Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

Many struggles, one movement

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Why we organized the It Takes Roots People’s Caravan

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance doesn’t normally organize around the electoral process. Our alliance represents a range of perspectives about how to engage in elections. While many of our members do strategic civic engagement work, others prioritize building self-governed community-led alternatives in regions where local governance is out of reach of the majority of the population. GGJ is an alliance that supports all of our members’ work through political education and convergence, prioritizing key issues that emerge as cross-cutting like climate justice, gender justice, and a just transition to a better economy.

But earlier this year as this presidential election season progressed, and the debate got more complex, and the structural violence inherent in the governance approach of both political parties was laid bare, our members across the spectrum were asking for room to discuss what was going on and the impact on their work. We organized conference calls for GGJ members with ally organizations and brought together thought leaders from organizations like Black Lives Matter Network, Mijente/Not1More, and the Stop Trump Network.

What emerged from those calls was a hunger to get out in the streets to coordinate an organized response to both the hate, racism, misogyny and xenophobia coming from the Republican party, and the militarized democracy promoted by the Democratic party. Our goals were to generate more of a public narrative that regardless of which candidates would be nominated at the conventions, we need to prepare together as a global movement for the period ahead; and to lift up the impact of the US presidential elections not only on our own communities but around the world.

In the first week of June, we decided to organize a caravan of leaders from the frontlines of crises to both major parties’ conventions, traveling from Cleveland to Philadelphia with stops in Pittsburgh and Baltimore to build with organizations in the region.

Then throughout June and early July as we watched multiple horrific events unfold from the mass shooting at the LGBTQ club in Orlando, FL to the murders of three black men at the hands of the police within a week of each other to the assassination of yet another environmental rights activist in Honduras, I had many conversations with folks about why we were prioritizing a caravan like this while so many communities in Baton Rouge, Orlando, Minneapolis were grieving.  We adjusted our plans to make room for honoring the tragedy and rage and grief so many were feeling, and integrated discussion time into our preparation for the caravan.  Ultimately we felt that these events were just making a stronger case for why we couldn’t let either political party off the hook.  It further strengthened our resolve to ensure that the themes of our caravan would center around the impacts of anti-black racism, militarism, and misogyny.

Just six weeks later, a team of 45 people came together in Cleveland to hit the road from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland OH to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia PA. We brought together communities of color and white folks confronting racism and xenophobia; women and trans people reclaiming feminisms for the grassroots; communities living on the frontlines of polluting industries to build a new economy; veterans and organized communities around the globe to end U.S. military intervention.

We spent nine days on the road together from July 19-27. The days were long, often starting with an early bus ride and filled with multiple back-to-back actions in the streets, interviews with the media, meetings with community organizations, and even voter registration. Despite the heat and the fast pace, our caravan of leaders maintained a lively spirit of camaraderie and forward looking inspiration.

As I reflect back on all we did in those nine days, and I remember how our members were so easily articulating the connections across issues and international borders, it gives me hope for what we’re able to do as a movement.

Sha queer bio photo

by Sha Grogan-Brown, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

From San Antonio,TX to Lima: Peru the Pueblos Call for System Change NOT Climate Change

by Diana Lopez, Southwest Workers Union

The Cumbre de los Pueblos in coordination with COP20 took place in Lima, Peru the second week of December. The summit split into 5 tracks which all addressed a piece of climate change, from food to rights of mother earth to alternative energy and economies. While the People’s Cumbre was happening at the Parque de la Exposision, down the street the 20th Conference of the Parties/ Meeting of the Parties, referred to as COP 20 held hundreds of politicos and heads of state that were meeting in reference to the Kyoto

The overall mood of the Cumbre was very solutions-based and highlighted local work, although there seemed to be three different moods depending on who was leading the workshop. On one level you have global funders, who made space for their grantees to speak about their work.  On another there were more academic, technology and policy spaces and finally there were the organizer spaces, which were self-organized and concentrated on front line experiences, movement building and alignment around solutions.

People seem tired and frustrated talking about policy and what the government should be doing. While its important to know and keep track the policies that will ultimately affect our communities the most, people are passionate about shifting towards a systemic change framework. The UN process does not provide that space for people to create and build together while uplifting local solutions and struggle. During the trip the GGJ delegation and SWU focused on the Cumbre to build on existing relationships with social movements from the South and to share our local solutions.

The pueblos are interested in learning how to integrate new sustainable technology into traditional farming practices while still healing mother earth. We are talking about fighting against the extreme corporations that continue to destroy communities while developing an alternative space where our people can thrive and begin the healing of Pachamama.

The message is clear that in order to really create solutions to climate change we must also talk about the disparities among funding, patriarchy within our own movement and the role US plays in the destruction of communities. IMG_0509

One of the main reasons why I participated was to exchange knowledge around how we create systemic change. A central question I have is “What is the work that needs to happen on the ground these next few years to begin to see small shifts within our communities?” The other piece is strengthening our ties with the global south people’s movements and talking about aligning the work happening on the ground in the US. This year we have been through heartache around police violence and the attack of women, students and over all people of color so part of this is also addressing violence and gender issues within our community. If corporations and governments value power and money over everything else what makes us believe that they will fight for mother earth. These are only a few initial questions and thought that will lead us the our next work of implementing our goals at the local level while maintaining a national/global vision for change.

After the weeks of the 20th Meeting of the Parties the final negotiations coming out of the UN meetings did not meet the standards for the pueblo and truthfully an agreement will probably never fully focus on community and mother earth healing while corporations and trans-national organizations are the only ones that have access to those spaces. Leading up to Paris COP 21, where a climate agreement is scheduled to come out, there needs to be an increase in negotiators that value the local expertise of the community and that will fully focus on community solutions and not corporate bail outs. And while our allies will continue to represent our communities on the inside we will support on the outside by voicing our demands, uplifting front line struggles and building the community we want to see.

We are saying Enough is Enough. No War, No warming, its time to Build an Economy for the People and the Planet!

Welcome To Our Blog

The Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ) is a national alliance of grassroots organizations building a popular movement for peace, democracy and a sustainable world. We support each other’s local struggles and collaborate with international allies who share our vision and commitment to building a transformative social justice movement beyond borders.

On this blog, our commitment is to provide a space for our staff, members and allies to share observations, experiences, analyses, successes, challenges and lessons stemming from their participation in various mobilizations, actions and other activities around the world.