Read

Search form

Communities Of Color Tackle Climate As "Our Power" Movement Heats Up Richmond

Communities Of Color Tackle Climate As "Our Power" Movement Heats Up Richmond
Wed, 8/6/2014 - by Michael Levitin

RICHMOND, Calif. – It's home to one of the world's largest oil corporations, Chevron, whose 2012 refinery blast and fire sent 15,000 residents here fleeing for emergency medical treatment. It's also ground zero in the nationwide fight of homeowners to reclaim and refinance their underwater mortgages through eminent domain.

Now, Richmond, a city of 106,000 in the East Bay just north of Oakland, is hosting the third Our Power National Convening, bringing social activists together from across America to share strategies that tackle the economic-environmental crises facing this city and so many like it.

"The fundamental question is: what do we, as vulnerable communities, do to be resilient?" said Stephanie Hervey, a social justice advocate and one of the organizers of the Convening, which runs Aug. 6-9. "We have the expertise, we have the communities. We’re not going to wait for [the] legislature – we’re going to do it on our own."

The first Our Power gathering happened last year in Black Mesa, Ariz., and the second one took place this past June in Detroit. The prime focus, said Hervey, is to bring together urban and less advantaged "frontline communities" to discuss ways that they can impact – and create local solutions to – issues ranging from energy use and food scarcity to homelessness and corporate abuse of communities.

"Corporations are going to be following us – the communities that are on the road to this, taking better stewardship of resources, conservation, restoration, transformation, cutting down consumption, recycling – making this more of a national movement so that we can catch up with the rest of the world," said Hervey, a former business intelligence analyst for corporations like Boeing and Oracle, and more recently the founder of The Artisan Hub and a member of the Black Mobilization Organization for Education in Richmond, or BMOER.

Like Detroit, where community groups rose up in recent weeks to defend thousands of residents facing water shutoffs because they were late on bill payments, Richmond seeks to lead with a "transformative perspective" as it addresses the dual economic and ecological challenges that it and cities everywhere are facing.

“Both of our cities have very distinct ways of resolving our problems, but the same goal: we’re trying to build solidarity and bring [issues] to a national forefront so other communities affected like us will ally their power," added Hervey. That means "cities where there’s fracking, or water contamination in West Virginia, or tar sands development in Utah."

"This is about showing the difference between what we can do and what corporations can do“ to unite communities, she continued. "This is culturally diverse, indigenous, self governance-based. It’s dealing with vulnerable communities, communities of color, multi-cultural communities [including] Asians, African Americans, indigenous people," and more.

The Our Power National Convening includes dozens of organizations grouped under the Climate Justice Alliance, whose mission is "to forge a scalable and socio-economically just transition away from unsustainable energy towards local living economies," rooted in the new realities of climate change.

Organizations participating in the Convening range from Rich City Rides, which promotes more bike use and less fuel use in Richmond's communities of color, to [Urban Tilth],(http://www.urbantilth.org/) whose youth apprenticeship program trains inner city youth to grow their own food and manage land independently; The Watershed Project, which focuses on restoring and conserving local watersheds, and Solar Richmond dedicated to growing the green collar economy through solar installation programs.

In the past, and still in many places today, the enormous fears and implications of climate change have taken a backseat to more immediate, bread-and-butter economic issues facing poor and working class communities. But this is starting to change, said Hervey.

Gatherings like this "help them wake up and be aware and say, ‘Wow, if I don’t have electricity, I know lights can get cut off,'" she said. "It’s a culture shift [that's] very difficult for low-income communities of color, seniors, LGBT, disabled and homeless people."

Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 6-7, will include workshops at Peres Elementary School, where some 400 participants are expected to attend. On Friday, Aug. 8, the community and organizations will create strategies to implement moving forward, and Saturday, Aug. 9, will be a day of direct action.

"It’s community resilience," added Hervey. "It's people organizing to empower ourselves – to generate our own energy and economic solutions."

Find out more about the Our Power National Convening here.

Michael Levitin is an editor at Occupy.com and was an editor for the Occupied Wall Street Journal. His freelance work has appeared in Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times and other publications. Read Michael's other articles on Occupy.com
 

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

sustainable communities

Our Village Life’s exchange system lets people purchase and trade goods and services for time as well as money.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP, free trade agreements, corporate trade deals, Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, Sigmar Gabriel

Sigmar Gabriel, the Minister for Economic Affairs and head of the Social Democrats, said Sunday that after 14 rounds of talks, the U.S. and E.U. have yet to agree on even one chapter out of the 27 being discussed.

Zimbabwe protests, Robert Mugabe, tear gas, Zimbabwe pro-democracy movement

Friday's "mega-demonstration" marked the first time that Zimbabwe's fractured opposition joined in a single action to confront President Robert Mugabe's government in a decade.

fascism, Donald Trump, Nazis, capitalists, Goldman Sachs, Brexit, racist politics, Kim Phillips-Fein

We would not have the rabidly free market, neoliberal – and increasingly fascist-leaning – system we have today if not for capitalists who have invested in small far-right groups from the 1930s onwards.

Dakota Access pipeline, Standing Rock Sioux tribe, Keystone XL pipeline, oil pipelines, gas pipelines, pipeline protests, carbon emissions, oil pollution

For starters, this protest is about a competing idea for the future of the planet – and waves of people will show up to make that point.

EpiPen, Heather Bresch, Joe Manchin, Mylan Pharmaceutical

Sen. Amy Klobuchar has demanded hearings on the EpiPen’s 450 percent price increase in just seven years.

Posted 5 days 16 hours ago

Rapid population growth, wastewater pollution, an increase in dams – and sweeping changes wrought by climate change – are imperiling Pakistan's treasured wetlands and river systems.

Posted 4 days 17 hours ago
income inequality, the 99%, Occupy Wall Street

It may not improve much next year, if House Republicans have their way.

Posted 6 days 8 hours ago
act out, occupy, art, creative activism, private prisons, DOJ, CCA, GEO, ICE, federal bureau of prisons, 2016 olympic games, olympics in rio, olympic devastation, favela, brazilian government, dilma rousseff, michel temer, income inequality, solutionary

This week: The DOJ announced that they're breaking up with private prisons.

Posted 6 days 8 hours ago
marijuana, public banking, Drug Enforcement Agency, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Because marijuana continues to be classified as a Schedule 1 drug, private banks are effectively prohibited from fully participating in this market.

Posted 5 days 16 hours ago
Mexican teacher strikes, Nochixtlán massacre, National Coordination of Education Workers, National Union of Education Workers, Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexican school closures, MORENA party, National Regeneration Movement, California Federation of Teachers, Ca

As the Mexican school year is starting, teachers in four states have refused to return to classes until a negotiated agreement changes the government’s program – and perpetrators of a massacre are held responsible.

EpiPen, Heather Bresch, Joe Manchin, Mylan Pharmaceutical

Sen. Amy Klobuchar has demanded hearings on the EpiPen’s 450 percent price increase in just seven years.

Dakota Access pipeline, Standing Rock Sioux tribe, Keystone XL pipeline, oil pipelines, gas pipelines, pipeline protests, carbon emissions, oil pollution

For starters, this protest is about a competing idea for the future of the planet – and waves of people will show up to make that point.

Rapid population growth, wastewater pollution, an increase in dams – and sweeping changes wrought by climate change – are imperiling Pakistan's treasured wetlands and river systems.

marijuana, public banking, Drug Enforcement Agency, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Because marijuana continues to be classified as a Schedule 1 drug, private banks are effectively prohibited from fully participating in this market.