Earth and liberation
This planet is our home and workplace. Celebrating it means fighting for it and respecting it, too. It’s not just the backdrop for our stories–it is the story.
🌎👋 Greetings, earthlings! Every day, I learn more about the labor movement, and the ideas, dialogue, and tensions that intersect with other social justice movements excite and puzzle me. One of the most important intersections to me involves worker power and environmental justice.
join us on this great mystical puzzle ride
There are many issues to cover, but these are a few at the top of my mind:
🏭 Industry and corporations exploit working people and the land, extracting labor and resources to make profits from disrespecting the living world all in the name of economic growth. Our planet is abundant yet finite, and, like humans, is treated as disposable and replaceable.
😷 Pollution and illness harms the health and lives of workers and communities. Historically-marginalized communities experience the most harm while their voices are excluded from environmental conversations and their bodies removed from the landscape.
🛢️ The lack of accountability and enforcement of environmental and workplace protections fosters a culture of abuse and prevents action on solutions.
🏔️ Conservationism and preservationism dominate environmentalism, which has a history of eugenics and centers whiteness. Individuals and institutions in power seek to protect the land only to be enjoyed by those deemed worthy, possibly saving it for extraction later. We appreciate the land for producing aesthetic beauty and recreational thrills, however exclusive. We fail to recognize its sovereignty, its aliveness, and its knowledge that Indigenous communities have held and protected for centuries.
🐝 Even if we live and work inside a four-walled structure protecting us from outside weather and elements, we still exist in an ecosystem that’s continuously adapting just like us. Labor and the earth are part of our daily survival and culture, from the food we grow and eat to the shelters we build and maintain to the music we write and sing.
“Environmentalism without class struggle is just gardening.” -activist Chico Mendes
Workers and unions have a big role in environmentalism, and as we become more aware of eco-consciousness in the labor movement and working-class consciousness in the environmental movement, and as more and more mainstream media tries to cover the climate crisis, I intend to put more energy into exploring how local communities are addressing pollution, creating green jobs, producing culture and tradition, and telling stories. Most importantly, I’m interested in how the climate crisis will be changing our lives and values in the Midwest. The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be a part of my work, too.
What are you thinking about on this #EarthDay? What do you want to see?
“It’s not necessarily that there is a ‘black ecology’ and ‘white ecology’…It’s just that our lived experiences with environment are different. White people bring their experience to the discussion — that’s why they focus on the birds, trees, plants, and animals, because they don’t have the experience of being barred from parks and beaches. It’s just a different frame. But overall, we want the same thing: safe places to live, work and play, clean spaces and sustainable, long-lasting communities.” –sociologist Dorceta Taylor
💸 Living wages, living planet
Join social justice groups on the UMN campus for an Earth Day rally today from 2:30-4pm at Northrop.
“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.” –poet Wendell Berry
We are a part of nature today. Even in our skyscraping cities, controlling our metal machines, terraforming the planet. How do we return to a culture of reciprocity with the land, instead of a culture of ownership and abuse? Many forces have come together to disconnect us from nature and each other, especially the economic forces of racialized extractive capitalism and manifest destiny. Why? Being connected to the earth is liberating. It brings us together with other living beings, and has physical, psychological, and emotional health benefits. You don’t even have to go outside to appreciate the planet. As a student of labor, the environment, media and culture, I find hope and purpose in anything that celebrates kinship as an antidote to the destruction of capitalism.
🎵 The rhythm of the universe
This phenomenal poem by Marissa Davis was turned into a song by Toshi Reagon and animated by Lottie Kingslake.
🌳 Where are your roots?
This art piece, titled “Hold” by Alonso Sierralta from 2020, is installed in the sculpture garden at the Anderson Center in Red Wing, MN. It makes me think about our relationship to the natural world, how physical roots hold the land which holds us, and how emotional roots hold us together in community. We’ve replaced generous plant life with cold metal structures.
🌱 Justice for agricultural workers
Isaias Hernandez (@QueerBrownVegan) creates friendly and approachable eco-educational content on YouTube and Instagram, centering a working audience, animal beings, and the land in discussions on sustainability and advocacy.
🌍 Environmental justice is for everyone
This Intersectional Environmentalist video details historical narratives within the environmental movement that have been whitewashed and overlooked.
✊ Learn about your rights at work with the Labor Education Service!
This class is for all workers (union and unrepresented), and covers topics like the basic rights of labor and employment law; organizations that support workers; gig workers’ rights; and staying safe at work during the pandemic.
It’s free, but registration is required. Sign up here.
🚞 The union train is coming to Amazon
Sarah Lazare (@sarahlazare) from In These Times interviewed two Amazon workers, Justine Medina and Tristan Dutchin, about the strategies they used in fighting against Amazon’s union busting, including worker education!
🎧 Listen: Tristan’s cover of a classic union song. Resistance comes in many forms, our favorite being art!
Planet care is community care is self care. We are each other’s harvest.