Making Connections Between Oppressions and Creating Systems of Liberation

by | Jan 30, 2019 | Seeds: Our Blog

The wheel of social justice has many rungs. From animal rights, to fighting poverty, to saving our oceans, the latest round of TPP grantees are proving that with just a little bit of support, one person in one community can change the world.

“People generally do not connect the food on their plates to the animals who were horribly raised and slaughtered. Big Ag ensures they don’t know, through misleading marketing practices.” It is these sentiments that started activists Patricia Harmon and Joanna Lucas on the path to start the Be Fair Be Vegan campaign, which the organizers explain “gets to the heart of why it is wrong to eat animals.” The campaign—a set of 16 digital and three static billboards depicting thought-provoking images of animals’ personalities, inner-lives, and experiences—invites  people to consider the circumstances of the victims of the animal industry, and see them for who they really are: not disposable resources to be used as commodities. This media campaign was inspired by a similar one which ran on the jumbotron in Times Square portraying animals with various captions depicting their sentience, inspiring viewers to think about their food choices. “We want to replicate this off a busy highway where people are often stranded in cars during rush hour,” say the organizers, who plan on placing the images on digital billboards off of highway 95 in Bridgeport, CT. “All of the animals—whether in the dairy, egg, meat, or wool industries, and whether factory farmed, free-range, cage-free, or organic—end their lives in panic and terror as a result of our hardhearted attitudes toward them,” the organizers explain.

The Clean Cooking Project is an initiative of Network of Women in Agribusiness and Development, a social enterprise in Uganda that is empowering women to fight poverty. The project seeks to address the challenges of environmental degradation and climate change by training young women how to make fireless cookers in order to reduce their dependence on firewood. “We shall train 50 adolescent girls how to make fireless cookers in order to provide them with a clean energy alternative and a potential source of income,” explain the organizers, adding that they will be trained on financial management, group formation, and management. This project aims to reduce school dropouts, as these young women will not be spending time collecting firewood. In addition, fireless cookers have the potential of reducing fuel use by 40 percent, preserving food nutrients—given that long cooking makes food more digestible and improves its flavor. “The goal of the project is to empower and improve lives of rural women in Kyakosi village and mitigate effects of climate change, with the aim of conserving the environment while providing entrepreneurial skills that can potentially create employment for these women,” explain the organizers.

Thousands of tons of plastics are produced in Cameroon each year; less than 15 percent of this is recycled, while the rest is disposed of in sensitive ecosystems such as bodies of water and farmlands, posing a potential risk to human health and the environment. At the same time, the inhabitants of Buea are not aware of the effects of waste materials like plastic. “In other to successfully reach out to urban people and buy plastics from them, there must be communication, advertisement, and initial startup capital,” explains the founder of Sensitization & Collection of Plastic Bottles for Recycling, Amahnui George. The first phase of this project will sensitize the population of the Buea municipality in Cameroon on the effects of illegal disposal of single-use plastics on human health and the environment, while the second phase will collect plastic bottles from communities and forward them for recycling. “We have created a partnership with plastic recycling companies in other to engage more volunteers from the foundation into project,” explains the organizer. “Urban people are ready to sell used plastics, but have no means to get to buyers. And plastic recycling companies need used plastics for recycling, but there is no means to connect these two stakeholders; this gives hope for this project.”

The Million Waves Project started as an idea and a hope to help just one person. We love our ocean and see people are in need, and we believe that it is our duty to step up and help not just our world, but the people living in it. “The work that we are doing truly changes lives,” explains the organizers, Chris and Laura Moriarity. “Giving a cake decorator with a missing limb the chance to master their craft again, or a kid the chance to throw a ball again, is something that will give them a chance at a life they didn’t think they could have.” The Million Waves Project brings takes reclaimed ocean plastic and transforms it into 3D printed prostheses for those in need. With 28 billion pounds of plastic ending up in the ocean each year and nearly 40 million people without access to proper prostheses, the Million Waves Project brings together two unacceptable global situations and offers a practical and sustainable solution.

The Last Pig is a compelling documentary which captures the deeply personal journey of one man during his final year as a pig farmer, as he grapples with the ethics of killing, and ultimately transitions to vegetable farming. Bob Comis, the pig farmer, had such a moving story to tell, and now his story has the power of touching countless lives. The “Pigs Not Pork” tour is a concentrated series of screenings on college campuses. “Along with the transformative power of watching the film, meeting a pig in person offers students an opportunity to more deeply consider the messages in the film as they reflect on their own eating choices,” explain the organizers, who will be bringing a rescued pig, Charlotte, to the campus screenings. “This grant helps enable us to support Charlotte’s comfortable travels from campus to campus.”

The Language and Equity Project for Newcomer Parents project is an effort to create equity and access for immigrant families in the Oakland community. As an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at an high-needs school in east Oakland, Acacia WoodsChan realized the importance of family engagement and community inclusion. Yet, our system lacks appropriate access through English-only communication. As a dual objective, this project also aims to provide basic English language skills as a tool of workforce development for the parents of their newcomer students. With the Pollination Project grant funds, this project will be able to provide subsidized classes, related materials, transportation stipends, and refreshments, giving parents the most support in sustaining their attendance in the community workshops. “I am a second generation mixed ethnicity Chinese-African American culture worker, educator, and human-rights activist,” explains the project’s organizer, Acacia WoodsChan. “My grandparents migrated to the US from China to escape national upheaval, being received only with discrimination and hostility, rather than compassion and empathy. This sparked the beginning of my dedication towards immigrant and refugee-seeking communities.” With that as WoodsChan’s impetus, the project begun. “Our population must be diligent in securing legal, financial and social security—and this is a key,” says WoodsChan.

People with disabilities in the local communities of Rwanda face a challenge of social exclusion. They are not involved in community activities since they are considered to be useless. Therefore, activists such as Didier Dusabakiza and Baluku Boaz have been inspired to create awareness about those living with disabilities in the Gakenke District of Rwanda. “Through awareness campaigns, the local community will understand all the potentials of persons with disabilities and realize how disability is not inability,” they say. The pair aims to bring hope to persons with disabilities through skill-based trainings, community sensitizations, and dissemination of information and products made by persons with disabilities to the public. The grant funds will help purchase program materials, cover printing, copying costs, and technical support during implementation, and website hosting.

Written by Milena Fraccari