By Carol Harvey
Walking the site of a planned condo development in Bayview’s Candlestick Point, Marie Harrison observes, “There’s more water when the tide rolls in.” Harrison lives in Bayview-Hunter’s Point and works with Greenaction, seeking ways to include low-income people of color in the global warming/climate justice debate. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) predicts that sea levels will rise 16 inches by mid-century and cover coastal lands like Candlestick.
The waste-pickers of Delhi may soon rank among the world’s endangered species if carbon markets continue their rise. Now numbering in the tens if not hundreds of thousands, waste-pickers have plied the garbage of Delhi’s streets for decades. A disturbing spectacle, often including women and children in their ranks, they nonetheless provide a vital service: recycling. In a country like India, paper, plastic, and metals are an increasingly valuable commodity. And for slum-dwellers, this may be their only source of income.
And so they join the cows and dogs in a daily forage through garbage by the side of road, searching for plastic, paper, metals—anything that can be turned into cash.
Bharati Chaturvedi, director and co-founder of Chintan, a small non-governmental organization (NGO) servicing India’s waste-pickers, claims that more than one percent of Delhi’s population is engaged in waste-picking—a significant source of revenue for the poorest—and that they recycle nine percent to 59 percent of all of the waste generated in the city. “These waste-pickers are providing a public service—for free,” Chaturvedi says.
Espanola Jackson has lived in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood since 1948 and seen both the growth and the decline of what has become San Francisco’s most endangered community. An activist and community organizer for over 60 years, Ms. Jackson proudly witnessed the shutting down in 2006 of the Hunters Point Power Plant, which had been a major source of environmental pollution in the low-income southeast section of San Francisco. Just over a year later, however, Ms. Jackson was at the center of a movement to stop four brand new fossil fuel-burning power plants from being set up in her community.
Garry “Bear” Salois and his granddaughter April Flores are the proud occupants of a 2004 Cavalier-manufactured home with three bedrooms and a small porch where Bear likes to relax after work with his dogs Rain and Storm. “I always thought I wasn’t rich enough to afford my own home,” says Bear, a bona fide member of the Salish-Kootenai tribe who grew up on the Flathead Reservation in Montana. “But now I’m voluntarily paying over three times the required monthly payment of $120 in order to be in good shape to retire at age 65.”
Mililani B. Trask is a native Hawaiian attorney and expert in international human rights law. She is a founding member of the Indigenous Womens Network and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Hawaii and the International Training Center for Indigenous Peoples, in Greenland. She is one of the primary drafters of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which passed the UN General Assembly in 2007, and served as the Pacific Indigenous Representative to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She served two four-year terms as Kia Aina (Prime Minister) of Ka Lahui Hawaii, the Sovereign Hawaiian Nation.
How do you see climate change impacting indigenous island peoples’ subsistence and health?
Indigenous peoples' livelihoods and their cultural survival are being directly threatened. For example, the Pacific island states are experiencing significant increases in the frequency of cyclones and storm surges, which destroy housing, roads, hospitals, and telecommunications systems. They are causing countless deaths and people go missing and are never found. In the past two years, Samoa, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, [and the Philippines] have all declared national disasters. In Fiji, the total sugarcane crop was lost and major damage done to schools and hospitals. The vast majority of people in the Pacific basin live within 1.5 kilometers of the ocean.
Everywhere we turn, the issues and impacts of climate change confront us. One of the most serious environmental threats facing the world today, climate change, has moved from the realm of scientists and environmentalists to the mainstream. Though the media is dominated by images of polar bears, melting glaciers, flooded lands, and arid deserts, there is a human face to this story as well.
The fight to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) through the House of Representatives this summer saw unprecedented leadership from communities of color. That left more than a few people bewildered. Green For All, Partnership for Working Families, the AFL-CIO Building Trades, the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and other civil rights, labor, community, social justice, and environmental groups formed a broad coalition that successfully helped strengthen and pass the bill with the support of representatives Bobby Rush, Emmanuel Cleaver, Ben Ray Luján, and other members of the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses.
The Greening of Hip-Hop: Urban Youth Address Climate Change and Sustainability
As someone new to the field of philanthropy, I am consistently disappointed by the often cited issue of capacity used to explain why certain grantees are funded while others remain under resourced. Capacity has come to replace the concept of risky and is overwhelmingly used to describe community-based organizations working in low-income communities and communities of color and led by committed leaders of color. If there is a capacity issue with an organization in one of our communities, the Mitchell Kapor Foundation understands that it is our responsibility to step up and provide the necessary resources to these organizations and work in partnership with them to make the change we hope to see in the world.