On his 30th birthday, John Wallace is removed from a logging skidder with a blowtorch after he locked his neck to the machine to stop logging in the Shawnee National Forest. Photo: Langelle (1990)
Note: With this article, we look back at the historic campaign that shut down logging in the Shawnee National Forest for almost 2 decades as we prepare to convene The Resurgence: North American Forest and Climate Movement Convergence there this October 11-14 to find cutting edge new strategies to address the social justice, climate and deforestation crises.
by Orin Langelle and John B. Wallace
The occupation of the Fairview Timber Sale area in the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois lasted for 79 days – at that time the longest occupation in Earth First! history. The area slated to be cut was rich in biodiversity, a haven for songbirds, and loved by the many locals who went there to watch the birds, camp, or enjoy nature.
Earth First!ers in the Shawnee publicly stood in solidarity with the Mohawks during the Oka Crisis; the 78-day standoff between Mohawk protesters, police, and the army in Canada.
The Shawnee defenders also stood in solidarity with Redwood Summer, a major national mobilization to save the last of the ancient redwoods. Earlier that year, EF! Redwood Summer organizer Judi Bari was almost killed when a pipe bomb exploded under the seat of the car she was driving.
There was a lot of support during the occupation. Local organic growers donated more food than the camp could use and even the postmaster for the area gave the encampment a postal mailbox so mail could be delivered to the forest defenders.
By the time the occupiers were removed, the protest in the Shawnee was evening news in Illinois and many parts of Kentucky, Indiana and Missouri. The major daily newspaper in Springfield, IL, the state’s capital, called the occupation “a popular uprising.”
On day 79, the encampment was raided and many were arrested as the bulldozers moved in. Following the next day of mass protest, civil disobedience, and multiple arrests, the 7th Circuit appellate court in Chicago issued a stay on day two of the logging operations.
Even though the Illinois U.S. Congressional Delegation formally submitted a request that the agency halt logging, the stay was eventually lifted. Even with daily protests and more than thirty arrests, the Forest Service eventually logged Fairview in the fall of 1991. The project cost federal taxpayers more than ten times the amount that the logging company paid to cut the forest.
While it took several years, Fairview was the beginning of the end to the Shawnee timber program for two decades. Litigation led to a court issuing a permanent injunction on the Forest Service’s 1992 management plan for the Shawnee. The injunction prevented logging, oil and gas leasing, and off highway vehicle usage for 17 years. After petitioning the court, the Forest Service won a motion to lift the injunction in 2013.
Once the injunction was removed, the Forest Service quickly began plodding down the same path and started preparing logging projects. This time they combined the logging operations with much larger – “restoration” – projects, that make up thousands of acres and natural maintenance areas. This was clearly done to make it more difficult to track the actual prices logging companies were paying for the trees. The project proposals also include prescriptions for massive burning (1,000 to 3,000 acres) and extensive herbicide use.
The Uprising Continues
Shawnee Forest Defense! is a new group of local residents who are rooted in the spirit of past Shawnee resistance and are standing firm for our future. This group of people started organizing following a Heartwood training workshop in 2017. Folks have been letter writing, attending forums, and speaking out. A second training workshop in October of last year, coupled with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report, has inspired more people to step up and get involved.
This fall, we will be hosting The Resurgence: 2019 North American Forest and Climate Movement Convergence in the Shawnee from October 11th to October 14th. Come join us!
Orin Langelle is a concerned/activist photographer, who for over four decades has been documenting peoples’ resistance to war, corporate globalization, ecological destruction and human rights abuses. John B. Wallace is part of Shawnee Forest Defense! Both Wallace and Langelle were organizers during the Shawnee National Forest Occupation. Many people who participated in the events discussed in the above article will be present at this October’s gathering in the Shawnee Forest.
This interview took place earlier this month with Eleanor Goldfield for her Act Out program on Free Speech TV. The program went live today. We discussed the global links between deforestation, climate change and capitalism and the need to lift up human rights, real solutions and especially reduction in overconsumption in elite countries in the global north.
You can check out the show here:
The show concludes with a call to join us to become active in the movement for change at The Resurgence: 2019 North American Forest and Climate Movement Convergence. For more info and details how to register, go here: http://forestclimateconvergence.org
GJEP Communications Director Orin Langelle discusses his Portraits of Struggle exhibit, while it was on display at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio over Earth Week. Photo: Petermann/GJEP
This has been an amazing three months for all of GJEP’s programs, and for the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees, the international network coordinated by GJEP that is dedicated to ensuring that communities and forests are protected from the risks of releasing of GE trees into the environment. We made great strides both nationally and internationally.
U.S. Researchers are seeking unprecedented USDA, EPA and FDA permission to plant GE trees throughout eastern forests with no monitoring or regulation.
Once planted in the forests, these GE American chestnut trees, which can live over 200 years, would spread uncontrollably. Their GE pollen would contaminate wild American chestnuts and could even contaminate cultivated chestnut orchards.
There are no long-term assessments of the risks they pose. How they will impact soils, insects, birds, wildlife or even human health is simply not known.
It is a massive and irreversible experiment with the forests. That is why we are working so hard to stop it.
Visit our new GE chestnut action page at stopgetrees.org/chestnut to get involved.
There you will find our White Paper on the risks of GE chestnuts, our petition to the USDA, a media webinar summarizing the issues with these GE trees, a STOP GE Trees Campaign interview on NPR’s On Point Radio, and articles written by the report’s co-authors published in Independent Science News, The Ecologist, Earth Island Journal and Counterpunch.
Biotechnology For Forest Health?
The Test Case of the Genetically Engineered American Chestnut
Quilombola woman describes the resistance of her village against the timber industry. Photo: Petermann
In Porto Alegre Brazil, over April 7-12, GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann attended a national meeting of communities and groups strategizing to stop the spread of industrial timber plantations and future GE tree plantations. The meeting was co-convened by GJEP, World Rainforest Movement and Friends of the Earth Brazil.
During the meeting, strategies and plans were developed for greater collaboration, including a joint media work to link the efforts to legalize GE trees in both the US and Brazil– crucial since many of the same GE tree companies and researchers work in both countries.
In addition to monitoring the conference, and reminding participants of the decades of militant opposition to GE trees all over the world, we met with local and regional groups and delivered a report back from the proceedings that we developed into a mini-video in 3 languages.
Ultimately, the Tree Biotechnology Conference ended in confusion. Their obsession with public opposition was evident both by the constant police presence at the event, and by a lengthy session devoted to the topic. The underlying anxiety was palpable and left a pall over the event.
At the end, the conference descended into disarray, without confirmation of when or where their next event would be, who would take the top three leadership roles in it, or whether they should continue to use the term “biotechnology” due to its controversial nature.
We call that a victory!
“This is not another conference. This is a call to action to radically transform the economic and political systems that drive climate change, forest destruction & the commodification of life.”
GJEP is co-convening this important event with Indigenous Environmental Network and Shawnee Forest Defense! as well as an organizing committee composed of groups from across the US and Canada.
Listen to our 24 May radio interview about the convergence with our Board member Karen Pickett, which commemorated Judi Bari Day, on KPFA Radio in Berkeley!
¡Buen Vivir! Gallery, Langelle Photography & Earth Radio
GJEP’s Ruddy Turnstone (right) speaks to artist Sara Tang (left) during the In Between the Middle Opening Reception on April 5th at GJEP’s ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery in Buffalo. Photo courtesy #notwhitecollective
GJEP’s ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery featured the Buffalo, NY premiere of the #notwhite collective’s exhibit In Between the Middle. This exhibit explored the politics of race in the U.S. and included art, photography and spoken word. The all-woman artist collective received rave reviews and we look forward to working with them again!
Langelle Photography, is the global justice photography program directed by GJEP co-founder and documentary photographer Orin Langelle. The PhotoLangelle.org website features photo essays, photos of the month and other posts linking art and activism.
Langelle’s Portraits of Struggle Exhibit Hits the Road
From Portraits of Struggle: Women healers prepare traditional medicines in Amador Hernandez, an Indigenous village in the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas, Mexico that was threatened with forced relocation for a forest carbon offset deal between Chiapas and California. Photolangelle.org
Orin has been taking his acclaimed Portraits of Struggle exhibit on the road, and in April it was featured at Mt. Union College in Ohio, where Langelle was a visiting artist and guest lecturer over Earth Week.
Logging vs. Songbirds: Photojournalism in Action
Mud caked tires and the tracks that covered them on a forwarder used to haul out lumber at the industrial Lee Mine logging project in the Shawnee National Forest (SNF). (April 2019) PhotoLangelle.org
While in Southern Illinois in April, Langelle was alerted to a logging operation in the Shawnee National Forest in the middle of songbird nesting season. He took this photo which was widely publicized and caused outrage at the actions of the Forest Service.
GJEP’s Earth Radio segments, the Earth Minute and the Earth Watch Interview, happen each week in partnership with Margaret Prescod’s nationally syndicated Sojourner Truth Radio show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles. 2019 marks ten years since we started this important collaboration!
You can find all the shows here: https://globaljusticeecology.
Global Justice Ecology Project, a Buffalo, NY-based non-profit organization with a social and ecological justice mission, is seeking a part-time Operations and Administrative Assistant.
GJEP’s programs focus on building networks and movements to protect forests, address the root causes of climate change, and defend the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
As part of our this work, GJEP uses art and photography to advance our mission, amplify the struggles of communities around the world for justice, highlight important and forgotten movement histories, and to inspire people to become involved in the movement for social change. We also run the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art, which is located adjacent to our office.
GJEP seeks a part-time Operations & Support Assistant for its Buffalo, NY office. Position responsible providing administrative support, general office duties, online and website posts, processing donor gifts and acknowledgements and volunteer coordination. The position also includes work to archive and organize historical photographs as part of our commitment to preserving and showcasing movement history.
A demonstrated commitment to social and ecological justice essential. An interest in art highly desirable. Experience with non-profits preferred.
Strong administrative and computer skills required, including proficiency in WordPress, social media platforms and MS Office programs (Word, Excel). Knowledge of Quickbooks a plus. Must be able to multi-task, work independently, possess good communication skills and be a creative problem-solver. Candidate should have excellent attention to detail, be dependable and highly organized.
20 hours per week for first three months with option for more hours as the position evolves. $16,640/year to start. Benefits include paid vacation.
Responsibilities of the position include:
• Supporting the Directors of the organization
• Coordinating with our accountants regarding bookkeeping and bill paying.
• Supporting fundraising activities, maintaining the member database
• Archiving and organizing historical photographs
• Managing inquiries and member correspondence via phone, mail and email
• Updating the organization’s websites and social media
• Troubleshooting as needed
• Managing volunteers
To apply, please send a resume with a writing sample and three references, to Operations and Administrative Assistant Position, to Anne Petermann, email@example.com with “Operations and Administrative Assistant Position” in the subject line. No phone calls or drop ins. Job to start as soon as qualified applicant is found.
Earth Watch: Alex Cohen On Nuclear Waste & North American Climate and Forest Convergence
Alex Cohen, organizer from St. Louis, Missouri, discussed the radioactive landfill that is burning in the Missouri river floodplain. He also discusses the Resurgence: North American Forest and Climate Movement Convergence and the history of struggle in the Shawnee National Forest where the event will take place in October.