Trump & corporate America are land’s owners; indigenous populations are its stewards and we are seemingly powerless to prevent relaxing methane regulation and whatever else is next. Except we are not powerless.
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Two Additions to the Voter’s Guide
Before examining two very different views of our relationship to the earth….and the implications, I want to share two additions to the Voter’s Guide.
After publishing the 2018 Retake Our Democracy Mid-Term Election Strategy and Voter Guide, I got a few emails from folks who wondered about two ABQ races that had been omitted. After consultation with the NM House Democratic campaign operation, we concurred that these two races should be added to the list. This means that there are now six ‘take-away’ races in the ABQ area (some as close as a 50 minute drive from Santa Fe) where wins are possible. There are also races in Santa Fe, Eldorado and Los Alamos where we need to protect Democratic seats.
I can’t stress enough how important it is for many, many more of you to move from contemplating reaching out and getting involved and and coaxing your partner or organizing a few friends (it is way more fun this way), contacting a campaign and devoting a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to knocking on doors and talking with voters–and then go out for pizza with your pals and talk about how much fun you had. It is far more gratifying than it sounds. Does it matter? David Adkins, the most conservative legislator in the Roundhouse won by just 9 votes in 2016 and the Democrats have a great candidate running in Dist. 29 (ABQ) ready to send him home (see below). Let’s do this.
Dist. 29. Northwest ABQ
Dem. Joy Garratt is a lifelong teacher and mentor, who has worked with students from pre-K through the university level. She currently serves as an instructional coach helping teachers improve their effectiveness. She is running in a critical swing district that represents one of our best pick-up opportunities; in 2016, the House Democratic candidate lost by a mere nine (9) votes (no, that’s not a typo).
GOP. David Adkins. She’s running against two-term incumbent David Adkins, who proudly promotes his status as the legislature’s most conservative member. In two out of the three years the so-called “Freedom Index” was published by the Koch-funded Rio Grande Foundation, Adkins was ranked the most conservative legislator—making him one of the most reliable votes for the Koch brothers’ priorities. Pretty good reason to remove him, I’d say. Click here to reach Garratt’s campaign.
Dist. 30. Northeast ABQ
Dem. Natalie Figueroa is a master teacher with a passion for serving others. An innovative educator who has been awarded grants and scholarships in three states, Natalie also serves as a mentor teacher for the University of New Mexico’s School of Education, helping to train the next generation of teachers. In 2016, Natalie courageously stepped forward to challenge entrenched incumbent House Majority Leader Nate Gentry. Despite being outspent more than 6-1 (Gentry’s $630,000 to Natalie’s $100,000), she came within 600 votes of unseating the chamber’s most powerful Republican.
GOP. John James. This cycle, Gentry is retiring from the legislature, so HD30 is an open seat. Natalie is facing John Jones, a former lobbyist, water & wastewater association executive, and husband of Janice Arnold-Jones, the Republican candidate for Congressional District 1. Although he hasn’t served in office, so we don’t have a record of his votes on specific issues, his social media posts are hostile to environmental regulation, mocks welfare and suicide hotlines, and demonstrates a shocking tolerance for homophobia, racism and sexism. Click here to reach the Figueroa campaign.
Implications of Land “Ownership”
Mankind has not always acted as if it can own land. But since the agrarian age and now in its most egregious form under capitalism, the concept of owning land and its resources has resulted in clear cutting forests, eviscerating the buffalo population, laying mountains to waste for the ore within, and now drilling and fracking for oil and gas in a process that is overheating our earth at a rate that is beyond alarming. At least to most of us.
Somehow, despite an abundance of scientific evidence that mankind is contributing mightily to climate change and with almost weekly reminders from mother earth in the form of hurricanes, floods, withering heat waves, and rising seas, the Trump administration and his GOP cohorts, are planning to further reduce regulations on methane emissions.
Politico reports that: “Gov. Jerry Brown used the spotlight of a global climate change conference to excoriate the Trump administration for rolling back restrictions on releasing methane, calling the reversal “insane. It borders on criminality,” Brown said to applause from an international audience of climate experts and government officials gathered in San Francisco.
Governor Brown doesn’t just pontificate on such matters, just this Monday Brown signed legislation to eliminate the use of fossil fuels in California by 2045. With a Democratic Governor, a more environmentally informed Roundhouse and some persistent lobbying, there is no reason NM couldn’t follow suit on this.
For a couple races in NM to support if you’d like to see NM follow on California (and Hawaii’s) path, check out Dist. 20 and Democratic candidate Abbas Akhil who spent his career researching solar energy storage or contact Steve Fischmann running in PRC district 5 in a critical race that would create a Commission with a majority of environmentalists. Click here to find these and other Democrats in the Strategy and Guide.
Indigenous Stewardship of Land: A Sustainable Alternative
As a counter point to the capitalist conception of owning land, indigenous populations have for centuries viewed land not as something to be owned and exploited but to be nurtured. From their perspective people were stewards who lived in harmony with their natural surroundings. Recently I found a fascinating article written by Stephanie Woodward, author of American Apartheid: The Native Struggle for Self-Determination and Inclusion.
Woodward reported that [bold emphasis is mine] : “Officials of Menominee Tribal Enterprises told me that the tribe had logged its 235,000-acre forest intensively for 150 years, extracting 2.5 billion board feet of lumber according to principles laid down by 19th-century chiefs. The tribe had, in essence, removed the forest three times over during that period. Yet the tract looked untouched, said the engineers who had toured it. They raved about its biodiversity and beauty. I saw striking satellite photographs, in which the tribe’s forest was a darker green than the surrounding areas. The Menominees had managed this by making harvesting decisions with all the forest’s inhabitants in mind. If felling a tree in a certain direction would destroy a butterfly habitat or food for ruffled grouse, the forester looked for another option. Essentially, the forest was treated like a garden. As a result, it was in radiant health. According to one engineer, the timber cut from it was so good, new grades had been created just for the Menominees. To top it all off, the forest-products company supported job creation that easily outstripped that of most small businesses its size.” Click here to read the Woodward article: The English Language Can Not Describe This Native Forest.
I find it interesting how with the Menominees, their potential impact on butterflies and the ruffled grouse guided their lumber harvesting decisions. I can well recall Republicans and some Democrats begrudging environmentalists’ insistence on protecting one species or another as being extremist or impeding “progress.” Their view was that concern for other species’ might block one development, mine, tunnel or pipeline.
In reflection, we should have seen these outcries for what they were, a harbinger of what was to come, where a President, and a party of sycophants willing to swallow whatever garbage he spews, is willing to release more methane into the atmosphere endangering not just a grouse and a butterfly, but our children’s children….and their grandchildren, as well.
I can’t honestly understanding the thinking of people who in their hearts must really know what they are doing for short term profit. Their greed and myopia may amass personal fortunes to pass on to their heirs, but their most important bequest to their grandchildren will be an irreversible dystopian future that will make their billions worthless.
We can still face climate change. Certainly we are past the point of avoiding some very costly consequences for the mistakes we have made and continue to make, but the only way to reverse course is to take action, so please, go to the Election Guide and pick a candidate who will stand up for our future and our planet. So much is at stake.
Paul & Roxanne