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Defending Abundance Everywhere: A Call to Every Community from the Weelaunee Forest

By Abundia, Jesse, Jordan, & Mara - Weelaunee Web Collective, March 2, 2023

In the following text, participants in the movement to defend Weelaunee Forest in Atlanta, Georgia describe some of the values that animate this struggle. For background on the movement, start here.

This is a collection of short essays reflecting on the abundance that exists in our communities and in the more-than-human world, and how we not only can practice gratitude for this abundance but embody it as a way of approaching the world.

We dedicate this work to our friend, Tortuguita, who was part of these conversations. Georgia State Troopers killed Tortuguita on January 18, 2023 at the forest they loved so dearly. This piece is for them and for all past, present, and future Warriors defending and loving the Sacred Web of Abundance everywhere.

With profound love and admiration,
The Weelaunee Web Collective: Abundia, Jesse, Jordan, & Mara

Introduction

The threads of our lives have been slowly woven together through meals cooked communally, organizing meetings, bonfires and late conversations, foraging, harvesting, taking care of each other, and, lately, mourning a fallen comrade and friend. We all came together to protect Weelaunee Forest: the trees, waters, people, and all beings of this land. We came together to Stop Cop City and the violent military occupation of police in our communities, especially the Black and Brown ones, in Atlanta, Georgia. We came together amid COVID, when we felt the loss of closeness with our people, knowing we had to find creative ways of fostering community. We have come together to build the world we want to live in, even as we recognize we are all swimming in the extractive and oppressive systems of colonization, white supremacy, and capitalism, programmed for convenience and quick rewards. We keep coming back together, gathering with each other, to live in the joy and rest and wellness of community care.

The topic of this piece is the Sacred Web of Abundance (SWoA). The larger Sacred Web of Abundance is the sum of the vast, intricate system that sustains all life on this planet. Your Sacred Web of Abundance is the place that you live, the ways in which it sustains you, and the ways in which you sustain it. We are here to be part of this web and invite in others who are on the same land. What we have found is that the Sacred Web of Abundance, with her billions of years of wisdom, is there for us, waiting for our gratitude, delight, offerings, rituals, and ceremonies—waiting to build a relationship with us.

These unique ways of considering abundance emanate from a particular place, the South River Forest, known as the Weelaunee Forest on old maps of Georgia. These ideas come from conversations among a group of people as they adapt to living in that place.

Often overlooked, we feel that the Sacred Web of Abundance is a powerful idea for radical organizing. It is here for us as a force for liberation—as it has existed since time immemorial—and to help us fix the mess we are in by reclaiming our community power and centering it around the land that the community inhabits. In these times, we are all called to create new forms of organizing and direct action; new language, perspectives, and modes of being; and infrastructure for healing, care, and safety that centers the SWoA as key praxis for autonomous communities to build on.

Abundance points to the interconnected reliance on both self and community to provide for all; therefore, re-creating and reconnecting to our Sacred Web of Abundance are both essential collective actions for a new political project aimed at freedom and autonomy. Abundance is here, already, alive around us, if we open ourselves to its presence. We do not take this reliance on abundance for granted, as we did with the gift of human contact and proximity pre-COVID. Instead, we want to nourish and be nourished in its care, find inspiration from it to build new mutual aid infrastructure, gather strength to defend it from extractivism and capitalism everywhere, and create new cultures and ways of being and relating to each other and all the members of the SWoA.

An Obituary for Tortuguita

By Tallahassee IWW - European Trade Union Institute, February 24, 2023

Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran
They/It
4/23/96 – 1/18/23

Manny was a close friend, comrade, and above all, a constant fighter for working people. I knew them in Tallahassee through the IWW, Food Not Bombs, and Live Oak Radical Ecology and I will never cease to be amazed by their tireless activism, their extreme empathy, and their ability to make everyone feel welcome in radical spaces. They died as they lived, fighting for a better world and defending the forest from destruction in the name of a fascist militarized police force. I hope their name will not be forgotten, and that their killer is brought to justice, but more than anything I hope the cause that they fought for is victorious. Now we mourn this great loss to the Tallahassee and Atlanta communities, but tomorrow we will fight back twice as hard against Capitalism and the State so that Tortuguita did not die in vain. We love you and miss you Manny. Solidarity Forever!

Legal Support for Protesters/Activists

Support for Manny’s Family/Funeral Costs/Immigration

Public Petition to Support the Defend the Atlanta Forest Movement

This obituary was originally printed in Atlanta IWW’s South Paw newsletter by the Tallahassee IWW and has been reprinted here at their request.

Manifesto for an Ecosocial Energy Transition from the Peoples of the South

By Peoples of the Global South - Foreign Policy in Practice, February 9, 2023

An appeal to leaders, institutions, and our brothers and sisters

More than two years after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic—and now alongside the catastrophic consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—a “new normal” has emerged. This new global status quo reflects a worsening of various crises: social, economic, political, ecological, bio-medical, and geopolitical.

Environmental collapse approaches. Everyday life has become ever more militarized. Access to good food, clean water, and affordable health care has become even more restricted. More governments have turned autocratic. The wealthy have become wealthier, the powerful more powerful, and unregulated technology has only accelerated these trends.

The engines of this unjust status quo—capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism, and various fundamentalisms—are making a bad situation worse. Therefore, we must urgently debate and implement new visions of ecosocial transition and transformation that are gender-just, regenerative, and popular, that are at once local and international.

In this Manifesto for an Ecosocial Energy Transition from the Peoples of the South, we hold that the problems of the Global – geopolitical – South are different from those of the Global North and rising powers such as China. An imbalance of power between these two realms not only persists because of a colonial legacy but has deepened because of a neocolonial energy model. In the context of climate change, ever rising energy needs, and biodiversity loss, the capitalist centers have stepped up the pressure to extract natural wealth and rely on cheap labor from the countries on the periphery. Not only is the well-known extractive paradigm still in place but the North’s ecological debt to the South is rising.

What’s new about this current moment are the “clean energy transitions” of the North that have put even more pressure on the Global South to yield up cobalt and lithium for the production of high-tech batteries, balsa wood for wind turbines, land for large solar arrays, and new infrastructure for hydrogen megaprojects. This decarbonization of the rich, which is market-based and export-oriented, depends on a new phase of environmental despoliation of the Global South, which affects the lives of millions of women, men, and children, not to mention non-human life. Women, especially from agrarian societies, are amongst the most impacted. In this way, the Global South has once again become a zone of sacrifice, a basket of purportedly inexhaustible resources for the countries of the North.

Family of Forest Defender Killed by Police Demands Answers

By Kenny Stancil - Common Dreams, February 6, 2023

Family members of climate activist Manuel Esteban Paez Terán are demanding answers regarding the January 18 police killing of their 26-year-old relative, commonly known as "Tortuguita."

At a press conference held Monday morning outside the DeKalb County courthouse in suburban Atlanta, family members and lawyers discussed the results of a private autopsy and demanded access to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's (GBI) full record of events amid its ongoing probe.

According to the private autopsy, multiple officers from a joint task force shot Tortuguita at least 13 times during a raid on an encampment in the Weelaunee Forest. Tortuguita was part of a collective that occupied the forest in an attempt to prevent the construction of a $90 million, 85-acre police and fire training facility popularly known as Cop City.

The GBI alleges that Tortuguita fired a weapon before officers killed him. The GBI claims that it has traced the bullet that wounded a state trooper to a handgun found at the scene and has reportedly provided documents showing Terán purchased the firearm in 2020. However, law enforcement officials continue to evade basic questions about the fatal shooting.

"Manny was a kind person who helped anyone who needed it," Tortuguita's mother, Belkis Terán, said in a statement shared ahead of the press conference. "He was a pacifist. They say he shot a police officer. I do not believe it."

"I do not understand why they will not even privately explain to us what happened to our child," she added.

In Memory of Fellow Worker Tortuguita

By staff - IWW Freelance Journalists Union, January 30, 2023

On January 18, 2023, Manuel “Tortuguita” Páez Terán was murdered by the Georgia State Patrol in Atlanta, according to comrades with whom they were defending Weelaunee Forest from the construction of an 85-acre police training facility appropriately derided as “Cop City.”

As a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, Tortuguita belonged to the countless ranks of Fellow Workers who seek, in the words of the IWW Constitution, to “take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.” In death, Fellow Worker Tortuguita joins the long list of IWW martyrs who have been murdered by the forces of the state and capital, which exploit all workers and our planet.

To support Fellow Worker Tortuguita’s family in this moment of need, the IWW Freelance Journalists Union encourages all of our members and supporters to donate to, and share widely, the fundraiser established for their funeral expenses.

We also encourage our members and supporters to donate to, and share, the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, which continues supporting Fellow Worker Tortuguita’s comrades who are yet being prosecuted by the state for defending Weelaunee Forest against Cop City.

Fellow Worker Tortuguita may be gone, but if we are able to defeat Cop City, then their spirit can live forever in the hearts of all those who visit Weelaunee Forest for generations to come. To paraphrase the words of another IWW martyr: Don’t mourn — organize!

‘Robin Hood’ Strikes in France: Workers Provide Free Energy for Hospitals, Schools, and Low-Income Homes

By Otto Fors - Left Voice, February 1, 2023

Last week, energy workers in France provided free energy for hospitals, schools, low-income households, and libraries. They show that the working class holds the keys to the economy, and can put these resources in the service of society.

France has been roiled by protests over President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to raise the retirement age. On both January 19 and 31, over a million people across the country took part in demonstrations, and last week, workers with the CGT union took a more radical approach: they provided free energy as part of so-called “Robin Hood” operations.

Many members of the CGT, one of France’s largest labor unions, work in key energy sectors like oil refineries and power grids. In workers’ assemblies in Paris, Marseilles, Lille, and other cities, they unanimously decided to provide free energy for low-income households, hospitals, schools, and other public buildings and services. Workers also cut power for several hours to the office of a lawmaker from Macron’s party, disabled speed cameras, and manipulated electricity and gas meters to reduce bills for small business owners.

The protests against pension reforms and the CGT’s actions come as workers in France face a cost-of-living crisis. Inflation stands at 7 percent, while energy prices have risen by 15 percent since the start of 2023.

'Our Future Is Public': Santiago Declaration Envisions End of Neoliberalism Death Spiral

By Kenny Stancil - Common Dreams, January 27, 2023

A new manifesto calls for building "a sustainable social pact for the 21st century" in which "our rights are guaranteed, not based on our ability to pay, or on whether a system produces profit, but on whether it enables all of us to live well together in peace and equality."

An international coalition made up of more than 200 trade unions and progressive advocacy groups on Thursday published the Santiago Declaration, a manifesto for "a complete overhaul of our global economic system."

The undeniably anti-neoliberal document proclaiming that "our future is public" is the product of a meeting held in Chile—the "laboratory of neoliberalism" where Milton Friedman and his University of Chicago acolytes' upwardly redistributive economic model was first imposed at gunpoint by Gen. Augusto Pinochet's military junta.

From November 29 to December 2, more than 1,000 organizers from over 100 countries gathered in Santiago and virtually to germinate a left-wing movement against "the dominant paradigm of growth, privatization, and commodification."

"We are at a critical juncture," the manifesto begins. "At a time when the world faces a series of crises, from the environmental emergency to hunger and deepening inequalities, increasing armed conflicts, pandemics, rising extremism, and escalating inflation, a collective response is growing."

"Hundreds of organizations across socioeconomic justice and public services sectors—from education and health services, to care, energy, food, housing, water, transportation, and social protection—are coming together to address the harmful effects of commercializing public services, to reclaim democratic public control, and to reimagine a truly equal and human rights-oriented economy that works for people and the planet," reads the document. "We demand universal access to quality, gender-transformative, and equitable public services as the foundation of a fair and just society."

Activists Demand Independent Investigation After Cops Kill Protester in Atlanta

By Mike Ludwig - Truthout, January 19, 2023

Web editor's note: Tortuguita was a member of the IWW. Please add your name to this protest letter.

An activist was shot and killed by police on Wednesday during a violent raid of the protest camp and community gathering space that has blocked construction of an enormous police training facility known as “Cop City” on roughly 100 acres of public forest in southeast Atlanta.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation initially said a suspect was shot and killed after allegedly firing a gun and injuring a Georgia state trooper during the raid, but fellow protesters and community activists doubt the official narrative and are calling on journalists and legal observers to investigate. Tensions between police and the tree-sitting protesters (known as “forest defenders”) have been rising for months, and activists said they had previously demanded police stop bringing guns and other weapons into the forest to prevent needless injury and death.

Statements from activists identified the person who was killed by police as a protester named Manuel Teran, who also goes by the name Tortuguita. Teran is described as a “generous,” “kind” and “fierce” activist who was a trained medic and ran a mutual aid group as part of the forest defense community.

The killing came as multiple law enforcement agencies swarmed the area Wednesday morning in their latest attempt to “clear” the protest camp. The effort featured search dogs hunting for activists, bulldozers and both lethal and non-lethal weapons, according to statements and posts on social media from accounts associated with the “Stop Cop City” movement. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation claims a handgun and shell casings were found at the scene.

The reportedly wounded state patrol officer was not identified as of Thursday morning, with law enforcement claiming the officer was in stable condition after being treated at a hospital and releasing few other details.

Strike Wave Rocks Britain, as Unions Confront the Cost-of-Living Crisis

By Marcus Barnett - Labor Notes, November 18, 2022

In Britain today, anyone asking a worker about the direction the country is headed will be unlikely to receive a printable answer.

Stumbling from crisis to crisis, the country is on its third prime minister of the year. Energy bills have skyrocketed by 96 percent since last winter, and rent has shot up by as much as 20 percent, while inflation—which currently stands at 12.3 percent—has been predicted to rise as high as 18 percent by the first few months of 2023.

This is happening in a country which was the first in Western Europe to register 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus and has already been subject to brutal austerity measures that have wrecked the social fabric. An analysis by the Trades Unions Congress (TUC, the British equivalent of the AFL-CIO) released earlier this year found that British workers earned £60 ($70) less per month in real wages in 2021 than at the start of the financial crisis in 2008—the longest wage slump since the Napoleonic Era.

Where employers have offered any wage increases to combat inflation, they have still represented significant pay cuts in real terms. Not that the same rules apply to them; while pay offers to workers have generally veered between 2 and 6 percent, the average pay of an FTSE 100 chief executive shot up 23 percent this year, with record bonuses being dished out. (The FTSE 100 is made up of the largest companies on the London Stock Exchange).

One such recipient was Philip Jansen, the CEO of BT Group, Britain’s largest provider of internet and phone services. BT reported £1.3 billion in profits this year, while Jansen netted a £3.5 million pay package—a 32 percent increase. He now makes 86 times more than the average BT employee.

Yet after six brief meetings with representatives of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), Jansen called off discussions and unilaterally imposed an insulting £1,500 ($1,770) increase to annual base salaries—which amounts to a pay cut in real terms for the company’s 40,000 call center workers and field technicians. The call center workforce is paid so poorly that some have become increasingly reliant on workplace food banks.

Another was Simon Thompson, CEO of Royal Mail Group, the UK postal service (which was privatized a decade ago under the Conservative-Liberal coalition government). In June, Thompson—who earns £62,750 a month—awarded himself a “short-term” bonus of £142,000. Shortly afterwards, the company informed its 115,000 workers it would be unilaterally raising wages by just 2 percent—a drastic pay cut in the context of the country’s cost-of-living crisis. That’s despite Royal Mail workers generating record annual profits of £758 million for the company.

Enough is Enough: British and French Workers Fight Climate and Inequality Crises

By staff - Labor Network for Sustainability, October 30, 2022

Hundreds of thousands people marched and rallied October 1 in over 50 towns and cities across the UK on a National Day of Action protesting the soaring cost of living and inaction on the climate crisis. The actions were called by Enough is Enough, a 700,000 member campaign supported by the trade union movement and community groups including tenant unions and foodbanks. Its five demands are:

  1. A real pay raise
  2. Slash energy bills
  3. End food poverty
  4. Decent homes for all
  5. Tax the rich

Climate campaigners brought London’s famed Westminster Bridge to a standstill. Don’t Pay UK encouraged householders to stop paying their bills if the government does not offer further support to families. 50,000 workers from four postal and railroad unions struck for wage increases to make up for inflation.

On October 16, 140,000 people marched through Paris protesting the rising cost of living and government inaction against climate change. They demanded massive investment in climate action, higher wages, an emergency freeze on the prices of groceries, rent, and energy, and greater taxation of windfall profits of corporations. A leader of the action called on protesters to “not allow themselves to be divided by their skin color, their religion, political affiliation or indifference.” Some of the demonstrators wore yellow vests, the symbol of disruptive actions that started in 2018 by protesting against government climate protection policies. The recent demonstration dovetailed with a strike by refinery workers, an impending strike by transportation workers, and a call for a general strike by France’s largest trade unions.

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