themselves to do solar and wind, and they all talk about Idle No More. I think there’s something very powerful going on. In Canada it’s a very big deal. It’s very big deal in all of North America, because of the huge amount of untapped energy, fossil fuel energy, that is on Indigenous land. That goes for Arctic oil. It certainly goes for the tar sands. It goes for where they want to lay those pipelines. It goes for where the natural gas is. It goes for where the major coal deposits are in the US. I think in Canada we take Indigenous rights more seriously than in the US. I hope that will change.

It’s interesting because even as some of the Big Green groups have gotten enamored of the ideas of ecosystem services and natural capital, there’s this counter-narrative coming from the Global South and Indigenous communities. It’s almost like a dialectic.

That’s the counternarrative, and those are the alternative worldviews that are emerging at this moment. The other thing that is happening … I don’t know what to call it. It’s maybe a reformation movement, a grassroots rebellion. There’s something going on in the [environmental] movement in the US and Canada, and I think certainly in the UK. What I call the “astronaut’s eye worldview” – which has governed the Big Green environmental movement for so long – and by that I mean just looking down at Earth from above. I think it’s sort of time to let go of the icon of the globe, because it places us above it and I think it has allowed us to see nature in this really abstracted way and sort of move pieces, like pieces on a chessboard, and really loose touch with the Earth. You know, it’s like the planet instead of the Earth.
And I think where that really came to a head was over fracking. The head offices of the Sierra Club and the NRDC and the EDF all decided this was a “bridge fuel.” We’ve done the math and we’re going to come out in favor of this thing. And then they faced big pushbacks from their membership, most of all at the Sierra Club. And they all had to modify their position somewhat. It was the grassroots going, “Wait a minute, what kind of environmentalism is it that isn’t concerned about water, that isn’t concerned about industrialization of rural landscapes – what has environmentalism become?” And so we see this grassroots, place-based resistance in the movements against the Keystone XL pipeline and the Northern Gateway pipeline, the huge anti-fracking movement. And they are the ones winning victories, right?
I think the Big Green groups are becoming deeply irrelevant. Some get a lot of money from corporations and rich donors and foundations, but their whole model is in crisis.

I hate to end a downer like that.

I’m not sure that is a downer.

It might not be.

I should say I’m representing my own views. I see some big changes as well. I think the Sierra Club has gone through its own reformation. They are on the front line of these struggles now. I think a lot of these groups are having to listen to their members. And some of them will just refuse to change because they’re just too entrenched in the partnership model, they’ve got too many conflicts of interest at this stage. Those are the groups that are really going to suffer. And I think it’s OK. I think at this point, there’s a big push in Europe where 100 civil society groups are calling on the EU not to try to fix their failed carbon-trading system, but to actually drop it and start really talking about cutting emissions at home instead of doing this shell game. I think that’s the moment we’re in right now. We don’t have any more time to waste with these very clever, not working shell games.

Jason Mark is a writer-farmer with a deep background in environmental politics.  In addition to his work in the Earth Island Journal, his writings have appeared in the San Francisco ChronicleThe NationThe Progressive,Utne 


The Problem With the Big Green’s Naomi Klein Gripe


A few days ago a minor shizzle storm erupted on the climate-acting internet. Well-known anti-corporate author and researcher Naomi Klein gave an interview where she made some comments that, apparently, made some of the more corporate and right wing members of the environmentalist establishment elite upset. The problem with the comments, in a nutshell, is that Klein responded to questions about how people are able to go about their day-to-day business without screaming in a panic constantly about anthropogenic climate change.
The comments she uttered that caused the most anguish? Well, I’ve been swimming through this rather heated ocean of replies targeting Naomi Klein. This seems to be the lowest common denominator from the angered voices defending “Big Green.”
Well, I think there is a very deep denialism in the environmental movement among the Big Green groups. And to be very honest with you, I think it’s been more damaging than the right-wing denialism in terms of how much ground we’ve lost.1
This has been called variations of victim blaming. Leaving aside whether the very-well paid executives of corporate-partnered environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) are victims of much, it’s tossed about in several different manners. We are told that the people who are making the decisions about policy for such groups believe staunchly in the science, and are not in denial at all. Really?
Saying you believe in the science is one thing. Having policy proposals that reflect the science is another thing. Having policy that reflects the science and calls for actions that can bring this about is a third point. And finally, having a policy that respect the science, proposes to do something about it, has an action plan for achieving this and can do so in a means that does not make those who are suffering climate effects also pay (in various manners) for its solution is yet another point. And the replacement for what is wrong and how we get there itself needs to be measured on its own merits– not how well it fits the economy.
No one could possibly work in an environmental organization and not pay lip service to the science of climate change. It would be the equivalent of starting a new branch of Christianity and denying Jesus was the son of God. But is an official policy calling for the “stabilization” of the atmosphere at 450-550 ppm of carbon “realistic” to the science, or betrayal of science to embrace economic, capitalist logic? Well, to avoid picking on Environmental Defense, let’s mention that the NRDC, WWF, Nature Conservancy and many others now no longer adhere to the science.
They have embraced a world view that has taken climate denialism and use it as cover for capitalist denialism, the denial that the problem has been apportioning off the earth, air, land, water and more into things to sell. Why? Because they no longer are concerned with an analysis of power, at least not such that they wish to challenge it. Criticism of corporate environmentalism of the most obvious variety, i.e., groups like WWF or EDF, is like shooting tofu while it’s still in the packaging. So let’s go a little further than that.
So much of what Klein has to say here is exactly on the mark, all but a few passages are essential reading– but it weaves and dodges in the places where it needs to go straight ahead. The interviewer paraphrased the basic paradigm Klein is proposing, quite succinctly: “[C]onservatives deny the science while some liberals deny the political implications of the science.”
Exactly. The problem is we need to see who are the liberals, and who are the conservatives. Or, to dust off the old jargon, we need to apply a class analysis. Within the green movements. Of who is who, in policy terms and outlook. How did it come to be, and where is it going.
The reason we need to know this is straight forward: Many people want to do more than write a cheque for a group, they want to actively participate in the actualization of a vision of a world not threatened by climate change. So maybe people might want to decide if the outlook of the groups they are lending their time to is even remotely similar to their own beliefs.
As Klein was quoted as saying:
What we know is that the environmental movement had a series of dazzling victories in the late ’60s and in the ’70s[...]. It was just victory after victory after victory. And these were what came to be called “command-and-control” pieces of legislation. It was “don’t do that.” That substance is banned or tightly regulated. It was a top-down regulatory approach. And then it came to screeching halt when Reagan was elected. And he essentially waged war on the environmental movement very openly.
It could have fought back and defended the values it stood for at that point, and tried to resist the steamroller that was neoliberalism in its early days. Or it could have adapted itself to this new reality, and changed itself to fit the rise of corporatist government. And it did the latter.
There is a HUGE backstory that is missing here– or rather, a secret not being told. Around this time, the time of the advent of environmentalism being ascendant, certain American philanthropic foundations started a carrot approach to dealings with environmentalism.
As has been detailed in the past by Jeffrey St Clair and Alex Cockburn, the first major foray into ruling class liberals hi-jacking policy for environmentalists on a large scale took place when the Pew Foundation began adding green groups to those applicants who could receive money to organize. This created and entrenched a Green elite. Soon, without having to organize or fund raise or otherwise work outside of their offices, they got well-paying jobs and started being invited to the right meetings, dinners, banquets and more.
One of the people replying to Klein to defend the most right wing of right wing environmental organizations wrote:
“Seriously, how does Klein think they have stayed motivated through a quarter-century of 1) the most well-funded disinformation campaign in history and 2) the willful indifference of the media and cognoscenti, the ones who are responsible for making a true debate on the science all-but impossible […]?”
How have they stayed motivated? Does average wages of six figures a year, all travel costs, per diems, paid journeys to the far flung corners of the world to speak to other “green” experts or to hang around outside of the IPCC meetings not sound motivating? They have so much to lose, and the way to not lose it is to have policy proscriptions that can be amenable to the status quo– that is to power.
Environmentalists are curiously the only people who are supposedly to act in the sphere of social justice who are supposed to never force but only persuade. And yet on climate, we are dealing with the largest and most powerful human forces in existence: energy corporations who are a part of the US military industrial complex. We can point out the obvious: Having the head of the David Suzuki Foundation also consulting for Shell Oil is like a peace activist consulting for the Marines– but what of groups ostensibly in opposition to the energy corporations? Is this an accurate reality, or is it a picture we have been given?
Climate change organizing has received a lot more attention than where it was a few years ago. Despite the people who retort against the body of what Klein is saying, it is not the long hours these primarily white, well fed middle class people spent justifying to Dow Chemical that they need to call for 450-550 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere (regardless of the fact such numbers are deadly to most life on the planet) that caused world attention to skyrocket. World events, and actual victims have changed the narrative.
The crimes of Shell were elucidated to the world by the resistance of people, mainly indigenous, doing the day to day dying in the Niger Delta; the people giving them awards were the WWF. The crimes of fracking operators in the United States northeast were highlighted by farmers and ranchers who needed the water and noticed it was catching on fire and their skin was burning right off of their bones, the people telling us we need natural gas from fracking have been the NRDC. The destruction of the tar sands in Canada is most well known because of indigenous refusal to disappear from history to cancer and the destruction of their traditional forests; those who want us to work with Shell & Suncor run the David Suzuki Foundation.
Greenpeace, at least in the ‘home’ province of British Columbia, Canada, has suffered the same fate of accepting the simple logic that, to quote Naomi Klein’s interview, “We now understand it’s about corporate partnerships. It’s not, ‘sue the bastards;’ it’s, ‘work through corporate partnerships with the bastards’ There is no enemy anymore. More than that, it’s casting corporations as the solution, as the willing participants and part of this solution. That’s the model that has lasted to this day.”
Klein then goes on to outline the history of the Green Groups jumping ship to embrace NAFTA, even when the non-staff public supporters of these groups said no. If this were the only bar to measure an organization, then her statement “It’s not every green group,” would be correct. Big Green for Nafta did not include the short list of exceptions she makes. However, she had outlined the far more important marker in her interview earlier of corporate-partnered outlooks.
The part of the story that is missing (and it was just an interview) from her critique is the fundamental shift that took place in Green Groups that signed on to the pro NAFTA ENGO declarations. That shift had not involved Greenpeace nor the Sierra Club as yet; that has since taken place for both organizations. not only is guilty of the approach, it owes its very existence to the fundamental shift– and that shift was towards authoritarian structures steered by non-group actors playing the role of sugar daddy.
In the days before NAFTA was signed, The Pew Foundation had begun funding the Greens who ultimately agitated for the Free Trade Agreement; the pro-Democratic elite liberal foundations were all also wedded to Free Trade and the Clinton presidency.
In other words, the base of decision making is now in the hands of those with capital. Small wonder that whatever the campaigns so devised call for it always avoids challenging the logic of capital dominance itself.
Many people have picked apart the history of Greenpeace; entire books written on the subject don’t need to be revisited in a short article. Let’s just hit the highlights of the descent of Greenpeace in practice (not rhetoric) over the past few years, as giant foundations have laid control upon perhaps the most recognizable green group on the planet, in the very place it was born.
There have been multiple deals and partnerships between Greenpeace Canada and corporations in the last couple of decades. In the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, Greenpeace not only signed a deal with 8 other green interests alongside nearly two dozen logging companies at the same time, but the announcements were a bit of a coming out party for the model of authoritarian capitalism taking the reins of green groups in Canada, much like Greens for NAFTA did in the United States almost 20 years before.
The agreement was a (destruction of the vital) watershed moment. It was roundly condemned by First Nations community members for supposedly signing off on final status and use agreements without their consent. It was described by some experts as a farce, as it did not actually have scientific backing for many of the claims, leading to the creation of a “real CBFA map2” for circulation.
Greenpeace has since left the agreement. They did not cite concerns over First Nations sovereignty, public democratic input or problematic forestry giveaways that had resulted from the deal. Indeed, the reasons the deal was scuttled by GP was stated as: “a lack of any tangible increase in permanent protection and conservation of the Boreal Forest,3” and not proceeding at a pace consistent with the agreements around protected areas and “sustainable logging practices” not yet being applied.
Richard Brooks was the public face of Greenpeace who made the CBFA announcement. When this announcement went out, he was referenced in an oft repeated quip by Avrim Lazar who was representing the Forest Products Association of Canada [FPAC]:
“One interesting feature of the agreement here is with Greenpeace, David Suzuki, ForestEthics, Canadian Parks and Wilderness on our side– when someone else comes to try and bully us, the agreement actually requires that they come and work with us in repelling the attack and we’ll be able to say, ‘Fight me and fight my gang!’4” Brooks was then pointed at by Lazar.
Lazar’s point was a signed legal agreement to not only not support member companies forestry practices, but defend the corporations to their shareholders if other parties complained. Let’s say a woman from a Cree community doesn’t want to see an area that is part of a tree farm license held by an FPAC company logged– both because it is sensitive for fish habitat and also traditionally sacred to her nation. Greenpeace agreed to then intervene on the side of the forestry company. That’s more than capitalism, but outright eco-colonialism.
This same Brooks, still today working in forestry for Greenpeace (choice of words deliberate) has been given some rather remarkably blunt awards lately. He is currently feted (By GP itself) for winning the “Clean 50” award from “Delta Management” “corporate sustainability and clean technology search.” What’s that award for? “Honouring outstanding contributors to sustainable development and clean capitalism in Canada.”5 I swear I’m not making this stuff up.
However, let’s go over a little bit about the groups also standing with Greenpeace and Brooks at that press conference. There are 9 groups identified as environmental organizations in total.
There are uniting threads to these groups. Not one of them hold annual general meetings where policy is set by memberships, and a few of them aren’t actually Environmental NGO’s. This is the part of the story of the CBFA that seems to have been overlooked at the time.
The Canadian Boreal Initiative is one that does not exist, except as a program from Ducks Unlimited (DU). Ducks Unlimited itself, while they may send you a neato calendar or whatever is the Christmas mailout this year, is primarily funded by US foundations, and gets it through a route that goes through the US wing of the same organization. DU Canada then spends money on a project called “Canadian Boreal Initiative” that does not have a society, board of directors or public mandate of any sort.
The CBI is there to crush the notion of adversarial relations in the environment in favour of capitalist solutions in tandem with the most powerful corporations on the planet. The CBI advertises partnership with multiple industrial corporations, including Suncor, Canada’s largest energy company and original non-conglomerate tar sands developer. Further, Suncor was originally owned by Sunoco– and the founders (and still majority of the board) of the Pew Foundation // Charitable Trusts (and their splinter groups) also got their money from US big oil in their original endowment– today’s Sunoco.
Small world, isn’t it?
The CBFA marks the blurring of lines between all the various Green groups and fronts and foundations. The Pew Environment Group is directly funded by Pew, of course, but so are all the remaining groups.
The bigger uniting Foundation, however, is Tides Canada.
Immediately after the CBFA was announced, Tides Canada –formed as a legal entity separate from but related to the large US foundation, originally almost exclusively funded by none other than the Pew itself– began to work publicly extolling the agreement. Tides has gone into other areas as well, giving Greenpeace an award for the CBFA, citing the agreement as “showing the world how forest companies and environmental organizations can work together to secure a more sustainably managed Boreal Forest…”6 Tides also began to go public about Canadian tar sands organizing and other environmental issues. Backroom no more, the media treats them as just another group.
Greenpeace is supposedly the one grouping on this list that doesn’t receive oodles of corporate funding, and comparatively speaking, that’s the case. However, Tides has now begun earmarking major financial contributions to Greenpeace for campaigns: Prior to now around the CBFA, but more often for the North American Tar Sands Coalition, currently run by former Greenpeace activist but now favourite of green capitalists, Tzeporah Berman.
Now the rule has become this: If you have staff and are an environmental organization in North America, you are funded and directed by foundations who see “saving capitalism from itself” as the goal of environmentalism today. So what are we left with? Unfortunately, more of the same. South of the border, Bill McKibben’s outfit,, is a new face of this game. If only they were not.
Bolivia, with its president Evo Morales, hosted a People’s Summit in April, 2010 to bring in social movements, governments and social justice advocates from around the world who were attempting to go beyond the capitalist (and industrial) framework that has handcuffed both negotiators and grassroots activists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change talks, supposedly designed to determine a framework to tackle climate globally.
Almost all the major corrupt ENGOs were not there; however, was one of the invited groups and McKibben was a special guest. There were various peoples who wore 350 t-shirts and the like, positioning themselves as facilitators of various groups, and using that role to steer the conversation towards why people needed to adopt 350ppm as the goal. I want to avoid a long talk about the science– suffice to say the arguments were of “practicality”: “There is simply no way that one could (as of 3.5 years ago) call for 300ppm and get action from other governments to achieve this” to roughly paraphrase 350 interventions.
The response came that the call for 300ppm was made so that “no one was left behind”; 300 was the only number, if re-attainable, that did not extinguish the nations at the front burner of climate change to be sacrificed automatically. They have a slight, fading chance of existence into the future at a level of one degree rise in a stabilized atmosphere. 300 was decided upon to prevent any people from being made expendable. Some of the phrasing was very clear:
Under capitalism, Mother Earth is converted into a source of raw materials, and human beings into consumers and a means of production, into people that are seen as valuable only for what they own, and not for what they are.
Capitalism requires a powerful military industry for its processes of accumulation and imposition of control over territories and natural resources, suppressing the resistance of the peoples. It is an imperialist system of colonization of the planet.
Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.
Our vision is based on the principle of historical common but differentiated responsibilities, to demand the developed countries to commit with quantifiable goals of emission reduction that will allow to return the concentrations of greenhouse gases to 300 ppm, therefore the increase in the average world temperature to a maximum of one degree Celsius. 7
In Cancun for follow up meetings of the IPCC on climate negotiations, Bolivia itself was made expendable with their proposals– by both other nation states but also by ENGOs.
Since then, 350 has fared much better than the People’s Agreement of Cochabamba. In a recent piece8, I wrote a little on the history of 350 in the US. Suffice to say, they are now very well-funded, by the very same people who fund not just Big Green, but the very people in North America it is most deadly to hand direction of social justice struggles to: The US Democratic Party, especially the Hopey Changey variety of brand Obama.
It has been noted for quite some time now that Obama didn’t save the people of Iraq, or the workers in their over-mortgaged homes. Instead, he saved the bankers and the industrialists who have created the mess in the first place, through giving a large segment of the population a reason to “trust” again, and handing over trillions of US Dollars to the richest people on the planet. Bill McKibben’s, Greenpeace and all the other green groups mentioned or alluded to in Klein’s original piece have performed the same role for capitalism inside the environmental movement. Giving people reason to trust structures and look to corporations as “partners” in solutions to the problems created by– corporate capitalism.
At the end of her original interview, I have to say I agreed with Naomi Klein on the overwhelming bulk of what she said about the “Big Greens” and how they have (either by design or default) been better at creating complacency among climate activists and the population at large than the corporations. Who could possibly deny to themselves that oil or coal magnates have a rather vested interest in denying that climate change is as dire as the predictions of science?
But what happens when the advocates of “climate action” propose actions that are doomed to failure, being wrapped in false economic logic, rather than demands that deny the right of capital first and foremost?
Is the problem that we have gone so far down the “collaboration” model, the pro-capital model? The model where democratic decision making is an alien concept existing only outside of the environmental movement? It is excellent that this analysis is being re-fleshed out thanks to Naomi Klein making a few off the cuff remarks in an interview.
What do we do when Greenpeace signs agreements to try and silence any environmental criticism of corporations they enjoy partnerships with? Who do we criticize if we have been forced into bed with the Obama administration and John Kerry?
Finally, just a curiosity: Did not Naomi Klein herself join the board of directors awhile back9? Given her stated opinions on the corporate influence on ENGOs, it should be a great time to agitate for a new, democratic and honest movement: One that dares speak the name of capitalism, the creator of industrial climate change– and the failed corporate responses– today.
Macdonald Stainsby is an anti-tar sands and social justice activist, freelance writer and professional hitchhiker looking for a ride to the better world, currently based in Vancouver, Canada. He can be reached at

Where's the Democracy in the Environmental Movement?

Struggles against tar sands and fracking in Canada are missing an ASSÉ or a SNCC

The signing of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. Greenpeace activists and volunteers didn't know this was the framework they were organizing in. Greenpeace Forest Campaigner Richard Brooks, Stephen Kallick of the Pew Environment Group, and Avrim Lazar, Forest Products Association of Canada.
The signing of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. Greenpeace activists and volunteers didn't know this was the framework they were organizing in. Greenpeace Forest Campaigner Richard Brooks, Stephen Kallick of the Pew Environment Group, and Avrim Lazar, Forest Products Association of Canada.
With tar sands, fracking and mining all on the rise, there's never been a more important time for a strong environmental movement in Canada. Surveying the landscape of organizations, one thing is missing: democracy. Which is to say, meaningful informed participation among equal participants.
The images are familiar. People gathered together, making pivotal decisions about their collective direction in community halls, church basements, and conference rooms. Heated debates, pivotal votes, historic gatherings and galvanizing speeches. These are symbols of something that is basic to what it means for people to band together to fight powerful forces and change things.
Movements often have an organization that embodies their spirit. The US civil rights movement in the 1960s was driven forward by the Southern Christian Leadership Congress and theStudent Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The anti-nuclear direct action in the 1970s had the Movement for a New Society (MNS), and the "antiglobalization" movement of the 1990s and 2000s was an interwoven web of spokescouncil meetings and coalitions. Quebec's epic student strikes in 2005 and 2012 were initiated by the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ).
These and many other movement organizations made historic decisions democratically. They chose their leaders, or chose to have spokespersons instead. They debated, analyzed and decided on strategies and actions. It may not have been perfectly equal, but everyone agreed on the intention.
Today's environmental movement in Canada is different. There are a few small, member-based, grassroots groups, but there is nothing on the scale of SNCC, MNS or ASSÉ. These groups organize local events and actions, but lack the scale to set the direction for national or even provincial campaigns. The only national-level groups are Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGOs).
ENGOs are somewhat diverse politically, ranging from the David Suzuki Foundation, whose chair moonlights as a consultant for Shell Oil, to the Indigenous Tar Sands campaign, which fights for Indigenous sovereignty as the best way to stop environmental destruction. But almost all of them have a two things in common: their staff-driven structures depend on foundation funding, and none of them hold meetings where a membership meaningfully and democratically sets the agenda or selects leadership.
(The Council of Canadians is the only exception to both; it is member funded and holds an annual meeting of members. Greenpeace has some financial independence with an authoritarian structure. Organizations like the Sierra Club hold elections, but are dependent on grant money for their operations.)
Instead, strategies for Canada's environmental movement are formulated at island retreats, in boardrooms, and on staff conference calls. You won't find any public record of these decisions, and if you do, someone will likely get in trouble. Local activists and community members are enlisted to be a part of campaigns, often at the last minute, but are shut out of the larger discussions.
So, who makes the decisions for Canada's environmental movement? The lack of transparency makes it impossible to know for sure, but the handful of foundations that ENGOs rely on for funding have considerable sway.
A leaked 2008 strategy paper for the "Tar Sands Coalition" illustrates the power dynamic. Michael Marx, who was the director at the time, authored the document. In it, he declared that the "coalition," which sets the overall strategy for anti-tar sands activism by ENGOs, "shall remain invisible to the outside."  "Foundations investing most heavily in the campaign," Marx explained, "have a vested interest in exercising some control over the process." And that's why they created an invisible coalition of ENGOs who depend on them for funding.

That coalition exists today, and continues to hold secret meetings to decide on the future direction of anti-tar sands work. At a week-long retreat attended by ENGO reps last fall, participants agreed to not talk about what was decided at the meeting, or to speak about the individual who is in charge of the "coalition," who controls the distribution of a few million per year in foundation funding.

Because contemporary ENGOs rely on foundation money for all of their operations, they are forced to accept absurd levels of non-transparency, and are susceptible to a high level of foundation control of their activities. (Some fight for their independence more than others, but those who do must compete with more obsequious ENGOs for funding.)
This is not to say that ENGO staff, many of whom are idealistic, highly competent people, don't have any influence. It is to say that activists, members of the public and residents of directly affected communities have no direct influence at all if they're not occupying staff positions. In their quest for "exercising some control," funders are continuously driving a wedge between ENGO staff members and all other movement participants.

It wasn't always this way. The environmental movement made far and away its largest gains before foundation funding entered on to the scene. Starting in the 1960s, environmental activism became an massive phenonenon, with 20 million people participating in Earth Day 1970. Hundreds of groups sprang up. Many of the larger ones, as Naomi Klein recently put it, had "elite roots." But grassroots, community-based groups came up with the most impressivevictories.
The movement was powerful enough to make then-President Richard Nixon -- of all people -- enthusiastically sign the largest pieces of environmental legislation the US has seen before or since. Logging companies, nuclear energy advocates and polluters were on the run from hundreds of dedicated volunteers and small organizations.
In the 1980s, foundations like Pew Charitable Trusts began to funnel resources to the most moderate and authoritarian environmental groups, balooning their capacity in relation to lean, local volunteer-based groups. The effect was to reign in activism by demanding less and less while spending more and more. Environmentalists started talking about landing jobs instead of participating in a movement.
In the 1990s, the foundations -- led by Pew -- landed in Canada. Many groups already had top-down, non-transparent leadership structures. Some, notably Greenpeace, had recently made the decision to adopt a more authoritarian style.

But there were some holdouts. Groups with large, active memberships like the BC Sierra Club, were pulled in with the promise of funds. As Mehdi Najari, a former BC Sierra Club board member told me recently, the BC Sierra Club barely had two staff in the 1980s, but regularly packed out auditoriums across the province during public meetings. Thousands across BC were participating on a volunteer basis.

In 1991, in the wake of an NDP victory in British Columbia, Canadian ENGOs got their first taste of foundation cash. "There was this idea that all that was missing was money," said Najari. "They went and got big places, big staff," and NGOs didn't have to mobilize their members anymore. "Their money was coming from a different channel, they were less and less active."
It didn't take much. Najari says the first payment to BC Environmental groups was a little over $600,000, though it later inflated to millions. "For corporations, this is pennies; by spending that amount of money, they could totally change the dynamics of environmentalism in BC."
Democracy in member-based groups gave way to grant-dependence. Some groups simply used their top-down structures to mold themselves into the image foundations desired. Foundations created entirely new groups like ForestEthics, separate from any membership or popular mandate.
Corporate collaboration became the order of the day. The new game plan was a two step campaigning model. Step one: mobilize a noisy public campaign with lots of volunteer energy to stop destructive activity carried out by corporations. Step two: stop this campaign in its tracks, and enter into negotiations with those corporations behind closed doors.

The result was deals like the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement and the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA). In both cases, activists involved in the campaign had no idea what the overall strategy was, and were surprised when foundation-coordinated groups yanked funding for organizing and entered negotiations.
While one might imagine that there is some upside to centrally-controlled campaigning, the results are not promising.
Both agreements were trumpeted as quantum leaps for conservation, but in fact represented very limited gains. Ten years in, the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement (which infuriated local activists for its low-ball conservation requirements when it was signed, prompting Rainforest Action Network to withdraw its name) is still not being fully implemented. Four years after its signing, the CBFA is in disarray after Greenpeace and Canopy withdrew. Greenpeace is being sued for $7 million by forestry giant Resolute.
This limited vision is built in to foundation funding. Some foundations like Pew have strong ties to oil companies and have a track record of investing in the same corporations they supposedly are working on stopping. Some, like Rockefeller Brothers Fund, have historic ties to oil companies. Some, like Hewlett, position themselves with green energy. But with very few exceptions, they are run by powerful people with deep social and financial stakes in maintaining the aspects of the status quo which benefit their class.
Greener capitalism is the overall goal. Large foundations seek to legitimize capitalism by giving it a friendlier face. (Some radical foundations exist, but they are much smaller.) As one might expect, maintaining an economic system that gobbles up resources and generates ever-increasing consumption while also trying to be more environmentally friendly usually amounts to doing very little indeed.
Because of these underlying interests, foundation-run projects often fail to meet even modest conservation goals. As Naomi Klein recently noted, "if the environmental movement was going to decide to fight [neoliberalism], they would have had to give up their elite status. And weren’t willing to give up their elite status." Corporate collaboration, she concludes, has been a "disastrously losing strategy."

Though it is so often in direct opposition to foundation funding, democracy has many benefits. When thousands of people are involved in debating and deciding on strategies, the sense of ownership and investment they feel marks the difference between holding a banner and being a part of a process of societal transformation.
And because people draw on numerous sources and their own experience, their conclusions often exceed what leaders see as realistic. As Gary Snyder put it in 1978, "without knowing it, little old ladies in tennis shoes who work to save whooping cranes are enemies of the state, along with other more flamboyant figures."
Direct experience, whether with whooping cranes or a refinery next door, can transform people and unleash creativity within movements -- and if we're lucky, within society at large.

Working at the pace of volunteers instead of full-time staff also opens the door to a more diverse set of participants. Elders, parents and students can be a part of the mix, bringing their unique energies and wisdom.
The model of environmentalism which is currently dominant makes widespread participation and empowerment into a liability. It relies on tight control over activities to execute campaigns where the creativity is in-house or farmed out to an advertising firm for top dollar. It's a self-fulfilling mentality. If your goal is to control the activities of hundreds of volunteers to get a predetermined result, then those volunteers being empowered, opinionated and self-organized is a liability. (The oft-forgotten history of union-busting in ENGOs highlights this attitude.)
The most important benefit of democracy is the ability to change direction and leadership collectively. Right now, Canada's environmental movement is a large collection of individuals. Each participant has their own thoughts and opinion on the overall direction of the movement, but none of us has a venue to express that opinion collectively or do something about it collectively. It's a fundamentally disempowering situation.
Every other movement has had to deal with a wide array of organizations who are in some way at odds with the core of activists pushing things forward. The Civil Rights movement had the legally-oriented NAACP opposing direct action tactics. ASSÉ had to fight FEUQ during both student strikes while it fought the Quebec government at the same time. Having moderate groups around who try to slow things down and blunt the edges is nothing new.
But Canada's environmental movement is in a more exclusive club: movements which have no independent democratic venue which includes activists and volunteers. Where is our ASSÉ? Where is our SNCC?
We have nothing like them.
This, I should say, is not a new problem. 16 Greenpeace founders signed a letter declaring that "Greenpeace's leaders are paid too much, have lost their focus and must become more democratic." That was in 1996.
The struggle for a democratic movement is a long haul, but the need which drives it is nonetheless pressing. The shadowy foundation-controlled Tar Sands "Coalition" has launched the "Tar Sands Solutions Network," a name that strongly hints at future corporate collaboration deals coming down the pipe. While many of the individuals receiving the funding are surely against this. Indeed, one prominent tar sands campaigner has been quoted as saying he'll quit if corporate dealmaking comes to the tar sands. But is that enough to change direction?
Only time, and silent struggles within the coalition, will tell. That is, unless an independent, democratic alternative emerges.
An unfortunate side effect of foundation money coming to Canada every year is that it makes starting truly democratic grassroots efforts much more difficult. The expectations of staff pay and resources are much higher, and talented organizers tend to get picked off and hired by ENGOs. Often, they take their social networks with them.
But it is possible.
The most successful movements in history thrived without foundation money. Without them, the world would look very different today. The first step is a developing a recognition of the need for a democratic venue where movement participants can make decisions independent of foundations. The second is finding the will to build it.
Dru Oja Jay is a Montreal-based writer and organizer. He is co-author, with Nikolas Barry-Shaw, of Paved with Good Intentions: Canada's development NGOs from idealism to imperialism.


Why the Environmental Movement Is Not Winning

Sunday, 04 March 2012 08:16By Peter Montague
A searing new report says the environmental movement is not winning and lays the blame squarely on the failed policies of environmental funders. The movement hasn't won any "significant policy changes at the federal level in the United States since the 1980s" because funders have favored top-down elite strategies and have neglected to support a robust grassroots infrastructure. Environmental funders spent a whopping $10 billion between 2000 and 2009 but achieved relatively little because they failed to underwrite grassroots groups that are essential for any large-scale change, the report says. Released in late February by the National Committee for Responsive PhilanthropyCultivating the Grassroots was written by Sarah Hansen, who served as executive director of the Environmental Grantmakers Association from 1998 to 2005.

Environmental funders mainly support large, professionalized environmental organizations instead of the scrappy community-based groups that are most heavily impacted by environmental harms. Organizations with annual budgets greater than $5 million make up only 2 percent of all environmental groups, yet receive more than half of all environmental grants and donations.

The report makes the simple but profound argument that the current environmental funding strategy is not working and that, without targeting philanthropy at communities most impacted by environmental harms, the movement will continue to fail. "Our funding strategy is misaligned with the great perils our planet and environment face," Hansen writes.
"Environmental activists and funders all share a gnawing sense that something has to change. No sensible environmental activist would argue that we, as a field, have done what is needed to respond to environmental degradation," Hansen said in an interview.

Instead of funding community-based groups to generate ideas, strategies and political support for transformative change, environmental donors have thrown their weight behind narrow lobbying campaigns in Washington, D.C. -- for example, the failed inside-the-beltway campaign in 2009-2010 to pass "cap and trade" legislation to curb global warming. For their part, mainstream environmental groups hang pleas for environmental change on the apolitical hook of rational appeals, expecting that decision-makers confronted with powerful evidence will do the right thing. But this strategy has not worked because "a vocal, organized, sustained grassroots base is vital to achieving sustained change," the report asserts.

How Does Change Happen?

"In movements throughout history, the core of leadership came from a nucleus of directly impacted or oppressed communities while also engaging a much broader range of justice-seeking supporters." In other words, successful movements for social change -- anti-slavery, women's suffrage, labor rights, and civil rights -- have always been inspired, energized, and led by those most directly affected. Yet these are the very groups within the environmental movement that are starved for funds.

Analysis of environmental grantmaking, 2007-2009, reveals that only 15 percent of environmental grant dollars are classified as benefiting marginalized communities, and only 11 percent are classified as advancing "social justice" strategies, such as community organizing. The report makes a distinction between internet activism or getting your neighbor to sign a petition, and real community organizing. "Community organizing builds power by helping people understand the source of their social or political problems, connect with others facing the same challenges and, together, take action to win concrete change." Community organizing is messy and takes time.
The report also distinguishes between "national organizations that might parachute into local communities for one-time policy campaigns versus authentic, local organizations that not only work on those same short- term campaigns but, just as importantly, build long-term leadership and capacity in the community to amplify change in the future."

The report points out that the U.S. is growing racially and ethnically more diverse each year and by 2042 will be majority people of color. "New immigrants may come from countries with robust histories of social change movements that, combined with the increasing racial diversity of America's communities, provide an opportunity to diversify the ethnic composition of the environmental movement," the report says.
And: "Unlike many of the professional advocates in Washington, D.C., people of color, immigrants, poor people and young people often are living face to face with the devastating impacts of environmental degradation. These growing communities have the self-interest to do something and, increasingly, the collective power to potentially make real change but may lack the support or resources to organize."

"In this context, it is arguable that any push for environmental change which fails to prioritize communities of color is a losing strategy," the report says. And, "Until the broader concerns... of all communities are on the radar of environmentalists, it will be hard for environmentalists to be on the radar of all communities."

In a stunning revelation, the report offers evidence that, compared to the average of all philanthropic donors, environmental funders avoid supporting disadvantaged people: "There is a seemingly contradictory correlation: analysis shows the greater a funder's commitment to the environment, the less likely it is to prioritize marginalized communities or advance social justice in its environmental grantmaking."

Advice for Environmental Funders

The report offers a four-point roadmap for "funding the grassroots to win:"

1. Fund work that benefits communities of the future
Environmental funders should earmark somewhere between 20 and 50 percent of their total giving to underserved communities. Nearly half of all children in the United States today are black, Latino or Asian American and by 2042, a majority of Americans will be people of color. This is a powerful new constituency ready to take action on environmental issues, the report says. "Prioritizing funding for lower-income communities of color is not only strategic given that these communities are becoming the majority and support environmental change, but also because change that targets the most impacted populations has a multiplier effect for society as a whole," Hansen writes.

2. Invest 25 percent of grant dollars in grassroots action
Speaking directly to environmental funders, the report says, "We recommend that you allocate at least 25 percent of your grant dollars for social justice purposes, specifically with a focus on grassroots advocacy, organizing and civic engagement led by the communities most affected by environmental ills and climate change."
"The way to build a broad movement around environment and climate solutions is to mobilize diverse communities of people around issues that are much closer to their self-interest (such as stopping toxic pollution, creating viable new jobs and reducing energy bills) and then work intentionally to connect those individuals and campaigns to a larger understanding of communal and global interests. Grassroots groups need resources to be able to engage effectively at all levels (local, state, national and international)."

3. Build supportive infrastructure
As the highly-successful right wing in the U.S. can tell you, social movements grow large and powerful only when they are served by a deep infrastructure of organizations offering technical assistance and know-how. Local groups need to be able to find each other, share strategies, develop leadership, communicate their message, identify allies, and gain a wide range of skills. Such an infrastructure requires sustained funding and without it no movement can succeed.

4. Take the long view, prepare for tipping points
"Supporting grassroots organizing may require a paradigm shift in a foundation's grantmaking strategy. Depending on how your philanthropy currently supports grassroots organizations or does not, this can mean shedding expectations of microscopic, quick deliverables and embracing the slow, patient process of movement building. Legal work to overturn Jim Crow laws began in the early 1930s with Thurgood Marshall representing the NAACP lawsuits in Maryland. Imagine if early funders of the Civil Rights Movement had tried to "evaluate the impact" of their grants in the ensuing 20 years - before the popular movement took hold. Movement building takes time.

"In his important monograph Just Another Emperor: The Myths and Realities of Philanthrocapitalism, former Ford Foundation director Michael Edwards cautions that one of the downsides of increasingly infusing the nonprofit world with business ideals is that social change organizations are expected to churn out good, quarterly metrics. Extreme advocates of these ideas expect social change organizations to report mounds of data and compete with one another for funding based on "numbers" and "deliverables." But on February 1, 1960, sitting at a "Whites Only" lunch counter at a Woolworth's in Greensboro, N.C., there were only four African American students from a local college. Although those may not appear to be impressive metrics, consider the scale and scope of the movement they helped launch."


Rafe: Union bosses fall for Clark’s LNG pipe dream
September 10, 2013

When I read that BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair and Tom Sigurdson, head of the BC-Yukon Building Trades Council, had arrived at a deal with Premier Clark on training workers for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) business we’re told is coming, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Now let me make this clear – there is northing wrong and a lot right when traditional political foes shake hands on a deal that is beneficial to them or to the people of BC, or both. Way back in the 70s, Socred Labour Minister Allan Williams worked well with labour because there was trust.

Kicking Dix in the family jewels

The question this latest deal raises is more fundamental than simply making a deal that may never happen, complete with photo-ops in which, I might say, Mr. Sinclair looked most uncomfortable.
That this meeting kicks NDP Leader Adrian Dix right in the family jewels is obvious. Mr. Sinclair’s position goes way beyond NDP inner-politics and raises some interesting questions.
In his remarks, Mr. Sinclair talked about his members “building things”, as a basis for supporting LNG. He then went out of his way to attack Dix for opposing for the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion to Vancouver.
Let’s look at a couple of issues that make me think Mr. Sinclair is for anything that can be built.

The risks of LNG

What if, as I believe (and I’m not alone), no LNG plant goes ahead? Apart from the fact that he will have a lot of fences to mend with his own members, Mr. Sinclair will be tied to a failure.
What evidence does he have about what an LNG pipelines and plants will do environmentally? If Mr. Sinclair doesn’t give a damn and his position is simply an attack on Mr. Dix, that’s one thing – but if he believes some LNG pipelines and plants will be built, surely his members and the public-at-large should know about these fatcors.
According to Bloomberg, the Asian price for LNG should collapse to the point where we’re actually losing money – right about the time we enter the market.
Apart from LNG pipeline builders, who will mostly come from outside BC, and a few non-union white-collar jobs at the plant, where are the jobs for British Columbians?
For an LNG pipeline and plant to make sense, one must know what market there will be years ahead, when the plants are finally operational. If there are firm deals made – and open to public scrutiny – we must know what the price will be five years down the road.
Incidentally, according to Bloomberg, using the best data available, the Asian price for LNG should collapse to the point where we’re actually losing money, right about the time we enter the market.
What if the LNG entrepreneur wants to bring his regular crew in to construct the project? Is it Mr. Sinclair’s position that they can be barred to make way for local workers? Has Premier Clark guaranteed this? In advance of any action on the project?
Mr. Sinclair makes it pretty clear that he’s not concerned about the environment – if there’s something to be built, then let’s build it. He’s given his blessing for LNG projects before most of the dozen or so proposed have gone through environmental assessment of the plants or the pipelines associated with them. And that’s saying nothing of the controversial practice of  hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which would supply these pipelines and plants.

What about Fracking?

Let’s look at the last piece.
Environmental concerns are not piddling matters. Fracking involves deep drilling then using huge quantities of chemically-laced water. Where does that water come from? Where does it go? What about the stability of the ground around the extraction?
I infer from your comments, Mr. Sinclair, that you approve of the new Kinder Morgan pipeline and the Enbridge pipeline. I realize that you’re from Ontario and thus not as concerned about the beauty of this province as natives are. So are you saying that ”building” trumps environmental concerns?
Surely, you don’t insult the intelligence of the public by saying that Government/Industryenvironmental processes actually work! We know, for example, that Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and our Prime Minister have said that the Enbridge Pipeline will go ahead regardless of the findings of the Joint Review Panel hearings.
What you say, Mr. Sinclair, whether you think so or not, is that all members of the BC Federation of Labour must support LNG, the Enbridge pipeline and the Kinder Morgan expansion. The thousands of British Columbians who have strong environmental concerns must, if they are union members, change their evil ways and all get behind whatever project will allegedly get them jobs.
To meet with the government and try to get a good deal for your members is a very good idea, unless you’ve been played for a fool – which you just have been.

what ever happened to THIS guy?

Time for a bold green jobs plan for B.C: The provincial budget was shamefully silent on climate change and employment; we can do better
"The truth is that our future prosperity depends on integrating sustainability as a key driver of our province’s economic development. B.C. needs bold and purposeful policy and action to meet the biggest challenge of our time: climate change. Failure to act will be immensely costly to our ecology and our economy."
--Jim Sinclair and David Suzuki, April 2013


I asked [Tsleil-Waututh elder] Amy George if she would be participating in British Columbia Truth and Reconciliation Week herself, and she said that Kinder Morgan is a  corporate sponsor of the event and that corrupts the entire effort and she won't have anything to do with it. 

"It's bullshit," she said. She said she wholeheartedly supports the residential school survivors, but that she doesn't understand why Kinder Morgan is supporting the reconciliation effort, even as it's destroying First Nations' land and livelihood through its oil sands pipelines.


Big Oil funds Reconciliation in Vancouver

By  • Sep 11, 2013

From September 18-21, 2013, the 'Truth and Reconciliation Commission' (TRC) is holding an event in British Columbia as part of its Canada-wide effort “to promote awareness and public education about the Residential School system and its impacts". Simultaneously a fairly new organization named 'Reconciliation Canada' is organizing some events of its own to coincide with TRC's event in BC. These events include a "Reconciliation Walk" and an "All Nations Canoe Gathering".
It is not widely known or reported that the TRC's BC Event is sponsored by none other than the American energy company Kinder Morgan. This curious little fact is quietly tucked away on their website for the event under "Acknowledgements".
In addition to Kinder Morgan sponsoring the Truth and Reconciliation event, Reconciliation Canada (organizers behind Reconciliation Week) has a curious sponsor of its own: Canadian energy company TransCanada. They are listed as "Bronze Sponsors" on Reconciliation Canada’s website.
Kinder Morgan is an American energy company based in Texas seeking to build a new Tar Sands pipeline from Calgary to Vancouver to ship Tar Sands oil to China, directly putting rivers, waters, and our way of life at extreme risk. They currently own and operate a pipeline port that was built in 1952 primarily for domestic consumption; the new pipeline will be used exclusively for international export. To be more specific, Kinder Morgan’s pipeline is seeking to carry up to 890,000 barrels of oil products per day traveling across nearly 800 km of BC and Alberta.
Imagine it: Kinder Morgan’s operation would expand from the current 70,000 barrels per day to 660,000 barrels per day being exported in oil tankers. Seventy-seven thousand to six hundred and sixty thousand! This would increase the number of tankers they use each year from 80 to 420--each one carrying three times the amount of oil that was spilled by the Exxon Valdez.
Keystone-pipeline-routeTransCanada is the energy company that seeks to build the Keystone XL Pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf Coast. This pipeline has faced huge opposition from Indigenous peoples along its route, along with environmentalists and many other concerned Canadians and Americans for the sheer environmental risk. Greenhouse gases emissions alone would exceed that of more than 4.6 million cars!
In addition to the Keystone XL, TransCanada is seeking to build the Coastal GasLink Pipeline from Alberta to the BC Coast; again, threatening the environment and livelihood of Indigenous people along the route.
I am a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) community organizer. I come from the territory where the main port for Kinder Morgan’s pipeline exists and plans to be built. The increased oil tanker traffic will travel through my peoples waters to ship raw bitumen to China. As a community that will be directly impacted by these plans and a descendant of Residential School survivors (having lived the inter-generational trauma from Residential Schools), I feel the issue of Big Oil sponsoring Reconciliation is an important issue that needs to be raised.
Big Oil companies such as Kinder Morgan and TransCanada use events such as this (particularly Indigenous organized events) to improve their public image in the face of opposition from Indigenous peoples and their allies. It gives them an opportunity to say, for example, "We support Aboriginal peoples by… giving sponsorship to these events, scholarships, foundations."
I hope I don't need to remind you that our Indigenous brothers and sisters up in the north and in the east are working extremely hard to prevent these pipelines from being built. In my community, we may not live with the direct impacts of an Oil Sand factory next to our reserve, or Liquified Natural Gas plants in our sacred 'Spirit Places' -- but this is what Indigenous communities are resisting in many places.
To accept and use money from these companies is outrageous. It is an obvious contradiction: How can the organizers promote reconciliation while giving Big Oil companies a pass when those same companies are directly involved in damaging Indigenous ways of life? This was the exact purpose of Residential Schools. The Residential School system had sought (among many things) to displace Indigenous peoples from our homelands; yet again, these companies are seeking to displace our peoples from our homelands to reap the benefit at our expense.
I felt it important to share this information in the hopes that we discuss the problem of accepting funding from such morally corrupt institutions.
In no way do I wish to diminish the work of those involved in either of these events or the opportunity to have Residential Schools survivors participate in something meaningful that brings healing to them and their families. But accepting this funding is an issue that cannot be unnoticed or unaddressed. If it is acceptable here and now, it will be acceptable in the future for other organizations.
In short: it sets a precedent.
The big question is: Are we willing to walk our talk? Will we stand by our principles in opposition to destructive pipelines, oil sands, fracking, and companies that are attempting to increase these activities?
Saying "No" may feel like a negative thing to say sometimes, but in other ways it is an empowering, uplifting, and strengthening act. In this case, it also means we are saying “Yes” to our cultures, lands, and ways of life.
As well-intentioned as funneling money out of the savage beast is, I can't in good faith see it anything but a tactic by our enemies to win. History of course repeats itself. It is a proven tactic.
In the late 1800s, the Catholic Church would start a mission to Christianize and convert my people. They began by offering gifts to prominent Sḵwx̱wú7mesh leaders to raise their stature and prominence. These leaders would be seen as special in the eyes of the Church. It would make these leaders more able, and more likely, to assist with converting the populace.
"The oppressors do not favor promoting the community as a whole, but rather selected leaders." - Paulo Freire
After using these converted leaders to assist in converting the people to Christianity, they slowly segregated the people to the confines of reserve boundaries. By the time there was a mass influx of European and Asian settlers, the reserve boundaries were cemented in the minds of the people, enabling a massive theft and destruction of our lands.
Those leaders may have been well intentioned. Hell -- I’ll give the Church the benefit of the doubt and say some of them may have been well intentioned. But let’s take a look at the legacy of this compromise:
Where are those gifts and where is the land?
Perhaps, 100 years from now, some of our descendants will talk about how these Big Oil companies offered gifts to select events, groups, and leaders, and how they in 100 years will have nothing to show for it.
As Indigenous people we live a life of paradox and contradiction. Our struggle for justice is to undo some of these contradictions. I understand not everything is black and white; but some things can be very simple. Out of all the choices we are given by government or destructive companies, will we accept their financial assistance thereby supporting their destructive agenda?
This is one choice we have complete control over. All we have to do is say “No”.
As I reflect on the paradox and contradiction of this whole issue, I am reminded of elder Marie George from Tsleil-waututh. The community Tsleil-waututh are neighbors to my people and live directly across from the Kinder Morgan oil tanker port. She has repeatedly said we need to oppose these companies and their plans. Her words that come to mind are:
- Ta7ah Said
Khelsilem Rivers is a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh-Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw community organizer from Vancouver, British Columbia. He has worked for a number of years on decolonization and language reclamation supporting the resurgence of Indigenous peoples around principles of justice, freedom, and liberation.


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