You are here

E2. Front Line Community Green

ACLU, parents devise new budget method for Pomona Unified, but board delays decision

Public Advocates - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 11:00

January 17, 2019 – Liset Márquez of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin covers the Pomona Unified School District’s delay of plans to spend extra dollars carried over in its budget. Parents in the district are calling for those extra dollars to be allocated using participatory budgeting—a form of grassroots decision making that allows community members to directly decide how money is spent. Public Advocates is mentioned in the article, and joined the ACLU in April 2018 in writing a letter questioning the district’s budget practices.

Click here to read the article.

The post ACLU, parents devise new budget method for Pomona Unified, but board delays decision appeared first on Public Advocates.

Microfondos 2018 – 2019

Los Microfondos de GAIA son tres fondos destinados a apoyar la capacidad organizativa  de los miembros en los países donde exista suficiente
membresía o potencial de membresía para generar o fortalecer articulaciones (Alianzas, Coaliciones y espacios de articulación) y un fondo en la sección de proyectos, actividades o eventos de una organización en apoyo a una campaña o línea de acción en desarrollo.

Durante el 2019, organizaciones de Argentina, Ecuador y Chile fueron seleccionadas para recibir este apoyo y así poder seguir su trabajo por basura cero, anti incineración y por el reconocimiento de los recicladores.

¡Felicitaciones a todos!

Greenaction Mother’s Day Walkathon

Green Action - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 02:05
Greenaction Mother’s Day Walkathon            for Health & Environmental Justice! Sunday, May 12, 2019 9 am – Registration/Check-in
10 am – Walk Begins
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco  Meeting point: Peacock Meadow at Golden Gate Park (near Conservatory of Flowers)

$15 Registration fee, no one turned away for lack of funds. Walkers who provide registration fee or raise $50 or more will receive commemorative event T-shirt.

Register to walk today! Sponsor your favorite walker(s) here

Join the Fundraising Team! Become a Sponsored Walker here!

 Sponsored by Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice

Regional Communications Officer – Asia Pacific

We are looking for an experienced Regional Communications Officer who will lead the development and implementation of integrated communications strategies, and ensure high quality media and social media outreach in pursuit of GAIA’s progam and organizational objectives in Asia and the Pacific.

The communications officer is responsible for: developing specific program and organizational communications strategies and plans; managing media relations and media activities; managing social media content and engagement; writing, editing, and disseminating effective communications materials; managing agreed communications messaging for key audiences, including GAIA’s member network; and ensuring all communications materials are consistent with internal brand guidelines.

She/he/they will work primarily with GAIA’s Asia Pacific team who are composed of staff from the Philippines and India, and will be part of GAIA’s global communications team.  The communications officer will also be part of GAIA’s international coordination team, which includes people based in Chile, the Philippines, India, South Africa, US, UK and Belgium.

All staff members globally, regardless of position, are expected to carry certain responsibilities to maintain our network infrastructure and online platforms.

  1. Communications Strategies
  • Lead the development and implementation of, and drive, integrated communications strategies and communications plans, in close coordination with project teams and in collaboration with GAIA network’s communications focal points.
  • Provide communications counsel and direction to program and campaign plans. Proactively identify opportunities within program and/or campaign plans for producing strategic, effective and high-impact content.
  • Ensure coordination within the program unit, and within the organization and network as a whole, throughout the implementation of communications strategies.
  • Manage agreed communications messaging for key campaign and organizational audiences.
  1. Media Relations
  • Proactively provide media-related counsel and direction to program and/or campaign teams to ensure high quality media outreach that is aligned with agreed communications strategies, internal brand guidelines, and network agreements.
  • Coordinate and organize GAIA’s traditional media-focused activities. Plan both proactive and reactive media relations, including media events and responses to media inquiries as required. Provide necessary logistical media and/or communications work around events and activities.
  • Develop and maintain strong relationships with print, broadcast and online journalists, editors and other news decision-makers via media visits, informal briefings, media forums, information provision, etc. in order to encourage them to view GAIA and its network partners as credible providers of environmental news and commentary.
  • Develop, maintain and continuously update a database of media contacts in print, radio, TV, web news, and other media outlets, both at the national and regional levels, in coordination with network communications focal points.
  1. Media Monitoring and Analysis
  • Perform regular media monitoring and analysis and advise program and campaign teams on relevant news items. Provide these teams with media-related analysis significant to program and campaign goals and strategies.
  • Generate quarterly and yearly media reports and analysis.
  1. Communications materials
  • In close coordination with project and campaign teams, and in alignment with agreed communications strategies conceptualize, write, edit and distribute effective communications materials such as (but not limited to) press releases, external and internal QAs, talking points, briefing papers, brochures, reports, feature stories, photos and videos, social media content and other campaign and organizational materials.
  • Coordinate lay-out, printing and publication of various campaign materials into high quality creative and user-friendly products that are aligned with agreed communications strategies and internal brand guidelines.
  • Maintain the organization’s communications resource center for Asia and the Pacific, including the archiving of all visual, print and other communications materials.
  1. Consultants, freelancers and suppliers
  • Manage communications consultants, such as social media specialists; manage freelancers such as editors, writers, designers, photographers and videographers; and coordinate with suppliers such as printing companies, etc.
  1. Training and Development
  • Organize and conduct media and communications training for GAIA and its member network staff. Develop the communications capacity in GAIA, including resourcing, training, and network building. Build staff skills in writing, editing, messaging, and conceptualizing communications materials. Keep staff abreast of communications and internal brand guidelines.
  1. Budgets
  • Budget and monitor expenditures related to the function of the Communications Officer.
  1. Performs other related duties as assigned by the supervisor.


  • At least three (3) years of experience in developing and implementing communication strategies, and in media relations work in Asia‐Pacific;
  • A strong understanding and knowledge of Asia Pacific regional media, as well as key global media markets;
  • Collaborative team‐player with strong interpersonal communication skills and demonstrated experience in working with people from different cultures and nationalities in the region;
  • Demonstrated capacity for issue analysis, and strong writing and public speaking skills including advanced skills in communicating complex issues to the public;
  • Highly computer literate, and experienced with new media technologies and social networking tools;
  • Fluent in English (ability to speak or write in other regional languages a plus);
  • Demonstrated ability to turn projects around in a timely manner, maintain attention to detail, and adhere to deadlines;
  • Passion for social and environmental justice, and a commitment to communications strategies which elevate the work of our grassroots membership and create space for communities to speak for themselves; and
  • Willingness to travel internationally with some frequency, and flexibility in working with international staff, including biweekly calls outside of regular work hours.


  • Experience with grassroots organizing or networking strongly preferred.
  • Website content management experience preferred.
  • Skills in video editing, photography and similar.

This position will be based in Quezon City, Philippines.

We offer a competitive salary, leaves, health insurance and other similar employment protections. We take pride in our ability to support one another’s work in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect, and look forward to introducing the successful candidate to our welcoming and highly motivated team and members.

We are seeking candidates who are excited to make an initial commitment of at least one year to this work. This post may be renewable yearly.

GAIA is an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion or belief, physical ability, nationality, ethnicity, age, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation or any other status protected by law.  People from historically marginalized groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

Please send your resume, letter of intent with salary requirement, 3 references and 3 different writing samples and/or communication products demonstrating different communications skill sets to Please send your application on or before February 15, 2019.  Applications will be processed as they arrive. No calls, please.


Using Social Media to Amplify Advocacy Efforts

Climate Justice Alliance - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 17:01

The CJA In-District Advocacy Days are an opportunity to ensure members of Congress hear from and begin a conversation and consultation with frontline community leaders. Face-to-Face meetings and building relationships with Members of Congress are critical in shifting the narrative and ensuring frontline community solutions are seen as viable pathways forward to the climate crisis.

Photos and Video
Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc. to amplify the work that you are doing during the CJA Advocacy Days and spread the word to your organization’s base, to your friends, family, and co-workers, as well as to your elected officials and the local media.

Visuals are engaging. At the end of your meeting take a group photo with your Representative or their staff and share it on social media. You can also ask them to record a short video with you. You don’t have to be a professional videographer or even have a high end camera to record an effective social media video message with your Representative, a good cell phone camera recorded horizontally is all you need. Ask them to say a bit about the importance of frontline communities and local groups in your community leading the way to solutions to climate change and environmental racism and inequality.

Make sure to to use the hashtags #CJAOurPower, #GreenNewDeal and #JustTransition and tag your legislators on Facebook. Use their official Twitter handles when you tweet to make sure they see your posts; twitter is the platform influencers use most!

You can find a list of Twitter handles for members of the U.S. House of Representatives here.

Below are some social media examples that members used earlier this month when meeting with Members of Congress in Washington, D.C.:

Before You Leave
Ask for the contact information of the Communications aide in the Congressional office that you are visiting and follow up with a request to share or retweet your posts about your meeting. Members of Congress will appreciate being highlighted meeting with constituents over social media so ask them to amplify your posts!

Keep Us Posted! Tag @CJAOurPower and let us know of your Just Transition advocacy efforts by sharing your story, pictures, videos, and links with us, documenting your involvement for Climate Justice. Don’t forget in any posts use these hashtags: ##CJAOurPower, #GreenNewDeal and #JustTransition

Congress is Listening
Congressional offices are integrating social media tools into their operations to better understand constituents’ opinions.
• Nearly two-thirds of Congressional staff surveyed (64%) think Facebook is an important way to understand constituents’ views.
•Nearly three-quarters (74%) think it is important for communicating their Member’s views.
Source: Congressional Management Foundation

The Media is Listening Too
• 89% of reporters look to blogs and 65% are using social networks for stories.
• Reporters will often turn to social media and dive into “hash tags” to find quotes and real-time information on an issue or event.
• Social media posts are a great way for them to find leads and see emerging trends and topics develop.
• Social platforms help them look for new sources or people who are actually at an event – and sometimes use photos or videos submitted.

The post Using Social Media to Amplify Advocacy Efforts appeared first on Climate Justice Alliance.

An Island Crusader Takes On The Big Brands Behind Plastic Waste


Goats and Soda




Heard on Morning Edition

Plastic waste washes in from Manila Bay and the ocean, covering the beach and mangrove trees of Freedom Island, a protected area in the bay.

Jes Aznar for NPR


Try this: Write a list of every piece of plastic you touch in a day.

I did it. I stopped counting at 56 items.

About ‘The Plastic Tide’

NPR is exploring one of the most important environmental issues of our time: plastic waste. Click here to read more about the topic.

Plastic is to our time what wood was for millennia. But unlike wood, most plastic doesn’t go away. It ends up as trash in streets, rivers, lakes and oceans. It breaks down into microplastic — particles a tenth of an inch or smaller — and gets into our food and water. The health effects are largely unknown.

News stories feature dead whales and turtles with stomachs full of plastic. Activists built a huge floating net to collect it (which recently failed). Concerned citizens clean up beaches.

But that’s not helping much. Eight million tons of plastic wash into oceans every year.

This line of garbage extends all the way around the shore of the Navotas neighborhood in Manila.

Jes Aznar for NPR


What’s the alternative? Is it feasible to persuade the wealthiest, most profitable corporations in the world to completely change the way they make plastic and package consumer goods?

There’s a group of people in a very unlikely place who are aiming to do just that. Their story starts in 2001, in Southeast Asia.

“Island Boy” on a mission

Froilan Grate doesn’t come across as a fire-breathing revolutionary. At 35 and just maybe 5 feet tall, with a wispy goatee, he has the kind of sincerity you might expect from someone who once wanted to be a priest. He carries a backpack and could pass for a college student.

He grew up in a village in the province of Iloilo in the Philippines — a self-described “island boy” who loved the feel of hot sand on his bare feet and swimming in the ocean. But the city beckoned. He was accepted by one of the country’s best universities in the capital. He chose school instead of the priesthood. At age 18, he took a 19-hour boat trip to Manila.

Froilan Grate at his home in the province of Iloilo. He came to Manila at 18 for college — and found his life’s work: fighting the tide of plastic.

Courtesy of Froilan Grate


Grate remembers grabbing his suitcase and rushing up on deck as the captain announced their entry into Manila Bay. “It was just excitement,” he says. “And then slowly, as you come closer to the port … I see … garbage.”

He felt sick. “The contrast of where I grew up, beautiful white sand beaches, clear water, and arriving in Manila where it’s black water with countless plastic,” he says, “that was shocking to me.”

His first thought at the time, he says, was that his own island would someday end up strewn with plastic as well. His next one was: What can I do to stop it?

Credit: Alyson Hurt/NPR


The trash that trash pickers won’t pick

Now, Manila Bay is much worse. With a growing economy and a swelling middle class, people are consuming at a torrid pace — electronic devices, packaged foods, fancy toiletries — goods either made of plastic or wrapped in it. In fact, that’s the story of many Southeast Asian countries.

But waste management is rudimentary and often nonexistent. In many places, informal cadres of waste pickers collect what they can sell to recyclers. But much of the plastic cannot be recycled. So no one collects it, and it drifts. Everywhere.

Children fill sacks with plastic trash from Manila Bay that they intend to sell to recyclers.

Jes Aznar for NPR

The islands that dot Manila Bay are like doormats for plastic trash that floats in from the ocean.

Jes Aznar for NPR


Neighborhoods like Dampalit, which lie along the bay, are like doormats for floating plastic trash. I talked to Dampalit’s newly elected supervisor, Carlo Dumalaog. He is a neatly dressed businessman in a neatly kept office.

“My characteristic is, I am an obsessive-compulsive person,” he says. He takes me out to the balcony of his office, where he can steal a smoke and look out on the nets of the village fishponds and the corrugated rooftops of shanties built along the water. “That is the Pacific Ocean,” he says, pointing to Manila Bay and beyond. “All the trash from Manila Bay washes here,” he sighs. “I clean the trash and plastics, but it comes over from the other cities.” And, he says, it also comes from the Pacific, from other countries.

Dampalit, a fishing community in Manila Bay, has to contend with a constant influx of trash that it can’t keep up with.

Jes Aznar for NPR


Saying no to plastic

At university, Grate did what he could as a citizen. He stopped using plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic anything, whenever he could. He studied sociology but found it boring — too theoretical. After college, he decided to become a community activist.

He got involved in teaching about environmentalism, what he called “giving tools to change-makers.” But he wanted faster change. “You don’t actually save a marine turtle by speaking to 1,000 students at a time,” he says. He joined an environmental group, the Mother Earth Foundation, and worked with waste pickers to get them formally employed by communities and to improve their working conditions.

Froilan Grate publicizes the logos on plastic trash to encourage manufacturers to find alternatives. Above, he speaks to foreign visitors who face a similar dilemma.

Jes Aznar for NPR


But it still wasn’t enough. “You realize that despite everything that you do, you really aren’t solving the problem,” he recalls.

With the foundation and backing from international environmental groups like GAIA, Grate helped teach communities to collect their own waste and segregate out the plastic. The goal was “zero waste” — impossible to fully achieve but an aspirational goal.

In the zero-waste neighborhood of Hulong Duhat, waste workers were hired to roll carts through a warren of alleyways, collecting bags of trash. They have a monitor, too, who charges fines if residents don’t separate out the plastic. Those were the rules. “First offense, 500 pesos,” says Dahlia Sequita, a community trash monitor, with some relish. “Second offense, 1,000. And third — going to jail!”

Alex Fruelda, 59, has been a garbage collector in San Fernando city, north of Manila, for nearly 10 years. Officials say the city recycles or composts 85 percent of its waste.

Jes Aznar for NPR


Even so, it’s still hard. Says the neighborhood supervisor, Nenita Labiano: “Sometimes I do get overwhelmed with the big problem of plastic.” Some people don’t cooperate. “We want people to follow the rules,” she says, “and yet they don’t and it can be sad.”

Sixteen neighborhoods signed on to the zero-waste goal nonetheless, with varying degrees of success. The same problem besets them all — it’s not just too much plastic but it’s the stuff that can’t be recycled. There’s nowhere to put it, except in landfills, which are few, and from which plastic eventually migrates, by wind or water.

The Baritan neighborhood in Malabon city has adopted a “zero waste” policy that requires citizens to sort their trash and separate out the plastic. Above, trash collectors at work.

Jes Aznar for NPR


The life span of plastic

In the late 1940s, plastic was newly popular and shiny and amazing. Consumer goods companies advertised its cleanliness and durability. What they didn’t talk about much was its permanence.

At the first national conference on packaging waste held in California in 1969, some executives wondered where all this plastic was going to end up. One marketing consultant said that wasn’t their problem. Difficulties with plastic waste “are not the responsibility of those who produce materials, fabricate packages and package goods,” he wrote in “Proceedings: First National Conference on Packaging Waste.” Rather, he said, it’s the consumer’s responsibility.

What manufacturers did was urge people not to litter, as they had for years, by funding the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign. And they continued pumping out new kinds of plastic with yet more uses.

A profusion of packets

In the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia, the problem was compounded by a new kind of plastic packaging that took flight in the 1980s — the sachet. It was a plastic pouch but often bulked up with layers of aluminum or paper for shape or durability. Think of ketchup packets at a fast-food restaurant.

Sachets are cheap, flashy and convenient. An Indian company used them to sell shampoo or soap or snacks to the poor, who might not have enough cash for a larger purchase.

There are millions of sari-sari stores throughout the Philippines. Sachets, which are not recyclable, are a big part of their stock in trade.

Jes Aznar for NPR


Other big companies followed suit with the same marketing strategy: a product the poor could afford, a day’s supply of what they needed.

Eventually, sachets went viral.

The big drawback, though, is that they cannot be recycled easily. That may not be such a problem in wealthy countries with efficient waste management. But in poor parts of Asia, the packets have created an epidemic of trash.

Because the plastic sachets that hold food and other consumer goods can’t be recycled, independent waste pickers don’t collect them and they end up everywhere.

Jes Aznar for NPR


You can’t drive into Maysilo, a poor neighborhood in Manila near the edge of Manila Bay. You have to walk through narrow alleys. The place greets you with a burst of boombox music, the shouts of children, and barking dogs. People live elbow to elbow in shacks elevated a few feet above ankle-deep water from the neighboring swamp. Below their shacks, you can’t tell whether it’s dirt or water because it’s all literally covered with a uniform carpet of plastic debris, most of it empty sachets.

Nimfa Manlabe runs a sari-sari store (sari means “varied” in Tagalog) out of her tiny home. It’s a Filipino tradition; women selling consumer goods from their homes. “Sunsilk, Palmolive, conditioner,” she says, showing off her racks of sachets.

Nimfa Manlabe, 46, boosts her income by selling consumer goods in sachets from her sari-sari store in her home in Manila. This is a common way for Filipinos to get their daily supplies.

Jes Aznar for NPR


Her customers “come back here every day and buy these small amounts because that’s what they can afford,” she explains.

Because the sachets aren’t recyclable, trash pickers ignore them. And even if the packets were recyclable, Grate says, most places in the Philippines don’t have the infrastructure to actually recycle them.

Sachets like these, developed to market consumer goods to the poor, have become ubiquitous all over Asia.

Jes Aznar for NPR


But sachets and other plastic packaging do have their supporters — like Crispian Lao, who used to be in the plastics industry and is now head of the Philippine Alliance for Recycling and Materials Sustainability. The group represents recyclers as well as companies like Unilever, Coca-Cola, Nestlé and others that make and package consumer goods.

Lao praises the sachets for bringing quality products to consumers in a market where counterfeit goods are common. “There’s also the health issue,” he says: Sachets don’t pose health risks to the consumers in places where water to wash reusable containers might be contaminated.

Lao notes that the world’s biggest consumer goods companies like Unilever and Nestlé have pledged to make all their packaging recyclable and have even set a date — 2025.

But Grate says that recycling can’t wipe out the barrage of plastic in the Philippines. It’s a country of more than 7,000 islands. Neither the national government nor local authorities can afford to put up recycling centers everywhere. And would recyclers pay enough to motivate waste pickers to collect the trash?

Grate says talk of future recycling still puts the burden of cleanup on the consumer. “The problem,” Grate says, “is that most companies … feel their responsibility ends the moment they sell it. That’s one of the biggest injustices here.”

A lesson from a letter

After several years of community work, Grate says he changed. He realized that cleaning up plastic at the local level wasn’t going to stop the tide. “It would take several lifetimes,” he recalls thinking. “At some point you have to change the entire system.”

The citizens of the neighborhood of Navotas participated in a brand audit, where household trash was collected and the brands were listed and publicized.

Jes Aznar for NPR


One incident stands out in his memory. In 2006, he appealed to a big Western company for help. He and his colleagues at the Mother Earth Foundation and Greenpeace wrote to McDonald’s to urge it not to use plastic foam packaging. He took the letter to the corporate offices in Manila. No one would come down to talk to him. Eventually a security guard agreed to take the letter.

“That very moment really crystallized for me the imbalance in the power dynamics,” Grate says now. ” We were not violent. We just wanted to give a letter requesting them to stop using Styrofoam in their stores.” And they simply ignored him.

Blaming Southeast Asia

In 2015, a paper in Science magazine shocked the world with extraordinary revelations about the extent of the plastic tide. Jenna Jambeck at the University of Georgia, an engineer and waste expert, calculated how much plastic waste was going into the ocean every year. She is the one who came up with the 8 million-ton figure.

The research also opened up a wound. It showed that the biggest sources of plastic waste washing into the oceans are in Southeast and South Asia.

Freedom Island is typical of so many islands in Southeast Asia that become magnets for floating trash.

Jes Aznar for NPR

Manila vies for the title of most densely populated city in the world. At the city’s crowded markets, like the one above, increasing income has boosted the sales of consumer goods packaged in plastic.

Jes Aznar for NPR


Fingers were pointed. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., laid it out loud and clear in a Senate hearing: “Over 50 percent of the plastic waste in the oceans comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. Their upland waste management systems are a failure.”

People in the Philippines were angry — among them, Grate. It was blaming the victim, not the manufacturers. “They know the problem, the s*** they’ve been giving to the country and oceans,” he says. “They know this problem, but they can get away with it. We have to make sure that ends.”

A group called Break Free from Plastic came together in 2016. Its global coordinator is a Filipino, Von Hernandez, formerly of Greenpeace. The plan was to challenge companies. Says Hernandez: “If we cannot recycle it or compost this material, then you should not be producing them in the first place.”

Volunteers sort trash items in a brand audit of plastic waste in Navotas, Manila. They keep track of the brands they find and publish results on the Web. Their goal is to pressure companies to change their plastic packaging.

Jes Aznar for NPR


But how to make that happen? The consumer brands were billion-dollar companies. And the companies that make the plastic for all that packaging were giants of the oil and gas industry.

As for the pledge for 2025, no one knows how companies will do it and how much it will cost to set up a huge recycling system across the islands of the Philippines.

In 2016, Grate and other local activists in the Philippines proposed a novel action, something no one had done before: brand audits.

These environmental groups did regular beach cleanups, which helped bring attention to the problem even if the beaches were covered with trash again a few months later. But now they wanted to compile a list of the brand logos emblazoned on the plastic trash and publicize them for all to see.

Workers collect and sort garbage on Freedom Island.

Jes Aznar for NPR


“They feel there is value in brand,” Grate says of the companies. Consumers trust brands. “We wanted to use it against them.”

The activists targeted Freedom Island in Manila Bay, probably the most notorious pit of plastic in the country, for a brand audit. Plastic not only surrounds the shore but piles up knee-deep on beaches. Plastic bags hang from trees like some kind of surreal Dalí painting. The activists collected trash for days and published online the brand logos printed on each package.

And they waited to see what would happen.

Is anyone watching?

Not much did, actually. Word spread among conservation groups that this “brand audit” was a new strategy. It was naming and shaming. But was anyone else paying attention?

Grate and his team didn’t know, but they kept at it. Along with GAIA and Break Free from Plastic, they’ve now done more than 20 brand audits in the Philippines and several in other Southeast Asian countries.

Last September, I saw one in a village called Navotas, a poor neighborhood of cinder block dormitory-style buildings on Manila Bay that floods twice a day, carrying plastic back and forth like some sort of oceanic seesaw. For the audit, volunteers sift through piles of trash, in this case collected from homes. The idea is to see not just what floats onto shorelines but what’s coming from onshore.

It’s dirty work — eight days of community trash spread in piles on the concrete floor of a fenced-in outdoor basketball court. It stinks; workers wear masks and gloves.

Froilan Grate calls out the brand names of plastic trash in a waste audit.

Jes Aznar for NPR


Grate dives in, sorting trash into different types of plastic and reading off labels while a colleague takes notes. “Colgate toothpaste sachet,” he says. “Colgate-Palmolive Philippines.” And another: “Sunsilk shampoo sachet, Unilever.” It will take all day to go through all of it.

He says the companies should be part of the solution. “So who are the companies?” he asks. “That is why we do brand audits.”

Lao, with the Philippine industry group, says the brand audits are a distraction. “There’s a lot of very loud noises out there” about corporate responsibility, he points out. “Does it affect brand image at this point? No,” he says of the audits, adding, “It has not affected actual performance of these brands in the market.”

He says the major consumer brands are already committed to reducing plastic waste. He notes the well-publicized pledge by the brands that by 2025 they’ll use only plastic packaging that can be reused, recycled or composted. In fact, Unilever has a new chemical process to recycle sachets and a pilot plant in Indonesia to test it. Other companies have committed millions of dollars in research funds to find recyclable alternatives.

In the Philippines, Lao’s industry group is planning a research and development effort there to make more plastic recyclable. “The idea right now is that how can we now together, with the global partners, redesign the product so it becomes more recyclable, [and] look at recycling the existing products that are there?” he asks, “because [they’re] not going to disappear overnight.”

Activists are skeptical.

A surprise invitation

But Grate’s name-and-shame approach appears to have had some effect. Late last year, he got a call out of the blue. A mediation group, the Meridian Institute in Washington, D.C., invited him to come talk to people in the U.S. who were concerned about plastic waste. It was a surprise to him. He didn’t know how far news of his audits had traveled. And even more surprising: The people in Washington wanted him to talk with corporate executives from some of the very companies he had been targeting.

I met Grate in Washington, D.C., on a cold sidewalk in December. “I love this weather,” he said. “It’s like free air conditioning.” He said he felt he had to come to the meeting because there was only one other Asian invited. When he got there, he found himself sitting across from senior executives from the oil industry, the chemicals industry and the consumer goods industry. Not just any companies — some of the world’s biggest. He was asked not to name them; one attendee told NPR that anonymity was guaranteed so everyone could speak freely.

Froilan Grate in Washington, D.C., in December. He was invited to meet with industry representatives about the plastic tsunami in Asia.

Madeleine Cook/NPR


I asked Grate if the brand audits made the meeting happen? “They weren’t happy about it,” he said of the audits. “And they have questions,” he added, about how his group does them. “But I would say this: The brand audits contributed to the pace of the discussion that’s happening right now.”

I asked how he felt about that. “It’s great,” he said, beaming. “I was made to feel that I have a voice, and people would want to listen to what I have to say. People were actually interested.”

After 18 years, says the island boy from Iloilo, things are looking up.

Time to bring participatory budgeting to Pomona Unified

Public Advocates - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 12:53

January 14, 2019 – Public Advocates was mentioned in a Daily Bulletin op-ed on how the Pomona Unified School District could spend an extra $6.5 million. The op-ed author, Alex Piazza, argues that those dollars should be spent on participatory budgeting projects. Participatory budgeting is a way to directly engage community members in the budget process. Parents and students would propose, deliberate, vote, and decide which projects in their community to fund. According to the article, school projects funded using participatory budgeting have included: college visits for low-income students; firefighter youth apprenticeship programs; and community gardens on site or near schools.

Click here to read the article.

The post Time to bring participatory budgeting to Pomona Unified appeared first on Public Advocates.

The Philippines to the World: We Are Not Your Dumping Ground

Manila, Philippines (January 14, 2019) — Philippine members of Break Free From Plastic (BFFP), a global movement campaigning against plastic pollution, laud the swift and decisive action taken by the Philippines’ Bureau of Customs (BOC) to repatriate the illegal shipments to South Korea.

The said shipments arrived at the port of the Phividec Industrial Estate Authority at the Southern part of the country last July and October 2018 for locator consignee Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corporation.

After investigating the controversial waste shipments, the BOC concluded that this was a clear case of waste dumping by Korean company, Green Soko Co. Ltd., especially as the shipments of mixed wastes totaling 6,500 tons were misdeclared as plastic flakes, and without  proper importation permits.

“Developing countries like the Philippines are not dumping grounds for the wastes of developed countries. Exporters of these mixed waste shipments typically mis-declare their cargo or hide behind the veil of recycling to circumvent national laws and agreements that prohibit waste dumping. By returning these shipments to South Korea, the Philippines is sending a strong message against unscrupulous waste traders that our shores are off limits to plastic trash imports,” said Abigail Aguilar, Greenpeace Philippines Campaigner.

The controversial Korean shipments were declared as “plastic flakes” but upon inspection by the BOC, the shipments yielded a mix of plastic wastes, paper, metal, rubber, and other materials. The first shipment that arrived in July as break bulk cargo (i.e. not in shipping containers) still sits in an open field in the yet unfinished Verde Soko facility. An additional 81 containers of waste were supposed to be shipped but was stopped before it reached Philippine shores after the news of the first two shipments broke.

Close up of the plastic waste from Korea. Photo courtesy of Ecowaste Coalition.

Plastic pollution has reached crisis proportions globally. With China closing its doors to plastic imports starting January 2018, developed countries have been scrambling to find countries that will accept their waste. Southeast Asian countries are fast becoming leading destinations for the world’s plastic waste. Recent reports have shown an increase in plastic waste import in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Malaysia and Vietnam have since banned the importation of plastic waste, but implementation has been lacking.

“We call on Southeast Asian countries to strengthen their safeguard against importation of plastic waste and to strictly enforce their policies against transboundary waste shipment,” said Beau Baconguis, Regional Plastics Campaigner, GAIA Asia Pacific and Break Free From Plastic. “It is unfair  for these developed countries to export their waste to Asia and then have the gall to call Asia as the world’s biggest plastic polluters,” she added.

As the Philippines hails the repatriation of the South Korean waste, local eco-groups are also calling on Canada to take back their waste that have been in the country far longer.

In a statement released earlier by the Philippine watchdog, Eco Waste Coalition, Aileen Lucero said, “By saying ‘no’ to garbage dumping from Korea and other countries, we say ‘no’ to the derogation of our country’s dignity and sovereignty, ‘no’ to the disrespect for national and international laws, and ‘no’ to the harm they will bring to our communities.”

“While we laud the move of the Philippine government to repatriate this illegal shipment of waste from South Korea, we are closely monitoring until the entire process of repatriation is completed. We also urge the public to remain vigilant of future illegal waste shipment in the country. Asia is not any rich country’s dumping ground. We are not their “away,” added Baconguis. #ends

Plastic waste that still need to be repatriated to South Korea. Photo courtesy of Ecowaste Coalition.



Sherma E. Benosa, Communications Officer for Asia Pacific  | | +63 9178157570










School districts will be required to verify they’re fixing California’s lowest-performing schools

Public Advocates - Thu, 01/10/2019 - 11:08

Jan 9, 2019 – John Fensterwald of EdSource writes about school districts that will now have to verify how they are improving their low-performing schools. In the story, Managing Attorney John Affeldt argues that the new regulations do not go far enough. He calls for county offices of education to also play a role in monitoring the strategies and spending decisions of lower performing schools.

Click here to read the story.

The post School districts will be required to verify they’re fixing California’s lowest-performing schools appeared first on Public Advocates.

Jessica got a Roddenberry Fellowship!

Local Clean Energy Alliance organizer, Jessica Tovar, is a 2019 Roddenberry Fellow! Jessica and Local Clean Energy Alliance are being recognized for our groundbreaking work in establishing East Bay Community Energy,  Alameda County’s brand new public energy service provider. Jessica’s fellowship project is to ensure East Bay Community Energy meets its commitment to developing local clean energy resources to provide environmental, economic, and social justice benefits to our community.    The Roddenberry Fellowship supports 20 activists, organizers, leaders, and changemakers who are working to make the US a more inclusive and equitable place to live. 

Fellows’ projects focus on one of four issues: implement a project or initiative that has a direct impact in one of four major issue areas. 
  • Civil Rights 
  • Immigration & Refugee Rights 
  • LGBTQIA & Women’s Rights 
  • Environmental Protection 
  The Roddenberry name might be familiar to the Trekkies among us. Gene Roddenberry was the creator of the Star Trek series, the most progressive and thought-provoking science fiction series of its time, inspiring audiences to “think, question, and challenge the status quo” with the intention of creating “a brighter future”. In 2010, Gene’s son Rod established the Roddenberry Foundation to build on his father’s legacy and philosophy of inclusion, diversity, and respect for life to drive social change and meaningfully improve the lives of people around the world.   To learn more about the Fellowship and this year’s cohort--including a few other Oakland social justice leaders--head to the Fellowship website.    Watch the one-minute video Jessica used to win the Roddenberry Fellowship!  

December 2018 Newsletter

Public Advocates - Wed, 01/09/2019 - 15:13

Click here to read the December 2018 newsletter.

The post December 2018 Newsletter appeared first on Public Advocates.

Landmark reforms championed by Gov. Brown leave deep imprint on California education

Public Advocates - Fri, 01/04/2019 - 10:05

January 3, 2018Louis Freedberg of EdSource examines former Governor Jerry Brown’s far reaching impact on education in California. Managing Attorney John Affeldt is quoted.

Click here to read the article.

The post Landmark reforms championed by Gov. Brown leave deep imprint on California education appeared first on Public Advocates.

Perspectives on Gov. Brown’s contributions to education — and what is yet to be done

Public Advocates - Fri, 01/04/2019 - 10:03

January 3, 2018 – Managing Attorney John Affeldt is featured in an EdSource article on former Governor Jerry Brown’s legacy on education.

Click here to read the article.

The post Perspectives on Gov. Brown’s contributions to education — and what is yet to be done appeared first on Public Advocates.

The answer to plastic pollution is to not create waste in the first place

As holiday shopping ramps up, so do the dizzying varieties of plastic packaging tossed in recycling bins. And while we wish a Christmas miracle would transform this old garbage into something new, the reality is the waste left over from the holiday shopping frenzy is more likely than ever to end up in a landfill or incinerator. Until January of this year, the United States and other Western countries were foisting their low-value plastic waste on to China, with little concern for the environmental degradation this caused. To protect its citizens from the burden of foreign pollution, in the beginning of this year, China refused to be the world’s dumping ground and effectively closed its doors to plastic waste imports.

China’s new National Sword policy of refusing foreign waste has brought a long-overdue moment of reckoning for the recycling industry, and by proxy, for manufacturers. It’s clear recycling alone cannot come close to addressing the ballooning amounts of plastic waste piling up all over the country. Even before China’s waste ban took effect,only 9% of plastic in the US was actually recycled. No matter how diligently Americans sort their plastic waste, there is just too much of it for the US, or any other country, to handle.

On the bright side, the ban sparked a much needed conversation about improving domestic recycling infrastructure and recycling markets, and has forced both companies and the public to re-evaluate the products and packaging that were previously assumed to be recyclable. But the ban has also been used as a wrongful justification for burning trash in incinerators.

Waste incinerators became popular in the US in the late 80s, until harmful emissions of mercury and dioxins, toxic ash, technical failures, and prohibitive costs soured the public on the industry. However, there are still more than 70 relics left over from that failed experiment which continue to pollute surrounding communities and drain city coffers.

 One of the most notorious cases is in Detroit. The city’s incinerator, perversely named Detroit Renewable Power, exceeded emissions limits more than 750 times over the last five years, contributing to one of the highest rates of asthma in the country. Not only is the incinerator criminally polluting, it cost the city nearly $1.2bn in debt. According to US Energy Information Administration data, incinerators are the most expensive way to produce energy – costing twice that of nuclear and solar and three times the cost of wind.

In some cases, recent incineration schemes are even disguised as recycling programs. For example, the city of Boise, Idaho, which was rocked by China’s waste ban, is directing residents to “recycle” their plastic by putting it in a special orange bag called the Hefty Energy Bag. The plastic is then melted to make fossil fuels to burn.

This method, called pyrolysis, or “plastic-to-fuel, is being pushed by the American Chemistry Council, Dow Chemical, Unilever, and others who are invested in continuing the status quo of churning out massive amounts of single-use plastic. Not only is this form of incineration the opposite of recycling, it gives people a false sense of security that single-use plastic is acceptable to continue making and using. Instead of coming up with increasingly complicated and expensive ways to deal with plastic waste, why not focus on preventing it from being made in such large quantities in the first place? We simply need less plastic in the world.

Notably, many North American cities are cracking down on nonsense single-use plastic and resisting short-sighted, false solutions like plastic-to-fuel. Plastic bag bans or fees are underway in cities such as SeattleBoston, San Francisco (leading to a statewide ban), and Washington, DC. Some cities are going even further: Vancouver is introducing a city-wide ban on single-use straws, foam cups, and containers starting June 2019. In addition to bans and fees on problematic products and packaging, several cities are also pursuing legislation that would force companies to pay for managing the waste created by their products instead of foisting disposal costs onto the consumer, thereby motivating them to change their manufacturing and delivery systems to eliminate or drastically minimize waste.

This holiday season, the greatest gift manufacturers can give consumers is the option to buy their products without ending up with a recycling bin full of single-use plastic packaging destined for the burner or the dump. As the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention”. China’s National Sword policy gives us the opportunity to kick our society’s plastic habit once and for all and to put pressure on those most responsible for it: not consumers, not cities, but producers.

Monica Wilson is policy and research coordinator and the associate director of the Global Alliance for Incinerators Alternatives (Gaia)

We are hiring: Global Plastic Policy Advisor

GAIA seeks an experienced Global Plastic Policy Advisor to support the movement against plastic pollution in key national and international (UN) policy spaces, via the provision of science and technical expertise, and support for the development of a collaborative, proactive, and interconnected government and corporate-facing strategy. Through science and technical inputs on critical issues that feed into global policy formulation, as well as movement advising and direct engagement in policy spaces, the Global Plastic Policy Advisor will work with partner organizations and an international team to advocate for progressive, long-term solutions to plastic pollution.

About GAIA and our Partners:

GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 organizations and individuals in over 90 countries working for a world without waste. We see waste, plastics, and related pollution as a symptom of a larger, profit-driven extractive economy, so we promote holistic solutions like Zero Waste and strive for an economic shift toward social justice and sustainability.

GAIA is a founding member of the Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) collaborative movement and is taking a critical role in working with other member organizations to develop and implement key strategies on a global level to curb the ever-increasing ill effects of the world’s overreliance on plastic. The movement has identified key policy spaces where decisive action is needed and in some cases is already underway, and member organizations are moving quickly to ensure processes and deliberations are informed if not driven by real solutions that have grassroots support from around the world.

About This Position:

The Global Plastic Policy Advisor role is a new position at GAIA that will work with BFFP and GAIA member organizations to ensure a strong, coordinated approach to the movement’s global policy strategy. Due to the urgent and rapidly changing nature of this work, anyone entering this position will need to hit the ground running while also having the flexibility to adjust as key strategies coalesce. Helping these strategies emerge while also being responsive to the ways in which the landscape could shift in unexpected ways will be the core challenge of this role in the early stages.

In coordination with other BFFP members, the Global Plastic Policy Advisor will also rely on science and technical expertise in the network — including the expertise of grassroots organizations implementing on-the-ground plastic pollution projects — to help ensure that international plastic policies do not devolve into corporate-driven “lowest common denominator” standards and instead really push for aggressive change and significant upstream solutions. This advisor will also work closely with GAIA’s Global Plastics Policy Advocate, who is already leading efforts to engage grassroots organizations in global policy spaces such as the upcoming UNEA4 conference and is also helping shape and deliver GAIA’s global policy work and engagement on plastics pollution.


As a new position dealing with a growing global movement and tackling the most rapidly escalating global priority in recent memory, the Global Plastic Policy Advisor will have a unique opportunity to shape and define the key priorities for this position in response to external needs. At a minimum, GAIA has identified the following urgent priorities for this position:

  • Convene conversations with partner organizations to co-develop and pursue a collaborative strategy on global policy and global standards processes to prevent plastic pollution.
  • Develop science and technical inputs into key negotiating documents and platforms that will guide policy decisions.
  • Provide strategic analysis of other entities’ proposals for intervention (including analysis of data sources, assumptions, effectiveness of proposed actions), to identify avenues to raise ambition
  • In consultation with GAIA members, GAIA staff, and partner organizations, craft and refine strategies to achieve high ambition outcomes in the policy sphere including systemic interventions to reduce plastic production, zero waste strategies, and other interventions along the lifecycle of plastic
  • Represent these positions in front of governments, other NGOs, the media, etc.
  • Work to open up spaces for grassroots leaders to directly represent themselves and their concerns
  • Additional responsibilities as defined in collaboration with the Global Plastic Policy Advocate and GAIA ad BFFP leadership, such as tracking developments in plastic policy, identifying opportunities for policy shifts on the regional/national level, and coordinating key interventions and delegations.


  • Experience and ability to manage complex organizational and political relationships
  • Affinity and experience working with mass-based movements in the Global South
  • Technical expertise in waste management or plastic pollution
  • Experience using science and technical expertise for policy advocacy
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Good team player with demonstrated capacity for managing independent work and coordinating with GAIA’s multicultural team and membership base
  • Proven ability to maintain work relationships and work collaboratively over long distances (via email, Skype, etc.)
  • Dedication to social and environmental justice
  • Experience working or living in the Asia Pacific region strongly preferred
  • Ability to travel frequently (likely once every 2 months)
  • Fluent in English (required) and at least one additional language (strongly preferred)


As a global network, GAIA has some flexibility about the location of its staff. However, the Global Plastic Policy Advisor should preferably be based in one of GAIA’s larger offices, specifically Berkeley, USA; Quezon City, Philippines; Brussels, Belgium; Concepcion, Chile. Durban, South Africa is another possible location.

We offer a competitive salary plus benefits, including health insurance, vacation, maternity/paternity leave, and other similar employment protections. We take pride in our ability to support one another’s work in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect, and look forward to introducing the successful candidate to our welcoming and highly motivated team and members.

We are seeking candidates who are excited to make an initial commitment of at least two years to this work. Willingness to travel is required.


GAIA is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages people of color, gender non-conforming, and LGBTQ persons to apply. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion or belief, disability, gender, nationality, ethnicity, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or any other status protected by law.


Please send your resume and cover letter to with the subject line “Global Plastic Policy Advisor.”  No calls, please. References and writing samples will be requested from successful candidates later in the process.

This position will be open until filled. Applications will be considered as received, and a first wave of interviews will begin after a priority deadline of January 13, 2019.


Power Rooted in Community: Highlights from 2018

Climate Justice Alliance - Thu, 12/20/2018 - 20:09

By Angela Adrar, Executive Director of the Climate Justice Alliance

Framed by corruption and crisis, 2018 was a year that felt like walking through a long dark tunnel. Fascism, white nationalism, and family separations are on the rise. Yet, 2018 was also a year where millions organized in visionary opposition to these urgent crises and shifted the story of what is possible. These powerful and local victories showed us the undeniable promise of community-rooted power and solidarity-in-action.

This promise lights our collective pathway forward into 2019.

Below, are some of CJA’s brightest moments from 2018. They reflect our commitment to frontline community leadership. We are fighting for a world that is rooted in dignity and collective power. We could not have done this work without you! Your support, active participation, and personal advocacy continues to advance our collective agenda.

Continue supporting CJA in the new year and be part of our bold and visionary solidarity-in-action!

Expanding Our Power Communities & Just Transition Regional Hubs    

CJA Our Power Communities (OPCs) are organizing to transform extractive economic systems into local alternatives that serve the needs of communities and workers. CJA members UPROSE, Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Community to Community Development, Got Green, and the Indigenous Environmental Network are expanding and anchoring such possibilities with regional Just Transition organizing hubs. Meanwhile, OPCs like the Southwest Workers Union continue to write the story of what Just Transition look like today on the ground, creating space to dream even bigger for the future. Across 2018, CJA organized and supported seven national gatherings where leadership from frontline communities discussed Just Transition strategies for local, living, caring, and sharing economies led by communities and workers.

The most recent of these convenings—the Black 2 Just Transition Training & Assembly in Detroit—was co-hosted by Our Power Community and regional hub East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) in November. The Assembly centered on Black liberation and leadership. Over 80 Black organizers from across the country gathered to train and build new pathways towards justice, equity, and freedom. Strategies for solidarity and alignment on Just Transition in the Midwest were lifted up. The Assembly ended with a discussion on next steps to grow Black leadership across our movements, guided by lessons and guidance from our Environmental Justice community roots. Learn more here!

Black 2 Just Transition Training, Detroit

Gaining Ground and Scaling Out Energy Democracy  

The vision and principles of Energy Democracy are changing the discourse of climate action and solutions across the U.S. From coast to coast, CJA members are shifting the story from being dependent on corporate technologies and market-based policies that concentrate profits for a few, to frontline community-led solutions that benefit all.

The Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) program officially started this August! SOMAH was co-sponsored by CJA member California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) in 2015 and continues to be a bright spot demonstrating what Just Transition and Energy Democracy can look like. SOMAH will make solar energy accessible to more than 150,000 low-income families at over 2,000 affordable housing properties. Our members Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, and People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights (PODER) have been working to ensure this program reaches communities for whom it was designed.

On the east coast, CJA member UPROSE (Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community-based organization) is co-creating one of the first cooperatively-owned urban power supply stations in the nation. Sunset Park, a waterfront neighborhood in Brooklyn, will soon have an 80,000-square-foot rooftop solar garden that will be community owned. You can read more about this extraordinary project here. UPROSE’s Executive Director, Elizabeth Yeampierre, sums up their vision: “This is the whole idea of a Just Transition. We want to move toward local, livable communities where people actually own the infrastructure that will help them thrive economically, and not have to depend on fossil fuel.”

Down South, CJA member Another Gulf is Possible shows us we can survive without fear of each other and we can live in balance with our natural resources, our land, and our water. This video proves liberation is love.


Reinvesting in Our Communities and a Just Transition

Through our Reinvest in Our Power efforts, CJA works toward both divestment from the extractive economy and reinvestment in community.

We are thrilled to have officially launched the CJA Our Power Loan Fund this year! The loan fund’s purpose is to bring technical assistance and non-extractive financing to Just Transition projects, to support the creation of local loan funds, and to provide political and popular education that build community capacity to govern community wealth. The first round of prioritized Just Transition projects and potential loan recipients are supported by the following CJA members. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with these emerging and visionary enterprises:

  • Earthbound Building, Farm and Forestry (Black Dirt Farm Collective)
    • A worker-owned cooperative led by black, formerly incarcerated and queer farmers and natural builders that offers green infrastructure and forestry using holistic and sustainable practices. They also promote small scale holistic agriculture among people of color.  
  • Global Village Farms (Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island)
    • A land-based center of cooperative living, working and movement-building based in self-sustainable farming, education, and healing of low-income immigrant/Indigenous communities of color and other oppressed people internationally who are working towards their emancipation.
  • Campesinos’ Gardens/Farmacia Popular (Farmworker Association of Florida)
    • Campesino Gardens are farmworker community gardens, led by female farmworkers who are mostly immigrants from latin america, and their families. Members and extended families of the coop have access to processed and unprocessed products for free. The surplus will be sold to sponsors who are bi-weekly buyers with annual or quarterly subscriptions of the garden.
  • Colectiva Comunidad Sana a Solidarity Economy Center (CoCoSa) (Community to Community Development)
    • CoCoSa’s mission is to develop a farmworker owned and governed community land trust. They plan to do this through local participatory democracy so that 25% of their local economy in Whatcom County comes from cooperatives.

Donate to CJA to support a shift in community-led Just Transition strategies.

Loan Fund Meeting

Working toward Food Sovereignty    

Nearly a quarter of CJA’s membership are practicing Food Sovereignty as an essential part of a Just Transition vision. Through Agroecology—a science, practice, and movement centered on growing food in harmony with ecological systems—CJA members are reclaiming traditional and cultural farming knowledge, rebuilding local food systems, and asserting their rights to land and capital in order to farm sustainably and feed their communities.

In contrast to healthy, sustainable food systems, CJA member Farmworker Association of Florida has raised public awareness on the the challenges that farmworkers face at the intersections of immigrant rights, rising temperatures, climate disasters, and health and safety conditions under industrial agriculture.

Another highlight around Food Sovereignty and Agroecology practices came from our member Organización Boricuá in Puerto Rico. One year after Hurricane María made landfall, many families continue to face uphill battles in achieving a true and Just Recovery of their homes and livelihoods. Amidst this chaos, Boricuá has organized a network of Agroecology support brigades across the islands (as well as provided direct funds), which helped numerous communities recover from impacts of the storm much faster due to the resilient production of a diversity of crops.

Demanding Just Recovery Approaches in the Face of Bigger and More Frequent Climate Disasters

Late 2017 and all through 2018, we were witness to unprecedented climate disasters with little to no government assistance. Houston, Puerto Rico, North Carolina, and Florida are still recovering from these storms. In supporting our members in their recovery efforts, CJA was able leverage its power as an alliance. Action Solidarity has been a powerful strategy that builds both resilience and community capacity to bear the onslaught of disaster capital, predatory pricing, and shameful land grabs. CJA member Movement Generation shows us how Just Recovery resists disaster capitalism at every step.

Through our Just Recovery work, and specifically the OurPowerPR campaign, we have witnessed and experienced the efficacy of people-to-people solutions—to rebuild and reconstruct communities guided by principles of Environmental Justice, while simultaneously calling for a break in rebuilding forms of extraction and challenging the various forms of systemic oppressions we face on a daily basis.

Building the Bigger We

In partnership with allied progressive movements, CJA builds bridges across sectors, issues, and geography to support an intersectional approach in forming a truly regenerative economy. We call it Building the Bigger We.

In early September, as part of It Takes Roots, we organized Solidarity 2 Solutions Week in San Francisco where we successfully challenged the corporate climate scams being promoted at  California Governor Jerry Brown’s Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS). We mobilized, marched, and took mass direct action to expose disaster capitalist schemes like pollution trading and forest carbon offsets. We shared place-based knowledge to further Just Transition strategies in energy democracy, Indigenous land rights, food sovereignty, zero waste, public transportation, universal healthcare, affordable housing, and ecosystem restoration.

We drew a clear line in the sand—between the billions of dollars of public subsidies offered to multinational corporations to continue destroying the planet and the community-led frontline solutions capable of tackling the ecological crises. In doing so, we broke through the media in bigger and more exciting ways than ever before.

We are shifting the global climate debate toward the arc of justice. The lines we drew are unveiling reputational risk for investors who are now questioning their previous interest in carbon markets and corporate technology schemes.

What’s next?

In late March, CJA will host its Member Convening in Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 28-30, 2019. We’ll gather, celebrate, and collectively plan for 2020 and beyond.

There are looming battles on geoengineering, multiple dirty energy infrastructure conflicts, as well as emergent opportunities to inform progressive initiatives like the Green New Deal, in which CJA members will have a voice.  

We will continue to be bold and visionary in 2019. We look forward to deepening and accelerating our work on making Just Transition real on the ground. Time is urgent.

Become a monthly supporter to CJA and be part of the solution!

The strength of CJA is measured by the interconnected strength of us all.


The post Power Rooted in Community: Highlights from 2018 appeared first on Climate Justice Alliance.

We are hiring: U.S. Program Director

GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 organizations and individuals in over 90 countries working for justice and a world without waste. We see waste, plastics, and their resulting pollution as a symptoms of a larger, profit-driven extractive economy, and we promote zero waste as a holistic solution and an economic shift toward justice and sustainability.

GAIA seeks an inspiring, dynamic, and goal-oriented U.S. Program Director to lead GAIA’s U.S. Program in deep collaboration with our network’s regional members. This person will also serve as GAIA’s US & Canada Regional Coordinator within our international network, linking work in North America to member efforts in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. GAIA’s work in the U.S. and Canada region has helped to educate the public about the true climate, community, environmental, and economic impacts of quick fix approaches to waste such as incineration, and to advance progress toward local zero waste goals.  Our network is grounded in the principles of environmental justice and impacted community leadership, and includes organizations, alliances, and coalitions around the country that are fighting incinerators, advocating for zero waste, and pushing for environmental and climate justice through policy and local implementation programs.

GAIA has recently launched a growing national campaign to shut down aging incinerators by supporting local environmental justice organizing efforts in key communities, alongside strengthening research-based tools for local campaigners, and combining grassroots efforts into a broader communications push to change the narrative about pollution, waste, climate, and environmental justice. We are also working with partner organizations in the plastic pollution movement to expand and strengthen organizing against the plastics and petrochemical industry and its pro-incineration message. GAIA’s new U.S. Program Director will help to lead these efforts in an exciting moment of growth and opportunity for our regional network.


GAIA is looking for a U.S. Program Director who will lead GAIA’s campaigns and strategies in the U.S. & Canada region, and work with members to set a critical path for current and future work. This is a position with significant growth and professional learning opportunities, as the movement for zero waste, and against incineration and plastic pollution is growing.

The successful candidate will be an effective networker and campaigner, who is excited by the opportunity to increase GAIA member involvement and amplify the impact of local campaigns. The candidate will also be dedicated to building relationships of solidarity within the U.S. and Canada region, while spearheading the planning and implementation of national strategies in collaboration with environmental justice organizations, grassroots organizations, and other allies to defeat “waste-to-energy” incineration. They will also be energized by promoting implementation of zero waste strategies in policy and practice, including support for community organizing around solutions to waste and plastics pollution. The U.S. Program Director will also have fundraising and resource mobilization experience, capable of building key donor and partner relationships to support the strategies of GAIA’s network.

On an international level, the Program Director will serve as GAIA’s U.S. and Canada Regional Coordinator, and will serve as an active member of the global network’s  Regional Coordinators team. This team is responsible for overseeing the integration of GAIA’s campaigns across borders, as well as ensuring regional participation in strategic planning to further GAIA’s mission internationally, promoting member engagement and connectivity, and ensuring the sustainable growth of our network.

GAIA’s U.S. Program Director will:

  • Provide leadership to campaigns and strategies, in collaboration with the network members and staff, to set a critical path for GAIA U.S. & Canada’s regional work;
  • Actively participate in GAIA’s Regional Coordinators Team through monthly calls, regular online communication, and in-person international meetings 1-2 times per year;
  • Support fundraising for U.S. & Canada projects, together with the global fundraising and finance team, which is based in the U.S.
  • Provide political guidance and advice on projects and member support initiatives;
  • Develop a shared critical analysis within our network of key strategic opportunities and threats;
  • Continue to build and strengthen linkages and partnerships between GAIA and allied movements, including Break Free From Plastics in the USA and the Climate Justice Alliance, among others;
  • Ensure member participation in national and international campaigns, and provide input to national and global strategies;
  • Facilitate U.S. & Canada member development and consultation processes;
  • Supervise and  provide mentoring and leadership development opportunities to GAIA’s lean but highly effective 4-person U.S. Program team;
  • Manage the regional budget for U.S. & Canada projects;Direct the regional media strategy and serve as a GAIA spokesperson in public venues.
  • The Program Director will also participate in GAIA’s regional and international list serves, campaigns, and strategy-setting conversations that support global alliance-building, in collaboration with the network’s international Hub and Coordination Team.


  • At least five years of successful experience in a coordination and campaigning capacity with either an environmental or social justice organization or environmental non-profit, including experience campaigning at the grassroots level.
  • Strategic thinker and project manager, with demonstrated skill in analyzing political, environmental, and social trends in the region and developing campaigns that are multi-faceted and decentralized.
  • Experience leading external communication campaigns for programs, or movements.
  • A passion for environmental health and climate, social, and environmental justice. Commitment to GAIA’s mission and core values.
  • Excellent networking skills and proven track record in uniting diverse opinions and teams around a common agenda and plan in a way that facilitates conflict resolution and values community wisdom.
  • Strong writing and public speaking skills, with an ability to simplify messages and communicate complex issues to the public.
  • Proven track record in effective staff supervision, with an approach based on collaboration, mentorship, accountability, and consensus-building.
  • Excited about working with a global multicultural alliance, which requires extensive online communication with staff and members (primarily via online tools).
  • Highly computer literate, and comfortable with new media technologies.
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills. Good listener.
  • Systematic and goal-oriented – in it to win it!


  • Familiarity with waste, pollution, and climate issues
  • Proven track record in raising money for organizations and projects, particularly from U.S. philanthropic foundations and other major donors.
  • Spanish language skills
  • Skilled in or has practical appreciation for other key programmatic areas for member support, such as community organizing, local policy development, strategic planning, research, and/or meeting facilitation.


  • This position will preferably be based out of GAIA’s main office in Berkeley, California, although we are willing to consider applicants with strong qualifications in Detroit, Michigan or another major city.
  • We offer a competitive salary plus benefits, including health insurance, vacation, maternity/paternity leave, and other similar employment protections. We take pride in our ability to support one another’s work in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect, and look forward to introducing the successful candidate to our welcoming and highly motivated team and members.
  • We are seeking candidates who are excited to make an initial commitment of at least two years to this work. Willingness to travel with frequency is required.

GAIA is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages people of color, gender non-conforming, and LGBTQ persons to apply. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion or belief, disability, gender, nationality, ethnicity, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or any other status protected by law.

Please send your resume and cover letter to with the subject line “U.S. Program Director Application.”  No calls, please. References and writing samples will be requested from successful candidates later in the process.

This position will be open until filled. Applications will be considered as received, with a priority deadline of January 13, 2019.


We are hiring: Bookkeeper & Office Administrator

GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 organizations and individuals in over 90 countries working for justice and a world without waste. We see waste, plastics, and their resulting pollution as a symptom of a larger, profit-driven extractive economy, and we promote zero waste as a holistic solution and an economic shift toward justice and sustainability.

The GAIA U.S. office is looking for a detail-oriented Bookkeeper & Office Administrator to support the organization with its bookkeeping, administration, office management, events coordination, and special projects.

The Bookkeeper & Office Administrator serves as a logistical resource throughout the organization and will be responsible for day-to-day operations including bookkeeping, HR and administration, assistance to program staff, and ensuring the office operations run smoothly.  The position reports to GAIA’s Associate Director and works in close collaboration with U.S. program staff on special projects and events.

This is a full-time position and divided into three main work categories:

  1. bookkeping support 35%
  2. office management/administrative support 35%
  3. special projects/event support 30%


  • Perform all aspects of bookkeeping – A/P, A/R, reconciliations, financial reports, payroll, month-end processing and year-end documents in collaboration with Finance Coordinator
  • Manage all day-to-day office, facilities, and operational needs, including office equipment, supplies, furniture, IT, internal communications, calendars, emergency preparedness plans, and other office needs
  • Support program staff on relevant projects, travel arrangements, events coordination and special meetings. This could include writing and editing projects for the right candidate.
  • Maintain and update electronic and paper accounting files
  • Assist with and support on contracts, vendor files, and customer accounts
  • Assist with annual audit process, human resources, and insurance handling
  • Assist with fundraising mailings and donor follow-up
  • Participate in other duties as assigned


  • The ideal candidate will have a Bachelor’s degree and 3+ years working in non-profit finance or bookkeeping
  • Individual must have strong knowledge of accounting principles
  • Must be organized and dependable
  • Strong general computer and technical skills; ability to work across platforms and to learn new technology quickly
  • High level of attention to detail; sensitivity to confidential matters
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills with a knack for being responsive to a wide array of incoming inquiries and requests
  • Demonstrated ability to work both independently and collaboratively
  • Excellent administrative and organizational skills; ability to keep documentation tidy and accessible
  • Ability to problem-solve, take initiative, and maintain efficiency in a rapidly changing, dynamic environment
  • Ability to coordinate complex projects or multiple simultaneous tasks efficiently and involving multiple personnel across time zones around the world
  • Experience working in Quickbooks; and strong skills in MS Office & Google Sheets required
  • Experience with WordPress, Salesforce, Constant Contact and other online social media platforms a plus
  • Experience and interest in writing and editing a plus
  • Passion for social and environmental justice


Interested candidates should email cover letter, current resume, list of three professional references to with the subject line “Bookkeeper & Office Administrator.” Position open until filled; first round of applications will be reviewed beginning January 14th.


GAIA is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages people of color, gender non-conforming, and LGBTQ persons to apply. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion or belief, disability, gender, nationality, ethnicity, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or any other status protected by law.

Location: Berkeley, California




2018, Year Recap!



After pressure from GAIA members and allies worldwide, McDonalds vows to eliminate foam packaging from its global system by the end of 2018.

Two GAIA members win the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.


Manny Calonzo of IPEN is awarded for his instrumental role in persuading the Philippine government to enact a national ban on lead paint.




Makoma Lekhalaka of Earthlife Africa in partnership with Liz McDaid built a coalition to stop a $76 billion nuclear power project, protecting her community from the expansion of nuclear power and the resulting radioactive waste.




GAIA Asia Pacific launches a quarterly newsletter detailing successes and best practices throughout the region. Read the first issue here!






In the Western Cape of South Africa, the Wellington Association against the Incinerator (WAAI) and the Drakenstein Environmental Watch (DEW), both community based organisations, worked tirelessly alongside another GAIA member – groundWork, to defeat an MSW incinerator proposal in the region.  Read the story.





Chile becomes first country in South America to approve a nation-wide ban on single-use plastic bags.




Facing massive operating costs, the city of Commerce announces that the incinerator would be “decommissioned.” The facility’s demise comes after environmental justice advocates succeeded in blocking state renewable energy subsidies from going to the incinerator. Without subsidies to prop up its astronomical expenses, the incinerator is forced to shut down. Read the story.



From May 16 to 26, ten GAIA member organizations and partners conduct unprecedented clean-up and waste and brand audits in 18 states in India, and announce the results on World Environment Day. Not only do the audits embarrass top brands, it gives GAIA members more leverage to lobby for policy change. As a result of this increasing pressure GAIA members and other civil society leaders, the Indian Government announces plans to ban all single-use plastic by 2022.


In a landmark decision, European Parliament and Council require Member States to phase out subsidies for waste incineration in the Revised Renewable Energy Directive. EU’s decision brings Renewable Energy Directive more in line with a Circular Economy and Zero Waste future.



New York’s push to end equality extends to garbage as Mayor Bill De Blasio and City Council pass a law that caps the amount of garbage that can be handled at transfer stations in poor and minority parts of North Brooklyn, Southeast Queens and the South Bronx that are burdened with 73 percent of the city’s trash. This waste equity law will have striking impacts, with a reduction of 120 to 180 garbage trucks per day and a reduction of 1,200 to 1,800 tons of trash per day, in the four community board districts targeted by the law.


Madrid plans to phase out incineration by 2025  and takes a key step towards better management of resources that align with European and Spanish goals of recycling and reuse. Congratulations to our members Amigos de la Tierra who long campaigned for the Valdemingomez incinerator facility to close, this is a great victory!y the law.


The largest incinerator proposal in the southern hemisphere, the Next Generation incinerator planned in Western Sydney, is defeated by the New South Wales Independent Planning Commission. The plant faced objections from the independent commission, residents, councils, and health and environment authorities who were concerned about the air quality impacts and threats to public health and the environment that the plant would pose.


GAIA launches its new blog series, “Meet Our Members,” that will feature a new member of the GAIA network’s legacy and campaigns each month. We started out with a feature on the  New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.


After an unprecedented number of waste and brand audits conducted by GAIA and Break Free From Plastic members around the world, BFFP releases a report naming the top polluting companies found most in the clean-ups in over 40 countries.




In an election in the city of Bandung, one of Indonesia’s largest cities and the capital of West Java, a new mayor eager to expand zero waste programs takes office, and the former mayor is elected governor of West Java. Both officials are champions of zero waste, and are already sending the message that cities across the Province should adopt zero waste culture and circular economy. The ZW Cities project began pilots in Bandung and two neighboring cities, Cimahi and Soreang. The program has already grown from 2 to 4 districts.


A comprehensive single-use plastics ban is approved by the European Parliament, a giant step forward towards plastic reduction in Europe.


European Parliament’s Environment Committee votes to cut funding for incineration, sending the message that waste-burning is quickly falling out of favor in the region.




Kiel becomes the first German municipality to officially commit to going zero waste.






National and regional environmental groups unite their strength to form “Alianza Residuo Cero”, a Zero Waste alliance in Spain





After continuous pressure from members and other members of civil society, Zambia bans single use plastic bags.