Our Power National Gathering - Reflections by Will

August 11, 2014

Our Power Richmond 2014
First 3 Days
By William Copeland

Mateo Nube of Movement Generation
dedicated a song to Sis Charity
(Photo by Ife Kilimanjaro)
The energy has been electric.  The gathering began with Indigenous greetings and acknowledgement, a mistica that held altar space for ancestors and intentions, and a dedication to Charity Hicks, former EMEAC staff member.  On Day 3, 2 different people said “The climate justice movement will affect the future of the usa over the next ten years.”

Personally my biggest impact was hosting the first Black/ African Descent Meet up.  This inspired a second full day strategy session. Lessons learned: the need for strong, yet flexible facilitation; intergenerational communication is an issue everywhere; relationships & principles between Black folks and other people of color really varies across the land.  EMEAC’s Siwatu-Salama Ra shifted the entire energy of the gathering by demanding room to breathe and inviting younger voices into the exchange. On Day 2, Mosiah challemged the room to connect with members of our community who have unplugged from the grid figuratively or literally.
Some of the participants int the
Black Caucus (Photo by Ife Kilimanjaro)

I had a great meeting with Mithika from Kenya and the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance about connecting Kenya climate justice and entertainment justice movements with Detroit’s. I also participated in a powerful session with other Midwestern Activists: CEED (Minneapolis), LVEJO (Chicago) and others.  We talked about building up our collective Great Lakes movement.

Many great discussions about our economy and its relationship to Our Power. Jose Bravo discussed the Just Transition strategy of organizing with workers in polluting facilities. Brendan Smith from the Labor Network for Sustainability discussed that we have two economies and need separate strategies for both: the union-led economy of full-time employment and benefits & the new economy of part-time and temp work struggling to make ends.  In Detroit we have a third economy: the underground economy and excluded workers. EMEAC is struggling to make the Just Transition work for all in Detroit.

All in all, a lot of very solid discussions. People are extremely surprised when I take ten minutes to describe the political situation in Detroit.  This includes Emergency Management, aggressive water shut offs, the racial corporatization of Detroit, the write-in fraud in our electoral politics, and the use of privileged immigrants as a wedge against our community, and much more.  They are using extreme measures against our community because of the creativity and successes of our movement!

I functioned as a national media spokesperson for Our Power, and gave a few interviews.  Here is one article that was written:http://commondreams.org/news/2014/08/07/front-lines-climate-crisis-gathering-calls-new-economy

“It Takes Roots to Weather the Storm!”  This means to me that the leadership of our frontline communities is essential not only for the survival of our communities, but also transforming the economy of the usa. Follow #ourpowerRichmond2014 on social media for more information.