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The Path to Ecological Justice Runs Through a Free Palestine

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 14:42

Art by Shirien Creates

By: Movement Generation

We the people have been in continuous spirals of grief for so much of our history. Some of us have lived through war. Some carry the trauma of our ancestors who were stolen from our lands or had to flee or defend our homes. Some continue to experience daily violence on the streets we call home—from East Oakland to the West Bank, from police brutality and military occupation to climate disasters that lead to displacement and disconnection. 

These spirals of violence that make the extractive economy go round will collapse on the oppressed and can only end justly through our intentional reorganization. In this moment of collective grief over the tragedies across all of historic Palestine, our lineages of resistance and resilience give us the power right now to fight for collective liberation and just futures. 

Ecological justice is the state of balance between human communities and healthy ecosystems based on thriving, mutually beneficial relationships and truly democratic, participatory self-governance. There is no ecological justice in a world in which Palestinians are bombed, starved, displaced from their lands, and have no freedom of movement or agency over their lives. For generations we have seen the British colonial occupation and the subsequent 75-year occupation by the apartheid state of Israel wreak ecological havoc on historic Palestine and its people; these are textbook examples of the extractive economy in full force.

Art by Roger Peet

Whatever fantasy the ideology of zionism fabricates, we know that the ongoing war on Palestine is about land and resources. It is a settler colonial project by its own definition. Enclosure is the mechanism by which the settlers control access to needed resources, including land, water, food, labor, and knowledge. All enclosure is based on entitlement and acquired, enforced, and expanded through violence, which is foundational to colonialism, imperialism, and extractivism. This unrelenting violence is waged against peoples and the ecosystems they call home. As apartheid Israel forces Palestinians further south while leveling homes, hospitals, and holy places, its war on Gaza is another violent land grab. Palestine was never “a land without a people.” Palestinians are inextricably linked to their lands. Indigenous sovereignty is key to ecological justice.

Ecological warfare on Palestine

Once an agricultural place within the Fertile Crescent, Gaza’s soil, water, and air are now contaminated by chemicals from 16 years of endless bombardment. In a recent teach-in, a representative from the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) in the West Bank said that even if Palestinians in Gaza survive the bombings, they will be condemned to a future without sustenance. Much of the most fertile farmland in Gaza today is near the so-called border in the north, which is a vulnerable target of Israeli air strikes, making it dangerous for both access and soil health. 

Art by Lourdez Puti’on Velasco

In the West Bank, even before October 7, 46% of agricultural land was inaccessible to Palestinian farmers due to a blockade, military occupation, and the use of “special military zones” to annex more land from the West Bank. Right now during the olive harvesting season, an important time for Palestinian livelihood, farmers are experiencing escalating harassment from Israeli settlers and military, further blocking their access. Yet, the power of enclosure is not simply the ability to restrict access. The real power is the ability to control the terms and conditions under which people have access to the resources that are enclosed.

Following Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza in June 1967, one of the first policies the apartheid state enacted was taking complete control of Palestinians’ water resources and infrastructure. Issa Nijoum, a former citrus farmer from Al-Auja said to Amnesty International, “In 1967, when they [the Israeli authorities] started taking the water it was like a sickness in a body… slowly the land dried up.”

Apartheid Israel’s draconian water policies have not only robbed Palestinians of their water sovereignty, it has also had terrible consequences on the ecosystem and taken countless Palestinian lives. We often hear about Palestinian deaths by airstrikes (more than 9,000 and counting in Gaza between October 7–November 1); though deaths by water-borne diseases, while harder to account for, are significant. Ninety-seven percent of the water in Gaza is undrinkable, by World Health Organization standards. According to the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (PENGON), Israeli settlers use Palestinian land as a dumping ground for 90% of Israel’s waste water.

Art by Micah Bazant

A 2021 UN report shows that 75% of sea water off the Gaza coast is contaminated with chemicals from weapons and sewage. Already, Palestinian fisherfolk were heavily restricted from accessing the sea—three to six nautical miles offshore only or risk being shot. With the water contamination decimating fisheries, it is even more difficult for fisherfolk to sustain a living, let alone feed the people. On top of that, apartheid Israel recently granted exploration licenses for natural gas off the Mediterranean coast to six companies—disaster capitalism in the midst of genocide.

From the river to the sea

All of the food, water, and environmental issues are, of course, exacerbated by apartheid Israel’s current siege and war on Gaza. Not only does relentless bombardment immediately pollute the air, water, and soil; long-term, imperialism inherently leaves a legacy of ecological destruction on the land, human bodies, and spirits that is felt for generations to come. For all of these reasons and more, the path to ecological justice must run through a free Palestine.

The irony of it all is that borders are constructs. You can’t stop the waters from flowing together; all people from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea breathe the same air. Destruction of the land in Palestine condemns current and future generations of Palestinians and those who are there through the settler-colonial project to suffer the ecological destruction of this war and genocide, just as the land does.

Art by Hazen Asif

Like all enclosures, borders fragment human communities and ecosystems, asserting extractive, violent governance systems rather than systems based on bioregional relationships of collective care, sacredness, cooperation, and consent. “From the river to the sea” refers to the ecological boundaries of historic Palestine and all its peoples and all their diverse cultures. It is a call to freedom, true democracy, reparations, and restoration. What does a free Palestine look like, from the river to the sea, where borders are nonexistent and the land and all people are liberated?

Where do we go from here, and how do we get there?

Clearly a culture shift is desperately needed. We can return to the Just Transition framework to reaffirm that the extractive economy—upheld by a colonialist worldview that fuels extraction and exploitation towards the enclosure of wealth and power, enforced by militarism—is the worst possible way forward for a vast majority of us. A worldview centered around caring and sacredness, where regeneration and cooperation lead to ecological and social well-being, bolstered by true democracy, is necessary and possible.

So how do we get there? We don’t have all the answers, but for starters we can commit to honoring Palestinian self-determination and take our guidance and leadership from Palestinians in Palestine—many of whom are courageously documenting the atrocities via social media, even as journalists in the region are targeted and killed by the apartheid state of Israel. We also look to Palestinian-led organizations that are supporting people on the ground, such as Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, as well as global organizations like Grassroots International, Arab Resources and Organizing Center, Adalah Justice Project, Palestinian Feminist Collective, and Palestinian Youth Movement.

Art by Madalyn Drewno

The peoples’ immediate demand is a ceasefire now and an end to the siege on Gaza. This requires our urgent political pressure on US elected officials, as well as direct actions such as mass protests and boycotts. And we must continue to be visionary while oppositional. A ceasefire is imperative to stop the bad, but the battle will not end there, leaving Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the status quo of cyclical violence. Moving in the same direction as the ongoing movement to end Israel’s occupation, genocide, and apartheid gives us a pathway to restore Palestinians’ right of return, self-determination, sovereignty, and land back.

Because all ecological and human rights disasters are rooted in the political economy, we must make economic interventions. Here in the belly of the beast of the US empire, we spend $3.8 billion of our tax dollars each year on military aid to apartheid Israel. Cutting off this aid so that it can instead fund our basic needs such as housing, health care, and education will be an uphill climb and a critical goal. 

Art by Dignidad Rebelde

Here’s a list of concrete actions that Palestinian support groups are asking as we move in sync towards liberation:

And we cannot underestimate the power of engaging in generative conversation and conflict within our communities; talk to your people and learn together. Make space for grief and connection in this intense time; hold your loved ones close and stay rooted in deep love for people and the land. As our ancestor Grace Lee Boggs said, “Movements are born of critical connections rather than critical mass.”

Liberation is possible and, we have to believe, inevitable. Palestine will be free. In our lifetime.

What “Free the Land” Means to MG

Fri, 08/25/2023 - 12:00

Shot from behind of a group of people walking on a green hilly landscape with a blue sky overhead. Photo: Brooke Anderson

By Quinton Sankofa

“Free the land” is a mandate for an independent Black nation in the American South and a phrase used by the New Afrikan Independence Movement. Movement Generation honors the origins and significance of this call to action. We support efforts to establish an independent Black nation on this continent in the context of the broader Black land reparations movement. We uplift and practice solidarity with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) as one of the organizations continuing the legacy of the New Afrikan Independence Movement to free the land and free the people. 

At Movement Generation, our mission is to inspire and engage people in the movement for ecological justice, and we do this by carrying forth the visions and strategies of our ancestors and movement elders. As an organization with diverse and experienced Black and Indigenous leadership, we draw from the visions of the likes of Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, The Republic of New Afrika, American Indian Movement, Leonard Peltier, Winona LaDuke, and many more. We see our land liberation work as flowing within the same rivers as other Black-, Indigenous-, and people of color-led movements to restore our relationships with land.

And MG recognizes that people of African descent in particular have a unique struggle in reimagining and reclaiming our relationships with the land of this continent; and doing so in ways that honor our ancestors from the African continent, our enslaved ancestors, and Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island.

In 2015, Movement Generation started a conversation with Black comrades about how we, as a multiracial organization, could support Black-led movements. The answer was to center the Black experience and organize with Black people. They said, “Do what you do, but for Black people exclusively.” And so we did that. We created the Black Land Liberation Initiative (BLLI) with Blackout Collective. We worked with Black organizers to include land and land-based reparations as imperatives to our fight for ecological justice. After helping to launch and guide BLLI for two years, Movement Generation stepped back to let it shine through the work of Blackout Collective and the Center for Third World Organizing, because we knew that in the long run BLLI needed to be led by all-Black organizations.

Now, Movement Generation has launched our own land project. After years of talking about land reparations and Indigenous sovereignty, we took a huge step in pursuing it in our own way. We did this in partnership with Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, an urban Indigenous women-led nonprofit rooted here in the San Francisco East Bay where we call home. We organized funders to redistribute wealth so that we could purchase 43 acres that had been stolen from Bay Miwok people through the Homestead Act of 1862, and we returned that land to Indigenous care. In solidarity, Sogorea Te’ worked with us to develop agreements for MG to base our work here long term.

Now that we have liberated this land and secured a land base for our organization, our next step is to develop a space here that will specifically benefit Black and Indigenous communities that are impacted by climate disruption and the ecological crisis. The Justice & Ecology Center is a vision in its earliest stages. We want it to be a healing space, a gathering space, and an ecosystem where we grow food and medicine together in ways that make our ancestors and future generations proud! We see it as a place where we nourish the land, a place where we reclaim energy and water sovereignty so we can meet our own needs.

Creating spaces like this is part of a larger vision and action for land-based revolutions everywhere. This is how we begin to create liberated futures for the land, for Black people, for Indigenous peoples, for all peoples. We need land liberated everywhere. It needs to happen in the South where more than half of all Black people in this country live. It needs to happen in the cities where Black people and migrants have come to make home. It needs to happen on Indigenous land all over this continent.

Land reparations can look so many different ways, and achieved through many different strategies. When we say “free the land”, we mean free it all. And as El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (aka Malcolm X) says: “By any means necessary!”

Here are some resources:

New Afrikan People’s Organization Declaration of Independence

Free the Land: The Republic of New Afrika and the Pursuit of a Black Nation-State – By Edward Onaci

The Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika

[Press Release] Movement Generation Launches Free the Land Campaign

Wed, 08/16/2023 - 11:18


Contact: Dana Viloria at

  Movement Generation Launches Free the Land Campaign to Fund First San Francisco Bay Area Ecological Justice Movement Hub

Capital campaign seeks to raise $1 million for BIPOC- and queer-led Justice & Ecology Center

Berkeley, Calif. (August 16, 2023) — After liberating 43 acres of land in the San Francisco East Bay, the nonprofit collective Movement Generation (MG) is publicly launching today the Free the Land campaign to raise $1 million from individual donors by October 15, 2023 to begin building the Justice & Ecology Center on-site. The first of its kind in the Bay Area and a few miles from Oakland, the center will be an ecological justice movement hub and retreat space where community members can learn about climate change, adaptation and resilience.

“We are in a global ecological crisis that will impact our communities first and worst. Now is the time to mobilize resources for movement hubs like the Justice & Ecology Center—to nurture and restore regenerative relationships with land, hold space for collective governance and mutual aid, and create community-based solutions to the crisis,” says Ellen Choy, Movement Generation co-director and collective member.

The Justice & Ecology Center will empower Black, Indigenous, and people of color, as well as queer, disabled, migrant and low-income communities to build capacity to organize for a Just Transition from the extractive economy to regenerative economies. Impacted communities will be able to participate in MG’s Earth Skills programs to build ecological knowledge and practice, as well as organize responses to climate-related disasters such as fires, floods, earthquakes and utility power shutoffs. MG’s vision for the site includes a resilient foodways garden, community-owned solar power, water harvesting systems and accessible design.

“Whenever I try to explain to people the conditions we are living in and the strategies we need to engage to shift how we think about our economy and relationship to the planet, I absolutely have to reference Movement Generation,” says adrienne maree brown, social justice activist, facilitator and author of Emergent Strategy and Pleasure Activism. “They need a place where as many people as possible, especially those actively trying to change the world, can sit together and learn the truth about what’s happening and what’s possible.”

Since 2007, Movement Generation has engaged over 500 organizations and tens of thousands of community leaders, activists, artists and organizers through intensive justice and ecology retreats, political education, grassroots ecology workshops, campaign development, alliance building, cultural productions and more.

“We need our community’s support to raise $1 million from individuals for the urgent work ahead,” says Quinton Sankofa, Movement Generation co-director and collective member. “And we are calling on foundations to double down on their commitments to social justice and climate justice and contribute $5 million more to help build the Justice & Ecology Center for all of our peoples. This is an investment in climate resilience and biocultural diversity.”

During the quiet phase of the campaign, Movement Generation raised the $2.8 million purchase price for the land on behalf of its partner Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, a Bay Area urban Indigenous women-led nonprofit that facilitates the return of Indigenous land to Indigenous people. Funds raised through the public phase of the Free the Land campaign will support Movement Generation in urgent repairs and renovations, wildland management, energy and water sovereignty, and design to get the space retreat-ready. Community members can learn more and support the campaign at


For media inquiries, contact Dana Viloria, Movement Generation, at

Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project is a nonprofit collective that inspires and engages in transformative action towards the liberation and restoration of land, labor, and culture. Rooted in the wisdom of our ancestries and the principles of ecological justice, we strengthen our shared politic, practice, and movement ecosystem through political education, movement building, and cultural strategy for a Just Transition. 


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