What's Up?

Updated: Jun 30, 2020

What do we need? Like, yesterday? New grassroots organizers and leaders, from communities most impacted by climate change, building power, developing community resilience, defending their/our communities, and creating a just path forward for our state

So that's what we did this weekend! (Okay, it's been in the works for years). Together with NC WARN, we launched EDLI, the Energy Democracy Leadership Institute, with a first (virtual) gathering this past Saturday, June 27th.

We are working with twenty emerging leaders – all of whom are Black and/or Indigenous people, half of whom are youth – offering hands-on training to combat projects that are perpetuating slow violence and detrimental health effects against their communities. All twenty leaders live and organize in counties where chronic disinvestment, climate disasters and pollution from energy corporations are pervasive issues. Connie Leeper, NCCJC Co-Convener, reflects that "as a popular educator, it is exciting to finally launch with so many truly grassroots participants from rural eastern NC who will be teachers as well as learners in this project. They bear the brunt of the energy burden and will help shape the community organizing already happening in their organizations located in ‘sacrifice zones’. EDLI will help amplify their voices in their work for energy democracy."

Shiva Patel, who we are thrilled is working with us as an EDLI trainer, and Connie Leeper, share more about the six-month long training and leadership project over at Medium, where they write:

The folks behind EDLI believe that local communities should be able to own and make decisions about electricity; no community should be treated as a “sacrifice zone” where corporations are allowed to pollute our environment and exploit our people. In this spirit, EDLI is creating opportunities for people in the community to speak up and speak out about the problems they are facing from Duke Energy’s coal ash and its proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the forest destruction from Enviva wood pellet facilities.

Essentially, EDLI is an energy and climate justice grassroots organizing and leadership program to:

  1. Stop the bad and

  2. Build the new energy economy.

Please check out the whole article (or share the press release!) and join us in wishing this dynamic, intergenerational group of folks a powerful experience of building community, learning with each other, and shaking things up for good in their counties and the state.

Our hearts are tender. Our hearts are full of grief. We are with you in our shared outrage and our shared determination that the world will not accept nor watch one more Black person murdered callously and needlessly by an agent of the state.

At this time, we honor all the ways people are responding to this moment... Some of us are processing overwhelming feelings at home alone or with loved ones. Some watching media, others not. The resistors, who are out on the streets. The reformers, who are pushing institutions to defund the police. The re-imaginers, who are envisioning true community-safety models. The re-creators, who are providing peer-to-peer mental health services & activating spiritual health networks. All of us who are calling on our spiritual community--material and ancestral--to hold us and support us in this moment.

We know that the way we heal ourselves and heal the world is through fierce compassion--which literally means the willingness and ability to suffer with. To allow our hearts to break over and over, to be present with our own suffering in order to be present to the suffering of others and to take action to end it. We know that by ending violence against Black people we will end the violence against the Earth, and that our work to end violence against the Earth must also consciously and deliberately end the genocidal violence against Black people, and all those who suffer systemic oppression.

To echo what many people of color are saying at this moment: find the life-honoring work that you do best and do it. Stay focused. Stay resourced. Stay in community. Stay connected.

We are here for and with you. #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd

In solidarity,

the NC Climate Justice Collective Leadership Team

Elijah Brunson

Donna Chavis

Alecia Gaines

Liz Kazal

Gregg Lasseter

Jodi Lasseter

Connie Leeper

Mark Ortiz

Bevelyn Ukah

Ayo Wilson

Omari Wilson

Please enjoy this beautiful photo from Fireside Farm's flower garden

I’m sitting here this morning in my work-from-home office, in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic, thinking about which of the 4 R’s resonate most with me today.

What comes to mind are the two NCCJC retreats we held at Fireside Farm in Efland, NC, owned and operated by the Williams-Joyner family. Lisa and Randall made a deep commitment to farming organically. They use solar energy to operate a kiln to dry out recycled wood harvested from local residents which ultimately becomes beautiful furniture. And they raise goats and chickens and have participated in their local farmers' market, selling fresh eggs, goat cheese, and beautiful flowers grown on their nine acre farm.

Throughout the last weeks, one of the most pressing needs for all humanity is to have good, healthy food available to nourish ourselves, our family, our community, and the world. Our farmers have to re-create how to operate sustainably for the betterment of the earth given the constant threat of climate change.

Lisa and Randall resisted the post-WWII chemical ways of farming, and offer a model for re-creating agriculture. They make this world better for all of us. May they be the example of future farmers to come.

Who else is offering us an incredible model of Re-Creating agriculture, and with a side of movement building in the Global South? Check out Our Power Puerto Rico / Organización Boricuá.

–Gregg Lasseter

Gregg is a member of the Collective's Leadership Team.

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©2020 by NC Climate Justice Collective