By Angela Adrar, Executive Director of the Climate Justice Alliance
Solidarity is not a passive act. It’s an intentional practice and a powerful strategy for our collective liberation. Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) Just Transition Regional Hubs (Regional Hubs) are the newest expression of CJA’s mission to lift up frontline community solutions in order to shift economic systems back to the people and the planet.
The goals of the seven Regional Hubs, which are anchored by eight core CJA members, are to 1) popularize the Just Transition framework; 2) support local and regional Just Transition projects and policies; and 3) build out CJA membership regionally. They are building frontline power by connecting local struggles, strengthening community resilience through shared leadership, and embodying a collective vision of systemic change.
Founded in 2003 and based in rural, northern Washington, Community to Community Development’s work is informed by the community organizing model of Cesar Chavez, the principles of the World Social Forum, and the values of ecofeminism. C2C is dedicated a Just Transition shifting justice for food sovereignty and immigrants’ rights. They were the first to negotiate a deal for minimum wage for immigrant farmworkers and continue to develop a powerful cooperative with Familias Unidas por la Justicia, the first farmworker union in Washington since 1986.
Got Green was founded in 2008 as a program to provide home weatherization job training to workers of color in South Seattle, which linked labor, affordable housing, racial justice, and climate change. In 2016, Got Green co-chaired the City of Seattle’s Environment and Equity Initiative task force. This strategic organizing lead to a resolution to create Green Pathways for young workers of color. Just this year, they organized the “Just Transition Express” for It Takes Roots Solidarity to Solutions Summit in San Francisco to challenge the market-based approach of the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) which ensured the voices of youth of color were heard.
Both Got Green and C2C are founding members of Front and Centered, a statewide coalition that centers frontline communities of color in partnership with labor, mainstream environmentalists, and public health advocates on Climate Justice policies.
Most recently, C2C and Got Green worked together on Initiative 1631, a statewide progressive carbon revenue fee (as in those that have more, pay more—or in this case those that pollute more, pay more). The language and outcomes of Initiative 1631 were drafted by Front and Centered. Although the measure didn’t pass, they strengthened strategic relationships to influence the narrative on equitable climate change solutions by organizing around Just Transition principles.
Nothing beats personal relationships.
The industry-backed strategy of No on 1631 relied on stoking economic fears and dominating the conversation through aggressive television commercials. Got Green and C2C countered with their own messaging: “Not Here, Not Anywhere,” which recognized that Washington didn’t want to contribute to unhealthy air anywhere. Click here to read more about why carbon pricing schemes don’t advance goals to reduce carbon emissions.
Got Green and C2C, along with other Front and Centered partners, actively showed up in their neighborhoods to talk about Climate Justice in a way that centered long-term community health and well-being.
The result of these personal and ongoing conversations expanded the dominant Climate Justice narrative in Washington. In Bellingham, this solidarity resulted in a mainstream environmental organization changing how they talked about Environmental Justice. C2C helped bring in a class and race analysis that shifted how they think about who gets to make decisions, and more importantly what are the right solutions for communities most impacted by environmental injustices. Now when this organization talks about water and land, they include farmworker and immigrant perspectives.
Investments in relationship building will stick longer than any 30-second commercial. This is why scaling Just Transition popular education trainings and grassroots organizing is so important.
Change comes from organizing and struggling, together.
Movement building is a process…with impact.
There’s still more work to do.
As members of CJA, Got Green and C2C find valuable support within the alliance. Younger organizers appreciate the opportunities from CJA to grow together and learn from each other. CJA creates community for organizers of color to share how hard it is to be seen and heard in predominantly white environmental spaces.
Intentional coordination around mutual solidarity allows Regional Hubs to see how others are doing similar work. This powerful translocal organizing not only benefits a regional vision for Just Transition, but it also signals to the rest of the country that there is hope in the Pacific Northwest, the Northeast, the Southeast, the Midwest, in Indian Country and beyond. By moving us away from industrialized agriculture toward Food Sovereignty and away from capitalism to a Solidarity Economy, CJA’s members are creating possibility for equitable and new relationships of power.
You are not alone in wanting healthy food, safe neighborhoods, and affordable housing. Together, we have the ability to take care of our families while contributing to a more just world.
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