What's Up?

I have always had an interesting relationship with triangles. The groundedness of three sides resting on one another to embody strength and resilience in one shape appeals to me.

I've always considered myself more of a circle gal, though. A circle inspires movement and togetherness in my spirit, somehow. Power shines out of the whole circle image without separating a side or point of view. When I was in grad school, the professor that impacted me most, Janaki Natarajan, used shapes to interpret the complexities of people coming together, and the triangle often represented hierarchy or capitalism. Looking at the triangle, the top smaller part represented the smaller percent of people that owned economic and cultural power, while the majority was represented by the larger parts of the triangle, keeping the whole intact.

This piece is about the contradictions that come when we separate our material selves from our spiritual selves. When this happens, the natural world suffers and is caught in between. I am inspired by the NC Climate Justice Collective because it offers tools for me to create and embrace traditions that merge the metaphysical, cultural and communal (back) into our ecosystems. I hope that “The Earth Between Us” inspires you somehow, too.

Bevelyn Ukah,

Bevelyn is a member of the Collective's Leadership Team. She created this piece in response to an invitation to reflect on one of the collective's four approaches to our work, "re-imagine."

Resisting has always been a hard feat for me. I grew up around four headstrong siblings and, although I am pretty stubborn myself, it always felt more strategic to listen, wait, and stay calm. "An answer will come to you," I'd think. "Have faith," I'd coach. But what happens when that "cool" side of myself is surrounded by fire and blood? 

Since I was very young, I always learned that before my time, the world was a violent place to live. I promised myself that if I ever had a time machine, I would definitely go to the future, not the past. I'm sure you may resonate with the question I'd ask: "Why would a black woman want to live in this past I just learned about? Hmm??"

Yet, everyday I am realizing that my world is just as violent as the former that I so sincerely fear.  

Colonization, slavery, rape, patriarchy, exploitation... these words describe a way of life. These words also describe the flavor of air that we all breathe daily. I think in some ways, my 'cool' vibe is part of the mandate of that air. I am so used to the violence that my anger and pain is locked away, hiding somewhere within the fabrics of my spirit.  

The framework, Resist, helps me to release fear to act collectively with those who love this world as I do.

This piece is about recognizing the alien nature of our systems, while also acknowledging the power of "the small ones." When we join one another, recognize our differences, and work together against our common enemies, nothing can stop us.  

I hope that "Colonial Invasion" has inspired you to Resist with strategy and to practice restfulness in between actions.

Bevelyn Ukah,

Bevelyn is a member of the Collective's Leadership Team

Updated: Jun 30

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.

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