By Angela Adrar, Executive Director of the Climate Justice Alliance
Photo: North Carolina Climate Justice Summit, 2014
The power of the Climate Justice Alliance has always been our members and our desire to consult, envision creative solutions, and take action together when it matters most. For one of our newest members, the North Carolina Climate Justice Collective (NCCJC), claiming the term “collective” was an intentional process that deeply embodies their movement building principles. The origin of NCCJC, which now includes a broad spectrum of over 1,000 volunteer youth and adults and about 50 organizations, parallels CJA’s formation process. By valuing relationships and the self-determination of communities, collectively CJA and NCCJC are building generative power.
For NCCJC, their heart is cultural organizing and popular education. These two powerful strategies build capacity for collective imagination, which is manifested as collective action that moves us toward collective liberation. By engaging across and with a broad spectrum of folks in North Carolina, NCCJC centers frontline community leadership as they deepen and strengthen the roots of their diverse communities.
“When we change how we are being, we transform the doing. That’s what cultural transformation is all about.” explains Jodi Lasseter, Founder & Co-Convener of the North Carolina Climate Justice Collective.
But what does the commitment to profound cultural transformation actually look like in practice?
A beautiful example of building generative power is through NCCJC’s popular education roadshow called The Good Fire.
As an allegory, The Good Fire inspires embodied learning about energy democracy principles. The good fire is energy. It feeds us, inspires, and builds stronger community relationships in contrast to the bad fires of devastation and division from a nightmare legacy of toxic fossil fuel extraction. Conceptualizing Just Transition concepts through theatre, metaphor, song, food, art, and active participation supports communities to find their own agency, narratives, and solutions. NCCJC is currently using this powerful storytelling for North Carolinians impacted by Hurricane Florence. By making tangible meaning out of widespread collective trauma, folks can begin to heal. They are making powerful connections between their lived experiences and the ravages of the “bad fire.”
NCCJC knows that telling these stories exposes the truth about who is responsible for harm to our people and planet. Such popular education fuels an ongoing campaign against utility monopoly Duke Energy, the main driver of the “bad fire” in North Carolina and the #1 greenhouse gas emitter in the United States. Power without accountability corrupts.
It takes resilience to stay in this fight for the long haul.
NCCJC is consciously developing a more resilient, healthy movement infrastructure. Through their Resilience Hubs, anchored by frontline community organizations, NCCJC is creating space to deepen inner and outer resiliency skills. This includes racial justice and anti-oppression trainings, mindfulness, and healing justice circles. NCCJC supports the growth and health of their communities by organizing opportunities that help people stay connected to their collective vision of liberation.
There is also a focus on “outer resilience,” or active learning and teaching skills to thrive, like how to create your own water catchment systems, get your community-based solar system off the ground, or set up a new co-op enterprise in your neighborhood. The Resilience Hubs are all about the self-determination of a community’s food, water, and energy rights, and also transportation, housing, and sustainable jobs. These are the interdependent issues that make a climate justice framework so powerful.
NCCJC’s annual summit takes all that generated good energy and intentionally weaves the work of the Resilience Hubs from around the state. Their annual summit, like CJA’s biennial national convening, is a space for participants to co-create joint projects, share translocal learning, and develop authentic relationships across differences of identity and strategy. The cumulation of these shared experiences is the antidote to divide and conquer politics. By continuing to practice trust through shared values, we can come into our whole selves as individuals, as members of an organization, and as a movement.
That is what cultural transformation looks like—and your support to NCCJC and CJA is profoundly changing the culture that has been designed to alienate us from each other.
As we approach the end of the year, we at CJA are committed to intensifying and strengthening our ability to stay true to our guiding principles and, in particular, continuing to support members like NCCJC during crises, such as Hurricane Florence, along with the bold and visionary solutions and actions necessary to fight the bad and build the new. This is why we are launching our end-of-the-year giving campaign with allies, friends, and supporters to ensure that we build a base of support that is sustainable and strengthens our ability to continue putting frontline communities first.
Won’t you lend your support and donate to the Climate Justice Alliance? Make a contribution or become a monthly supporter to CJA today?
In critical times such as these, when climate disasters are a regular occurrence and our ability to ensure fair elections is waning to say the least, we also ask that you support those on the frontlines directly. This month we ask you to do this by donating to NCCJC. In so doing, you are part of this bold and visionary cultural transformation.