Report on the Richmond National Convening
The Our Power Campaign National Convening kicked off with more than 450 frontline community members from across the country joining together in Richmond, CA to “build the bigger we” for a just transition toward local, living economies. Co-hosted by the Richmond Environmental Justice Coalition (REJC) and the national Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), we’d like to give our thanks to the many dedicated community members who gave so many hours to the success of our convening on August 6-9.
We kicked off the week with a public vigil commemorating the 2012 Chevron refinery explosion that sent 15,000 Contra Costa county residents to the hospital. We spent three beautiful days together to educate, inspire and strategize with one another, including a powerful plenary on the history of the environmental justice movement, some of which we captured on film. We ended three days later with a vibrant day of action and art on the Richmond Greenway.
Don’t miss the beautiful “storify” created by Ellen Choy at Movement Generation, that tells the story of the Richmond convening using social media, photographs, videos, and press articles.
We are also very fortunate that highly talented photographers contributed their time and energy to photo-documenting the convening and day of action.
Click to download the full program PDFs
For a copy of the Climate Justice Manifesto that was passed out at the convening
Day of Action
Richmond National Convening
Basic Info & Goals
Date: Aug 6-9, 2014
Location: Peres Elementary School (719 5th Street, Richmond, CA)
The 2014 Our Power National Convening seeks to:
- Highlight and build the Our Power Campaign in Richmond
- Strategize across frontline communities impacted by fossil fuels
- Build relationships to deepen and expand the Our Power Campaign locally in Richmond and Nationally
- Expand the Our Power base of supporters locally, nationally, and internationally
- Grow grassroots knowledge and skills building to WIN
The 2014 Our Power National Convening will unite local and national frontline communities, community-based organizations, environmentalists, labor unions, climate activists, food justice groups, and our allies to advance a Just Transition strategy that serves our communities, heals the planet, empowers the people and improves our quality of life. Just Transition is the pathway from a pollution-based extractive economy (dependent on energy like nuclear, fracking, and dirty Tar Sands oil) to implementing a strategy to build local living economies that is environmentally grounded, produce community wellbeing, democratize decision-making, and promote local control of resources (including land, water, and food systems).
The 2014 Our Power National Convening is hosted by the Richmond Environmental Justice Coalition (REJC), along with the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA). The Our Power Campaign is a growing national movement led by the Climate Justice Alliance, working to build interconnected power bases of impacted communities across the US to end the era of extreme energy and implement a Just Transition to local living economies.
Richmond, California is one of a growing number of “Our Power Communities” of the Our Power Campaign and is home to the 3,000 acre Chevron Oil Refinery – one of the largest stationary greenhouse gas emitters in the State of California, causing profound respiratory and health illnesses. Richmond is at the frontline of climate struggles and challenging a pollution based economy. Our grassroots environmental justice community is building our organizing power with community members and partners towards making a healthy, clean, green, democratic and equitable economy for Richmond.
The Our Power National Convening will have a special focus on bringing together frontline communities impacted by fossil fuel infrastructure projects like crude and coal by rail, refinery expansions and pipelines, while centering community-led, solution-oriented just transition strategies. The REJC, which is developing a Just Transition platform, is working to create jobs that foster healthy communities in Richmond by building up the local economy through the arenas of clean community power, local food systems, cooperatives and strengthened housing rights, while addressing pollution, health, and safety issues at the Chevron refinery and in the community.
WHO WILL ATTEND?
The National Our Power Convening will have over 350 local and national participants from frontline communities and allies from across the country who are organizing to build healthy and more resilient communities while fighting back against climate destructive projects in their community. One of the main goals of the convening is to prioritize frontline communities and communities of color. Existing national partners and members of the Our Power Campaign from the Climate Justice Alliance and Grassroots Global Justice membership will be given priority. Space is limited.
August 6 – 9, 2014
Richmond’s Our Power Convening will take place over four full days of activity:
- DAY ONE & DAY TWO: Building Our Power: Sharing Solutions, Strategies & Skills for a Just Transition: Strategy sessions on just transition including clean community power, local food systems, zero waste, worker cooperatives, and non-extractive financing models.
- DAY THREE: Connecting Our Power to Challenge Fossil Fuels Infrastructure: Strategy session across Our Power communities and further development of national policy agenda.
- DAY FOUR: Power Without Pollution: Communities United for a Just Transition – Mass Mobilization with hundreds of Bay Area and national allies taking action for an economy for life.
OUR POWER CONVERGENCE STRATEGIES
These strategies will be thematic threads throughout the convening.
- Organize to Stop the Bad: Taking Action Against Polluters and the Extractive Economy
- Organize to Build the New: Creating an Economy for Life
- Organize to Move the Money: Divestment from Fossil Fuels & Investment to Community Economies for Life
- Organize to Strengthen Democracy & the Public Sector: Labor and Electoral Power
- Organize to Change the Rules: Policy, Law, and Legislation
- Organize to Change the Story: Change the Frame to Our Power
- Skill-Share Themes: Direct Action, Organizing and others
Day of Action!
Held on the last day of the Our Power National Convening, the Day of Action will amplify the grassroots-led solutions of Richmond and other communities on the frontlines of energy injustice and social injustice. From a Chevron-dominated city government to a majority progressive city council and a green party mayor, the community has galvanized to take back the city. Communities are taking action to directly meet their needs by creating jobs that foster healthy communities, by building up the local economy through clean community power, local food systems, worker cooperatives and strengthened housing rights, while addressing pollution, health, and safety issues at the Chevron refinery and in the community.
Richmond Background & Political Context
Richmond is a working class, and predominantly people of color community impacted by decades of environmental blight and economic divestment. It is home to a 3,000 acre Chevron Oil Refinery – one of the largest stationary greenhouse gas emitters in the State of California, causing profound cumulative health impacts, such as asthma, respiratory illnesses, and cancer affecting kids and families.
Nearly 80% of people living within one mile of the Chevron refinery are people of color and the majority are working class. So it comes as no surprise that Chevron’s strategy has been to divide these communities – pitting workers against communities of color, prospective jobs against community health. For over a hundred years, Chevron has not only polluted Richmond’s air, but also polluted its democracy by spending millions of dollars in local elections and manipulating the community with misleading advertising and puppet politicians. Richmond also suffers from high rates of unemployment and home foreclosures.
In the face of Chevron’s pollution, Richmond, California community members are on the frontlines of organizing to create a healthy, democratic and equitable economy. This grassroots effort, driven by Richmond’s progressive and working class community is leading Richmond out of the shadows of the Chevron Refinery and business as usual politics into the sunlight of a resilient and thriving community.
Richmond is ground zero to climate fights and protecting community health and safety from Big Oil. Our grassroots environmental justice community built organizing power and filed a lawsuit in 2009 that halted the expansion of Chevron’s dirty energy project, resulting in preventing nearly 1 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. We are the first responders fighting for workers and community health and safety on the state, regional and local level after the August 6th, 2012 Chevron refinery explosion that sent 15,000 residents and 19 workers to seek medical attention. We recently sued Kinder Morgan and the regional air district seeking to rip to shreds their permit to allow further shipments of “highly flammable” Bakken crude oil by rail to a Richmond fuel trans-loading facility that sits near an elementary school.
The Richmond community has welcomed the vision of a just transition. Richmond is currently the largest city in the United States served by a Green Party Mayor committed to climate protection, green jobs, greening the city, and clean energy. It also is the first majority people of color community in the nation to have Community Choice Energy that permits the city to create local clean renewable energy projects for residents, businesses and municipal facilities and to facilitate the purchase and sale of electricity. We have a growing and robust urban agriculture and workers cooperative movement. We are working with community members and our local partners towards making a healthy, clean, green, democratic and equitable economy for Richmond.
Chevron recently release their draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a new dirty oil expansion project. Chevron is using hundreds of thousands of dollars on public relations to manipulate the public. This new project would emit more than 700,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions and increase additional toxic air contaminants. We are mobilizing to ensure the (EIR) is corrected, reduce pollution, increase clean energy alternatives and protect workers and community health and safety.
In addition, this is a major election year in Richmond. Five of seven City Council seats are up for election in 2014, spelling a potential seismic shift in the composition of city government. With Chevron having a history of spending millions in the elections and influencing local, regional and state politics, this the core political context of our building a just transition movement.
At the heart of our movement is organizing Richmond community members to be the leaders of this struggle. As a diverse and progressive community, we have been resisting fossil fuel companies and the Extraction Economy for generations. This is a critical time to organize, inform and educate the Richmond community, region and the nation; and the Our Power Gathering is a place to catalyze our vision for a Just Transition.
Richmond Environmental Justice Coalition: Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), California Nurses Association, Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), Urban Tilth, 350 Bay Area and the Sunflower Alliance.
RICHMOND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE COALITION’S JUST TRANSITION PLATFORM
We have a vision for building a just and sustainable city that will improve the health and quality of life for all Richmond residents. We must divest from unsustainable fossil fuel energy, corporate power, and the focus on profits at the expense of people. Instead, we can transform Richmond by investing in jobs and the economy, health and safety, strengthening our communities, and acting on climate change. The return on this investment will be measured in the long-term viability of our community and the planet. We must restore democratic participation in transitioning to an economy with quality jobs that support families while meeting our needs for safe housing, clean water, healthy food, inspiring education, access to education, long-lasting goods, and meaningful work. Richmond is leading the way for a just transition – getting to work developing local living economies that foster community resilience.
The people of Richmond have begun a Just Transition away from dirty energy and dirty dealing to local living economies. Together, we are ready to energize the future by:
- Stopping Chevron’s and others dirty energy and dirty dealing. For too long, the industrial economy of the Chevron refinery and other corporate entities has failed to meet the needs of Richmond’s working class communities. Chevron’s pollution has caused danger for our workers, asthma for our children, economic insecurity for our residents, and an ecological crisis for our planet.
- Stabilizing housing and making sure people can stay in Richmond. The City of Richmond was hard-hit by the housing crisis, and we need to stem the hemorrhaging. Nearly half of all homes here in Richmond with mortgages are underwater, and many are expected to go into foreclosure.
- Getting ourselves out from under corporations and fostering a local economy. We’re not going to sit back and let corporations run our city. We’re going to stand up to Wall Street, stand up to Chevron, and stand up FOR our community.
For more information, contact:
Vivian Huang, APEN, Local Coordinator
office: 510-834-8920 x 304
Michael Leon Guerrero, CJA Our Power Campaign, National Coordinator