Peacemaking: fill the spiritual void

Yesterday I wrote about the video of the interview of Friend Mary Mendenhall (included below). She told of the Quakers who left the United States because of their opposition to war and the military draft. That migration and the development of the Monteverde community in Costa Rica, where they settled, is an example of Quakers living in a manner consistent with their beliefs.

I also wrote about attending the Friends National Conference on War and Conscription in 1968. I had forgotten there was a similar declaration in 1948. One of the statements in that declaration is “We realize that the basic task in peacemaking is to fill the spiritual void in our civilization.” I’ve often prayed about what I call the Spiritual poverty that exists today and how Quakers could help fill that void.

The basic task in peacemaking is to fill the spiritual void in our civilization

Richmond Declaration Against the Draft, 1948

A statement in the 1968 declaration is “we acknowledge our complicity in these evils in ways sometimes silent and subtle, at times painfully apparent.” That declaration also includes a call for affirmation of action.

AFFIRMATION OF ACTION

We commit ourselves to validate our witness by visible changes in our lives, though they may involve personal jeopardy. We cannot rest until we achieve a truly corporate witness in the effort to oppose an end conscription. Let us hold each other in the Light which both reveals our weaknesses and strengthens us to overcome them.


I believe we were led to talk about Mary Mendenhall at Bear Creek meeting last Sunday. And that I was led to write about other stories related to Quakers and peacemaking yesterday. That I was led to remember the 1948 declaration against the draft.

I was especially struck by the Affirmation of Action part of the 1968 declaration. There is a similar admonition in a statement about racial justice of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). “Each person is urged to take a careful look at their life, to identify where one is benefiting from this, and work to correct that.  We urge Friends to speak out against the injustices and violence occurring today.

We urge Friends to speak out against the injustices and violence occurring today.

Declaration on the Draft and Conscription: Richmond 1968

Among the injustices and violence today are attacks, physical and otherwise, against Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC). And the all-out assault against Mother Earth.

All of this relates to my Des Moines Mutual Aid community, and to the Buffalo Rebellion I’m part of. There will be a rally against carbon capture and the pipelines needed to transport the carbon. An important part of the Buffalo Rebellion, including tomorrow’s rally, is the leadership of Indigenous peoples in the Midwest.

This is an opportunity for Friends to speak out against the injustices and violence occurring today.


https://www.facebook.com/events/580951207110378

Did you hear? The corporations vying to get rich from building carbon capture pipelines across Iowa will be meeting at a convention right here in Des Moines Nov 8-9!

People from Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska, and all four corners of Iowa will be there to say “NO CO2 PIPELINES! NO MORE FALSE CLIMATE SOLUTIONS!”

Will you help us send a strong message that Iowans are united against CO2 pipelines? RSVP at https://actionnetwork.org/…/rally-against-false…/

Here is what the day will look like:

1pm rally at Cowles Commons
1:30pm March to Iowa Event Center
2:00pm Protest outside the carbon capture convention

Whether you’re Black, White, Indigenous, rural or urban, we are ALL feeling the impacts of climate change ramping up in Iowa and around the world.

Big corporations that have significantly polluted our land, air, and water are scrambling to find “solutions”—false ones— in attempt to cover up the environmental damage they inflict on our state. And they’re trying to use our tax-payer dollars to do it.

CO2 pipelines are being pitched as the golden ticket to end greenhouse gas emissions from ethanol, fertilizer, and coal plants.

The problem?

–Carbon capture projects have never actually reduced greenhouse emissions.
–They bolster industries that capitalize off dirty energy and destructive agricultural practices
–CO2 pipeline leaks are extremely dangerous and public entities are not equipped to respond.
–Pipeline developers are bankrolling Governor Kim Reynolds to use eminent domain to seize land in order to enrich private corporations.

We need you to rise up with us to stop these projects! RSVP at https://actionnetwork.org/…/rally-against-false…/


References

Richmond Declaration Against the Draft, 1948
Advices on Conscription and War: By the Religious Society of Friends in the United States, Richmond, Indiana, 1948

We realize that the basic task in peacemaking is to fill the spiritual void in our civilization by replacing the fear that now cripples all our efforts with a faith in the Eternal Power by which God unites and sustains those who pursue His Will; and we extend our fellowship to all those of other persuasions who share this faith.

In humility and repentance for past failures, we call upon all Friends to renew the springs and sources of our spiritual power in our meetings for worship; to examine our possessions, to see if there be any seed of war in them/ and to live heroically in that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars and strife.

By a called Meeting representing Friends in the United States, held at Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, July 20-22, 1948.


Declaration on the Draft and Conscription: Richmond 1968

We call on Friends Everywhere to recognize the oppressive burden of militarism and conscription. We acknowledge our complicity in these evils in ways sometimes silent and subtle, at times painfully apparent. We are under obligation as children of God and members of the Religious Society of Friends to break the yoke of that complicity.

As Friends we have for many years been granted privileged status within the draft system. This has often blinded us to the evil of the draft itself, and the treatment of those not so privileged. We are grateful for all those who by resolutely resisting the draft have quickened our conscience. We are called into the community of all who suffer for their refusal to perform unconscionable acts.

We reaffirm the “Advices on Conscription and War” adopted at Richmond in 1948. We realize in 1968 that our testimony against conscription is strengthened by refusing to comply with the Selective Service law. We also recognize that the problem of paying war taxes has intensified; this compels us to find realistic ways to refuse to pay these taxes.

We recognize the evil nature of all forms of conscription, and its inconsistency with the teachings and examples of Christ. Military conscription in the United States today undergirds the aggressive foreign policies and oppressive domestic policies which rely on easy availability of military manpower. Conscription threatens the right and responsibility of every person to make decisions in matters of conscience. Friends opposing war should refuse any kind of military service; Friends opposing conscription should refuse to cooperate with the Selective Service System.

We call for the abolition of the Selective Service System and commit ourselves to work with renewed dedication to abolish it. We shall oppose attempts to perpetuate or extend conscription, however constructive the alleged purpose, by such a system as National Service. We do not support efforts at draft reform; the issue is not equal treatment under compulsion, but freedom from compulsion.

We recognize how difficult it is to work through these complex issues, and to bear the burden of decision and action. We hold in love and respect each member of our Society as he follows where conscience leads. We know there are spiritual resources available to those who would be faithful.

AFFIRMATION OF ACTION

We commit ourselves to validate our witness by visible changes in our lives, though they may involve personal jeopardy. We cannot rest until we achieve a truly corporate witness in the effort to oppose an end conscription. Let us hold each other in the Light which both reveals our weaknesses and strengthens us to overcome them.


Declaration on the Draft and Conscription: Richmond 1968. Friends National Conference on the Draft and Conscription, October 11-13, 1968


An Epistle to Friends Concerning Military Conscription

Dear Friends,

It has long been clear to most of us who are called Friends that war is contrary to the spirit of Christ and that we cannot participate in it. The refusal to participate in war begins with a refusal to bear arms. Some Friends choose to serve as noncombatants within the military. For most of us, however, refusal to participate in war also involves refusal to be part of the military itself, as an institution set up to wage war. Many, therefore, become conscientious objectors doing alternative service as civilians, or are deferred as students and workers in essential occupations.

Those of us who are joining in this epistle believe that cooperating with the draft, even as a recognized conscientious objector, makes one part of the power which forces our brothers into the military and into war. If we Friends believe that we are special beings and alone deserve to be exempted from war, we find that doing civilian service with conscription or keeping deferments as we pursue our professional careers are acceptable courses of action. But if we Friends really believe that war is wrong, that no man should become the executioner or victim of his brothers, then we will find it impossible to collaborate with the Selective Service System. We will risk being put in prison before we help turn men into murderers.

It matters little what men say they believe when their actions are inconsistent with their words. Thus we Friends may say that all war is wrong, but as long as Friends continue to collaborate in a system that forces men into war, our Peace Testimony will fail to speak to mankind.

Let our lives speak for our convictions. Let our lives show that we oppose not only our own participation in war, but any man’s participation in it. We can stop seeking deferments and exemptions, we can stop filling out Selective Service forms, we can refuse to obey induction and civilian work orders. We can refuse to register, or send back draft cards if we’ve already registered.

In our early history we Friends were known for our courage in living according to our convictions. At times during the 1600’s thousands of Quakers were in jails for refusing to pay any special respect to those in power, for worshiping in their own way, and for following the leadings of conscience. But we Friends need not fear we are alone today in our refusal to support mass murder. Up to three thousand Americans severed their relations with the draft at nation-wide draft card turn-ins during 1967 and 1968. There may still be other mass returns of cards, and we can always set our own dates.

We may not be able to change our government’s terrifying policy in Vietnam. But we can try to change our own lives. We must be ready to accept the sacrifices involved if we hope to make a real testimony for Peace. We must make Pacifism a way of life in a violent world.

We remain, in love of the Spirit, your Friends and brothers,

Don Laughlin
Roy Knight
Jeremy Mott
Ross Flanagan
Richard Boardman
James Brostol
George Lakey
Stephen Tatum
Herbert Nichols
Christopher Hodgkin
Jay Harker
Bob Eaton
Bill Medlin
Alan & Peter Blood.


Don Laughlin and Roy Knight, among those who signed that Epistle, were members of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). Both were imprisoned for their refusal to participate in the military draft. As were a number of other Quakers. Don collected some of those stories, which can be found here:

Young Quaker Men Facing War and Conscription


Bill Deutsch interviews Mary Mendenhall

No CO2 Pipelines in Iowa

Iowa Utilities Board (IUB)! See Our Power!

https://www.facebook.com/events/509509047578832/

You can download a copy of this poster here. https://1drv.ms/b/s!Avb9bFhezZpPjNEeBqI19Hk2DVMAkw

Please join us July 12th, 8:30 am at the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) monthly board meeting. The board is preparing to handle permit requests for three hazardous carbon pipelines in Iowa.

There are many reasons why carbon pipelines should not be built, including:

  • these are unproven processes
  • even though the main argument for carbon pipelines is removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, some of the captured carbon is actually used for more oil fracking
  • the abuse of eminent domain
  • and significant, long-term impacts on farmland.
  • In addition, these are hazardous material pipelines

When a carbon pipeline explodes, huge amounts of carbon dioxide escape into the air, replacing oxygen, and potentially killing people and animals. Such an explosion and some of those consequences actually happened in Satartia, Mississippi. See: CO2 Pipeline Dangers.

Here are some other posts I’ve written about carbon pipelines.

Carbon pipeline opposition
Eminent domain abuse again
Survivors of Carbon pipeline explosion tell their stories
Iowa carbon pipeline resistance

Join the Iowa Carbon Pipeline Resistance Coalition for a rally at the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) monthly board meeting. We won’t stand by as corporations endanger our land, our communities, and our climate by abusing eminent domain. CO2 pipelines pose a multitude of threats to all Iowans. From destroying farmland to the threat of asphyxiation if a pipeline leaks, Iowans are carrying all the risks, while Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry make off with the reward.

As the Iowa Utilities Board prepares to handle permit requests for three hazardous carbon pipelines, it’s crucial that they know 80% of Iowans oppose using eminent domain for carbon pipelines. It’s time Iowa’s decision-makers learn that we will not accept greedy corporate interests being put before their needs.

Let’s show the Iowa Utilities Board how powerful we are when we stand together!

https://www.facebook.com/events/509509047578832/


Iowa Carbon Pipeline Resistance Coalition

https://www.facebook.com/NoCCSIowa


Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is not the answer to the climate emergency. CCS is unproven, dangerous and delays real solutions to the climate crisis such as energy conservation, regenerative agriculture and renewable energy.
https://www.facebook.com/NoCCSIowa


Great Plains Action Society

Great Plains Action Society. An indigenous collective working to resist and indigenize colonial institutions, ideologies, and behaviors. https://www.facebook.com/GreatPlainsActionSociety


Buffalo Rebellion

Buffalo Rebellion is a coalition of Iowa grassroots organizations that are growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice!

Formed in 2021, Buffalo Rebellion is comprised of seven Iowa organizations: Great Plains Action Society, DSM Black Liberation Movement, Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice, Sierra Club Beyond Coal, Cedar Rapids Sunrise Movement, SEIU Local 199, and Iowa CCI
https://www.facebook.com/IowaBuffaloRebellion




Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
With thousands of members from all walks of life, we get things done on critical issues
https://www.facebook.com/iowacci




#NoCarbonPipelines
#StopNavigator
#StopSummit
#NoCCS

To my white friends

I especially hope many of my white friends, especially Quakers, might attend the Fourth of He Lies community potluck. If you are a white person, like me, try to imagine how black, indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) feel about all the celebrations and speeches going on now related to the 4th of July.

You can find out how some BIPOC folks feel by attending the Fourth of He Lies community potluck Sunday, July 3rd at Cheatom Park, 1100 Day Street, Des Moines, from 4 – 7 pm. Children welcome.

In 2017 I retired to Iowa after my career at Indiana University Medical Center. It was difficult to leave the many friends I have in numerous justice communities in Indianapolis.

I am blessed to have made so many new friends in the Midwest and work with their/our organizations today. That includes working, directly or indirectly with all of the organizations below that are sponsoring the community potluck, with the exception of Satanic Iowa. I made an assumption that didn’t turn out to be true, i.e., that they were related to what I thought Satanic was. All I know is what I found on Wikipedia this morning. “The Satanic Temple, often abbreviated TST, is a nontheistic religious and human rights organization that is primarily based in the United States,[1][2][3][4] I hope I can make it to the potluck and learn more.

Before I learned what The Satanic Temple really was about, I had no doubt my friends in the other organizations below approved of them being included as sponsors of the potluck.

This also brings to mind the term “fusion politics” that I learned from Rev. William Barber. The concept is to unite disparate organizations around the issues they agree on and can work on together.

Finally, I’m working to get Quaker communities to embrace the concepts of Mutual Aid. An important part of Mutual Aid is to work with all of the justice organizations in the vicinity of the Mutual Aid community. This potluck is an opportunity for Friends to learn about organizations doing great work in our communities. Organizations they might become involved with in their own Mutual Aid communities.


Join us for a community potluck hosted by Iowa organizations while we speak truths about July 4th. Plenty of food, music, and fun will be provided as local leaders uplift issues they are facing in their communities.

Bring chairs, blankets, and fun stuff!
Children are welcome!

Hosted by Great Plains Action Society, Iowa CCI, Cedar Rapids Sunrise. Other organizations are welcome to join–to bring some food, to table and speak! Please contact Sikowis at sikowis@greatplainsaction.org for more information.
https://www.facebook.com/events/369803928574457

The colonists obsessed about British regulations on immigration and trade and what they considered an excessive number of British officials present in the colonies. They ignored the injustices they inflicted on others. They rose up against figurative enslavement by the Crown while literally enslaving people in America.

What we get wrong about the Fourth of July. If our deepest values are democracy and equality, then why do we celebrate a slaveholders’ rebellion as the birth of our nation? By Kermit Roosevelt III, The Boston Globe, June 30, 2022

Sponsors of the Fourth of He Lies

Great Plains Action Society. An indigenous collective working to resist and indigenize colonial institutions, ideologies, and behaviors. https://www.facebook.com/GreatPlainsActionSociety


Buffalo Rebellion is a coalition of Iowa grassroots organizations that are growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice!

Formed in 2021, Buffalo Rebellion is comprised of seven Iowa organizations: Great Plains Action Society, DSM Black Liberation Movement, Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice, Sierra Club Beyond Coal, Cedar Rapids Sunrise Movement, SEIU Local 199, and Iowa CCI
https://www.facebook.com/IowaBuffaloRebellion


Iowa Coalition for Collective Change. Uniting communities. Promoting equality. Transforming organizations.
https://www.facebook.com/ICCCdsm


We are the Des Moines Black Liberation Movement. #DSMBLM
https://www.facebook.com/desmoinesblm


Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
With thousands of members from all walks of life, we get things done on critical issues https://www.facebook.com/iowacci


We are Sunrise Cedar Rapids, a group dedicated to fight climate change. https://www.facebook.com/sunrisemvmtCR


Not to be confused with the Church of Satan.

The Satanic Temple, often abbreviated TST, is a nontheistic religious and human rights organization that is primarily based in the United States,[1][2][3][4] with additional congregations in CanadaAustralia, and the United Kingdom.[5][6] Co-founded by Lucien Greaves, the organization’s spokesperson, and Malcolm Jarry,[7][8] the organization uses Satanic imagery to promote egalitarianismsocial justice, and the separation of church and state, supporting their mission “to encourage benevolence and empathy [among all people].”[9] The Satanic Temple has utilized satire, theatrical ploys, humor, and legal action in their public campaigns to “generate attention and prompt people to reevaluate fears and perceptions”,[10] and to “highlight religious hypocrisy and encroachment on religious freedom.”[7][11][12][13]

The Satanic Temple does not believe in a supernatural Satan; instead it employs the literary Satan as a metaphor to promote pragmatic skepticism, rational reciprocity, personal autonomy, and curiosity.[8] Satan is thus used as a symbol representing “the eternal rebel” against arbitrary authority and social norms.[14][15] Adherents generally refer to their religion as “Satanism” or “Modern Satanism“,[16] while others refer to TST’s religion as Compassionate Satanism or Seven Tenet Satanism.[17][18]

The organization’s participation in public affairs includes political actions as well as lobbying efforts,[19][20] with a focus on exposing Christian privilege when it interferes with personal religious freedom. It considers marriage a religious sacrament that should be governed under the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty which should prevail over state laws.[21] Because the group regards inviolability of the body as a key doctrine, it also views all restrictions on abortion, including mandatory waiting periods, as an infringement on the rights of Satanists to practice their religion.[22]

Wikipedia – The Satanic Temple

Satanic Iowa
https://www.facebook.com/SatanicIowa


The crown and the colonists were both determined to seize lands from native peoples and to continue enslavement. But their interests were also hostile to one another and war was the inevitable result. White settlers wanted full independence for themselves and no control over their actions at all.

The indigenous populations were nearly eradicated in the decades long quest for conquest. Expanding slavery was an integral part of those efforts against native peoples. Genocide could not be carried out completely nor could any accommodation be made with European nations in the quest to control land from sea to shining sea. That is why the settlers declared their independence. 

The process of decolonizing ourselves is a difficult one. We have been cut off from our history and we don’t know where or how our people played a part. As we try to educate ourselves we may find it difficult to give up traditions that we have claimed as our own. Regardless of personal choices made on July 4th, the causes of the Declaration of Independence must be known and acknowledged. That is the beginning of true independence for Black people.

THE TERRIBLE ORIGINS OF JULY 4TH By Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report.
July 3, 2021

Dangerous disconnect

I’m heeding the suggestion that it isn’t good for young people to continuously hear proclamations of near-term extinction. And nobody really knows what will happen as we move further into environmental devastation and chaos.

But there are many things we do know about our evolving environmental disaster.

Daily breaking high temperature records for large areas of the world is directly linked to increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. As are the increasingly frequent and severity of storms. And the increasing severity of drought conditions over larger areas of land. All of which will increasingly stress, or cause failures of power, water, and waste management infrastructure.

And yet, the Biden administration is aggressively pressuring oil companies to increase oil and natural gas production and releasing millions of barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. A dangerous, disastrous disconnect.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) today announced an additional Notice of Sale of up to 40.1 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). This Notice of Sale is part of President Biden’s announcement on March 31, 2022, to release one million barrels of crude oil a day for six months to address the significant global supply disruption caused by Putin’s war on Ukraine and help stabilize volatile energy costs for American families. 

DOE Announces Additional Notice of Sale of Crude Oil From The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, May 24, 2022

New funding for fossil fuel exploration and production infrastructure is delusional.

U.N. Secretary−General António Guterres

U.N. Secretary−General António Guterres warned Tuesday of a “dangerous disconnect” between what scientists and citizens are demanding to curb climate change, and what governments are actually doing about it.

Guterres said global greenhouse gas emissions need to drop by 45% this decade, but are currently forecast to increase by 14%.

“We are witnessing a historic and dangerous disconnect: science and citizens are demanding ambitious and transformative climate action,” he said at a climate conference in Austria. “Meanwhile many governments are dragging their feet. This inaction has grave consequences.”

New funding for fossil fuel exploration and production infrastructure is delusional,” he said in a video message to the Austrian World Summit, initiated by former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “It will only further feed the scourge of war, pollution and climate catastrophe.”

Guterres urged countries to instead end all coal use by 2040, with rich nations doing so by 2030, and focus on replacing fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind power.

“Renewables are the peace plan of the 21st century,” he said.

Inaction on climate is ‘dangerous’, warns U.N.’s Guterres, By Associated Press | News | June 14th 2022



https://www.facebook.com/IowaBuffaloRebellion

Building the Future We Want

I wrote about the Rally for Reproductive Justice at the Iowa Women of Achievement bridge in downtown Des Moines last Friday. The event was a case study of how I hope and pray we find our way toward the goal of Beloved community. This is urgent now as the systems we have depended on continue to collapse around us.

White Christian problem

I’m always uncomfortable talking about myself but being asked to take photos at this event represents one principle of how we can work together. White males represent/perpetuate the systems of dominance that we must get rid of. Being a white male, I work to avoid those attributes in what I do.

White people need to wait to be invited into this work. So, I was honored that one of my friends, Sikowis Nobiss, of the Great Plains Action Society asked me to take photos at the rally. It takes a long time for this trust to develop. I’ve been working with the Great Plains Action Society for five years.

Sikowis Nobiss

There were several signs at the gathering like the one below that say “end the white Christian problem and keep abortions legal”. White supremacy is at the root of systems of dominance and oppression. White Christians should work to liberate themselves from their systems of dominance and oppression. In the process, helping liberate those oppressed by those systems.


I’m going to try to explain how the principles of the Red/Green New Deal in the diagram above were represented at the Reproductive Justice event. The Green New Deal (GND) represents the idea of modeling bold initiatives to address environmental disaster on the New Deal of the 1930’s.

LANDBACK

The Red New Deal stands for Indigenous led Green New Deal. This is represented in the diagram above as LANDBACK.

The Reproductive Justice rally was supported by the many justice organizations in Iowa listed in this graphic. My friend Sikowis Nobiss of the Great Plains Action Society was one of the main organizers (and who asked me to take photos). Other Indigenous friends included Mahmud Fitil who took video via a drone, Donnielle Wanatee, who gave prayers, and Ronnie James of Des Moines Mutual Aid who setup the Wells Fargo Kills Communities banner. Our gathering was just across the street from the Wells Fargo Arena.

NOTE: I have another blog which is about LANDBACK titled LANDBACK Friends.

It is the reclamation of everything stolen from the original Peoples.

  • Land
  • Language
  • Ceremony
  • Medicines
  • Kinship

It is a relationship with Mother Earth that is symbiotic and just, where we have reclaimed stewardship. 
It is bringing our People with us as we move towards liberation and embodied sovereignty through an organizing, political and narrative framework. 
It is a catalyst for current generation organizers and centers the voices of those who represent our future. 
It is recognizing that our struggle is interconnected with the struggles of all oppressed Peoples.
It is a future where Black reparations and Indigenous LANDBACK co-exist. Where BIPOC collective liberation is at the core. 
It is acknowledging that only when Mother Earth is well, can we, her children, be well. 
It is our belonging to the land – because – we are the land. 
We are LANDBACK!

LANDBACK Manifesto


Black Liberation

BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. White supremacy is the attempt of White people to dominate those who are not white, i.e. BIOPC people. Much of what I’ve been writing about regarding Indigenous peoples applies to black and other people of color. The obvious differences relate to the history of enslavement and continued injustices related to skin color.

From the LANDBACK Manifesto (above): “It is a future where Black reparations and Indigenous LANDBACK co-exist. Where BIPOC collective liberation is at the core.” This is represented by Black Liberation in the diagram above.

One of the main organizations involved in the Rally for Reproductive Justice was Des Moines Black Liberation. The concept of black liberation represents moving beyond the concept of Black Lives Matter.


Abolition

Today abolition commonly refers to abolition of police and prisons. The public lynching of so many unarmed Black and other people of color appear relentlessly because of news and bystander videos. There are incredible inequities of prison populations and long sentences of BIPOC people compared to white people. Prisons are abused to keep BIPOC people off the streets.

There are numerous examples of the success of dispatching mental health personnel instead of police where appropriate.

Mutual Aid

Mutual Aid has been my focus for justice work for the past several years. While Des Moines Mutual Aid is not listed in the organizations supporting the Rally for Reproductive Justice, several of us were at the Rally. One thing they did while I was taking photos was set up this banner calling attention to missing and murdered Indigenous relatives (MMIR).

The Rally for Reproductive Justice was in solidarity with the annual day of awareness about MMIR that is observed at this time. The Wells Fargo banner calls attention to the bank’s financing fossil fuel projects. Pipelines are often intentionally built near native communities. Violence against native peoples occurs from the men in the camps at the construction sites. The Wells Fargo Arena is just across the street from where the rally was held.

The color red is associated with MMIR. Many in the crowd at the rally wore red, and the Women of Achievement bridge was lit in red for the same reason.

Bridge lit in red in support of missing and murdered Indigenous relatives

As shown in the graphic above, Mutual Aid is about getting rid of vertical hierarchies, which is fundamental for building Beloved communities. There won’t be power structures of superiority, dominance, and oppression if we commit to the framework of Mutual Aid.

Conservation

For healing for Mother Earth to occur, it is essential to dramatically reduce extraction and consumption of resources. We must act in a manner that will be best for the next seven generations.

Spirituality (Religious socialism)

My friend Donnielle Wanatee offered prayers during the Rally.

Donnielle Wanatee

That briefly covers what is included in the graphic above (Red/Green New Deal).


I wanted to mention there were people at the rally to sign for those with hearing impairments.

One of the other organizations supporting the Rally was Iowa CCI (Citizens for Community Improvement) that I’ve just begun to become involved with. One of my friends is Jake Grobe, who is the Climate Justice Organizer for Iowa CCI. Jake and I often see each other at the Des Moines Mutual Aid food giveaway each Saturday morning.

Jake and Sikowis are two of the people who did a great deal of work creating a new coalition, the Buffalo Rebellion. This coalition will do much to help us build the future we want. The Buffalo Rebellion recently held an intense Climate Summit that I was blessed to attend, to build a network of climate and justice advocates.

Sikowis Nobiss and Jake Grobe

As my Mutual Aid friends and I left the Rally we said, “I’ll see you in the morning” where we’ll be at our food giveaway.

Buffalo Rebellion and Red/Green New Deal

The Sunrise Movement was launched as a national campaign for a Green New Deal (GND) in 2017. From the beginning I heard my native friends talk about the importance of a GND to be Indigenous led. In 2019 Sunrise’s Green New Deal tour began with a stop in Des Moines. There my friends Trisha Cax-Sep-Gu-Wiga Etringer and Lakasha Yooxot Likipt spoke about Indigenous leadership as a requirement for a GND. https://landbackfriends.com/2021/09/01/indigenous-led-green-new-deal/


Last weekend’s Climate Summit of the newly formed Buffalo Rebellion provided an opportunity for organizations and people to come together to share what is being done to address the climate crisis. And lay the groundwork for working together, focusing on action related to the racial and economic consequences of environmental devastation. That requires taking on entrenched white supremacy, systemic racism and rapacious capitalism.

The Buffalo Rebellion is a coalition that includes Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Great Plains Action Society, Des Moines Black Liberation Movement, Iowa MMJ, SEIU Iowa, Sierra Club Iowa Beyond Coal, and Cedar Rapids Sunrise Movement.

We believe that we must address the root of climate change, insatiable corporate greed and white supremacy, to make change happen. This will require a multi-racial movement of working people struggling together to upend politics as usual.

Buffalo Rebellion

… what if the question all water protectors and land defenders asked was, why don’t we just overturn the system that makes development a threat in the first place? This system, again, is capitalism. Rather than taking an explicitly conservationist approach, the Red Deal instead proposes a comprehensive, full-scale assault on capitalism, using Indigenous knowledge and tried-and-true methods of mass mobilization as its ammunition. In this way, it addresses what are commonly thought of as single issues like the protection of sacred sites—which often manifest in specific uprisings or insurrections—as structural in nature, which therefore require a structural (i.e., non-reformist reform) response that has the abolition of capitalism via revolution as its central goal. We must be straightforward about what is necessary. If we want to survive, there are no incremental or “non-disruptive” ways to reduce emissions. Reconciliation with the ruling classes is out of the question. Market-based solutions must be abandoned. We have until 2050 to reach net-zero carbon emissions. That’s it. Thirty years. The struggle for a carbon-free future can either lead to revolutionary transformation or much worse than what Marx and Engels imagined in 1848, when they forewarned that “the common ruin of the contending classes” was a likely scenario if the capitalist class was not overthrown. The common ruin of entire peoples, species, landscapes, grasslands, waterways, oceans, and forests—which has been well underway for centuries—has intensified more in the last three decades than in all of human existence.

The Red Nation, The Red Deal (pp. 21-22). Common Notions. Kindle Edition.


My Mutual Aid community models many Green/Red New Deal concepts.

I’m of the firm opinion that a system that was built by stolen bodies on stolen land for the benefit of a few is a system that is not repairable. It is operating as designed, and small changes (which are the result of huge efforts) to lessen the blow on those it was not designed for are merely half measures that can’t ever fully succeed.

So the question is now, where do we go from here? Do we continue to make incremental changes while the wealthy hoard more wealth and the climate crisis deepens, or do we do something drastic that has never been done before? Can we envision and create a world where a class war from above isn’t a reality anymore?”

Ronnie James, Des Moines Mutual Aid, Great Plains Action Society

Building a coalition

I’m reflecting and praying about what happened this past weekend during the Climate Summit of the newly formed Buffalo Rebellion, a new coalition of Iowa organizations that are growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice.

Buffalo Rebellion is a new coalition of Iowa organizations that are growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice. The Earth Day Rally will be an afternoon of honoring Mother Earth through sharing stories and visions for climate justice and taking action together for a world that puts people and the planet before profits for a few.

Following the Earth Day Rally, Buffalo Rebellion will be holding two days of immersive training to develop 100 grassroots leaders who will build local teams to take on climate justice issues in their community and come together to create a thriving state-wide movement.

Formed in 2021, Buffalo Rebellion is comprised of seven Iowa organizations: Great Plains Action Society, DSM Black Liberation Movement, Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice, Sierra Club Beyond Coal, Cedar Rapids Sunrise Movement, SEIU Local 199, and Iowa CCI.

Buffalo Rebellion


Extremely thankful for this community we built this weekend. Looking forward to fighting for the future alongside all of you.
Thank you to the organizers, and big love to the participants.
Keep an eye out for Buffalo Rebellions next move.

Photo by @karl.ajconrad
@iowacci@iowammj@desmoinesblm@greatplainsactionsociety@sunrisemvmtcr
#climatecrisis#climatejustice#landback#racialjustice
Buffalo Rebellion 4/24/2022


How do you build a coalition? You bring together organizations and people who have demonstrated they are effective at building community and organizing for change. And who are aligned in their purpose.

My experience is there are a small number of people and organizations who shoulder justice work in a city or geographical area. Which means they are acquainted with each other. A given individual often belongs to multiple organizations.

But these groups often don’t work together. Building a coalition is how to remedy that. The organizations listed above are growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice. That is our common purpose. Rapidly evolving environmental chaos is an existential threat that requires radical action now.

Centering on racial and economic justice is crucial for many reasons. Blatant environmental racism is seen over and over again by the location of hazardous infrastructure in Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) communities. Conversely, solar panels are not often seen there.

There are many aspects of economic injustice as well. Those economically disadvantaged also tend to live in areas of environmental hazards. And supply the labor for jobs such as coal, oil, and tar sands mining, while white capitalists receive (steal) the profits.

Building a coalition requires us to know and trust each other. And to learn about each other’s work. Tools that we can bring to our organizations. Or know who has expertise we can turn to for help.

This past weekend of Buffalo Rebellion meetings and action went a long way in beginning to accomplish these goals. It was important to have the action of marching to the offices of MidAmerican Energy. Demonstrating how direct actions work.

The many excellent presentations shared the tools and knowledge of experts in our coalition. The following table of presentations gives an idea of what was done.

Community Building & StorytellingCedar Rapids Sunrise
End-Stage Iowa, Indigenous Land Stewardship & the Green
(Red) New Deal
Great Plains Action Society (GPAS), Iowa Citizens Community Improvement (ICCI)
NoDAPL Reunion Panel
Fundamentals of Organizing (Starting an Issue Based Campaign
and Fundraising 101)
DSM Black Liberation, ICCI, Sierra Club Beyond Coal
Police, Prison, & Military Abolition for Climate JusticeDSM Black Liberation Movement
Lobbying: Get Your Local Green New Deal Passed into LawCedar Rapids Sunrise
Migration in Iowa and Big-AgIowa Migrant Movement for Justice
Art and ActivismSay Poetry, DSM Black Liberation Movement
Frontline Tactical Methods to Protect the Land: From Direct Actions and Resistance Camps
Landscapes: The Kinship of Climate, Wildness, and Community
Mutual Aid: Bail Funds, Court Solidarity, and Incarceration Support in Resistance MovementsGPAS, DSM Mutual Aid
Linking the Origins of Iowa’s Contemporary Environmental Problems to the Extractive Nature of White Settlement
Ending White Supremacy in Climate OrganizingCPAS, DSM Black Liberation Movement, Sierra Club Beyond Coal
Launching the Movement: Strategic Applications of Drones for Grassroots ActionsGPAS
Building Power with Public NarrativeCedar Rapids Sunrise, ICCI, DSM People’s Town Hall
Damn Lies and C02 pipelinesScience and Environmental Health Network
Deep Canvassing ICCI, DSM People’s Town Hall
Urban Farming and Community FridgesSweet Tooth Farms
Bird-Dogging 101Cedar Rapids Sunrise, ICCI, DSM Black Liberation Movement
Youth Caucus ReportSeventh Generation Youth Climate Caucus

You can see the videos of most of these presentations on the Buffalo Rebellion Facebook page.

For example, this is the presentation by my friend Ronnie James of Des Moines Mutual Aid and Great Plains Action Society.

Mutual Aid: Bail Funds, Court Solidarity, and Incarceration Support in Resistance Movements

– Ronnie James, DSM Mutual Aid & Great Plains Action Society

An introduction to the how and why of supporting frontliners that suffer arrest during Movement activities. Instruction will cover the reason for, creation of, and implementation of a Bail Fund. We will also touch on the main phases of the arrest and court process: Arrest, Pre-Trial, Trial, Post-Trial, Sentencing, and Incarceration, and some of the avenues of support the defendant will require during these phases. We will discuss the role of the Defense Committee, and how they compare and contrast with the Legal Defense Team. Finally, there will be a brief summary of how this works in Des Moines, Iowa in the present moment.

Click here to see video.


The goal of this weekend of immersive training was to develop grassroots leaders who will build local teams to take on climate justice issues in their community and come together to create a thriving state-wide movement. I think that was accomplished.



#IAClimateJustice #ClimateJustice @NoCCSIowa

@iowacci @iowammj @desmoinesblm @greatplainsactionsociety @sunrisemvmtcr
#climatecrisis #climatejustice #landback #racialjustice

Earth Day Rally Des Moines

As I’ve written about recently, we held an Earth Day Rally in Des Moines yesterday. The rally was part of the three-day Climate Summit of the Buffalo Rebellion I’m attending.

After a number of people spoke, we walked to the offices of MidAmerican Energy, which has been the focus of climate activists for some time because of their refusal to close their coal burning plants. https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/?s=midamerican

As we chanted outside the building the security guard called the police. Several Des Moines police cars arrived, but then left when they saw we were peaceful and exercising our right of free speech. At least I assume that’s why they left. Then we returned to Cowles Commons.


Earth Day Rally

I’m excited about attending this Earth Day Rally organized by the Buffalo Rebellion. And attending the immersive training Saturday and Sunday. The organizations that make up this coalition can be found below.

We believe that we must address the root of climate change, insatiable corporate greed and white supremacy, to make change happen. This will require a multi-racial movement of working people struggling together to upend politics as usual.

This Earth Day, millions of people are demanding that world leaders take the crises we’re facing seriously.

Join us Friday, 12-4pm for an Earth Day Rally & Action!

If you listen to Iowa Public Radio today, you’ll hear about Buffalo Rebellion, an exciting new coalition of Iowa organizations working to grow a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice. 

This weekend, Buffalo Rebellion is holding two-days of immersive training to develop 100 grassroots leaders who will build local teams to take on climate justice issues in their community.

But first, we want to come together for an afternoon of honoring Mother Earth through collective action.
WHAT: Honor Mother Earth Rally & Action! 
WHEN: Friday, April 22 from 12 pm – 4 pm 12 pm – we’ll gather for lunch with local food trucks at Cowles Commons, 1 pm – rally around stories and visions for climate justice, 1:45 pm – we’ll take action together for a world that puts people and the planet before corporate profit.
WHERE: Cowles Commons, 221 Walnut St, Des Moines, IA 50309
DETAILS TO KNOW: The event will happen rain or shine  (forecast looking ok though)! Bring money for lunch (or bring your own) and parking (parking maps and info here). The action will consist of a <1 mile march. Family friendly, the action is youth-led. 
WHY: The latest IPCC report continues to make the path forward very clear: it’s either people and the planet or fossil fuels. It’s up to us to build power and push our leaders to action.  For a brighter future,

Jake Grobe (he/him)
Climate Justice Organizer
——————–

We believe that we must address the root of climate change, insatiable corporate greed and white supremacy, to make change happen. This will require a multi-racial movement of working people struggling together to upend politics as usual.

“Iowa has been made into a sacrifice zone by government sanctioned Big-Ag corporations, which have a stranglehold on the climate and environmental legislation. Colonial-capitalist farming practices are poisoning our water, depleting the soil, and are a leading contributor to Iowa’s greenhouse emissions causing climate chaos.” – Sikowis Nobiss, Plains Cree/Saulteaux, Executive Director, Great Plains Action Society

Buffalo Rebellion was formed in November 2021 and consists of:
Great Plains Action Society
DSM Black Liberation Movement
Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice
Sierra Club Beyond Coal
Sunrise Movement Cedar Rapids
SEIU Local 199
and Iowa CCI.

The coalition is part of the national Green New Deal Network.

If you’re interested in attending the training potion of the summit or have any other questions, please email us at IowaBuffaloRebellion@gmail.com.