A housing lawyer, a farmland lawyer, an energy lawyer, and a grassroots finance lawyer walked into our office and formed the Law Center's new Land and Resources Circle. Together, they agreed on a collective vision: Democratize. Decolonize. Decarbonize.
And so they launched the #DemocratizeDecolonizeDecarbonize campaign. Their goal? Recruit 20 new Community Members. Their game plan? Set some time aside away from their daily grind. Reflect on the Law Center's work on housing, farmland, and energy. And then take a deep-dive with a three-part essay series explaining why we do what we do.
Neil wrote about unjust farmland ownership in How to win land justice in a decade.
"The land we occupy today has been stolen from the indigenous peoples of this continent. A crime repeated every time land is bought and sold as a commodity.* Anyone who has felt the sand between their toes on a beach, stood in awe of a mountain range, or laid their head to rest in a warm place they call home knows that land is not simply a commodity. Its value cannot be reduced to dollars and cents. In the case of the farmland that nourishes all of us, commodification has created a crisis in our food system that only a strong commitment to land justice can solve."
*This bold accusation -- that buying and selling land is a crime-- sparked some controversy on twitter, which in turn sparked some questions about the definition of "crime" at our own office. Neil's three-sentence, drop-the-mic response?
Want to unpack the notion of land as a commodity? Read Neil’s essay here.
Chris wrote about tackling housing under capitalism in his essay Social housing is the only way forward.
"Housing under capitalism produces inequality, houselessness, and chronic displacement on a grand scale. It also makes strangers of those who remain in place. According to the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, Oakland’s Black population has declined by 27% since 2000 in a kind of reverse migration back into racially segregated rural and suburban communities.
Noni Session, executive director of East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative, grew up in the West Oakland flats, a third generation West Oaklander. “When I came back from grad school and research in 2011, I saw a city that I didn’t recognize,” she told Oakland Magazine. Social scientists have recently coined a new term to describe the sense of “homelessness without leaving home” that frontline communities around the world are now experiencing as a result of climate disruption, ecological collapse, and mass migration: solastalgia, the pain of staying put. Whereas nostalgia describes a longing for a lost past, solastalgia describes a lost present and grief for an unlivable future."
Check out Chris’ entire essay here to read about the only solution to housing under capitalism.
Subin wrote about energy transformation in Are you thinking about climate change wrong?
“Not only is transforming the energy system a crucial part of addressing climate change, revamping the sector has the potential to touch everyone’s lives. That’s why it’s so important to shift away from thinking about climate change solely in terms of whether we’ll limit warming to a certain level or not. From the lights we turn on each day, to the tractors that help farm our food, everything uses energy. The system is so vast that according to one study, transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy globally would require an investment of 73 trillion dollars.
Sounds like a lot, right? But that study also finds that such a transition would pay for itself in seven years and create 28.6 million more full-time jobs. And get this: globally, shifting to renewables promises roughly a trillion dollars in new wealth generation!
Let’s pause to think about that for a moment. Who’s going to gain all this wealth?"
To read Subin's essay and learn more about our renewable energy program, click here.
Only a people-powered organization can build a people-powered economy. Will you be our next Community Member to #DemocratizeDecolonizeDecarbonize housing, land, and energy?