Sunday, October 22, 2006

"Environmentalists need to get on the Social Justice Bus"

This weekend I've been fortunate enough to have been able to go to the Bioneers conference in San Rafael, California. I thought I was going to an environmental conference, and had mixed feelings about this, because in some sense I feel that environmentalism is a movement of privilege.

Any regular readers of my blog probably have an idea that one of the themes that comes up a lot is the need for broad coalitions between diverse kinds of movements. I believe the suffering caused by the destruction of the enviroment is unfairly visited upon the most marginalized in society (a diverse group indeed). The marginalized groups are also often excluded from large-scale environmental movements, in particular consumer-based movements like organics, or "shopping for sustainability" as I like to (derogatorily) call it.

I have been pleasantly surprised, thrilled, even, to find out that at this conference, these underlying values of social and economic justice are actually a shared assumption, one which if mentioned would provoke a great chorus of: "duh!".

To paraphrase Paul Hawken's very inspiring talk: Instead of environmentalists inviting other movements to get on their bus, environmentalists have to get on the social justice bus.

I will have much more to write about as I continue to digest all I have learned and experienced this weekend.

More Reflection on the Environment and Solidarity


Art Hornbie said...

Got that right.

Zafrod said...

Yeah, this is exactly why I've had to shift left. It used to be oversimplification to say that the right cares about helping self and the left cares about helping others, but it really isn't oversimplification anymore. Every platform currently espoused by the right in the US revolves around either becoming wealthy at the expense of others or expecting others to live by one's beliefs. I don't have time for this nonsense with the level of suffering going on here and abroad. And let me say, I'm very sorry that the taint of nationalist plutocracy is starting to ooze north of our border.