Delivered on Thursdays, the Bioneers Pulse delivers stories from social and scientific innovators with practical and visionary solutions for the world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges. The newsletter features a weekly note from the Bioneers team alongside insight and context on the stories we share on Bioneers.org. Below is our latest Pulse. To receive these stories directly in your inbox, sign up for the Bioneers Pulse today. Now onto the good stuff:
Greetings fellow Bioneers!
On the heels of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination (April 4) and Equal Pay Day (April 10), we’re meditating on the injustices of yesterday while highlighting solutions for a fairer, more equal tomorrow. In this week’s newsletter, you’ll learn about corruption within the restaurant industry, the biggest civil rights settlement in U.S. history, the desecration of a sacred Native American site in Arizona (and how you can help), how the American Dream is transforming over time, and more.
The Big Question: Taking it to Court
In 1999, the largest civil rights settlement in United States history was awarded, resulting in an ordered payout of hundreds of millions of dollars. What were the circumstances of the rarely discussed lawsuit that led to this settlement? (Read to the bottom of this email to find the answer.)
Take Action: Protect Sacred Sites in Oak Flat
Bioneers Indigeneity Program Manager Alexis Bunten writes: “On March 17, 2018, a sacred Native American religious site in southern Arizona was destroyed and it seemed like nobody cared. A representative from the Apache Stronghold came to Oak Flat, a sacred place where the San Carlos Apache people connect to The Creator through prayer and ceremony, and found the crosses marking the four corners of the sacred space intentionally destroyed. Two of the crosses were ripped from the ground and two were left standing, but were violently hacked with what appears to be an ax. Ceremonial eagle feathers were ripped from the crosses and tire tracks criss-crossed the sacred grounds.”
“On the outset, it looks like our nation is more divided than ever before, perhaps since the Civil War, and yet if you drop down to the community level, we see black Baptist Christians and Arab Muslims in the Detroit area collaborating on community gardens. We see an organic farm in the midst of Ferguson, Missouri that’s become the sanctuary where white and black families from Ferguson came together during that time of stress and catastrophe in their community. These cross-cultural projects that are rebuilding our foodsheds and bringing food security to more people are sanctuaries for healing the wounds that have occurred in our communities, and they’re bridging the divides between urban and rural and people of different faiths, races, and cultures.”
—Gary Nabhan, ethnobotanist and author, in an interview with Bioneers
Video to Watch: Fair Pay
On Equal Pay Day, we were reminded of Saru Jayaraman’s inspirational keynote address at Bioneers 2017. As Co-Director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC); Director of the Food Labor Research Center at UC, Berkeley; and author of Behind the Kitchen Door and Forked, Jayaraman reminded us that restaurant workers’ pay in the U.S. is deeply rooted in slavery and inextricably linked to sexual harassment, then offered a path forward.
Help Bioneers Continue This Essential Work
In this time of uncertainty and upheaval, Bioneers is needed more than ever. We rely on you, our community, to help us continue our work. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Bioneers.
This Week on Bioneers Radio:
- All Love Begins with Seeing: Poetry and Justice for All: Shailja Patel’s unique artistry is a provocative global mash-up of genres. She’s a slam poetry champion and star of her award-winning, one-woman play, Migritude, about the intricate webs of global migration and cultural identity. As an acclaimed poet of South Asian and Kenyan ancestry, through her fearless art she embodies the authentic voices of women, South Asians and Africans who are otherwise seldom heard. For her, the ultimate destination of poetry is justice — too heart-breakingly beautiful to be denied.
- Backlash Moment: Converging at the Crossroads of Identity and Justice | Kimberlé Crenshaw: When Donald Trump rode a wave of white anxiety into the White House, it was part of a backlash to the Obama presidency — one that revealed an increasingly explicit white nationalism and revived an overtly exclusionary agenda: roll back rights and protections for people of color, immigrants, Muslims, women, and gay and transgender people. Then came the backlash to the backlash: a rapidly spreading awakening that all these peoples, movements and struggles are actually connected in one story. Visionary law professor and changemaker Kimberlé Crenshaw shows that it’s only at the crossroads of our many identities that we will find a story big enough to embrace the diversity and complexity of our globalized, 21st-century world.
Book to Read
The New Better Off by Courtney Martin
An excerpt from the book by Martin, an accomplished writer and speaker who explores topics related to feminism and social justice:
The phrase “new better off” is the shorthand I’ve created for this burgeoning shift in Americans’ ideas about the good life. It’s the patchwork quilt version of the American Dream, not the (phallic) sculpture reaching high into the sky. It’s about our quest to use our current precarity as the inspiration to return to some of the most basic, “beginner’s mind” questions: What is enough money? How do we want to spend our finite energy and attention? What makes us feel accountable and witnessed? It’s about creating a life you can be genuinely proud of, an “examined life” (in the words of dead Greek guys), a life that you are challenged by, a life that makes you giddy, that sometimes surprises you, a life that you love.
It’s leaving a job that pays well but makes you feel like a cog for a freelance life that makes you feel like a creator—the financial highs and lows be damned. It’s sharing a car with a few friends and learning how to repair your favorite pair of jeans. It’s moving in with your grandmother because she needs someone to reach the highest shelf in the kitchen and you need someone who helps you keep our turbulent times in perspective. It’s putting your cell phone in a drawer on Saturday afternoon and having the best conversation of your life that night. It’s starting a group for new dads where you admit how powerful and confusing it is to raise a tiny human.
Attend ReGen 2018
ReGen18 is a San Francisco gathering designed to help foster a regenerative society and economy that supports the mutual thriving of people and planet. Beyond sustainability, and beyond impact, this action-focused event will bring together experts and practitioners working in regenerative urbanism, regenerative forestry and food systems, and innovative finance and will connect the dots between the networks that are emerging. Newcomers to the field are welcome.
The event takes place from May 1 – May 4. Get your discounted tickets at this link.
The Big Question, Answered: Taking it to Court
In 1999, the USDA was ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to black farmers who were historically denied government assistance based on the color of their skin. The payouts are still ongoing to this day, and the case led to similar successful class action lawsuits against the USDA on behalf of women, Hispanic and Native American farmers. Read about the suit (and the Bioneers connection) here.