Author Archives: DP

Fortress Conservation

At the end of a week that included wildly premature celebrations over the passage of a profoundly flawed climate bill, we relay a letter from Extinction Rebellion Global Support, reporting on an often overlooked aspect of conservation in the global south:

Since early 2022, the Maasai in northern Tanzania have intensified their fight against eviction from their ancestral lands in the Ngorongoro conservation area and Loliondo.

The government wants to use the lands to make a safari park and expand trophy hunting opportunities, and have subjected the Maasai communities to waves of violence, exclusion, and evictions. Over the past months, XR Youth Solidarity and other rebel groups have organised joint international solidarity actions with the Maasai.

In February, the Maasai organised a blockade at the entrance to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. At the same time, rebels in London and Edinburgh protested outside the Tanzanian High Commission and several travel agencies who fuel the tourism that is driving the Maasai evictions.

Conservation projects often involve the violent theft of land from indigenous and other local communities, most of whom have lived in harmony with that land for millennia. It is known as Fortress Conservation, or colonial conservation, and the Environmental Justice Atlas currently records 141 cases worldwide.

Fortress Conservation is accepted or even practiced by many well-known organizations, for example WWF, and is used by corporations to greenwash their extractivism. The Maasai and rebel groups have launched a boycott of companies that benefit from the practice and the tourism it fosters.

80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity is on indigenous lands, and communities like the Massai want to lead our efforts to protect the planet and stop ecocide, not be displaced by them.

In July, a delegation of indigenous East African people travelled to a major conservation conference in Rwanda and demanded an end to Fortress Conservation, and the beginning of indigenous led conservation without Western intervention.

 

MAASAI BLOCKADE IN NGORONGORO

 

 

 

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The Golden Strand

Now comes the richly layered voice of Terry Tempest Williams, with a few paragraphs from a recent essay.

The image is from the extraordinary exhibition In Memory, by Shiota Chiharu, as relayed from the website of the Gana Art Center.

 

 

 

A statement from Shiota Chiharu, offered during a press conference following the opening of her exhibition:

“I wanted to put emphasis on the boat, because I believe that boats hold memories and their role is to move and carry them places. I call dresses, or clothes, a second skin because I believe they connect people together and are a means to express themselves. The paper represents the thoughts that people have. I am also fond of boats because while riding in them, they always have people think about where they are headed toward, and where their destination is. The color white may typically be used as a symbol for death, but I think otherwise. To me, it means both life and death, because when there’s an end, there is always another beginning.” 

 

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Love & Rage

At the end of a week during which evidence of a deepening climate emergency continues to accumulate and accelerate, we relay a letter from the front lines of the Extinction Rebellion:

My name is Miriam and I live in Campeche, a coastal state in the south of Mexico. This is where the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs landed. Now we’re living through another extinction event, and this time humanity is the cause.

I knew about climate change and environmental pollution. Droughts and plastic bottles are everywhere in Mexico. But when the pandemic hit and we were all trapped inside our homes, I really started to research it all. I read about capitalism, about colonialism, about climate science. I realized system change was the only solution.

I thought I was alone, until I read a fabulous article that introduced me to Extinction Rebellion. I had found my people! But there was no XR group in Campeche. So I contacted rebels in Mexico city, and through them met the Latin America team of XR Global Support.

 

 

Today, you can say I am a full time rebel. XR Campeche, which I founded earlier this year, is 15 rebels strong and has brought non-violent direct action, and the beautiful Blue Brigade, to the streets of Mexico.

We recently connected with local groups all over the world to take part in the Debt For Climate campaign, handing out fake ‘XR money’ to spread awareness of the climate crisis.

None of this would have happened without the training, the funding, and the friendship of XR Global Support.

Here in Mexico, you have to be brave if you want to be an activist. Anyone who is not part of a mainstream political party is considered crazy, and the drug cartels have made it one of the most dangerous places to protest in the world.

But the politicians are not doing their job, and the media blinds people from the truth. We need a post-capitalist economy, and XR Campeche will keep campaigning to bring it about.

Donate to XR Global Support so groups like ours can keep telling people the truth in every region of the world.

Love & rage,

Miriam, XR Campeche

DONATE WHAT YOU CAN

 

 

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The Absent Referent

We are grateful to a DP correspondent for steering towards an excellent essay by distinguished philosophers and animal rights ethicists Alice Crary and Lori Gruen, adapted from their recently published book, Animal Crisis: A New Critical Theory. A few paragraphs below, with the cover image linked to the book’s webpage. 

 

 

 

 

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All Hands On Deck

Now comes Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the novel Ministry for the Future, which has been making the rounds here at DP while the climate emergency becomes ever more acute, with increasingly dangerous consequences, not just for human communities, but for the whole of life on mother earth.

Below, a brief excerpt from a recent interview on the Bioneers website; the image, also relayed from Bioneers, links to Robinson’s excellent 2015 keynote address, even more relevant today.

 

 

 

 

 

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Small Particle Parts

Now comes Lidia Yuknavitch, author of the novels The Book of JoanThe Small Backs of Children, and Dora: A Headcase; short story collection Verge; and of the memoir The Chronology of Water. Below, an excerpt from an essay for the increasingly indispensable Orion magazine; the image also relayed from Orion.

 

 

 

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Marginalized and Muted

With “Independence Day” upon us, unspooling the usual vaingloriously selective memory pageant, we serve to relay a recent missive from the honorable Janet Alkire, Chairwoman of the Standing Rock Sioux, with a link to a recent video.

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If you’ve been following our email updates for the past couple months, I hope you’re getting some valuable new perspectives on the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) from our “Dakota Water Wars” series, co-produced by Standing Rock in conjunction with the Oceti Sakowin, the Great Plains Water Alliance, and the Lakota People’s Law Project. Today, I invite you to take in our fifth installment: Ignoring Tribes and Ignoring Laws.

 

 

Here’s the bottom line: little has changed since the colonizers arrived on the shores of Turtle Island more than 500 years ago. Our voices are neither heard nor respected, and, whether the issue of the day is resource depletion or extraction, the consequences for our people are never considered important by the U.S. government. But there are always consequences.

We have been removed, relocated, reeducated, and killed. Our rivers have been poisoned, and our animal relatives brought to the edge of extinction and beyond. The same patterns repeat again and again, and still we remain marginalized and muted.

But it’s not only we who are ignored; there are also laws. Good laws that affect our people have, on occasion, been passed, including the Indian Child Welfare Act (which is now under attack at the Supreme Court). But, too often, when an opportunity arises to take our children or extract the next resource, like the toxic Bakken crude oil flowing through DAPL, the colonizer finds ways around his own laws. Or, perhaps, he breaks them knowing he’ll get away with it, especially if the groups most adversely affected are Native.

That’s exactly what happened with DAPL. During our lawsuit to stop the pipeline, the Department of Justice argued that tribal input wasn’t required. The judge disagreed, saying that denying our ability to refute the oil company’s specious claims means DAPL remains “highly controversial under NEPA.” Since the National Environmental Policy Act is there in part to regulate impacts of projects like this one, the oil company is ignoring not just us, but also the law. Sadly, though, there have been no consequences for the oil company, because the U.S. government has abdicated its responsibility to enforce its own laws.

That’s why I continue to make sure you’re aware of what’s happening, and it’s why I’m pressuring federal agencies to hold up their end of the bargain. It’s up to all of us to keep fighting. As our elder, Phyllis Young, says in the video: we must define and instill a new culture of mutual respect, mutual participation, and mutual benefit.

Wopila tanka.

Thank you for watching, reading, and standing with Standing Rock.

Janet Alkire
ChairwomanStanding Rock Sioux Tribe

 

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Carved and Painted

Now comes a brief dialogue with distinguished artist and DP friend Morgan Bulkeley, regarding an extraordinary series of carved and painted reliefs completed during the Covidzeit, with an Autumn 2021 show at the Yezerski Gallery in Boston.

 

Images by Morgan Bulkeley; video by Hans Teensma.

 

LUCY

 

 

FRITTERING WITH MY FACE

 

 

UNTITLED IVORYBILL SCULPTURE

 

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Where Philosophy Begins

We continue our celebration of the literary philosophy and philosophical literature of Olga Tokarczuk with a few excerpts from a recent essay that roams through diverse “eccentricities” in search of a fresh way of thinking through the world. She begins with an engraving, published in 1888 by the French astronomer Camille Flammarion.

 

 

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Against the Unimaginable

For the next two weeks, we bend our ears to two remarkable essays from the exceptionally gifted Polish novelist Olga Tokarczuk, the first of which was delivered as her Nobel lecture in 2018.

No need for visuals, save for a screen snap of the author in full command of the Nobel podium. 

 

 

 

Following our reading of Flights, we suggest that such a storyteller, one who writes vividly and generously into and through the wounded world with a restless sense of limitless imaginative possibility, may already be among us. Her name is Olga Tokarczuk.

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