A message to Vancouver Climate Activists

Brad Hornick

Dear Climate Rebels, This is from Brad Hornick. I am writing to you as an original organizer for Climate Convergence. The original vision of Convergence was about creating not an "organization" but a "movement" based on radical democratic principles and with the desire to maintain a strong and explicitly anti-capitalist, anti-colonial and anti-patriarchal approach to organizing. These aims are written into the Convergence "Points of Unity".

This vision is very different from the NGO-led environmentalism witnessed in the province for the last twenty-five years. While achieving various isolated victories, the effect has been to either avoid building or directly undercutting a radically democratic and explicitly political vision that truly has the capacity to shape the future of the province. The result is that in the midst of increasingly dire climate emergency, Vancouver and BC is still growing as an epicentre of gas, oil and coal extraction and transportation in North America.

In the face of this emergency, at the global level, the climate justice movement has evolved as of late along two clear lines: (1) developing a systemic critique of environmental crisis and, (2) opening to a leadership based in radical indigenous/First Nations land defenders, direct action groups, volunteer-led community groups, and others most directly affected by ecological harm and social injustice/inequalities.

The future of environmentalism is in connecting to the rest of the world's activists by building infrastructure and vision that supports wholesale "system change" – a kind of transformation that challenges the organizing logic of present systems of economic and political power, and that aims for completely new relationships between "society" and "nature". This will involve connecting sincere environmental activists with the greater social and political activist community, so that an environmental movement is at the same time part of a wider social movement. Only a networking organization with explicitly movement-building aims and capacities will accomplish this.

This is a reversal within environmentalism from a trend consistent with the neoliberalization of civil society within the last 35 years, that saw some of our best "activists" become part of institutionalized, bureaucratic, U.S.-funded and fundraising-preoccupied, staffed, silo-ed, and market-solutions oriented environmentalism.

Climate Convergence has done much to contribute to reversing this trend by building the beginnings of a "movement" in Vancouver. In its original vision, it is a much needed organization with incredible potential. It has shown in its short life that it can do great things. Convergence has always welcomed all, but has also struggled to be guided by strategic principles that bring people together for the right reasons that match the depth, breadth and urgency of the climate and social crisis.

I have not been involved with Convergence for several months. I am now officially signing-off as a key organizer and formally handing this listserve over to new organizers of Climate Convergence. I still strongly support the original vision and encourage everyone with the will to be involved to do the same. I urge all individuals and groups who are interested in building a powerful movement, one strong enough to contend squarely with the corporate forces of ecocide – to join Vancouver Climate Convergence, support those who are willing to put time into building the network, and join the fight to maintain a radical movement vision.

Please attend the meeting on June the 29th. Ask who the organizers are, question who is invited to speak, bring your sense of movement-building strategy, constructively support activists with a vision that is meaningful to you. Create a community of loving, soulful, courageous, but also critical and strategic activists.