Celebrating Climate Justice Week on the Colorado Plateau

By: Eva Malis

"we gather in a circle and weave our hopes, intentions,

and fingers the same way we weave our dreams

for the present and future moments

we remake ourselves and transform with the moon"

-Excerpt from Collaborative Poems of Possibilities for Justice for All Life

 

On a Friday evening in Flagstaff, this poem was shared to a crowd of young people grappling with our current climate crisis through storytelling. Stories were shared throughout the night of dying aspen, desecrated mountains, and deadly cancer, as well as clear visions for the future and the process of transforming our world towards justice.

The next morning, a group of us left Flagstaff at 6:30 am to drive up to White Mesa. Our tire blew out on highway 191, but we were not worried. A theme of our week had been community care, and we felt supported enough by each other to make it through any obstacle in our way.

 Uplift Organizer Danielle Austin presents her collaborative poetry project with two other contributors at Flagstaff's Climate Justice Stories Night.

Uplift Organizer Danielle Austin presents her collaborative poetry project with two other contributors at Flagstaff's Climate Justice Stories Night.

For some of us, our entire week passed this way—showing up across the Plateau to support wherever we could, or to be supported by our fellow climate justice advocates. This converging of events, organizers, and communities was a part of Colorado Plateau Climate Justice Week. For this week, multiple communities around the Colorado Plateau region organized resistance to climate change, extractive industries, and the unjust impacts on our communities. From educational events to calls to action, these events were organized in regional solidarity with each other. 

Colorado Plateau Climate Justice Week was a call to action to support our regional movement for climate justice. It was also a celebration of our continued resistance and the beautiful communities that carry us through this work.

On the first day of Climate Justice Week, May 12th, two major events launched us into our week. In Salt Lake City, the People’s Energy Summit gathered around a hundred community members for a day of workshops in contrast to the Governor’s Energy Summit. The Summit was coordinated by a number of community partners in Salt Lake City, and despite rainy weather, the attendees were able to enjoy deep conversations and teachings on climate justice organizing. In Santa Fe, the Greater Chaco Coalition and New Mexico Story Power put together a benefit auction with a collection of local art and music to support the protection of Greater Chaco.

 The calendar of events for Colorado Plateau Climate Justice Week.

The calendar of events for Colorado Plateau Climate Justice Week.

As the week proceeded, people from all over the country arrived at Black Mesa to support the resistance camp, which will be an ongoing effort that people can continue to join throughout the summer. At the resistance camp, participants helped sheer and herd sheep to support families and elders living in the area. To wrap up the week, the Flagstaff community hosted a Climate Justice Stories Night, featuring three young storytellers who shared stories of resource extraction impacting communities around our region. Then, the White Mesa community led a spiritual walk in resistance to the White Mesa Mill. Meanwhile, some past Uplifters from Durango organized a float on the Lower Animas River to raise awareness about the current issues that the river is facing.

All of these events, although organized by different people, are united by a vision for climate justice in our region.

Maybe you are wondering, what do you mean by climate justice? Climate justice addresses the social impacts of climate change and the ways in which frontline communities are disproportionately impacted. In the Colorado Plateau, our region is an “energy sacrifice zone” with high concentrations of fossil fuel infrastructure. Working towards climate justice is an urgent priority for our communities. However, it is just as important for us to see how connected our struggles are across our region, and how we can work together towards a collective vision for the Colorado Plateau.

 Uplift organizers gather by the San Juan to decompress after a busy Climate Justice Week.

Uplift organizers gather by the San Juan to decompress after a busy Climate Justice Week.

By standing together, we are stronger. By weaving together our struggles and our resistance, we are powerful. Colorado Plateau Climate Justice Week is an attempt organized by the Uplift Climate Action Council to build our power through connection and solidarity. Although we concentrated our efforts on this week, the reality is that our movement is growing continuously. Climate Justice Week is a call to action to join our movement and continue to build with us.

 

Keep an eye out for more information coming soon about the Uplift 2018 Climate Conference!