Fire experts have already criticized President Trump's planned fireworks event for this Friday at Mt. Rushmore National Memorial as a dangerous idea. Now, it turns out the event may be socially irresponsible too as distancing guidelines and mask wearing will not be enforced at the event, according to CNN.
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By John R. Platt
This year has brought us some brutal lessons so far, chief among them the fact that systemic racism drives or amplifies nearly all our societal and environmental ills.
Now is the time to listen to the people affected most by those problems of environmental justice and racism — and the activists working to solve them.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
How an Environmental Justice Documentary Is Building Solidarity in the Midst of the Racial and Health Crisis
By Tracy L. Barnett
A soon-to-be-released feature film exemplifies how independent media initiatives can be powerful tools for social and environmental justice organizing. Challenging the isolation and impotence that many are feeling in the face of the current health and racial crises, the internationally acclaimed documentary The Condor & The Eagle and its impact campaign "No More Sacrificed Communities" bring us together in these challenging times – reminding us of our deep interconnectedness with the Earth and one another.
A PROFOUND WORK OF CLIMATE JOURNALISM<p>Oscar-winning editor and producer Douglas Blush says: "This documentary takes the struggle for climate justice beyond the standard borders of separate nations using thrilling cinematography, deeply personal stories and the urgency of tomorrow's headlines. <em>The Condor & The Eagle</em> is both a profound work of climate journalism and an exhilarating, emotional adventure film."<br></p>
Casey Camp-Horinek, Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, left, with Melina Laboucan_Massimo, Lubicon Cree First Nation of Alberta, in the front row of the half-million-strong People's Climate March in New York, 2014. Screenshot / The Condor & The Eagle
IMPACT CAMPAIGN: "NO MORE SACRIFICED COMMUNITIES"<p>Indigenous leaders, environmental groups (including Amazon Watch, Sierra Club, Extinction Rebellion), divestment and interfaith coalitions (including Interfaith Power and Light, Unitarian Universalists) are <a href="https://thecondorandtheeagle.com/events/" target="_blank">hosting impressive online events</a>, presenting the film to large audiences along with a live-screen discussion with film and movement protagonists. In the weeks and months ahead, the film's impact campaign, "No More Sacrificed Communities," will explore how media highlighting the voices from impacted communities can compel a shift from witnessing environmental destruction to practical actions for sustainable, community-based initiatives.</p> <p>Each of more than a dozen online events is hosted by a different organization and offers the opportunity to raise funds for key environmental justice groups and impacted communities that are leading the charge against destructive fossil fuel projects.</p>
At the Red Nation International Film Festival. Left to right: Festival director Joanelle Romero, co-director Clement Guerra, film protagonist Bryan Parras, Executive Producer Jacqueline Garcia and Impact Partner Kat Lo, Eaton Workshop.
INTERNATIONAL FILM RELEASE<p>Since its premiere at the Woodstock Film Festival in October 2019, <em>The Condor & the Eagle</em> has been selected by more than 50 film festivals and has won 12 awards, most notably Best Environmental Documentary at the 2019 Red Nation International Film Festival in Beverly Hills, California.<br></p> <p>The film's international release date is set for Wednesday, July 1, and it will be available for rent on the <a href="https://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/the-condor-and-the-eagle/" target="_blank">Films For Action</a> website. That day also marks the film's Latin American premiere with "<a href="https://event.webinarjam.com/register/93/xyg1yuw9?fbclid=IwAR2pNe5jKZJ3jXlmHROc8ifD1JtxQkKNG1QB2xx41WST7XrL7knai_kGnHU" target="_blank">Defending the Defenders of the Mother Earth / Defendiendo las Defensoras de la Madre Tierra</a>," a bilingual screening event featuring Bertha "Bertita" Zúñiga Cáceres of Honduras, daughter of the environmental martyr Berta Cáceres, and the director, among others.</p>
A MESSAGE FROM THE FILMMAKERS<p>The film was directed and produced by Clement Guerra, a 37-year-old French international marketing manager, and his German wife Sophie. The couple left their comfortable careers in Europe and took their savings to live in a camper van and spend five years documenting the Indigenous-led climate justice movement.</p><p>"We don't want to be 'extractivist' filmmakers, but rather ones who work hand-in-hand with communities," Clement told The Esperanza Project in a recent interview, <a href="https://www.esperanzaproject.com/2020/native-american-culture/the-condor-the-eagle-takes-flight/" target="_blank"><em>The Condor & The Eagle' Takes Flight</em></a>. "On a personal level, this whole experience helped us face our own privilege, and we quickly realized that the pollution outside reflected the ego-toxicity we are carrying on the inside. We have been conditioned to believe that we are skin-encapsulated egos, that we are each an 'I' separate from every other 'I.' Thanks to our journey and the process of making this film, we came to realize that we all depend on each other; we are not separate."<br></p><p>You can support the team impact work <a href="https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=W44L44WM4ELDW&source=url" target="_blank">HERE</a>.</p>
By Tracy L. Barnett
High up in the southern sierra of Mexico's state of Oaxaca, an innovative nonprofit business inspired by Mohandas Gandhi is helping Indigenous Zapotec families to weather the economic storm that COVID-19 has brought to the Mexican countryside.
Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun does not use email or text. In the Coastal Salish communities from which he hails, he has been known as a painter and a dancer since the 1980s. Yet, he has been exploring the "virtual reality renaissance"—the technology that allows you to figuratively step into a computer-generated 3D world—since it made its soft debut in the '90s.
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f44fc9a12d287e773a01dc2e4cfa635a"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cNxnSaVO3VU?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p> Virtual reality, Yuxweluptun says, is another medium for someone like him to express his ideas in more ways than just on a one-dimensional canvas. "Not everybody can do it, because you have to be able to think in a certain way," he says. "It's a different way, other than painting or making a sculpture."</p><p>Here are the stories of four other groups of Indigenous artists using technology and art to tell their communities' stories.</p>
The Condor and the Eagle<p>Bryan Parras has been working in radio in the Houston market since the early 2000s and, as time passed, saw how social media made storytelling more accessible to everyone—including those in marginalized communities.</p><p>In 2014, Parras met a European couple, Sophie and Clément Guerra, who had come to the United States to support the climate movement and who quickly became entangled in the Indigenous movement as well. Eventually, they began work on <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7757874/" target="_blank">The Condor and The Eagle,</a> an independent documentary about four Indigenous leaders on a transcontinental adventure. Journeying from the Canadian plains, through the U.S and deep into the heart of the Amazonian jungle, they battled Big Energy while working to unite the peoples of North and South America and deepen the meaning of "Climate Justice."</p><p>Parras, himself of mixed Indigenous descent, is no stranger to filmmakers and reporters who come into Indigenous communities to observe, but without getting their actual input. "It's another form of extraction, right? Cultural extraction," he says.</p><p>It's why Parras, was the documentary's campaign producer, acted as a bridge between the filmmakers and his community, so that Indigenous communities portrayed in the film would be included in the editing process as well. "What may not be written in the history books are now archived in this story," he said.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7e42f930bcbabcc50e96fe72da091581"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/YSMutzSW7gQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Since its premiere at the Woodstock Film Festival in October 2019, The Condor and the Eagle has been selected by more than <a href="https://thecondorandtheeagle.com/" target="_blank">50 film festivals and won 12 awards</a>. The most notable one is Best Environmental Documentary at the 2019 Red Nation International Film Festival in Beverly Hills, California.</p>
Wenazìi K’egoke; See Visions<p>Casey Koyczan is Tlicho Dene from the Northwest Territories of Canada. When he collaborates on virtual reality exhibits, he brings what he calls a "Northern aesthetic"—visuals of the remote landscape of the Northwest Territories of Canada. His latest project is <u><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_-rHnn-YZ8" target="_blank">Wenazìi K'egoke; See Visions</a></u>, a three-chapter virtual reality experience that takes you into a dreamlike interpretation of encounters with animal spirits of the North.</p><p>See Visions uses stark colors to evoke the feeling of walking through the snow under an aurora borealis. Koyczan considers the animals depicted in this atmosphere-heavy video to be its most important features. "It's all about being involved in the North," he says. "It reinforces the subtle notion that we are on their territory."</p><p>See Visions debuted in a prototype version in 2019 at the annual ImagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival in Toronto, a global hub for Indigenous-made media art. Koyczan and his partner on the project, Travis Mercredi, are now developing it for length and interactivity.</p>
Three Sisters<p>In 2019, the Dundas West Art Museum in Toronto hosted an art exchange that allowed one Canadian artist to travel to Chile to paint a mural, while Chilean artist, Paula Tikay, went to paint in Canada.</p><p>"At the end of [painting] a mural, one leaves and leaves [their] work for the people who transit those places," says Tikay, who is Mapuche, the largest Indigenous group in Chile. "They are like small messages that can identify and rescue stories from places. They are like gifts that appear for the inhabitants of that space."</p><p>Dundas West Art Museum is Toronto's <a href="https://www.kickstartbia.ca/innovation-stories/dundaswest" target="_blank">first open-air street art museum</a>. The neighborhood of Dundas West has long been connected with Chile since Chileans began moving there as refugees of Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in the 1970s.</p><p>Tikay's contribution to the museum is a Three Sisters mural, depicting three Indigenous women who represent the three main agricultural crops of Indigenous groups in the Americas.</p><p>Three Sisters is the name given to climbing beans, maize, and squash that are/were grown together in an agricultural strategy called companion planting. It's a historical reminder that European settlers learned to plant crops on American soil from its Indigenous people.</p><p>Tikay calls it an honor to use her art to remind people of that, especially because it was also practiced in her ancestral southern Chile. </p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6f040ac7ae059ec5bb1fc944c1897119"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UU-L1dEhI2M?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
My Louisiana Love<p>The Houma Nation sits on the Mississippi Delta; the wetlands there were struck by both Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the BP oil spill five years later. These disasters, both natural and manmade, slowly chip away at the way of life of the Houma people, making them less able to hunt, trap, and fish.</p><p>In 2015, Monique Verdin co-produced the documentary, <u><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2290531/fullcredits/?ref_=tt_ov_st_sm" target="_blank">My Louisiana Love,</a></u> which traces her journey back to her home in the Houma nation and focuses on her community's struggle with decades of environmental degradation.</p><p>It has recently been made available on PBS again.</p><p>Verdin herself expressed surprise at its rerelease. "I didn't think it would be relevant at the time," she says, "but it's even more relevant now."</p>
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Frustrated and disgusted that it has taken so long for the Department of the Treasury to distribute Federal stimulus funds to Native American tribes, a federal judge ordered Secretary Steve Mnuchin to distribute the money immediately, according to HuffPost.
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By Daniel Ross
The wildfires that tore across Australia were as devastating as they were overwhelming, scorching some 15 million hectares of land, killing 34 people and more than 1 billion animals. In terms of its apocalyptic imagery — sweeping infernos torching great swaths with unerring speed — Australia's wildfires were hauntingly reminiscent of the fires that roared through the Amazon rainforest over the past year. Indeed, more than 80,000 fires hit the region during 2019, according to the Brazilian government.
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By Mark Trahant
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Canada's Trans Mountain pipeline spilled as many as 190,000 liters (approximately 50,193 gallons) of crude oil in Abbotsford, British Columbia (BC) Saturday, reinforcing concerns about the safety of the pipeline's planned expansion.
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Anglo-Australian mining company BHP said it would pause plans to destroy 40 Aboriginal heritage sites as part of its expansion of an iron ore mine in Western Australia (WA).
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By Rachel Ramirez
Adán Vez Lira, a prominent defender of an ecological reserve in Mexico, was shot while riding his motorcycle in April. Four years earlier, the renowned activist Berta Cáceres was shot dead in her home in Honduras by assailants taking direction from executives responsible for a dam she had opposed. Four years before that, Cambodian forest and land activist Chut Wutty was killed during a brawl with the country's military police while investigating illegal logging.
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