2020 Pacific Spotlight Series
We are highlighting the dynamic work of 2020 BEA Fund grantees as part of a multimedia series that will include written features sent to our listserv, social media and here on the website.
Read about our BEA Fund Grantee Spotlight organizations below.
- ‘Āina Momona
‘Āina Momona’s goals and objectives are centered on community organizing at the forefront of change, as related to nutritional justice and food security needs on Moloka‘i, Hawaii. This island in particular faces numerous challenges in accessing healthy and sustainable foods, issues that are exacerbated by Moloka‘i’s ongoing ecological decline. Moloka‘i has a long history of fighting at the community level for food justice, and ‘Āina Momona aims to increase these efforts through our fellowship garden and the Ka‘amola restoration projects. Thus far, they have made excellent progress with both projects, and have simultaneously built capacity within their grassroots community by educating a new generation of food producers.
As they work to establish their community garden and restore land in Ka‘amola, they actively train young leaders on Moloka‘i in the skills needed to be self-sufficient and sustainable as an isolated island community. Many of the social, economic, cultural, and educational challenges on island can be addressed by increasing local and traditional food production. Thus far, they have trained 20 young leaders in skills needed to produce food locally and to restore degraded lands so they are fruitful once more.
In addition to building capacity and power amongst the next generation of community leaders, ‘Āina Momona has also worked to revitalize acres of land that was formerly unproductive and in ecological decline. As they build out their agricultural plan and maintain their community garden, they are actively stewarding land and renewing its health for future food use. This does much to increase the community’s resiliency and right to self-determination.
To learn more about ‘Āina Momona's work you can visit their website at Native Hawaiian Organization | ‘Āina Momona | Hawaii (kaainamomona.org)
- Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ)
The Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) of California is a progressive, base-building, non-profit organization bringing communities together to find opportunities for cooperation, agreement and problem solving in improving their social and natural environment. Using the lens of environmental health to achieve social change, they work within communities to develop and sustain democratically based, participatory decision-making that promotes involvement of a diverse segment of the community in ways that empower the community.
They are most proud of seeing community members develop their own leadership skills and flourish into powerful and fearless advocates for intersectional justice. When a community member rises up and confronts social injustices, this creates bottom-up change that transforms whole communities. They also pride themselves in seeing local and state policy initiatives, proposed by community leaders, turn into law. It brings them great gratification to see their own community members' ideas come to life and for their solutions to be implemented in the view of a policy bill.
The greatest challenge for CCAEJ over the past year was adapting their organizing in the midst of the world wide health pandemic. They learned that they had to be creative in their organizing approach and identify ways to relate information to their members using online platforms such as zoom. They offered zoom training sessions and led a fundraiser to raise funds for community members who did not benefit from the stimulus check.
- Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN)
The mission of Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN) is to empower our communities and secure our children’s future by eliminating negative environmental impacts in low income and communities of color in the Central Valley, CA.
In addition to the fear of Covid-19 and fear of racist communities, the communities CCEJN worked with also endured other challenges: many did not have the technology or knowledge to help their kids with remote learning. Food insecurity and evictions were two other major problems. CCEJN took COVID19 as an opportunity to help residents of disadvantaged communities in ways they never thought possible. They were able to provide financial support and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to those who needed it the most. This allowed CCEJN to get to know and engage with hundreds more residents than they have ever met in the past. While they continue to prefer direct communication and one-on-one interactions, the pandemic pushed CCEJN to use the virtual platforms and communications methods, to begin developing the skills of the residents in the use of these technologies. The digital divide has not been easy to bridge, and CCEJN has encountered another disparity area that affects primarily low income people living in rural areas: many do not have good internet connections or technology at home. CCEJN sees this as an opportunity to advocate for a more universal access to broadband regardless of place of residence and income.
CCEJN has not able to meet in person so their organizing efforts have changed. Instead of house meetings, they are doing "phone platicas" where residents still meet and receive information about Covid-19, their labor rights, and even the importance of participating in the Census 2020. CCEJN recognizes that they had to adapt rapidly to the changing environment and continue their organizing efforts while social distancing and while trying to provide economic relief and assistance to those more in need.
- Community to Community Development (C2C)
Community to Community Development (C2C) is an ecofeminist grassroots organization located on Turtle Island on the lands of the Coast Salish people, also known as Washington State. We believe that ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE!
C2C is working with farmworker and immigrant community leaders to provide opportunities towards economic self determination. We do this several ways. One is by partnering with our local independent farmworker Union - Familias Unidas por la Justicia when we respond to workplace exploitation in the fields and orchards, as in when workers walk out on strike. Our organizing starts on the ground, literally. Another way is by working with farmworkers to transform the agricultural industry to a real and just food system. Our main program area is developing worker owned community farming cooperatives on our own land, through what we call the Ejido Community Farming Project. Our first successful community farm is Cooperativa Tierra y Libertad; they will be going into their 4th harvest season next summer. C2C hopes the impact is a radical redistribution of land ownership and racial and economic equity in Skagit and Whatcom county, we believe this corresponds directly to political power.
The third way is by providing support, solidarity and direct services. The Covid-19 pandemic exposed longstanding inequities and injustices in the treatment of the Latinx community, inequities that C2C has been fighting to end for over 17 years. When farmworkers were deemed essential workers, our community called and we responded, our leadership showed how resilient farmworker women are. They developed an action oriented Promotora Program that started with 5 Promotoras and now numbers 17 farmworker women based in their own communities in rural Whatcom, Skagit and Thurston Counties. From early March of 2020 their goal was to save lives by initially providing PPE and training on social distancing and how to properly use masks at home and at work. They continued fighting to ensure testing was provided through mobile testing, then that vaccinations were accessible. Many days were spent mobilizing farmworker families to local vaccinations sites. They collaborated with local Health Depts and organizations like Accountable Communities of Health. We now have grown with an additional service center in Skagit County, our Team and constituency has grown and so have the issues that need responses. We continue to organize with our community leading the way.
- East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ)
East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ) is a community-based organization that works to facilitate self-advocates in East Los Angeles, Southeast Los Angeles and Long Beach. By providing workshops and trainings EYCEJ prepares community members to engage in the decision-making processes that directly impact their health and quality of life.
Over the past year, one of the factors that allowed EYCEJ to coordinate and move the needle forward on issues of environmental justice was the nature of their infrastructure. They are led by the members and so they bring issues to the forefront and then EYCEJ makes the connections in their work. This has allowed EYCEJ to build leaders that can self-select their outcomes, coordinate with other organizations for cross-sector success and use the reach of social media as an advantage to build a broader base.
Alongside movement partners in the Coalition for Environmental Health and Justice, EYCEJ effectively halted the I-710 freeway project that would have displaced homes and businesses while increasing emissions, and now are in the process of creating a new structure to allow for a community-led project. EYCEJ emerges from years of unheard community voices that have silently suffered the effects of pollution in their neighborhoods. Through grassroots organizing and leadership building skills, EYCEJ works to enable under-represented communities to be heard, which in turn influences policy change, policy makers and agencies that can institute health protective environmental justice policies that are in the best interest of local, regional, and statewide residents.
- Lideres Campesinas
“Organización en California de Líderes Campesinas, Inc.” represents a culmination of decades of work by farm working women (Campesinas) in California. Farmworker women have been the leaders of many grassroots and mobilizing efforts to improve the lives of farmworker communities. Líderes Campesinas provides these long-time leaders and activists with the opportunity to coordinate their work statewide, to strengthen their innate leadership skills and knowledge base, and to build collectives so that, as agents of change, they can be included and listened to in the spaces where decisions are made that affect their communities the most, and in doing so acting as a thought partner to improved systems and a more unified voice.
With Covid-19 challenges, there has been great opportunity to highlight the ever-persisting need for increased collaboration across stakeholders, from grassroots to government to national and international coalitions. Relationships have become more pronounced and diverse, and include those with county offices, CBOs,Agricultural Boards and the Labor Commissioner’s office, for example. These strengthened ties have a ripple effect on Lideres Campesinas members and the communities they’re in, where increased visibility and participation encourages more of the same. In Monterey, for example, membership has increased by at least 50% for the Greenfield chapter, and new chapters are taking form in Yolo and Tulare.
Training and orientations for the members of Lideres Campesinas,and particularly their community-led Board of Directors, remains a critical component to their work. For almost one year since October 2020, Lideres Campesinas has been focusing on a stronger Board of Directors, by providing workshops on a variety of topics including the context, history, purpose, mission/vision of Lideres Campesinas, the roles and responsibilities of Board of Directors in the United States, personal and organizational finance and conflict resolution and negotiation, which is especially important to provide trauma-informed care. Regular collaborations with local agencies and other CBOs have been just as important, such as hosting caravans with the Labor Commissioner’s office, CalOSHA and the ALRB to inform the larger farmworker community on new paid sick leave laws and salary protections, or creating collectives such as the Alliance for Resilient Communities (ARC) in Ventura, to address climate change from a community standpoint. Lideres Campesinas was also recently featured in a report by Vice New over the dis and misinformation of Covid-19 in Spanish-language digital content. The work continues at Lideres Campesinas, please check out their daily activities state wide on Facebook!
- Mauna Kea Education and Awareness
For the last five years, Mauna Kea Education and Awareness has had a teaching team and a traveling team available to all Hawaii schools constantly instructing students and providing community events on kanaka maoli history, culture, and current issues. The teaching team has traveled throughout Hawaiʻi, the continent and Europe to share the message of protection of sacred places and life ways, forming a world-wide network with those who face similar environmental injustices. Although the Covid-19 pandemic in Hawaiʻi has temporarily eliminated the in school instruction, most community events and travel, Mauna Kea Education and Awareness has maintained its purpose and mission with a strengthened focus encompassing social media, technology, long distance instruction, online presentations and events as well as culturally grounded artistic projects in communities all of which have been successful for this organization.
Mauna Kea Education and Awareness has a core team of seven individuals working seven days a week to ensure that Mauna Kea is always a unifying presence and guiding force for various movements. Each team member works on specific Mauna Kea Education and Awareness projects, events, gatherings all coordinated and facilitated by itʻs project director. They are diverse in their approach utilizing educational curriculum, cultural learning opportunities, presentations and artistic projects to encourage, engage and inspire global community support and participation. Mauna Kea Education and Awareness remains rooted in ancestral knowledge and values, and incorporates protocols and guidelines, including cultural traditions of prayer, chant, music and dance and ceremony in everything that they do. Each member could be upcoming leaders in their own right and currently serve as role models for their communities.
- Native Movement
Native Movement understands that in order to make meaningful and lasting change it is critical to address root-causes that reshape oppressive systemic power structures. Grassroots leadership rooted in an Indigenized worldview is necessary for lasting system-wide change to occur. Native Movement is focused on developing community organizing leadership, mass-movement building, and strategic political engagement built on social justice and healing foundations. Their work focuses on Indigenous and non-Indigenous grassroots mobilization rooted in decolonization and just transition frameworks toward Liberation visions. Recognizing colonialism's destructive history and its current manifestations aligns their base and their partners in the clarity needed to untangle and dismantle harmful systems of oppression. From this clarity they are able to structure organizing campaigns that address the deep change that is needed and implement lasting benefits for all. Native Movement is focused on increasing Alaska-wide community organizing capacity toward dismantling colonial systems of oppression and boldly reshaping a healing path forward.
During the early stages of the Covid-19 crisis in Alaska, Native Movement recognized the need to support their base and those most vulnerable during the crisis. While they worked to monitor policies and advocate for support systems, they also focused on supporting mutual aid networks and other community-centered solutions. For example, with the support of their staff and partners, they sent 139 rural womxn’s care packages out to 65 different communities in Alaska during the early stages of Covid-19. Additionally, their response to the economic justice crisis that has arisen from the very important need to safely maneuver Covid-19 has been a clear part of their just transition work this year. They realized early on that many people from their communities would either be the first to suffer from job losses or be put at high risk as “essential workers.” Native Movement advocated for state and local leadership to ensure both public health and safety mandates as well as economic justice relief. Part of this Covid-19 response has been identifying the areas of weakest infrastructure and utilizing this time to move advocates and build the infrastructure that we need not only for this time but for the long haul as well.
In addition to their external response to Covid-19, and in leading by example Native Movement had adapted to staff's needs as caregivers, honoring the important work necessary within family structures. In order to push for long term staff support, Native Movement divested from the pace of empire and returned to the pace of creation through the implementation of a four day workweek. Without forfeiting any pay to their staff, the fifth paid day has been dedicated to staff's wellness and healing. Native Movement's shift inspires other organizations to untangle themselves from the capitalist notion that we must work to depletion in order to deserve rest and instead works to foster the growth of a healthy culture of rest.
Here is the social media toolkit for the commenting period now open in regards to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. On an Alaska local level they are putting pressure on our US Senator Lisa Murkowski to take action on climate change now, here is the link to send a letter to her office and a related video. Finally, check out this Just Transition Coloring Book!
- OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon (OPAL)
OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon (OPAL) builds power for environmental justice and civil rights in our communities. This is achieved by developing leadership among low-income people, people of color, and others experiencing environmental racism through grassroots organizing, political education, and skill-building.
Each year, OPAL directly organizes 50+ transit dependent members through its direct community engagement programs and organizes, educates, and serves an additional 100+ low income BIPOC community members through its broader advocacy, political education, and grassroots organizing activities. Together, they win campaigns on housing, transportation, air quality, energy policy, public health, and other issues of justice in the built and natural lived environment.
Successful campaigns in recent years have won reductions in fare for youth and low-income riders, improvements to rider-identified unsafe bus stops, and a 30-minute extension of transfer times to help East Portland residents to access the resources of the broader city at lower cost. Looking ahead, they are excited to push for investments in alternatives to transit police and a fareless transit system across the Portland Metro region.
- Oregon Just Transition Alliance (OJTA)
Oregon Just Transition Alliance (OJTA) is an alliance of communities on the frontlines of climate change, economic exploitation, and environmental racism. They’re organizing to create ownership over our collective future and move Oregon toward an economy that values workers and the environment.
In summer 2020, OJTA and the Frontline Organizers Rising held the Oregon Green New Deal Listening Tour. Our communities across the state told us the truth: our energy policies do not serve the needs of Black, Indigenous, People of Color, rural, low-income communities, and people with disabilities. Communities across the state shared concerns about our extractive, unjust economy, and how we must transition to a clean, just energy system with strong labor protections. So OJTA, community of color-led and rural organizations, frontline community members and our allies got to work, launching and winning all three policies in the Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity campaign. In just one legislative session, we saw all three of our campaign’s bills signed into law!
100% Clean Energy for All, HB 2021 transitions the state’s electricity to 100% clean energy by 2040 while centering benefits for communities of color and rural, coastal, low-income communities and workers. Oregon will have the fastest timeline to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the electric sector in the United States.
Energy Affordability, HB 2427 will decrease utility costs for families by establishing a Low-Income Utility Rate Class.
Healthy Homes, HB 2842 creates the Healthy Homes Program, granting $10 million to local governments, nonprofits and Oregon Tribes to support low-income families with energy efficiency and home health upgrades
This was the first frontline coalition-led statewide campaign in Oregon’s history.
In addition to advancing energy democracy policies, OJTA built leadership, skills and power among frontline community members on the ground. OJTA and our coalition partners led the Energy Justice Leadership Institute (EJLI), an 8-month, bilingual virtual learning and action program, engaging more than 150 BIPOC, poor and working class, rural Spanish and English-speaking community members from regions across Oregon. Participants served on geographically-based Grassroots Action Teams, facilitated by Energy Democracy Steering Committee staff members. They learned about Oregon’s current energy system, principles of energy justice and advocacy and organizing skills, while helping fight for the Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity campaign.
OJTA looks forward to ensuring successful implementation of the Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity policies, building resilience to climate-fueled disasters, and advancing a just transition with environmental justice organizations and communities across the Pacific Northwest. Learn more about the Oregon Just Transition Alliance by visiting ojta.org.
- People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights (PODER)
People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights’ (PODER’s) mission is to organize with Latinx immigrant families and youth to put into practice people-powered solutions that are locally based, community led and environmentally just. They nurture everyday people's leadership, regenerate culture, and build community power. They organize in San Francisco’s Mission, Excelsior and other southeast neighborhoods, & forge alliances to achieve transformational change.
They have advanced local and state policy initiatives such as making progress on a public bank that will bring greater accountability, transparency and community control of local revenue toward a regenerative economy. In addition, they've finalized the multi-stakeholder process to provide recommendations to the City on residential building electrification. As a result, a set of strategies and actions have been developed for the City to achieve its greenhouse gas reduction targets in the building sector while centering equity and addressing unintended consequences for low-income renters. These strategies will inform the Climate Action Plan update and the roadmap to implement the plan.
PODER also puts into practice building a regenerative economy through their community resilience practices implemented through their Bicis del Pueblo program and the stewardship of Hummingbird Farm. Their stewardship of Hummingbird Farm and the Bicis del Pueblo program exemplify how to carry out practices that lessen our reliance on fossil fuels and nurture community resiliency.
A factor of their progress has been the fact that they’re a community-rooted organization that has organized with Latinx immigrant families and youth for 30 years and has prioritized movement-building as a core strategy. This has enabled them to advance policy initiatives, locally and statewide, and on on-the-ground practices that foster a local, living economy.
- Redeemer Community Partnership
Redeemer Community Partnership is a nonprofit community development corporation committed to the health, safety and well-being of children and their families in their South Los Angeles neighborhood. They work together to create a safe, healthy, opportunity-rich community where children and their families thrive.
Despite the pandemic, Redeemer Community Partnership has illuminated violations at the Murphy Drill Site, grown their base of community support, and begun to galvanize local action to close this toxic facility. The last year of work has involved numerous public records requests, daily surveillance and documentation, and conversations with regulators and city officials. This process has been especially helpful in understanding how the oil industry, through years of lobbying at the state and local levels, has thrown a ball through the regulatory glass, shattering oversight. Big Oil has then worked tirelessly to ensure that the fragmented regulatory agencies lack the resources needed to investigate, collaborate, and regulate. The result is an illusory regulatory framework that lacks a clear view of dangerous operations and the resources--and often the will--to protect the health and safety of residents.
Redeemer Community Partnership’s effort has been to do what the regulatory agencies cannot do (and often do not want to do), namely to unite their fragmented oversight into a comprehensive view of the whole toxic facility. This effort is helping to expose violations and industry lies, such as the myth that the California oil industry is the most regulated in the world and regulation protects the health and safety of residents. It is helping them advance the argument that the only failsafe way to protect residents' health and safety is to end neighborhood oil drilling. Currently, they are preparing for a public hearing in November or December that will review the Murphy Drill Site's operating conditions. The City took this action in response to numerous violations surfaced by Redeemer staff and other residents over the last year. They welcome any organizations that works in the City of Los Angeles to sign-on to a letter asking the Los Angeles Zoning Administrator to impose operating conditions extended to wealthier, whiter, West LA communities decades ago.
- Richmond Our Power Coalition
Richmond Our Power Coalition (California) launched an Our Power Townhall Series featuring the powerful emergency response and Just Transition work of all of their member organizations. As a part of the Townhall Series they created a short film featuring the work of each of their member organizations. After establishing the Just Transition Fund at the East Bay Community Foundation they are also excited to embark on our second round of grant making in Richmond supporting Just Transition work of local, community based organizations. Finally, they are excited to see the work of Richmond Land in developing Richmond's own land trust, Cooperation Richmond's development of North Richmond's only grocery store and its first worker-owned grocery.
Richmond Our Power Coalition is proud of the Progress of the Envisioning the Decommissioning work of the Chevron Refinery led by member organization CBE. This work has brought new, younger, residents into the fight against extractive industries like Chevron. The framing that Richmond is breaking up with Chevron and leaving a toxic relationship has brilliantly galvanized a new generation of Air Protectors. The Townhalls and upcoming research project should result in a community driven blueprint for decommissioning the Chevron Refinery. They are excited for what the future could hold for Richmond.
They have a webinar series co organized with Justice Funders launching October 7th. Click here to learn more.