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Remaking A World In Crisis With Osprey Orielle Lake

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No matter how you look at it, there is no denying that today’s world in crisis is in need of urgent saving. Wars are happening left and right, the environment is in a sorry state, and those in power continue to take advantage of every single opportunity. Corinna Bellizzi chats with activist, thought leader, and author Osprey Orielle Lake about dismantling today’s harmful system of oppression that adversely impacts the world. She explains the importance of reclaiming essential knowledge systems and respecting indigenous territories. Osprey also shares how women are leading the biggest restoration projects these days, breaking the cultural norm of the patriarchy.

 

About Osprey Orielle Lake

Care More Be Better | Osprey Orielle Lake | World In CrisisFounder and executive director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN), Osprey Orielle Lake works internationally with grassroots, BIPOC and Indigenous leaders, policymakers, and diverse coalitions to build climate justice, resilient communities, and a just transition to a decentralized, democratized clean-energy future.

She sits on the executive committee for the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and on the steering committee for the Fossil Free Non-Proliferation Treaty. Osprey’s writing about climate justice, relationships with nature, women in leadership, and other topics has been featured in The Guardian, Earth Island Journal, The Ecologist, Ms. Magazine and many other publications.

She is the author of the award-winning book Uprisings for the Earth: Reconnecting Culture with Nature. Osprey holds an MA in Culture and Environmental Studies from Holy Names University in Oakland and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area on Coast Miwok lands.

 

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https://www.facebook.com/ospreyorielle.lake

 

Show Notes:

00:00 – Introduction

03:11 – Writing ‘The Story is in Our Bones’

06:28 – Respecting indigenous territories

20:35 – Getting involved

26:56 – Building the collective work

30:10 – Rights of nature

39:06 – Sacrifice zones

45:15 – Closing Words

 

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Remaking A World In Crisis With Osprey Orielle Lake

In this episode, we’re going to explore the stories that we know in our bones to be true as we’re joined by the incredible activist, thought leader, and author of The Story is in Our Bones: How Worldviews and Climate Justice Can Remake a World in Crisis by Osprey Orielle Lake. She is the Founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, WECAN. She works internationally with grassroots, BIPOC, indigenous leaders, policymakers, and diverse coalitions to build climate justice and resilient communities and adjust the transition to a decentralized democratized clean energy future.

She sits on the executive committee for the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, and on the steering committee for the Fossil Free Non-Proliferation Treaty. It’s something you’ve heard about as we interviewed Tzeporah Berman on this show. Osprey is writing about climate justice, relationships with nature, women in leadership, and other topics that have been featured in all sorts of publications from The Guardian to Earth Island Journal, The Ecologist, Ms. Magazine, and many others. She’s the author of the award-winning book Uprisings for Earth: Reconnecting With Nature. She holds an MA in Culture and Environmental Studies from Holy Names University in Oakland and lives in the San Francisco Bay area on the Coast Miwok Clans. Osprey Orielle Lake, welcome to the show.

Thanks so much for inviting me to be here with you.

I wonder if you could share the simple story of your name’s origin. It’s something that to me was so enticing, two birds and then a lake.

That is such a long story. Can we start somewhere else? It’s not that I don’t want to go into it, but it’ll just take up a huge amount of time. It’s a long story.

No problem. Let’s talk about the topic of the moment as we get started here, The Story In Our Bones. I would love for you to talk about this call to action, this invitation to remake the world. You don’t mince words here. You point to the deplorable acts of humanity, the assassinations of climate activists, and many other things throughout its pages to make those readers more aware of our present situation. I wanted to know why you chose to write this work and release it in 2024.

Thank you for that good description. On a daily basis at the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, our organization deals with a wide range of issues. Everything from reforestation to protecting old-growth forests in different regions of the world. We do a lot of work around stopping fossil fuel expansion and extraction. We do a lot of work in advocacy, policy work, research, and producing reports. We do a lot of work around food security, food sovereignty, and indigenous rights. There’s quite a wide range of work we’re doing that are immediate actions to stop harm and also build a beautiful world that we know we are summing forward right now.

However, when I got into this book, I wanted to look upstream and have a very deep analysis that I’ve shared with many colleagues. It comes out of the climate justice movement, indigenous rights movements, and many others to get at this question of how we get into this moment of what some scholars are calling a poly crisis. It’s where we’re looking at an economic crisis, racism, colonization, patriarchy, and an economic system based on endless economic growth and capitalism.

I wanted to look at how can we dismantle some of these systems, which means we have to understand them and take a deep dive into what they are and where they come from. At the same time, also honor that while we’re dismantling harmful systems of oppression that are impacting both social and ecological issues, also going back and seeing in our own ancestries where we had healthy relationships and lived in harmony with the land, not from some romanticized point of view, but looking at some traditional knowledge, looking at some of the ways in which we had a different worldview about nature and each other than we do today.

The beauty of also not only dismantling current structures but reclaiming and rescuing important knowledge systems that we have considered to be undervalued or not important anymore just to name some of our connection to nature and a narrative around our inseparable relationship to the web of life. These kinds of things would lead to very different outcomes in our political, cultural, and social arenas.

This is going to touch back on some content that we’re covering over the course of either coming episodes or have very recently. Our connection to nature in particular is something we talk about. I am interviewing Dr. Wallace J. Nichols who goes by Jay about this Blue Mind Concept and understanding our connection to water. Without water, there is no life. Also, without something as devastating as fire, there could be no real ecosystem balance.

One of the things I think being in California, you’ve probably often thought about as have I, is that we had lost quite a bit of this indigenous knowledge about forest management even and ablation of potential fires by managing those forests. How do you see us leveraging this indigenous knowledge in today’s world so that we can stop that missed point and ultimately come out of it a better society?

One of the things I’m interested in and I’m a big advocate for is indigenous rights and centering indigenous knowledge and indigenous peoples in climate solutions and environmental solutions. I think it’s absolutely critical. When we look statistically at what’s going on, 80% of all the biodiversity left on Earth is in the hands and lands of indigenous peoples.

[bctt tweet=”Statistically, 80% of all the biodiversity left on Earth are lands of indigenous peoples.” via=”no”]

This is paramount for us to recognize as we’re looking at the escalating climate crisis and what we’re experiencing with droughts, floods, and fires as you mentioned, as well as environmental degradation overall, When we’re talking about our forests all over the world, water, land, and biodiversity itself, we’re talking a lot about indigenous territories and lands. It begins with first and foremost recognizing if we’re not in our homelands historically, whose indigenous lands are we on, and how we can know, learn, and respect the indigenous territories we’re in.

I’m in the Coast Miwok territories and Coast Miwok lands, how can I build a relationship with the indigenous leaders that are here and help and support the initiatives that they have? I think it’s a time for us who are settlers in other people’s lands who are maybe not in our own helm lands to sit at the feet of indigenous peoples, and listen and learn from people who have millenniums of understanding of the ecosystems where we live.

At every level, ecologically, spiritually, culturally, and politically in terms of governance systems, they have this deep integrated relationship with the land. Some of this is learning technical information like traditional ecological knowledge, as you mentioned around these fires that were burned to keep down the underbrush and to make sure that there weren’t huge blazes like we see now. Some of that is because we have not been tending to the land as indigenous peoples have done for years in forest lands, but also, it’s further impacted by the climate crisis and drought in the forest. These things together are colliding.

There’s technical information, but it’s also more than that. It’s also about respecting the worldviews, knowledge, and rights of indigenous peoples so we don’t set up an extractive relationship once again with indigenous peoples that we can come at it in a way of being good listeners and also following their leadership. I would mention one other thing to answer your question, which I think is important.

Many people don’t realize there’s something that the United Nations passed called the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which many countries all over the world have adopted. It has also a specific right called free, prior, and informed consent, which means that indigenous people all over the world have the right to be informed about projects that are coming into their territories, whether that’s fossil fuel extraction, mining, or other sorts of extraction.

Also, indigenous people not only need to be consulted with but ultimately, give consent or not if that project will be followed through on. I think one of the biggest struggles we have when we work with them every day that we can is how we support indigenous people and exercise this. Even though they might say, “No. We don’t want this fossil fuel pipeline coming through our land,” that right to say no is not being respected by corporations, governments, or financial institutions.

To get back to your question, one of the things we can do is learn from indigenous peoples and their incredibly profound traditional ecological knowledge based upon years and years of living in harmony with their lands, but also respecting their rights and getting engaged in their real-time struggles to protect their lands.

Those who know about the Dakota Access Pipeline all know that that is a key example of a complete failure where we did not respect the wishes of the indigenous peoples. There where is no owner of the land, but the stewards of that land for generations. I think sometimes the risk that we’re in is that their positions aren’t respected. The authority that they would have via this UN resolution isn’t respected, and then we are in this kind of a stalemate where it just happens anyway.

What do you see changing? I guess that is a broad question, but a hopeful question. At the same time that we see that there was a failure here, is there a sign that we could be entering a period in the United States specifically where we do see the wishes of these local peoples or these indigenous peoples ultimately respected?

The United States is a hard example honestly because I think that the United States does not have a great record on human rights or indigenous rights, even though we’ve laud and appear to have a narrative that we are. I’ll give you an example. I was very honored to participate in a divestment delegation with a wonderful Navajo woman leader, Michelle Cook. We had both been out at Standing Rock quite a bit during the resistance movement.

There was a move to create actions with the financiers of the Dakota Access Pipeline. We partnered and led indigenous women’s divestment delegations to get banks and different financial institutions to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline. We went to Europe and we went to European banks in Switzerland, Germany, and Norway because they have a higher human rights standard. We were one of the few groups that got divestments of hundreds of millions of dollars taken off the table away from the Dakota Access Pipeline.

It was very successful and I think there was a deeper understanding at that point, and hopefully, it will continue the role of indigenous peoples and support their rights. Also, the Conventional Biological Diversity, a UN body that held their meetings in Montreal, their last meeting centered on indigenous rights and recognized how important it was to include indigenous peoples in negotiations in terms of their role in environmental policymaking.

With all that said, it’s a huge struggle. We have been involved in the fight to stop Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline. We’re currently involved in stopping the Line 5 pipeline. We’re partnering with indigenous peoples in these fights and it hasn’t gotten better. They have not given consent and these pipelines are going through. It’s very difficult when it comes to the fossil fuel industry and the extractive industries in general which just keep barreling ahead.

Where I do have a lot of hope and I do see progress is the awareness of indigenous peoples. The knowledge and respect for indigenous peoples in every sphere of society is changing even in Hollywood. Not that that’s everything, but the narrative does matter. All these different reasons. We have Deb Haaland who is in office now in this administration. I do think it’s changing and it needs to change more. I would also make one more point, which is I’m very excited about the Land Back Movement that is happening in Canada and in the United States. We’re seeing substantial amounts of land being returned to indigenous peoples giving back the land that they already had.

[bctt tweet=”The Land Back Movement in Canada and the United States is very promising, as substantial amounts of land are being returned to indigenous people.” via=”no”]

It’s not exactly as well represented as it could be because I think Land Back is important as a concept and statement because it was already their land. I like this concept of Land Back and some of it is being given, some of it is being purchased, but there are all different kinds of mechanisms for land going back into the hands of the traditional stewards of these lands. I think that’s very exciting and fairly new and is a really powerful hopeful thing that we can look towards.

One example I wanted to bring up from our local environment here in Santa Cruz County is the San Vicente Redwoods, which opened in December 2022. That was the efforts of multiple land trusts and Redwood Forest Protection Leagues and things along these lines but they involved the local Ohlone people in making decisions about how the land would be used and how these open spaces would be connected to provide corridors for things like the mountain lion to survive and thrive in this environment when they have to cross things like major highways.

Ultimately, they’re in the first stage of development now, but after the craze of wildfires that hit the Santa Cruz area, the forest is pretty damaged there. After that, we got some torrential downpours, which took down more trees that they hoped would recover. What they are choosing to do with that land in its management is to involve the Ohlone people in the restoration, which I think both honors them and respects their understanding of the land in a way that’s different than the local residents who perhaps pay their taxes and live in the community here, including myself in Scotts Valley.

I’m happy to see these types of movements. I’m also encouraged that on every sign throughout the entire park, there’s a translation of the actual trail system called in Ohlone with markers on how to pronounce it and things like that. I realize this is small, but it’s a marker of our willingness to make this more broadly a focus point so that anybody who visits them understands that they’re on Ohlone land. That is something that most people in our local area didn’t have common knowledge of until they started hearing things like open ceremonies and people would say, “No, I want to acknowledge the land that we’re on is Ohlone land,” along those lines.

I think you’re right that the culture is shifting in a more positive direction and one that respects the true history of the land that we’re on. When I invited Paul Hawken on to talk about his work Regeneration: Ending The Climate Crisis In One Generation, his first call to action for people was to know where they live. He said, “Know where you live. Know the land you’re on. Know its history.”

I didn’t know at the moment that he said that, that I lived on Ohlone land. I thought that was Palo Alto. I looked into it to get a deeper understanding of the land that I live on. It’s not just a once-dairy area. It used to be a dairy area after it was Ohlone. There is a stock pond that was there partially to water the cattle, but it was also naturally there before. It’s called a stock pond, but it probably had an Ohlone name.

Understanding that we have essentially co-opted this space without acknowledgment is something that’s hard for a lot of people to do. That’s my bigger, broader perspective on it, and I’m so appreciative that you’re doing that work through your book and your hard work with WECAN. One of the questions I had before we dig more into your book, which is separated into five parts that I think are well organized, it makes it easy to digest and break it apart, as you have time to spend deeply in its pages.

I personally found that sometimes I had to pause because you’re reading about things that are not fun to look at like environmentalists in South America who are murdered for their work. This is the reality in some cases. I wanted to ask, with this important work you’re doing with WECAN, how can people like myself and those who are tuning in get involved with your efforts?

The simple part is everyone is welcome to participate by going to our website at www.WECANInternational.org because we often do webinars or have ways to participate or join calls to action we’re engaged in. There’s a lot of activity there and like everyone, we use a lot of social media. We are on X. We are on Instagram. We are on Facebook. That’s another way to get more immediate responses about what our activities are and learn about what we’re doing.

Those are ways to create connectivity for anyone interested and we do run different campaigns. People are always engaged in that and sign-on letters. We do a lot of advocacy in the United States, but also globally in different regions. The most important thing beyond the very straightforward things is I like to encourage people to think about, and people say this in different ways but I believe it to truly be a way that works well, how can you find what you’re passionate about?

Also, deeply taking that time to consider what is the state of the world, what is the state of my community, what is going on, and being informed both socially and ecologically. What am I passionate about changing because we’re at a true crisis moment between the climate crisis, what is going on in Gaza, and different wars around the world? What is going on with environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, and species loss?

We know the list which are systems that I get into in the book based on colonization, racism, patriarchy, and our economic frameworks based on endless economic growth. I think it’s very important to get educated about how we got into this moment so that we can be best informed on how to act with more knowledge and find out where is our heart taking us. What do we feel passionate about? What is the earth calling us to do?

That’s where we’re going to have the energy to add in our piece and I view it as an ecosystem of activities where none of us are resolving these things on our own. WECAN is part of an ecosystem, a coalition of groups and entities working all over the world for this great transformation time. We’re in a huge revolutionary moment in the story of humanity with the earth.

The biggest thing is to get involved, which means finding your passion, your love, what connects you to the earth, and what the earth is calling you to do, what your community needs. Also, plugging in there and finding allies because no one can do it on their own. There’s way too much grief and hardship to do this on our own. Finding out who we can be with, sharing these same passionate interests, rolling up our sleeves, and getting involved is so key.

Also, doing this locally, doing this in our own communities, doing this nationally or globally, or whatever you’re called to do. The one thing that we can’t do is wait or not engage. It’s an all-hands-on-deck moment. Mother Earth, through fires, floods, droughts, and everything else, is making it perfectly clear that this is our moment and we need to act now. We can act now and we must act now. What I would share with people is how to engage with what you’re passionate about because there’s so much that needs to be done.

I think that you’re heading me right towards my next question, which has to do with in part one, you cover world views and climate justice. In part two, you talk a lot about the Dakota Access Pipeline and our failures there. Also, the fact that we need to consider Mother Earth as a stakeholder in every decision and that indigenous people are central to that conversation as well.

In part three, you’re diving into things like the Weekend Forestry Projects, but all along the way here, I’m hearing this message throughout that essentially our capitalistic system now doesn’t equal and does not support the movement to clean energy and carbon capture, and living in a more sustainable balanced way. How do you suggest that we get there because it’s such a big leap? Even if it is frame by frame and week by week, what are the big movements we can push collectively? How do we do this?

I view it visually as this is where we are now in these complex systems of oppression that we’ve been living in for a very long time and the need to look at the root causes. It’s like if a doctor looks at you, they need to understand the ailment before they can prescribe what to do. We need to take a little bit of time in the root causes, which I delve into in the book so we have an understanding of where we’ve come from.

Many of us have a sense of where we want to be living. We want to live in a just, healthy, and equitable world that’s peaceful and integrated with the land, and being in harmony with nature. It doesn’t have to be perfect or utopia, but we could be living so much better than we are now. There’s a space in between and that’s for me where your question lands. Where is this roadway between here and there? What I try to address throughout the book is what is that pathway?

I’m going to give a few examples so we’re not talking abstractly. A couple of things that I’m excited about engaging in is one, I’m honored to be on the steering committee of something called the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. It’s very exciting because our organization, for over a decade, has been engaged in the UN climate talks that happen annually.

That’s very important work. A lot of it has to do with how countries are going to reduce their carbon emissions, which is a very important part of this process of de-escalating the climate crisis, and many other things are discussed there, which is a whole world of what is going on at the UNFCCC COP, which is a whole world of conversation.

This Fossil Fuel Treaty is designed to be a companion piece to that because it directly talks about ending the era of fossil fuels and how we can have a mechanism and instrument that all governments can engage in for that one topic, which is the topic that is what’s driving the climate crisis, fossil fuels. I was at the COP in Dubai and it was very exciting. You had mentioned Tzeporah Berman who initiated this. It is based on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. There’s a precedent for how this could work with countries.

When we were there, new countries signed on. There are now twelve countries that are endorsing this treaty. I was very excited particularly about Colombia endorsing. The president of Colombia at a very high-level event in Dubai gave a gorgeous eloquent speech about how we need to get off of fossil fuels and the complexity of it for a country like his, which is a fossil fuel-producing country. Also, the courage and bravery to get out there and realize that you’re going to also be in essence interfering with your own economy when you do that because our economies are based on fossil fuels.

That courage was so inspiring and other countries are signing on. It’s something I’m very excited about and engaged in as an organization. It has continued to grow throughout the year. Something else that we have been engaged in for a very long time is the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. I’m on the executive committee and this is the idea that there should be not only human rights but the rights of nature.

Right now in our legal systems, nature is viewed as property. As a result, a river, forest, or mountain cannot be represented as itself in the court of law. It has to be under the ownership of a human to then be somebody’s property. It makes it very difficult to protect an ecosystem. What the Rights of Nature Law does is it changes the entire DNA of our current forms of environmental laws and says, “No, nature needs to be a right-sparing entity all on its own.”

You could present a river or a forest in a court of law. I’m very excited about this. In contrast, environmental laws are primarily regulatory laws and they do just that. They regulate how much harm we can do to the environment, but they don’t stop it. Rights of Nature is about stopping the harm entirely. It’s not just a form of earth jurisprudence or earth philosophy, but it’s been put into action.

In 2008, Ecuador became the first country in the world to have the Rights of Nature put into the constitution. Since then, there have been several cases, one in Ecuador using Rights of Nature laws to protect rivers. Here in the United States, there are three dozen cases now that have been won and ordinances that have been passed to stop fracking in communities. It’s happening more at the local level versus at the national level.

It’s quite exciting because it demands that the river, the forest, or whatever part of the ecosystem we’re talking about has the right to thrive and be healthy and flourish like humans. I’ll give one last example because it touched me. This is one of the fastest-growing earth jurisprudence movements in the world. Even the United Nations Secretary-General said this is a hugely fast-growing movement. In Colombia, they passed Rights of Nature around the Amazon rainforest.

We’re seeing rivers around the world being protected under the Rights of Nature laws. I had the honor several years ago of going with a wonderful partner organization, Movement Rights, to go to New Zealand. We went there because the Maori people, for over a hundred years, have been fighting to protect the Whanganui River amongst other parts of their traditional territories of land because of colonization and their lands being taken from them.

They view the Whanganui River as their living ancestor or their living relative. They fought long and hard with the New Zealand government. Finally, some years ago, they won a settlement in which there’s a representative from the New Zealand government and a representative from the Whanganui River who are custodians and guardians of the river, not owners of the river.

Also, the river is treated under a Personhood Law, which is sort of under this umbrella of Mother Earth laws or Rights of Nature laws, and so no harm can come to the river because it has personhood just like a human being. You can exercise those rights. I was very moved to go there to be on a fact-finding mission to learn more about the Whanganui River. I was able to go with some of the Maori elders to meet the river in a very beautiful and sacred way and hear their songs.

One of the elder women took my hand over by the river and said we have a saying, “I am the river and the river is me.” It touched me so much because in that moment, the whole idea of understanding the intimacy of nature and the web of life being alive, my body is primarily water. Our human bodies are primarily water. Literally, the river and I are together. I’m the river and the river is me.

Also, how we can change our worldviews, which is what I was getting at in my book is going upstream from a lot of these day-to-day fights we are challenged with to see how we get into these ideas that were separated from nature. How did we get into these ideas of colonization? How did we get into these ideas of patriarchy and racism and how can we dismantle them? Part of it for me is also the healing of how we regenerate our relationship with nature and understand that we are part and particle of the web of life. This Rights of Nature movement is very positive in helping us not only reorient our laws but also our cultural understanding of our place in nature.

I am reminded of an interview I did with Maya Van Rossum about the Green Amendments and her work around that. She’s come on this show now twice to discuss some of those legal battles. For instance, when some young people from Montana sued because they felt like they had a right to a clean environment and that had been robbed of them. We see these movements where you have a Green Amendment on the books as with the State of Montana, which was what allowed this to come through in the first place.

I’m encouraged by that. In the United States, even when it seems like we’re up against an incredible battle, I’m also encouraged by young activists who are willing to fight that fight and file that lawsuit when it’s needed because it will take all of us willing to make these big steps to get that change to happen and become endemic in our culture. I’m so pleased by this conversation. You have highlighted so much of what is in chapter 12, which you begged me to read before we had this conversation.

I read most of each section. When I started to read things, some of which were alarming. I think this is page 227, and I know this is an unedited pre-release copy that might have changed, but you talked about how many land defenders have been murdered. I was not aware that an average of four people per week since the Paris Agreement was put in place had lost their lives to this climate fight. I think that I am somebody who as much as I fight that fight from my home and in my local community, if I knew I were putting my life on the line, these people are heroes.

To only hear about that sometimes in the fiction works I’m reading because some of these eco-fiction novels depict some of these individuals as fictional characters. They’ll depict some of the struggles. I interviewed George Paxinos, who’s a neuroscientist and a PhD. He wrote a book called A River Divided about the climate struggle. He talks about people being killed in the Amazon for trying to protect the river there or trying to protect the forest. It’s seemingly packaged as an accident when they fell from a tree or something to that effect because people are unwilling to leave and they’re fighting for their environment.

I think that story needs to be told more. In a way, I was surprised to read it in this book. I’m also so happy you included it as sad as it made me because I want to spend a moment to honor those individuals who have given the ultimate cost for their beliefs. I think that is so powerful and I wish that more people knew about it. I hope that my audience will pick up a book The Story in Our Bones: How Worldviews and Climate Justice Can Remake a World in Crisis.

Care More Be Better | Osprey Orielle Lake | World In Crisis
World In Crisis: The Story is in Our Bones: How Worldviews and Climate Justice Can Remake a World in Crisis

Osprey Orielle Lake, this has been an incredible interview. I want to ask a couple more questions, but before I get there, I like to ask the people I interview if there is a question I haven’t asked yet that you wish I had. You could ask and answer it or start to leave us with some important closing thoughts. Sometimes this ends up in another question or two.

I would encourage all of us to understand since you brought up the topic of these land defenders, which I did want to honor in the book so thank you for bringing that up. We have to realize that while we’re all collectively in a time of crisis all over the world, we’re not in it evenly. The threats to different people are not the same. To be with the discomfort of that, especially as we’re looking at indigenous peoples who are primarily the ones who are the land defenders being attacked to protect the last of the forest and the last of the waters.

Also, Black and Brown communities who are experiencing the worst impacts of extractive industries, that it is a time we need to look at uncomfortable topics like White supremacy, sacrifice areas, sacrifice zones, and the inequality that underlies a lot of these crises we’re in. As an example, if there were no sacrifice people or sacrifice zones, there would not be places where a lot of this dirty energy or dirty mining could take place.

If we value everyone’s life equally and nature equally, it changes our mindset about how and where we can do activities that don’t harm anyone and don’t harm the earth. This is something that we all need to wrestle with and not be a place of judgment. I don’t think that serves us, but to be in a place of being very open-minded and yes, work with privilege. If we have privilege, how can we use that privilege to serve those who don’t? How can we use that privilege to serve the earth?

[bctt tweet=”If there were sacrifice zones, there would be no places for dirty energy and dirty mining to take place. Everyone’s life must be valued equally.” via=”no”]

It’s a very delicate time. It’s a very intense time, politically, ecologically, and socially. On the one hand, I think we need to embrace the challenge of this moment, our responsibility at the moment, and have a historical analysis of this moment. Have those hard conversations, keep our hearts and minds open, and support each other in those conversations, while at the same time, recognizing that there is justice, there is love, there is reciprocity, and there is restoration.

I would close with a short story because the word restoration made me think of it. The project I’m excited about is that we’ve had to honor for the last nine years to work with Neema Namadamu, who’s an amazing Congolese woman who lives in the DR of Congo. We have been reforesting these hugely damaged lands through slash-and-burn techniques. Also, because of environmental degradation.

In this process, it has been engaging 700 women to reforest this area. Many years later, we’ve planted hundreds of thousands of trees and 25% of the trees are for human use. It’s for their food, shelter, and medicines and 75% of the trees are to rewild the land. All these years later, we’re restoring this forest. Now because 25% of the trees are old enough and have grown to the point where the people in the community there can use them, they’re no longer taking any from the old-growth forest.

We’re protecting 1.6 million acres of old-growth forest in the region of the Congo Basin, which is essential for climate mitigation. By reforesting we’re protecting 1.6 million acres of land. We’re reforesting and rewilding 75% of the trees. This beautiful thing happened in the last few years, which is we’ve planted enough trees and something unexpected happened quickly, which we’ve brought back the rain.

Mother Earth is responding and bringing back the rain. As a result, now there are all these wild nurseries. Not only are the nurseries were having replanting seed saplings but the whole forest is being regenerated by nature because the rains have been brought back. There’s this beautiful co-creation going on that has brought so much hope to me and also, that the women are leading this project. It’s changing the cultural norm of the patriarchy in their communities of women leading the way and bringing this beautiful solution and restoration to their community, food, and all the things that they need for living.

I wanted to bring that forward because, in the midst of truly terrific horrors from Gaza to Standing Rock to Sudan, we could go on, we can create the world we want if we work together and if we work in a community, and we listen to frontline leaders and we center indigenous Black and Brown women specifically, I think we have a way through a very small keyhole if we listen up.

Care More Be Better | Osprey Orielle Lake | World In Crisis
World In Crisis: We can create the world we want if we work together in the community, listen to frontline leaders, and center indigenous and black and brown women specifically.

 

I can’t think of a better note to end this on. I want to thank you so much for your time, Osprey Orielle Lake, and for writing this work. Do you have any final words, Osprey Orille?

Thank you so much for inviting me and for the beautiful work you’re doing. I want to encourage people to engage. Let’s all engage together. We can do this collectively together.

Thank you so much. Osprey is active in social media, as she had mentioned, as well as her own website and now the release of this new book, which is broadly available. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate, and review. Those five-star ratings and written reviews help us climb the charts so that our show can reach more people. Thank you, all of you, and always for being a part of this show and this community because together, we can do so much more. We can care more. We can be better. We can even transform our worldviews, fight for climate justice, and remake our world. We just must do it together. Thank you.

 

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