Welcome to Brighter Green’s spring ’09 newsletter and thank you for your interest in what we’re doing. Here’s an update on what we’ve been up to, what we’re working on now, and a list of upcoming events:
Globalization of factory farming initiative
Brighter Green’s policy paper, Skillful Means: the Challenges of China’s Encounter with Factory Farming (PDF), available in both English and Chinese, has been shared with policy-makers, members of the media, academics, NGOs, and activists in China, the U.S., Europe, India, and Latin America. Just after the Chinese New Year (it’s the Year of the Ox or Cow—the same character in Chinese) in February 2009, Brighter Green, with help from colleagues in China, disseminated information about the case study to hundreds of English- and Chinese-language media outlets in China. A condensed version of Skillful Means will be the next policy “Backgrounder” from Food First (also known as the Institute for Food and Development Policy). An interview with Mia MacDonald conducted by Brighter Green colleague and author, Anna Lappe, about Skillful Means appeared on the home page of Grist.org, the popular Web-based environmental portal. Read it here. We’re working to complete similar case studies on the globalization of intensive animal agriculture for India, Ethiopia, and Brazil. They’ll be compiled, with a slightly adapted version of Skillful Means, into a single publication with a new introduction and overall set of policy recommendations. Look out for the papers in the next couple of months.
Climate change-related work
Climate change and food: Brighter Green (with Mia also representing the Sierra Club NYC Group, for which she’s now vice chair) is part of an ongoing process to craft and bring to the NYC Council a resolution with specific actions on food and agriculture policy to help New York City meet its goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Please check back for the resolution text on the BG site in the coming weeks.
Climate change, gender, and population: On March 6, in honor of International Women’s Day, Brighter Green co-sponsored a panel, “Half the Sky: Climate Change, Women, & Population” at New York University. Panelists Robert Engelman, Vice President for Programs, Worldwatch Institute and Author of More: Population, Nature and What Women Want (Island Press, 2008) and June Zeitlin, former Executive Director, Women’s Environment and Development Organization, addressed a standing-room-only crowd. Dr. Sally Guttmacher, NYU Community Public Health Program Director, and Mia moderated the discussion. Read Mia’s blog about the event here.
Climate change and indigenous communities
Girls’ education, leadership, and rights-training initiative launched: Ten poor but bright adolescent girls from Maasai (pastoral) communities in Kenya and Tanzania (five from each country—see photo left) have entered secondary-level boarding schools in Kenya. This is the first stage of an envisioned six- to eight-year initiative. NGO partners in Kenya and Tanzania, in consultation with Brighter Green and our U.S.-based partner, Tribal Link Foundation, informed communities and elders about the program, sought applications, identified girls, selected them, transported them (from very rural areas), got them admitted to schools, and equipped them with school necessities—everything from uniforms to mattresses to pens and notebooks. This is an exciting, cutting-edge project to develop a new generation of women leaders who can address crucial issues like climate change that affect their communities directly, at both local and global levels. Read more about the initiative and its objectives here.
Partnership with Basecamp Masai Mara for experiential learning begun: Basecamp Explorer, which has developed a concept of socially and ecologically responsible tourism for people, planet, and profit, hosted a delegation from Brighter Green partner organizations in February 2009. A gender-balanced group of six representatives from community-based pastoralist organizations travelled by road from Ngong, Kenya, and surrounding areas to the Masai Mara, the northern extension of the Serengeti ecosystem. Basecamp generously hosted the delegration for three days. The delegation was exposed by Basecamp’s Maasai staff and surrounding communities to Basecamp’s use of solar energy and water harvesting, community-based ecotourism, tree planting, microenterprise development, and scholarships for girls’ education.
The visit “was very enlightening and beneficial to the participants,” writes Daniel Salau of BG partner organization, SIMOO, based in Ngong, Kenya. “We hope this will be the beginning of a long-term partnership for the benefit of the two communities.” One member of the delegation is a radio broadcaster, so news of the delegation’s exchange was made available to thousands of Ma speaking peoples in Kenya. Among the lessons the delegation learned from its visit were these: Sustainable energy, water and waste management systems used at Basecamp Masai Mara should be emulated; Basecamp Masai Mara has created an integrated system where nature, people, and wildlife co-exist harmoniously. Among the ways forward discussed and agreed upon were the sharing of experiences; knowledge on use of solar energy; entrepreneurship development, especially related to women’s handicrafts and eco-tourism, and establishing markets for them; more exchange visita between the two communities to consolidate partnerships in pertinent areas, such as food insecurity, cultural exploitation, climate change and intellectual property rights, among others; and localizing human rights issues e.g. girls’ education, anti-female genital mutilation (FGM) campaigns, benefits from wildlife tourism, and indigenous peoples’ rights generally. Read more about the visit here. Lars Lindkvist, CEO/Founder of Basecamp will be in New York on April 16, 2009 to discuss the company’s approach to tourism and its work with communities around the world. Please see “Upcoming Events” section below for details.
Second edition of Environmental News published by the Indigenous Information Network in Nairobi, with Brighter Green’s support in November 2008. The publication focuses on key environmental realities and challenges, including climate change, from an indigenous perspective. For a copy of Environmental News, click here (PDF).
Challenge for Africa published
Nobel Peace laureate Wangari Maathai‘s latest book, The Challenge for Africa, has just been published by Pantheon. Mia worked with Prof. Maathai on the book, which explores a range of “bottlenecks to development in Africa” at the international, national, and individual levels and then suggests what Africans can and need to do for themselves. It’s a rare African voice on African realities, and ought to be a must read for anyone interested in African issues, the global environment, climate change, good governance, human rights, and democracy. Prof. Maathai will be on a book tour in the U.S. in April. She’ll be in New York City on April 9th. See below for more details on that event. For the full book-tour schedule, please visit, the Green Belt Movement‘s website.
Thursday April 9, 6:30 p.m.
Wangari Maathai speaking about her new book, The Challenge for Africa
The Great Hall at Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street at Third Avenue, Manhattan
Free and open to the general public
Author, activist, and Nobel Prize laureate Wangari Maathai discusses the challenge for Africa with Leonard Lopate, WNYC’s acclaimed radio host. Maathai offers a compelling look at the problems facing Africa and the promises of the future. She stresses the need for Africans to become self-sufficient, rather than relying foreign benefactors, and to pursue an identity rooted in their own ideals and solutions, instead of Western visions. This event is co-sponsored by The Department of Public Programs at The Cooper Union, The Institute for Sustainable Design at the Cooper Union, and MillionTreesNYC and is free and open to the public. For more information, call 212.353.4195, or visit Cooper Union.
Thursday April 16, 6:30 p.m.
Lars Lindkvist of Basecamp Explorer, speaking about Basecamp’s mission to serve as an agent of change: making tourism more responsible and supportive of local development and conservation.
ABC Carpet & Home
888 Broadway at E. 19th Street, 10th Floor, Manhattan
Free, but RSVP is required: firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.475.3000 ext. 590
Saturday May 2, 11:30 p.m.
Mia MacDonald will be speaking at the Brooklyn Food Conference as part of a panel on food and climate change.
PS 321 & John Jay High School
7th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn
For more information on the conference, click here.
Saturday May 9, 4:00 p.m.
Mia MacDonald will be speaking on a panel entitled, “Eating Green: Food and Climate Change.”
The Future of Food: International Perspectives
Institute for Human Sciences at Boston University
745 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA
For more information on the conference, click here.
Please visit the Brighter Green website (www.brightergreen.org) to read our blog, get updates on our work, review resources on the globalization of factory farming, and stay current on upcoming events. Also, soon Brighter Green will have online capacity to accept donations. We are a lean non-profit, committed to focusing on projects and outcomes and not overheads, and would welcome your financial support of our work.