The Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) United Nations Working Group established an African Diaspora Earthcare Coalition of colleagues from throughout the Diaspora in 2016. The Coalition engages in three types of work:
- United Nations, civil society and African Diaspora community and network-building,
- Information Hub-Clearinghouse: environmental and climate change news, educational campaigns, grassroots research,
- Projects related go the relocalization of food and medicinal herb production, access to clean water, and water crisis related displacement issues.
Chronology: October 2016 – Present – May, 2018
April, 2018: The African Diaspora Coalition Medicinal Herb Initiative at Pendle Hill tinctured its first, inaugural batch of Valerian root for use by the community of Chester, Pennsylvania. The Valerian root was the first 2-year harvest of the perennial plant grown by the Coalition’s grow-site partner in Luisa, Virginia, Acorn Community Farm.
21 March 2018: A panel of African Diaspora Coalition partners discuss water issues in Africa and the United States of America. Click here to view the recording.
Spring, 2018: Localization of Food and Medicinal Herb Production
Chester, PA Community – Pendle Hill Quaker Study and Retreat Center- ABI Organics Partnership
The Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) African Diaspora Coalition at the Pendle Hill Quaker Study and Retreat Center, lays the groundwork for the production of medicinal herbs for local consumption with community-builders in Chester, Pennsylvania: the Chester Public Housing Authority, inclusive of Edgemont Senior and Ruth Bennett Housing complexes, Swathmore College’s Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, and Widener University professors.
Diaspora Coalition partners work together under the aegis of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent to ensure that marginalized people who are dependent on industrial agriculture’s distribution systems create alternatives for themselves, produce food and herbal medicines locally, and have access to clean water as climate change accelerates.
Formerly a prosperous industrial center, Chester which is 71% African American, is now mired in intergenerational semi-literacy, trauma, and poverty. Coalition partners will grow, add value to, and educate the community about medicinal herbs that treat diseases that are pervasive in African American communities as a function of longstanding healthcare disparities. Residents will grow their own medicine.
- Diaspora Coalition, Pendle Hill Garden Manager, and herbalist plan spring herb root and leaf crop planting as well as wildcrafting at Pendle Hill.
- Small scale value added herb production – Check ins with Coalition team of consulting herbalists.
October 18, 2017: The African Diaspora Earthcare Coalition, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM) Ecojustice Collaborative and the Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) co-sponsor a book talk by Grace Gershuny author of the Organic Revolutionary at Friends Center in Philadelphia.
October 14, 2017: African Diaspora Earthcare Coalition – Living Into Non-Duality Presentation, Brooklyn Friends Meeting, Brooklyn, NY.
Checked in with the African Diaspora Wellbeing Medicinal Herb Production Project partners. Sought to mobilize funding for food and medicinal herb growers in Virginia and Kenya. Fundraised to put communications, agricultural equipment, supplies, and staffing infrastructure in place, and provide medicinal herb growing technical support to agricultural partners: a) ABI Organic Agriculture, African-Jewish Development Agency, Israel, b) Southern Exposure Seed Exchange at the Acorn Community Farm, Louisa, VA, c) Vanguard Ranch, Gordonsville, VA, in cross-Diaspora partnership with Modern Village Organic Farming in Kisumu (Lake Victoria area), Kenya (prioritizing waterborne diseases exacerbated by climate-change generated flooding).
Theme Transition from “Food & Land Retention” Year to, “Water” Year: 2017-2018
2018 Scope of Work
The African Diaspora Coalition works to maximize the number of people who comprise a robust remnant that successfully navigates through the eye of the climate change needle. The Coalition ensures that people of African descent, concentrated in vulnerable coastal regions and flood plains, are among that remnant. Coalition partners strategically pool a confluence of specialized expertise to reunify the fragmented Diaspora, generate practical cross-Diaspora model-sharing, and innovate in the domains of: 1) localized agricultural land retention, 2) food production, 3) contaminant-free water access, and 4) preparation for climate change refugees: Partners will:
- Finalize model design, and feasibility work in progress,
- Continue supranational (United Nations) to hyper-local (village) network strengthening,
- Conduct a second annual UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) Side Event or a comparable gathering.
- Launch a returning-generation-farmer “farming is cool” education campaign.
- Help implement locally developed, interrelated models for contextualized cross-Diaspora sharing:
a) Agroforestry: seven South Carolina coastal counties in cross-Diaspora partnership with Kilifi county (Mombasa area), Kenya,
b) Medicinal Herb Production and seed saving: in Louisa, Virginia in cross-Diaspora partnership with Kisumu (Lake Victoria area), Kenya (prioritizing waterborne diseases exacerbated by climate-change generated flooding, e.g. cholera).
6. Transition to “Water Year.”
a) Facilitate contaminant-free water access, Facilitate water quality testing, community control and access to clean water in partner priority areas.
b) Address water crisis-induced population displacement: Establish lines of communication and provision those who are too under-resourced to evacuate flood plains and at severe risk of displacement by extreme weather events in an area from Tampa, Florida, to Atlanta Georgia in cross-Diaspora partnership with Kisumu and Kilifi counties, Kenya. Coalition partner, Black Emergency Managers Association (BEMA) will provide technical assistance.
Support climate refugees with the assistance of Coalition land retention and heirs property partners. Reconnect likely climate change refugees with underutilized family, and/or collectively held land that could be put to agricultural use to feed local populations.
Target Populations: The most vulnerable subgroups in these cross-Diaspora populations including the elderly, children, disabled, under-resourced, limited literacy proficiency, homeless, mobile home residents in the US, shanty towns, swatter and internal displacement camps in Kenya.
- ABI Organic Agriculture, African Hebrew Development Agency, Dimona, Israel,
- Arbor Vitae School of Traditional Herbalism, New York, NY,
- Black Belt Justice Center (BBJC), Washington, DC,
- Black Emergency Managers Association (BEMA), Alexandria, VA,
- Blacks in Green, (BIG), Chicago, IL
- Center for Heirs Property Preservation, Charleston, SC,
- Georgetown University Environmental Futures Initiative, GU (EFI), Washington, DC
- Heirs Property Law Center, Atlanta, GA,
- Historically Black Colleges and Universities Environmental Justice Consortium (HSBU), New Orleans, LA,
- Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH), Woodstock, NY,
- Pwani University Independent Professor and Student Group, Kilifi, Kenya,
- Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference, Chicago, IL,
- Southeastern Yearly Meeting, Florida, southeast Georgia, coastal South Carolina, and Managua, Nicaragua,
- Southern Seed Exchange, Acorn Community Farm, Louisa, VA,
- Support Aid Ministry, Modern Village Organic Farming, Kisumu, Kenya,
- Tzu Chi Foundation UN Office, New York, NY
- Unitarian Universalist (UU) Association UN Office, UU Ministry for Earth & UU Young Adults for Climate Justice, New York, NY,
- Vanguard Ranch Ltd., Gordonsville, VA.
August 19, 2017, Institute for Social Ecology Annual Gathering, African Diaspora Earthcare Coalition Presentation,
July 10-19, 2017, United Nations High Level Political Forum (HPLF),
July 12, 2017, QEW African Diaspora Earthcare Coalition HLPF Side Event, International Commission for Social Justice, New York, NY.
Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) African Diaspora Earthcare Coalition HLPF Delegation:
- Dr. Nancy Abwalaba, Pwani University, Kifili, Kenya,
- Joseph Akeyo, Modern Village Agriculture, Kisumu, Kenya,
- Pamela Boyce Simms, Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW), Woodstock, NY,
- Tarsha Gary, Ecotone World, Houston, TX,
- Sara Green, Unitarian Universalists Association, Black Land Liberation Initiative, Nashville, TN,
- Dr. Jennie Stephens, Center for Heirs Property Preservation, Charleston, SC,
- Dr. Beverly Ward, Earthcare Field Secretary, Southeast Yearly Meeting, Tampa, FL,
- Dr. Veronica Womack, Black Belt Justice Center, (BBJC), Millegeville, GA
- Dr. Beverly Wright, Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) Environmental Consortium, New Orleans, LA.
African Diaspora Earthcare Coalition HLPF Agricultural Land Retention Side Event:
- Date: Wednesday, July 12 from 1:00-3:00 PM – Diaspora Earthcare Coalition’s NGO parallel event at the UN High Level Political Form (HLPF).
- Location: The International Social Justice Commission UN Office, 221 East 52nd Street, New York, New York, 10022.
- Program: A two hour workshop on land retention issues for NGOs.
Side Event on UN premises:
- Panelists confirm, delegation forms.
- Event space at UN Headquarters is under negotiation with the office of the UN High Commission on Human Rights and the Permanent Mission to Ghana to the UN.
- UN Web streaming Unit and UNTV have been enlisted.
- UN exhibit space is being explored.
- Grant proposals were submitted.
- The Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) Development Committee initiated a crowdsource funding campaign for the UN event.
- All partners were asked to request contributions to the extent they are able from within their networks.
June 2, 2017, African Diaspora Earthcare Coalition – Chicago Strategic Planning Gathering convened by Coalition partner, Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference, Chicago, IL.
October 2016 – June, 2017, African Diaspora Earthcare Coalition Network Organizing
- A UN Decade googlegroup listserve has been established. Anyone who is interested in staying up to date and/or joining the conversation should send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- UN International Decade for People of African Descent Facebook Page went online
- Diaspora Earthcare Coalition website went online.
- The Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW), our UN ECOSOC sponsoring organization website has devoted a set of pages to this work.
Organizing & Governance: A sociocracy process has been put in place for coordination of African Diaspora network organizing.
Sociocracy Overview Package:
- 4 min video explains the basic ideas: interlinked circles, consent decision-making, feedback.
- 23 min video that covers all of those in more detail.
- Article on rounds captures why we do rounds and sums up sociocracy.
- An article about sociocratic election processes.
A Land Circle of partner NGOs is convened by Unitarian Universalist Minister and activist Sara Green of Black Land Liberation.
A Food Education Circle of partner NGOs is convened by Tarsha Gary Chef-Instructor and environmentalist founder of Ecotone World in Houston, TX.
Multiple Organizing and Supporting NGOs join the Coalition.
The Coalition extended an invitation to the Tzu Chi Foundation United Nations Office to become a consulting partner.
The Coalition extended an invitation to the Brahma Kumari Spiritual University to become an organizing partner on United Nations side event production.
The Earthcare Coalition extended an invitation to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) UN Office to become a side event organizing partner. The UUA accepted as did the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.
Coalition Organizing Convener, Clerk/Coordinator of the Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) United Nations Working Group proposed that QEW sponsor annual side and parallel events during the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) under the aegis of the UN International Decade of People of African Descent.
July 2016: The Earthcare Coalition Organizing Convener attended the United Nations High Level Political forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development and became aware of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent.
January, 2016 – July 2016: Coalition Organizers:
- Animated a Mid-Atlantic growers initiative focused on medicinal herbs intended to combat diseases which chronically plague African Americans as a function of centuries of structural racism —specifically healthcare disparities.
- Herbalists and grow-sites were identified in Virginia.
Explored collaboration on medicinal herb production and small scale value added production with:
Virginia State University’s (VSU) Agricultural College, Deans and Department Chairs
VSU scientists providing technical assistance.
The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) College of Agricultural Studies and Urban Environmental Sustainability (CAUSES),
Historically Black Colleges and Universities Environmental Justice Consortium,
47 Farms online agricultural supply and distribution platform.
- Researched pathways toward authentic engagement of African Americans in relevant environmental resilience-building.
December 2015: Organizers involved with mainstream environmental movements:
- Understood that these initiatives lack the aptitude and/or the propensity to authentically engage communities of African descent in resilience-building.
Middle and upper middle class, highly educated, post-materialist Euro-American environmentalists consistently demonstrated that their movements, a) are out of their depth in the domain of racial, dynamics, and, b) selectively attempt to generate resilience and transformative change for those with whom they are most familiar.
- Engaged in environmental movement assessment and accountability work and strengthened solidarity economy ties to the Grassroots Economy Organizing (GEO) Editorial Collective, international educational hub for the worker cooperative movement.