Mutual support, joint action

 

In his editor’s note in the May 1 issue, (“Exploitation and the West”), Brian Calvert states a truth: “The same person who would eagerly exploit a human being will just as easily exploit a landscape.”

This may seem obvious to younger readers, but for many decades the environmental movement did not get it; public-land activists in particular sought to segregate a movement focused on preserving the West’s best places from the everyday struggles of human beings. We now know the distinction was false; the same corporate behaviors that decimate nature also destroy the well-being of communities and, in the longer term, destroy jobs as well. Environmental justice goes hand in hand with protecting land, air and water.

The realization that preserving nature and justice for people are two facets of the same coin is transforming the environmental movement, and nowhere more clearly than in our most Western of states — California. Here, those who want to preserve public-trust streamflows for salmon are making common cause with those fighting to bring clean water to low-income residents in California’s Central Valley. The goal is to bring sustainable ground and surface water management to all of California.

Young people call this “intersectionality.” They have expanded the academic concept to include not just the consciousness that all oppressive sectors are related, but the realization that those working for all species of justice must join together in mutual support and for joint action. These young people are going to transform progressive politics in this country and with it the environmental movement, because they know in their bones and have experienced in their activist lives the truth of what Brian Calvert stated in his May Day editor’s note. From the rolling hills of North Dakota to the Pacific shores, this is going to be a wild ride. Stay tuned.

Felice Pace
Klamath, California

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