These are tumultuous times, yet in the bright, long days of a Northern summer, and as light returns to the South, we find cause for hope all around us.
In particular we have been inspired by those taking to the streets as part of the Black Lives Matter protests. The BLM movement has put a spotlight on the structural racism that continues to cause killings and violence from the streets of Minneapolis to indigenous communities deep in the Brazilian Amazon.
Racism, colonialism and the destruction of Nature are deeply and inextricably linked. We stand in solidarity with all those seeking to build a world free of all three. As Ben Okri recently wrote:
“Racism is a failure of humanity. It is a failure to be human. The lack of empathy is part of the problem that is destroying the world. The lack of empathy extends not just to humans but to other species and even to the planet as a whole…We know what to do. We must tear out the unconscious racism in our spirit.”
We are continually inspired by the resilience of our global network of partners in the Arctic, Amazon and sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the pandemic and their ongoing struggle against destruction, division and discrimination, they continue to protect and revive our living planet’s magnificent biological and cultural diversity.
In this Solstice newsletter we highlight their stories so that you can listen to, read, watch and be inspired by them.
Please share these stories widely, encourage others to sign up for our newsletter and, if you feel compelled, give a gift to support our work alongside Earth’s best custodians.
Liz Hosken, Director
SEED AND FOOD SOVEREIGNTY
“This time of crisis is creating fertile ground to plant the seeds of a more resilient, ecological food system.”
During lockdown people have been buying seeds, growing their own and recognising the importance of seed and food sovereignty in huge numbers. Our grower partners in the UK & Ireland Seed Sovereignty Programme have risen to the challenge of providing this life-giving, biodiverse seed. We recommend listening to the recent BBC radio documentary celebrating their work.
We also recommend our new Oat Quest Youtube mini-series. This follows Wales Seed Sovereignty Coordinator Katie Hastings and the new Llafur Ni (Our Grains) Network throughout an entire growing season, as they go on a collective quest to revive Wales’ endangered oat and grain varieties.
“Communities, Indigenous peoples, workers, and social movements must be at the centre of plans moving forward.”
As a member of the Yes to Life, No to Mining solidarity network, Gaia is part of an ongoing effort to monitor the mining industry’s attempts to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial findings of this tracking initiative were released in a new report – Voices from the Ground– in June, drawing global media coverage and supporting community organising worldwide.
Gaia’s Beyond Extractivism programme lead, Hannibal Rhoades, joined activists from Asia Pacific for a webinar exploring the report and why we must go beyond extractivism to realise a truly ‘green’ pandemic recovery. Catch up here.
“For the majority of human history, humans lived according to the laws of Nature, translated into customary laws.”
Our UN-recognised Earth Jurisprudence course for African activists has moved online during the pandemic and we’ve had many rich virtual exchanges. Graduates from the course have publicly shared their experiences in countries like Uganda, where the green shoots of cultural and ecological revival are emerging.
We’ve been busy writing, too. Gaia’s Earth Jurisprudence Coordinator, Carlotta Byrne, laid our the vital need for the revival of Earth Jurisprudence in Africa and globally in a recent article for Schumacher College, and spoke in an online panel discussion entitled Rights of Nature: Law and the More-Than-Human, hosted by Advaya and the Ulex Project .
“He has become part of the passing of oral histories and re-learnt ancient skills and practices.”
Recently our sacred lands work has had an intense focus on sacred waters, and supporting their custodians. In Finland, our partners Snowchange are re-wilding critical wetlands and ensuring traditional knowledge about the nation’s 180,000+ lakes and rivers is not lost. In a new interview and interactive story prepared by Gaia, Snowchange master fisherman Tero Mustonen and his apprentice Lauri Hämäläinen discuss fish, knowledge and climate change.
Meanwhile, in Uruguay our partners OCC held a month of events to celebrate the South Atlantic ocean, including a short video released in tribute to the country’s small-scale fisherfolk on the International Day of Seafarers.
In a time of multiple, complex crises, working to uphold the health and diversity of our living planet can feel like swimming upstream.
And yet, like salmon, we leap, and more often than you might expect, we make it.
We invite you to make the next leap with us by making a donation of any size.