An international gathering against environmental destruction and social inequality kicked off Wednesday in Richmond, California. The gathering brought together hundreds of people on the front-lines in the fight against environmental destruction and social inequality. The gathering aimed to tackle questions around how to build an economy that works for the people and planet.
Through the Climate Justice Alliance, participants of the conference hail from dozens of organizations representing indigenous peoples, people of color, and working class white communities. After three days of conversations and strategizing a Saturday day of action will highlight local alternatives to fossil fuel dependence.
This is the first national gathering of Our Power which comes out of an intense season of mobilization, which included a gathering of youth and young adults which took place in Detroit in June, as well an ongoing preparation for the Peoples Climate March and Summit to take place in September in New York. The folks convened in Richmond and are looking to connect local, national, and international struggles of marginalized and dispossessed people and to chart the transition to a new economy.
Participants believe that the global economy is about to crash the planet. Michelle-Swan, co director of Climate Justice Alliance states that, “Communities on the front lines of the crisis have been feeling that for a long time. Now we are in a moment of transition, but what is not clear is whether justice will be part of that transition. It is critical for communities on the front-lines to be leading the transition so solutions don't throw anyone under the bus. No community, place, or home is a sacrifice zone."
Participants represent groups from around the world, including the Black Mesa Water Coalition in Arizona, whcih comprised of indigenous communities, and according to an organizational statement,"dedicated to preserving and protecting Mother Earth and the integrity of Indigenous Peoples cultures,"and organizing for safe, clean water and alternatives to coal-fired power plants.
Topics of the conference include organizing around food security and building a movement of mass transit riders, as well as strategizing around strategies to defeat climate change.
Scientists have confirmed that people already facing socioeconomic inequalities are often severely impacted by climate change, where countries in the global south are hardest hit. The gathering builds emerges from decades of organzizing where gaps are being bridged between environmental and social justice movements that highlight the connections between environmental destruction, displaceemnt, racism, and poverty.