Ron Arnold's Left Tracking Library
 

THE HIDDEN AGENDA EXPOSED
The EGA TAPES
Session 20:
Building an
Environmental Majority

THE EGA TAPES

Session 20:
Building an Environmental Majority

 Conn Nugent [Nathan Cummings Foundation, New York], Moderator: The name of this session is "Building an Environmental Majority."  Our aim procedurally is to be brisk, provocative and participatory.  I'm going to outline for you the procedure for this morning.  It is different from the schedule and procedure that was handed out to you.

Voice: Louder please.

Conn Nugent: Okay.  I will outline the procedure.  But first I'd like to offer some ways in which the title of this session suggests how we can talk about it.  These suggestions are points of departure for the panelists and for all of you because this is going to be a session that will involve, I hope, as many of you as possible.  We'll start with the premise, as pronounced by David Suzuki and by Gar Alperovitz that the current use of the earth by humans is unsustainable.  And that the damage is done through billions of microeconomic behaviors.  And that stopping, modifying or transforming those behaviors at any place along the economic spectrum from the raw material to the land fill, through the law or through culture, is what we do in this business.

The key word in the title, "building," denotes a continuing project, a series of actions rather than a particular object.  And building, I'd submit, begins now.  That is to say, where are we beginning?  What measures, precisely what measures, acting through what processes, will bring us from where we are now to where we want to go?  What are our strategies?

The second word is environmental.  And I think one of the profounder truths of those of us who call themselves environmentalists is the essential unity of nature and of things environmental.  At the same time we have to recognize some significant differences of phenomena lumped under the term "environmental."  One series of these phenomena might be described as pertaining to the loss of nature itself, extinction of species, the loss of ecosystems, loss of soils, loss of forests, and the depletion of irreplaceable resources.

A second category of environmental damage might be described as massive perturbations of the atmosphere.  The disappearance of the ozone layer, the imminence of climate change are two clear examples of that.

And finally, what is often considered to be, at least in the popular imagination, as the core of environmentalism, what we might call despoliations of land, air and water.  Pollution, toxic waste and the manufacture, use, the storage of hazardous materials.  Generally speaking, human health is popularly regarded to be affected only by that third category of environmental damage, of despoliation of land, air and water.  And it is in threats to human health, I think as we'll see, that the most easily attained popular majority beckons.  Most of the damage done to the environment is done through activities not generally regarded as environmental: Driving to work, having lunch, moving around. 

This final word in our topic is majority.  And by a majority I think we mean operable political majority, the aggregate of forces, people, social institutions, traditions, sufficient for a long-lasting change in the behaviors that are doing the damage.  The size and the cohesion of the majority required for those long-lasting changes vary greatly, I think, from issue to issue, and depending upon whether we're talking about changes to laws, regulations, taxes and subsidies, or at the harder but perhaps more important issues of culture change, either through media or through the development of spirituality.

Having said all that, let me get back to the procedure that we're going to follow.  We're going to hear in the first hour of our session from all four of our panelists.  Fifteen minutes each from Denis Hayes and Winona LeDuke; ten minutes each by way of response from Carl Anthony and Lisa Goldberg.  We're going to take a break then and divide ourselves into six small groups along lines that I'll describe later.  Each of those groups, after a forty-five minute talk, will reconvene back here, and representative of each group will pose to the panel, one question.  One question from the group and then we'll try to use those questions as the bases for an interchange among panels and between panelists and all of you.  So!  We'll begin with our first speaker, Denis Hayes.

Denis Hayes: Can you hear me?  In the back?

Voice: What?

Denis Hayes: [laughter] Perfect answer.  Kimery, who will shout I'm sure if she can't.  Kimery, can you hear this? 

Kimery Wiltshire: I won't shout just yet.

Denis Hayes: Good, thank you.  There is a story, possibly apocryphal, about a young man some place in Asia who was studying with a Peace Corps volunteer English as a foreign language, and went up to his teacher once and said, I have to ask your permission to be absent from class for a couple of weeks.  I want to back to my village.  Then he sort of blushed with pride and said, My wife is going to conceive a baby.  The volunteer thought about that a second and said I think what you mean to say is your wife is going to give birth to a baby.  But whichever it is, I think you ought to be there.

The environmental movement was conceived by a joining of the traditional conservation movement in the United States with the forces of activism in the 1960s.  And looking at the hairlines in the room, most of us were there. 

It was given birth to in a huge event, Earth Day 1970, which allowed it to spring onto the national stage sort of fully grown.  It was the largest planned event in human history with 20 million participants.  And it ushered in a period of almost unparalleled accomplishment for a social movement.  In a relatively brief period of time we saw the passage of the National Environmental Protection Act, the creation of the EPA, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the defeat of the SST, a whole bunch of acronyms: TOSCA, FIFRA, CERCLA, that resulted in tens of billions of dollars being spent for programs that nobody can even remember the acronyms for.

And it resulted in the image, and it was a correct image, of an unstoppable political machine.  For a period of about ten years the environmental movement could get almost anything that it wanted. 

Today that lobbying effort has been broken down very substantially.  We now have people running for office as anti-environmentalists.  And in Washington, what was smoothly oiled machinery in the 1970s now is uncoordinated efforts by groups that are competitive in the marketplace for members, often don't even tell one another who they have been lobbying on an issue, which results often in one Senator seeing six lobbyists on an issue and another Senator seeing none.  And the machinery, as well as the momentum, of that first decade is falling into disrepair.

The second area of enormous accomplishment has been in the field of lawsuits.  We've built in the environmental movement a whole bunch of new organizations during that same period of the late '60s and early '70s.  The Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, the Conservation Law Foundation.  As good as any law firms any place in the country, they chose their litigation with enormous care and they were successful in case after case after case.  And advancing the movement, frankly, much further than I thought that it could be advanced in the courts.  That similarly is running into some shoals now.  Seventy percent of the federal judiciary has been appointed by Reagan or Bush.  If Bush is reelected for four more years it's estimated that 90 percent of all federal judges will have been appointed by Reagan or Bush.  We have had several who acted courageously and judiciously.  We've had landmark decisions that have been good by some of those judges.  But there are a huge number of them who are ideological extremists and the litigation strategy now increasingly is focusing upon state courts where the precedent doesn't carry kind of heft that it does in federal courts.  And many of these groups have turned away from the courts as a principal strategy.  SCLDF is now still principally a litigating group.  Most of the others are now working in things, they all still file lawsuits, but the principal growth areas in all of the other organizations are in something other than litigation.

A third source of enormous strength for the environmental movement has been in the financial area.  We have had clout that grows out of numbers and out of dollars that are collected.  That has continued pretty much with some ups and down through today.  I will throw out just for the sake of controversy the idea that that may be coming to a rapid decline.  If the Clinton - Gore team is elected we will almost certainly see what we saw in the Carter years.  People viewing this as a series of battles that is now being fought by their elected representatives inside government.  Memberships tend to go down, and in particular memberships that result in multiple contributions per year taper off fairly dramatically.  And I don't know that any of the large national environmental groups have really begun planning for what could be a fairly dry desert in terms of popular fund raising.  Something which may have real implications for some of us in this room.  It certainly has implications for the groups that need to adjust to what could be a changed reality.

A big exception to that is in land acquisitions.  The Nature Conservancy, the Trust for Public Lands, Conservation International, all are doing extremely well.  They have a stable source of funding.  There are thousands of new land trusts that have been set up across the country.  We are acquiring vast amounts of land and setting it aside.  And I think that is likely to continue.  But it's not really a movement building kind of activity, it's a lands preservation activity that appeals to a relatively small fraction of the population, at least in terms of contributions to it.

All movements ossify, whether it's the religious movements, and the Reformation turning to a series of religious bureaucracies; the American, the French, the Russian Revolutions turning into a seres of bureaucracies; the labor movement, as vital as any movement we've seen in America, turning into a big bureaucracy.  The Civil Rights Movement not turning into a bureaucracy, but losing an awful lot of its passion and most of its political clout.  And the environmental movement similarly is going through a phase right now, it seems to me, of having lost much of the vitality and leadership that characterized its earliest years. 

There can be revitalization of movements.  We're seeing it right now in many religious fields, and this isn't necessarily a good thing.  In my view it can be a terrifying thing, but with the rise of fundamentalism around the world, Islamic fundamentalism, Christian reborn fundamentalism, the sorts of things that got into the Republican convention in Houston.  There may be ways to revitalize the environmental movement.  But I think we are more or less, within the next couple of years, going to be at a crossroads where we head one of two directions: either we could become a very effective, or continue to be, if you will, a very effective special interest pressure group, or perhaps two or three pressure groups that are focused upon relatively narrow areas, a conservation area, a population area, a pollution-related kind of area; or we might be able to build a broad revitalized majoritarian movement with a positive vision of the world and a way to execute that vision, and also mass support.

Today the broad perception of us by power brokers in the United States is as a pressure group.  And there are many many many examples of this.  There is none that is clearer than the reaction of the Clinton-Gore campaign.  This is the first campaign ever to have an environmentalist, a strong, avowed, articulate, enormously knowledgeable environmentalist on a national ticket.  It had been my hope that they would try to use the environmental issue as a way to propel it into a top chair position and to make it something that would reach out to the suburbs, that would reach out to women, reach out to students.  They have viewed it much more as you traditionally view interest groups.  They appointed or they selected Gore for the Vice Presidential slot.  They left those of us that care deeply and who are card-carrying environmentalists with no place else to go.  And having done that, they then reach out to try to reach the middle with a series of other issues. modifying this and muting that, reaching, again, to a middle ground, having sewn us up.  The same kind of strategy they've done, for example, with African-Americans.   They've got no place else to go, so you consider them solidified and you reach out to other voters in non-threatening ways.

Interestingly, since James Baker came to the campaign, he has shown far more sensitivity.  It has not much been known, but I expect it's going to become better known, perhaps, as the fight over the suburbs goes, after the Perot entry in the race, Baker has actually put a hold on everything that was done by the Competitiveness Council, has reversed some decisions having to do with the implementation of the Clean Air Act, is now thinking about a dramatic reversal of the Wetlands Policy, and he views this as an issue on which some number of voters are likely to have their votes hinge, and he's trying to put them in a protective position.  He has written off the ten million card-carrying environmentalists, but recognizes the power of this issue with other communities as one of the three or four or five issues that could tilt the election.

I have a series of things that I like to somewhat randomly suggest are important if we're going to make the choice that I would like us to make to try to become a majoritarian movement.  And I'll race through them with some swiftness, and with the recognition that we'll lose a lot of subtlety and nuance and complexity in this, but that at least do it with very broad brush strokes.

Robert Benchley, the humorist, when he was at Harvard, ran a little experiment to see whether it was possible for an undergraduate to get a Harvard degree without ever attending a class.  In four years, he attended no classes.  He merely went into his final examinations, which meant he took very few courses on astrophysics or calculus and a lot of courses on international relations and social thought and literature.  Went into the final exam on an international relations course and was confronted with the question, Describe, from the point of view, first of the United States and then from the point of view of any two European countries, how their interests will be affected by the proposed new North Atlantic International Fisheries Protocol.  Benchley was stunned.  And he was trying to think of quote he could pull in from John Stuart Mill to sort of relate to this stuff the way he ordinarily did it.  He knew nothing about it, this fisheries protocol, and finally began writing.  He says, "I must confess I knew nothing about the proposed North Atlantic Fisheries Protocol from the point of view of either the United States or Europe.  So I proposed to write about it from the point of view of the fish."  That has been a big part of what we've been doing.  We have had a lot of sensitivity to fish and to forests and to owls.

We need to more dramatically, overtly and profoundly incorporate into what we are up to a sensitivity to the point of view of people.  We have been more indifferent than we should have been about the pain that some of our policies have caused.  If you drive through the Southwestern part of the state of Washington, you will pass hundreds and hundreds of little lean-to houses with crudely stenciled signs out in front of them that have painted across it, This Family Supported by Timber Dollars.  We've tended to view this as a fight against Plum Creek, a fight against Weyerhaeuser.  And the people who have been thrown out of work have received less sensitivity from us than they should have. 

And in the Clean Air Act there was an effort proposed for political reasons, but I think nonetheless a good policy approach by Senator Robert Byrd to have what was in effect a Superfund for workers, the coal miners who would be thrown out of work by the provisions of that act.  The environmental movement went along with that and then double-crossed Byrd in the last two days of that fight, withdrew our support from the worker retraining provision, and the Clean Air Act went through without that. 

We can't continue to do that if we're going to have the kinds of sensitivities that allow to build a majoritarian movement--not necessarily because it's the majority of people who are affected by these things.  A few timber workers here--in national terms--a few coal miners, but because the broad middle classes that we have to reach are sensitive to those kinds of issues.  And most profoundly because we as a movement have to do that because it's the right thing to do if we're to have a moral core to us. 

Second, this is the tough one.  Partly this is a symbolic one, but we have to recapture the use of the term balance.  It's might view that one of the great tactically, almost strategic blunders of the anti-war movement was to give up the flag.  The pro-war people had the flag and we burned the flag.  And that was just stupid.  And it just turned off a huge amount of the public that could have been brought across by demonstrations, for example, where we wash the flag.  Sometimes that was done.  But these symbols are really important.  When you look at the results of the focus groups that Celinda Lake [of the Montana polling firm Greenberg-Lake] conducted, that she will not be here to discuss, but the results are very clear.  Balance is the word right now that most motivates people.  What we are really talking about is balance.  We're not talking about something that's going to destroy the economy.  We're talking about something that will preserve it for the long time.  But we've got to get back that symbolic high ground. 

It is an area once again where the Wise Use Movement right now is capturing some sources of support that ought to be our supporters, because they're manipulating some of those symbols more ably than we are. 

Third, we need to focus on things that are immediately relevant to people.  The urgent issues as well as just the profound long-term international cosmic issues.  If you look at people who say that they really care deeply about the environment and place it ahead of other issues on their agenda and you disaggregate that and say what are you really talking about, they're talking about immediate threats to themselves, immediate threats to their children.  And have tended to focus ourselves upon issues that arguably in the cosmic sense, in the long-term sense are more important but in terms of political mobilization of the majority are far less compelling.  They are things that are important issues on peoples' agenda, but they don't translate it into a top chair political issue.

Next, we really have to focus upon education.  There is this documentary film entitled The Private Universe that some of you have seen where the producer went to a Harvard graduation and asked 23 gowned Harvard graduates to explain on tape why is it hotter in the summer than in the winter.  And two out of 23 Harvard graduates knew the right answer.  We talk about now a society in which one out of three kids does not graduate from high school.  Virtually nobody gets to Harvard.  Of the people who get to Harvard, two out of 23 understand about the earth tilting on its axis.  How in the world are we going to be able to convince people about some of the complex issues which we, having to do with surface chemistry in the upper stratosphere, or how are we going to have people in the position able to have the resilience in their jobs to be able to adapt to a dynamic, changing world economy where you may be cutting lumber one year and you may be involved in something very different the next year?  Education is an environmental issue.  And we need to put far more effort and energy into it than we have.

Many states have passed these laws saying that environmental education must be a part of secondary education across the school system.  We have one here in Washington.  The amount of money that has been appropriated for it is zero.  They passed the authorizing legislation but we're not getting the job done. 

Can I have, I'm running into my last minute, but I will go into one paragraph on these others.  Let me first go on to another couple of minutes, stealing them from Celinda if I might.

Third, fourth, and the next three issues are somewhat more controversial, I think.  An enormously important value for a majority of Americans is freedom.  And many of the people including myself who got into the environmental movement got into it to fight faceless bureaucrats at the Atomic Energy Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers and the highway departments across the country who were making mind-numbingly stupid bureaucratic decisions.  We and our values and our movement have increasingly come to be thought of by many Americans as those faceless bureaucrats who are now making decisions that are trampling their freedoms.  This is once again an area that we have to figure out a way to create a context within which people making decisions for themselves with an acute awareness of their own rights and responsibilities spontaneously make the right decisions.  That is enormously complicated to get to in a once-sentence, you know, it seems to me the most important element of it is to send them the right price signals.  We have to internalize those external costs.  And if people then recognize the full prices of what it is that they are choosing to do, it will be much more likely of their own free will to make the right choices.

Most controversial of all of them I'll say is it may be, if we're going to become a true, long-lived majoritarian movement, looking at different kinds of movements and different cultures, that we may need something that there's no way for any of us to guarantee will evolve, a charismatic leader.  And these movements have had a Jesus Christ or a Martin Luther, a Thomas Jefferson, a Sitting Bull, a Mahatma Gandhi, a Martin Luther King.  We have none of those kinds of people in the environmental movement.  And that has been historically important in traditional cultures.  It is arguably even more important in a culture dominated by the mass media, the People magazine, where everything becomes personified with somebody who stands for something.  It's enormously vulnerable.  You get the wrong person, and they find that flaw.  Then suddenly that can destroy the movement if you place too many chips behind them.  That's why political parties have this incredibly tough nominating process.  It's where you discover every conceivable flaw in somebody before he gets the nomination.  And conceivably the person can survive nonetheless.  But there's at least an argument to be made that the factionalize of a multiplicity of the very very diverse and often antagonistic organizations are terribly important for us as an interest group, it gets a great marketplace of ideas going, but it may make it very difficult if not impossible without some unifying personality that have a majoritarian movement.

I'm not convinced that's true, but it's a decent hypothesis.  Okay.  They final, the final thing, if I've got one more to go with, will be the most important of all.  People don't know where we want to go.  And in fact many of us don't have a very clear idea of where we want to go.  We have been enormously effective at stopping things and constraining things, but we have not been very effective at coming up with an ideological context that expresses our values in terms of the science of ecology, with resilience and diversity and life as being dominant values that play themselves out throughout society's structures.  More importantly, we don't have a vision of the kind of society that we want to build.  And we don't have any working models of how that society would function.  And I think probably the most important thing that we need to give is something that is non-threatening, something so that people can see an environmental, sustainable future that they really want to live in.  It isn't mud floors and outhouses, but it's in fact a diversified, decentralized, resilient society.  and I think an important of that, for a final sentence, would be we should choose some place in the United States and put some substantial resources into building a sustainable city that will be a model for the rest of the world.  I personally hope it's going to be the greater Seattle area.  But one place or the other, we need to build our future and then let it replicate itself.

Conn Nugent: Thank you Denis.  As Denis mentioned, Celinda Lake could not be with us today.  Our next speaker is Winona LaDuke.

Audience member: Please use the mike, get that mike right up to your mouth because we can't hear you back here.

Winona LaDuke: Okay.

Denis Hayes: Now he tells me. [laughter]

Winona LaDuke: Can you hear me?  No?  If I talk with this?  Okay.  Got to check it out with that guy in the back.  I'm going to say hello in my language: Amwa-nishi-nabeg from the White Earth Reservation in Northern Minnesota.  And I was trying to, when I was thinking about what so say to you all--well, first I want to thank you for inviting me.  And a lot of you have really supported a lot of native projects and I want to thank you for that.  I guess I was thinking about how dangerously to live with my remarks.  And I realize that about two-tenths of one percent of all foundation money goes to Indians. 

So I figured that I could live pretty dangerously because we haven't got that much to lose right now.  [laughter]  Anyway, the context I want to talk about is a little bit different.  I want to talk about a couple of things.  I want to talk about a redefinition of alliances, a redefinition of the context, and I want to talk about evaluating the values of this society.  And I'm coming at it from a totally different vantage point.

Amwa-nishi-nabeg from the White Earth Reservation in Northern Minnesota.  I'm a community organizer.  I work on land rights and environmental issues.  In a reservation where a lot of our people hunt, 75 percent of our people hunt, 75 percent of our people trap or harvest from the land, we harvest wild rice, that's about 50 percent of our people, they [indistinct].  We're working the economy that we've had for thousands of years.  That, I think, is indicative of sustainable economies.  Perhaps we're the only examples of sustainable economies which exist in North America are those which exist in the indigenous communities that have existed for thousands of years. 

But my way of looking at things is entirely different, than, perhaps, most people's ways of looking at things.  And that's not a context I want to talk about.  I want to talk about environmentalists that I know, from my experience, like an 82 year old Indians woman who lives in Nastasanin, is what they call it, but the government of Canada calls it Labrador.  She's standing, she's standing on a runway, facing down a fighter jet that's coming towards her.  This is a battle that went on four about 15 years where the Canadian government wanted to put a naval base on their land.  And have low level flights.  She's Inuit.  She wouldn't be characterized as an environmentalist.  But their struggle is very much about the land and the people living on the land, and keeping their ability to live there.

The other image is a 62-year-old Western Shoshone woman.  Her name is Mary Dann.  She lives in a place called Newe Sogobia, which is where the Western Shoshone have lived for as long as they can remember.  It's called Nevada by the United States.  The government wants to relocate the Shoshones and take, essentially steal all their cattle, because the BLM says it's their land, not Shoshone land.  But the Shoshone, of course, don't agree with that.

But their struggle, a community that essentially is self-reliant, and if the government takes all their cattle, it's about forcing a self-reliant community into welfarization.  In forcing them out of their own economy into the peripheries of someone else's economy.  I suggest that both struggles are environmental struggles.

A third image I want to give you is the image of a 30-year-old Blackfeet man standing on top of a bulldozer that he borrowed.  He didn't own it.  In Southern Canada.  On the Blackfeet Reserve.  They'd been fighting for years a dam called the Old Man Dam.  Any of you heard of the Old Man Dam?  The Old Man Dam.  They've been fighting it for a long time.  It's on the Old Man River.  And about 10 years ago, the uh, oh no, it was about five years ago, the court ruled that they required an environmental impact assessment on the dam.  But they did not require a halt in construction on the dam.  So at a certain point things become moot.

And so the Blackfeet engaged in a kind of unique form of tactics, and they dismantled the old diversion of the river, that had been taken off their reserve.  Brought most of the river back into its original river bed, leaving the proposed dam site high and dry. 

It was an interesting tactic.  It was a tactic about the Blackfeet trying to just keep their way of living.  But I suggest it would not be broadly construed in the environmental movement, that Blackfeet would be considered environmentalists.  But I suggest that they are.

The fourth image is this group of native people in a lot of reservations in this country that are fighting tribal councils and waste companies trying to dump on Indian lands.  A whole bunch of them.  And a whole bunch of them have been defeated by people with no money, no resources, no offices and no phones, usually.  But they just go out there and they organize and they stop 'em.  Those people are not classified as environmentalists but I suggest that they are.

That is a little of my image of what this struggle in about.  It is also about redefining who your allies are.  And looking at the context of North America.  

I think that the myth of America is very about that indigenous people do not exist.  And I want you to think about that real carefully.  Because I don't think it's true.  I want to suggest to you that in a North American context, inside the United States, Indians have about 4 percent of our original land base left.  That's what's called the Indian reservations.  We're very much as islands in a continent. 

But, in Canada, it's different.  Those of you who are from Canada--you all know where Canada is, right?  It's the country to the north.  [laughter]  What is it, one out of seven Americans can't identify the U.S. on a world map.  It's something like that.  So Canada is the country to the north.  When you go north of the 50th parallel in Canada, the majority population is native.  So that's a little bit north of Edmonton.  The majority population is native.  That's about the upper two-thirds of the Canadian land mass. 

So, in terms of land occupancy on the North American continent, as you count that then you start looking at places like the Southwestern United States, native people constitute about a third of the occupancy in North America. 

That's how we understand it. If you look at it in a Western Hemisphere perspective, you have to understand that countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, native people are the majority.  So Americans are only a small part of a whole.  And I think that when we start looking at where we are going and how we're going to live here, that we have to kind of redefine some of those relationships. 

But underlying it I see that there is a rift that exists in this America.  And it is something that continues to exist.  It has to do with a concept of conquest.  This is a society based on conquest.  That underlies and permeates American values.  The idea of the West, a frontier, a constant frontier, that is very much American.  And it sets an adversarial relationship between the natives and the settlers.  That relationship has existed for 500 years.  And it continues to exist today. 

And so what has happened is that people who live in this American society have very much defined themselves historically, because it permeates American consciousness in an adversarial relationship to the native.  It is a historical relationship and it exists today.  I suggest that we have to challenge that.  And we have to undo that. 

That somehow the settler has to quit being the colonizer and has to figure out how to live here.  I would suggest that conquest is unsustainable, no matter what it's underlying issues.  The only thing that's sustainable is community.  And that existed thousands of years here and that's what we have to figure out how to build. 

So in the context of where we are now, I just want to say about indigenous people, I told you where we are geographically and to the population, but in terms of the environmental issues that are facing the world today, we are central to those issues.  Over 50 million indigenous people inhabit the world's rain forests.  They are not uninhabited.  They're inhabited.  A million native people are slated to be relocated for dam projects in the next decade.  72 percent of the 135 or so wars going on in the world today are wars between states and nations: states trying to annex the lands, resources, territories and peoples themselves, indigenous peoples.

The majority of atomic weapons that have been detonated have been detonated on indigenous peoples.  In North America that same relationship exists.  It is the relationship that fundamentally people in your position, people in all of our position, need to question.  It is a relationship between a society which continues to consume beyond its needs and the people who have the resources that society requires. 

Today we're in a situation in North America where Indian people inside the United States have two-thirds of the uranium resources of the United States.  One-third of all Western low-sulfur coal is on Indian reservations.  We are the people who live in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  That is not uninhabited.  It is inhabited by us.  We are the people who host the single largest hydroelectric project in North America, the James Bay Hydroelectric Project, Phases I and II.  And a whole set of dams that go all the way across north of Canada.  Understand the continental perspective of it, because it's not just one dam, it's a whole set of dams.  And what happens in Canada, for instance, is that most of the roads go north-south.  They haul the resources from the North to the South, to American markets, and to this country.  So Americans are totally complicit in the whole ecological destruction which goes on on the continent.  It is not unrelated.  It is totally related. 

And the demographics of it have very cruelly to do with our communities.  It also has to do with nuclear waste.  Fifteen to eighteen recipients of the dubious honor of having nuclear waste research grants are Indian reservations.  And we have the whole host of toxic waste dumps proposed for our communities.  All of which so far we've defeated.  That is what is going on in our communities. 

And that is very much, I think, the struggle that needs to go in the environmental movement in this country.  It's kind of redefining some of the relationships.  It's understanding the centrality of people of color and indigenous people to this whole environmental struggle.

It is not just about people who are living in urban areas.  It is also about people who retain the way of living on the land and have lived there for all these times.  Because it is my experience that the historical relationship between this society and indigenous peoples is the relationship which continues.  And that what we need to do is to really look at that relationship and what it means for the society.  It's my experience that a society which in a way understands the relationship of extinction of species and extinction of people.  And that is what this has been about for 500 years.

I would suggest that 1992 is the time to end conquest.  And it's the time to redefine the relationship of this society to the land.  And that is essential for all of us who are engaged in environmental work, is to end the adversarial relationship and to begin to build a relationship which is based on survival.

I'm going to talk a little bit about some of the values that it's our experience are those values.  We have, you know, we're different than y'all.  That's kind of an understatement.  Anyway.  But, you know, the thing is that most Americans know very little about Indians, so they don't know anything about our values.  You know, if I ask y'all, I suppose you're smart.  I talk to a lot of colleges and I ask them if they can name 15 different kinds of indigenous people in North America.  And I tell you, most college students cannot.  Now y'all are much smarter, so I'd ask you 25 or so.  But we'd be pushing it.  There's over 700 native communities in North America.  So, you know, there's a lot of, lot of thinking to do.  But because of it, that has a lot to do with this whole myth of this America, you know.  Because we don't think about Indians, but we'll think about the myth of America.  We'll think about if you don't have a victim, you don't have a crime, and you don't have, there's a whole lot of stuff, of discovery and all those things.

But anyway, what I want to say is, that some of our values, I think, would be things that might help you in thinking about this new vision that Denis is talking about.  Us all articulating a vision of where we want to go. 

I just going to talk a little bit about a couple of them.  The first thing I want to talk about is that in my community, and in other indigenous communities, it's my experience that we have a perception that natural law is preeminent.  It is superior to the laws of nature, it is superior to the laws of states, of counties, of cities, of nations.  Natural law is preeminent.  And that the openly as individuals and collectively as societies have to be and are accountable to that natural law.  I suggest that that's different than this society.  I think that this society has a perception someplace in it that there's man's dominion over nature and that technology will save us.  I think that that's different than natural law. 

We have a second concept which characterizes our way of living in accordance with natural law which is called Minowa Towat To See Wan in my language.  And what it means is live the good life.  It also means continuous rebirth.  Because in my way of thinking in my societies, our way of understanding them, we think cyclically.  All things which are natural are in cycles.  Our bodies, tides, moons, seasons, all those things, time, all those things are cyclical.

So we have continuous rebirth.  We have death, but we have a rebirth.  I'd suggest that that's different than the society's, the values of this society.  I think that this society--I went to school here--has a perception of time being linear.  It's taught on a time line which begins in 1492 usually and continues from there on out.  [laughter]  And there are certain values that go along with that.  Ideas of progress and development, the things which you want, indexes of success, and perceptions, for example, that some peoples are primitive and other peoples are civilized. 

And I suggest that that's a totally different way of looking at things and it's not inclusive because it's a set of values that go along with that.

The third thing is that in our society when I harvest wild rice in my community or do things like take deer, when I take something and harvest something from our ecosystem, I always pray, I offer sema.  We have a concept, a value system that's based on reciprocity, which is when you take you always give back.  So it's an equal part of the relations with the creator and the whole ecosystem.  And because of that what we have is a recognition that when you take you always give back so that you can stay in order with the ecosystem.  You can continue to harvest.  And you only take what you need and you leave the rest. 

I'd say that's different than America.  I think there's a perception in this country that you take as much as you can.  And that has to do with conquest.  And I'd suggest that that is perhaps not sustainable. 

Those are some differences.  And I just wanted to outline them because I think that one of the fundamental changes that we face is a change in values.  That we need to look at the change in values.  And I think that we need to look at how to bring society back in order with natural law.

So I guess that what I want to say in closing is that this new vision that we talk about and that Denis is talking about has to be inclusive.  It has to allow for cultural diversity as well as biological diversity.  It has to recognize that Americans are only a very small part, and that the majority of the world does not subscribe to American values.  And that our values are perhaps as valid and also might have something to add to this whole vision. 

I think this thing, place where we're going also has to do with reducing our consumption because conquest isn't sustainable.  It requires constant consumption of other peoples' resources.  Constant intervention in other peoples' countries. 

And finally I think it fundamentally has to do with us collectively figuring out how to bring this society into order with natural law.  Because I think that perhaps that is the only sustainable thing.  That's what I want to say. 

Thank you.

Conn Nugent:  Thank you very much.  We're now going to hear for ten minutes each from Carl Anthony and Lisa Goldberg.  Carl?

Carl Anthony: I don't whether, can you hear me?  I listening to Denis's comments, and then listening to Winona, I found myself feeling that I was in the middle of a big struggle between the Western European view of the world and the indigenous view of the world.  And it reminded me of an experience that I had in Harlem in the 1960s when there was a great insurrection and people, the African-American people were very very very angry.  And people were mobilized on the streets and they were throwing bricks and bottles.  And we passed a little Chinese laundry, and there was a sign in the window of the Chinese laundry that said Me Colored Too.

Well, I think this, this is a good symbol because we should remember that a majoritarian culture is not simply about numbers, but is about relationship.  And we have been involved now in the environmental movement with the growing awareness of the linkages between people and the biosphere, people and each other.  And I think that as African-Americans we have been involved in many of these struggles. 

We come to this particular forum in this particular context perhaps a little bit later than the indigenous people do.  From I think the perspective that I share, and certainly I can't speak for the African-Americans and Latino populations who live in cities, the Asian-American populations.  I can't speak for many of them, but I can speak for myself and my colleagues in the environmental justice movement.  And I think our perception is that we really do have to align ourselves with the struggle of indigenous people in transforming the society into something that can make it possible for us to live on the planet. 

I want to make a few comments some of our more recent sense of history and also put that into a larger context.  In 1964 a thousand students came down to Mississippi came down to join the protests, the voter registration drives with the blacks in Mississippi.  A few people lost their lives.  Some of you may remember the names of Schorener, Cheny, Goodman.  And at that point in 1964, I believe that the majority of Americans would have said that they were really in favor of civil rights, that they were in favor of the struggle of African-American people to get access to public resources and so forth.

Tow years later, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee adopted a new slogan to replace their old slogan of freedom now.  That slogan was black power.  They asked the white students to leave, to go back to their own neighborhoods and to organize on their own issues.  Many people had their feelings hurt.  The dropped out of the civil rights movement.  They joined the anti-war movement and eventually what became the environmental movement.

But the linkage between the civil rights movement and the environmental movement is really still pretty murky.  It's still unwritten.  In the early 1970s, the environmental movement gained from the demise of the civil rights movement because it was a symbol of hope in contrast to the despair and separatism that characterized the radicalism of the late 60s.

And I think this is really something important to remember.  That as we face these issues that we have to deal with that we must remember the importance of hope.  Denis Hayes reminded me in his remarks about the parallels between the civil rights movement and the, and the environmental movement.  We had many many of the same issues facing us.  People didn't like busing.  People didn't like affirmative action.  Labor unions were upset against hiring goals. 

And looking back over that time I don't, it's hard to imagine how we could have done things differently.  Because I think that we were trying to put forward a view that was not quite popular and was not quite well understood.  And I think the parallels here with the environmental movement, the insistence on the importance of the biological integrity of the basis of civilization, on the importance of recognizing our ecological resources.

But I think in looking back there was in fact a great deal of single mindedness in this.  It's hard to imagine how we could have done it differently.  Because if we hadn't done it people wouldn't know about climate, the climate change.  They wouldn't know about global warming.  They wouldn't know about the resource depletion that we know about today. 

But I think Denis's point is also well taken that there has been a sense of blindness in this that we need to correct.

Since 1990 there's been a groundswell within communities of color to look at environmental issues.  Some of you may recall that in 1990 the United Church of Christ with the Southland organizing project and a number of other organizations, the Gulf Coast Tennis Union wrote letters to the environmental leaders of the Big Ten environmental organizations and accused them of racism based on the composition of their staffs, their boards and the policies that they set forward. 

I must say that in the last two years, many of the organizations like NRDC, the National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, EDF have now begun to undertake hundreds and hundreds of exchanges with communities all over the country and dozens of projects now are under way which reflect at least awareness of the importance of cultural diversity. 

The first national People of Color's conference was held in 1991, which adopted a series of principles of environmental justice.  And I think some of you had a chance to read those.  I think it's very important, it's time for this community and the mainstream, the so-called mainstream environmental movement to really totally embrace this struggle for environmental justice. 

I know that some people have grudgingly said well, but social justice is really not an environmental issue.  We really need to take them separately.  But I think if we're going to really have a successful majority, build a successful majoritarian movement we really do have to embrace the principles of environmental justice.

We need to rethink the relationships between the environment and economics.  We need to, we need to really begin to heal the divisions between the suburbs and the inner cities, between the suburbs, uh, between the cities and land-based communities.  I think our vision of what a sustainable city is has to be a city that does not deplete the resources of the places Winona LaDuke was talking about, and in fact can exist comfortably with that, so that we don't have environmental refugees coming from land-based cultures to simply make more poor people in our cities.

In conclusion, what I would like to say is if we want to build a majority movement, we must broaden our agenda to include the issues of working people, the issues of occupational health and safety and we must keep hope alive.  In the midst of despair we must learn how to turn our attention to examples that point the way to a new future.  Lou Gold's illustration of what sustainable forestry could be like, Ralph Cavanaugh's work on transforming utility systems that provide electricity, the Zuni reservations which are demonstrating new ways to continue sustainable practices which are thousands, hundreds of years old, to the work of the alliance of the Neighborhood Funders in the Environmental Grantmakers which points the way to new land use, transportation, energy strategies for the poor and stirrings for the future.

Thank you very much.

Conn Nugent: We're trying to present a spectrum of perspectives here in this first hour and to finish it up and before we break into small groups for your own work on this subject I like to ask Lisa Goldberg to speak.

Lisa Goldberg: Conn said that because I'm going to do something a little bit different.  I came here as a respondent.  I work for the Revson Foundation in New York [Assets 82,731,152].  So my thought was to talk a little more specifically to all of us as funders, thinking about what we're hearing here, and maybe suggest some ways that we can apply a little more directly in the next couple of years to our own work.

That's what I've been thinking about here.  And I thought I would just pass along some opening thoughts and maybe we can talk more about this later.

I think a lot of about something that someone said to me when I first started working at the foundation.  There are thinkers, there are doers and there are funders.  [laughter]

And sometimes mixing up the different roles, I was very offended by that, by the way, at the beginning.  But as I have been in this field I think there may be something to it. 

I think the role of foundations in social movement work is ambiguous at best.  There's been a lot of study of the civil rights movement and the role of funders in it with very mixed feelings.  People often say that by the time we get to the social movement, the movement is over.  But I'm not sure I believe that either.

In any event, I think we have to look carefully at ourselves and be as self-critical as we can about the role we do play.  I have in the past liked to say that I think the most important public policy impact that foundations have had, probably in the last generation, is when foundation money was given to Justice Fortas, which caused him to step down and led almost directly in some ways to the Supreme Court we now have.  But that's a little bit, a little bit over the top.  [laughter]

Celinda Lake was supposed to be here.  And Denis referred to some of the things that she's been finding out.  I don't believe any more than most of you, I'm sure, that polls or focus groups are the answer.  But they're sure out there.  And we're hearing an awful lot of different things about how people are feeling.  And Denis and Winona and Carl all referred to some of those things.  And I think they're important for us to keep in mind as we think about creating the kind of vision that people have been talking about and what as funders our role is in doing that. 

You know, Celinda is telling us, as are the other pollsters, that this is a confusing time.  The country really is in flux.  There are a lot of tensions out there.  Denis referred to the balance tension between economy and the environment.  The great majority of Americans want to believe that it is economy and environment, not economy versus environment.  But it really depends how you ask the question. 

People say they're willing to pay for it.  The question is how much?  Ten cents on gasoline?  Okay.  Fifty cents?  Unh-uh.  Seventy-five dollars to retrofit a refrigerator?  Good enough.  Hundred dollars?  Unh-uh. 

Jobs sounds really different to people than the economy and growth.  Growth and environment?  Yes.  Losing jobs?  Unh-uh.  And I think we have to keep that really in the front of our minds in terms of how we talk to people and how people hear what this movement has to say.  I think people feel too distanced from the issues.  Denis has picked out the need to have immediate issues as well as long range.

The sad truth is that nobody in this country wants to be labeled an environmentalist any more.  Environmentalist has gone the way of feminist.  These are now very loaded terms that have been shifted in the public conscience.

And a commitment to looking at language and thinking about what you want people understand when you talk is something very important in this. 

The other things that people talk a great deal about are equity and efficacy.  I mean, they don't use those words, those are jargony words.  But people want responsibility to be broadly spread.  They want to know that other people are doing what they're doing.  And they want to know that what they're doing matters.  And I'm not sure that we have been as good as we should be in showing people that what they do matters. 

Everybody wants to recycle, but nobody understands what they can do beyond that and perhaps not putting oil down into the sewer system.  To really make a difference, and that's what people seem to want. 

Where are the opportunities?  People do really, by and large, recognize environmental issues as important.  After a lull in the 80s, it is at least on the screen to most people.  Kids seem to, according to their parents, know a great deal more about this.  They are in fact in some ways, as they did with other issues like smoking, starting to have an impact on their parents.  And I think the educational links particularly for young people that's very targeted.  It's important.

There are clearly regional differences.  Some areas of the country have much higher understanding and will vote for this.  There are some messages that work.  Economy and environment.  Empowering people to participate in it.  And attaching it to other issues.  That's the other thing that Celinda and other people are finding out.  Health is a great lever in this.  It's a real connection.  And I think economic development is another real connection.  I'm going to say a little bit more about that in terms of funders in just a minute. 

What I guess I'd like to ask you to think about is, I've been trying to think of a framework in terms of social change.  My foundation has been involved in a variety of ways of thinking about this in some areas over that past couple of years.  And as a former psychologist I think about it a lot.  Where I think there is a spectrum, is we start with thinking about changing how people think about a thing.  I mean cognitive change in the jargon, if you will.  And that really is public education.

And then I think in some ways we just stop there.  I think we don't really think about what's the next part.  Changing specific action, which sometimes can lead to changing long term behavior.  Sometimes we do mount campaigns that are concerted to change specific actions.  In a drought, for example, we can get people to change their behavior.  But I think we often don't think about the ways that that can lead to longer term behavioral change, which in turn actually is a cause of attitudinal change.

Then of course you get to the really hard stuff that Winona was talking about, which is value change.  I mean value change in this society is really hard.  Low success rate.  Long period of time.  And I think that the environmental movement needs to really confront some of the values that are very deep seated, that we don't often think of as environmental values that Winona was talking about.

Technology will save us is one.  Progress means greater consumption.  That's another.  Freedom, as Denis said, above all, rather than community.  I mean these are very deeply held belief systems.  And unless you recognize that that's going to be part of any long term change in the environmental area and in most other areas that we care about, I'm not sure we're going to get very far. 

So let me just throw out a couple of things I was thinking about from my work when I go back from Wisconsin that as a funder I want to keep in the front of my mind instead of the back.

One is, I want to start thinking about environmental change a lot more strategically, both in terms of my foundation, and collectively.  I mean I'm very heartened by what Ed got up and said about joint venture and some of the health connections and some of the other things.  But I think in that regard we have to be a lot more hard headed about where we want to go and think about the kinds of changes that we're really trying to make. 

If you're trying to build an elite majority for change, then you're talking about 5 percent of the population max.  If you're trying to build an electoral majority you're talking 27 percent to get landslide if you have a 51 percent turnout.  How much of a percentage if you want mass behavioral change?  I don't know.  Maybe a hundred percent.  And that's a whole lot different in terms of approach.

But some of the strategies and tactics that are available to us are really quite clear to us, but as Denis said, we've always relied for example as foundations on litigation.  One of the contributions of the foundation field was the underwriting of those litigation groups in the late sixties and early seventies.  To some degree, foundations created the public law movement by supporting it.  The Ford Foundation in particular.  But, given the federal bench, and given the state bench, do we really want an outside strategy now?

Same thing with public education.  I mean, how do we get people information?  Are we thinking of all the channels of communication we really need to use?  Are we working what we know about how people learn and understand things?  I want to go back and think more creatively about addressing these tensions and these balances, not pretending they don't exist.

I think what Carl said is right.  Two worldviews we heard from Denis and Winona.  How do we make them less in tension and more in harmony?  How do we bring in as many views as we can.  I think that there's no time personally to be exclusive.  I don't think we can afford to exclude anybody from these discussions.

I'm going to go back and urge my board to think about the realities of the political and social situation.  I mean, I think as Denis said, if we have new administration, it's going to have its own consequences.  One of them may well be inertia.  I mean we didn't do very well in 1980 when we had a new administration.  We had four or five for every one said Oh my god, what do we do now?  That's something to be thinking about. 

I think we have to be opportunistic in our funding.  Some of the things that are going to come up, I mean, on Denis's idea of creating a vision, a real live vision of where people want to live.  That's an interesting idea.  How many program areas does it fit into here?  Not too many.  I mean I think we have to really be thinking more creatively and in more cross-cutting ways than we have before.  I think we have to think short term and long term.  And I guess I keep, I try to keep in mind myself two stories from colleagues.  One was that uh--I think it's important to remember that none of us has the answer.  If any of us did have the answer, we might not be talking about this.

Bruce Williams, he used to be at the Rockefeller Foundation, used to say that evaluating program was really difficult.  And the only program he really knew was working was the prevention of nuclear war program.  And when he woke up in the morning and saw the world was still here, he said Gee, that program's good.  [laugher]

So I think it's really a good lesson.  The other is some of you may know Dick Boone, who used to run the Field Foundation, and he likes to say these days that it was also important to keep in mind that indeed there are no quick fixes and that a little bit of money does not go a long way.

So, let's come back to some of the foundation things.

[applause]

Conn Nugent:  It's time for you, please, to tackle these and any other angles on the subject you can think of.  We're going to break up into six small groups.  We're going to do it by the established method of birthday months.  Those of you born in either January or February are going to be with Jack Chin.  Stand up, would you Jack?  Jack will be with you January Februarys in this corner of the room. 

Those of you born in March and April with Ed Miller in the rear of this room on this side.  Those of you in May or June with Chuck Savitt.  Chuck, are you here?  Raise your hand.  Chuck Savitt.  You'll be down in front here.  July and August with Jenny Russell in the rear of this room this side.  And out on the dock, September October in with Julia Parsons.  In that dock.  Sorry, dock, excuse me, porch, balcony, balustrade.  November December with Ann Crumble over in that direction outdoors. 

Be back here please in 45 minutes.  We're going to reconvene at 10:45. 

END OF TAPE

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