Julia Butterfly Goes Out on a Limb to Save LA Farm
World Environment Day & The Earth Summit

June 2, 2006

Julia Butterfly Goes Out on a Limb
To Save LA Neighborhood Farm

By Redwood Mary / Womens Global Green Action Network

Julia Butterfly Hill maintains a vigil to protect an endangered community farm. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / LA Times
As many of you have already heard.... Julia Butterfly Hill is sitting in a tree along with fellow tree-sitters John Quigley and folk singer and activist superstar Joan Baez.

Read on for more info here or go to www.circleoflife.org, but NOW what you can do is:

1. Go to the FARM NOW for tonight's vigil. For address and info see: www.southcentralfarmers.com. We have heard that tomorrow morning the LA Sheriff's Department will enter the farm and need community support tonight. Please forward this info to anyone you know in Los Angeles.

2. Call Mayor Villaraigosa and tell him that you want the City of Los Angeles to buy the farm back from the developer and give it in perpetuity to the South Central Farmers. (213) 978-0600 3.

Make a donation to help the South Central Farmers buy back the farm at: www.southcentralfarmers.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=114&Itemid=32

Julia is asking for every person to give at least $1 towards this historic farm. Together we can make the difference. Donate NOW at www.southcentralfarmers.com

NOTE: The-Edge has sent a $500 Green Pages Fund donation to the fund to save the South Central Farm.

Here's the Story
Just about one week ago, Julia walked into the Circle of Life office and told us that while she hoped it did not come down to the need for her to do direct action to save the South Central Farm in Los Angeles, she would be up in a tree soon if there was a need.

On Tuesday, May 23 Julia stationed herself in the “community watchtower” -- a 3-story-high walnut tree on the 14-acre South Central Farm. She joins in solidarity with 350 poor working class families who use the farm to grow organic food for themselves and their community.

Fourteen years ago, this spot was a wasteland- and in the wake of the 1992 LA uprising then-Mayor Bradley and Doris Block of the LA Food Bank made a handshake deal to allow it to be used for a community farm. Today, after thousands and thousands of hours of sweat and labor, the South Central Farm is the largest urban farm in the nation.

The 350 families who use the farming plots are low income and depend heavily upon the food they grow to feed themselves. In addition to growing food for themselves, the people involved with the community garden hold Farmers' Markets, festivals and other cultural events for the public at large.

In a backroom deal in 1996, the 14-acre farm was offered to a developer at a discount, but the deal was never approved by the City Council. In 2002, the developers sued the City and a settlement was reached giving the farm to the developers for a significantly below-market price.

To repurchase the farm, the developer is insisting on over $16 million (they paid just over $5 million for it four years ago) and $6 million has already been raised by the South Central Farmers. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has the ability to pay the rest of selling price from the City budget, or further challenge the original sale. However, he has done neither.

“This is the Promised Land”, community leader Dele Ailemen emphatically stated on the encampment’s first day. “It was land that was promised to this community by the Mayor of Los Angeles after the 1992 uprising.”

“It will not be taken away by broken political promises.”

Redwood Mary (Mary Rose Kaczorowski) is Co-Founder Womens Global Green Action Network. - A Project Of Earth Island Institute PO Box 14146 Berkeley CA 94712 mobile: 510-459-9448 email: redwoodmary@yahoo.com

World Environment Day
& The Earth Sabbath

By Gar Smith / The Edge

Last year, San Francisco played host to the United Nations' celebration of World Environment Day on June 5. This year, the honor falls to Algiers, Algeria. It is an appropriate choice given this year's theme -- "Deserts and Desertification: Don't Desert Drylands!" The call is timely. Deserts and drylands (the Earth's least celebrated and most overlooked ecosystems) cover more than 40% of the globe's land surface and are home to one-third of the planet's inhabitants.

World Environment Day was established in 1972 "to give a human face to environmental issues." In contrast to America's Earth Day, WED tends to be more universal, ecumenical, and politically engaged. Still, come June 5, there will be plenty of people planting trees, bicycling, parading, and attending rallies and concerts -- from Roanoke to Rangoon.

The approach of World Environment Day also signals the return of another unique UN-conceived event -- the Earth Sabbath -- a day of worship that transcends denominations and welcomes all faiths to participate in a day of global reverence for the Earth.

Established by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) in 1987, the Environmental Sabbath (also known as “Earth Rest Day") is celebrated on the weekend nearest World Environment Day. This year, Earth Sabbath falls on Friday, June 2 - Sunday, June 4.

During the days of the Earth Sabbath, temples, synagogues, cathedrals, ashrams and mosques all open their doors to unique expressions of common purpose. On this long weekend, around the world, millions of people in thousands of dialects in hundreds of countries will raise their voices in chants, songs and prayers for the survival of the living planet.

This is a day to abstain from any work that exploits the Earth. Ideally, this would be a day when all the world's refineries and industrial smokestacks would be stilled, when all automobile and aircraft traffic would cease and people would gather outside to worship the wonders of creation in a cleaner, quieter world.

UNEP Director Dr. Noel J. Brown announced the first Earth Sabbath with a stirring declaration: "We are talking about a ten-year window -- some 4,000 days -- to turn the tide against our environmental abuse." He extended an appeal to the world's religious communities to "create an ecumenical movement -- I call it an "eco-menical" movement -- in the service of the Earth."

Sadly, Dr. Brown's ten-year window slammed shut in 1997 with Nature decidedly the worse for wear. "Humanity is now confronted with accelerating and explosive changes that will affect the way we live and work, how and what we eat, our modes of production and consumption and transportation, where we live and even how we rear our children," Brown warned. "Our use of energy and natural resources is pushing the biosphere closer to its limits. They may have already pushed us well beyond the carrying capacity of certain ecological systems."

"Perhaps the end is indeed near," Brown reflected. But, he suggested, this could be a good thing. "It may simply be the end... of the era in which governments were the centerpiece of social organization.... The UN was premised on war/peace issues and these issues were dominated by governments. But now we are confronted with Earth issues -- issues that concern all of us.

"We are losing species at the rate of one a day and a virtual biological holocaust is in the making," Brown observed. "We... cannot hope to solve the problems of the future with only the institutions and the mentality of the past.... We need... a new legitimacy, a new ethic, and new metaphors."

One of those "new metaphors" was the Earth Covenant, a pledge to "broaden our sense of right and wrong‚ beyond the social sense -- to find some sense of 'right living' in dealing with the Earth."

The Earth Covenant proposes the following principles and actions:

Relationship with the Earth: All Life is sacred. Each human being is a unique and integral part of the Earth's community of life and has a special responsibility to care for life in all its diverse forms. Therefore: We will act and live in a way that preserves the natural life processes of the Earth and respects all species and their habitats.

Relationship with Each Other: Each human being has the right to a healthful environment and to access to the fruits of the Earth. Each also has a continual duty to work for the realization of these rights for present and future generations. Therefore: Concerned that every person have food, shelter, pure air, potable water, education, employment, and all that is necessary to enjoy the full measure of human rights, we will work for more equitable access to the Earth's resources.

Relationship between Economic and Ecological Security: Since human life is rooted in the natural processes of the Earth, economic development, to be sustainable, must preserve the life-support systems of the Earth. Therefore: We will use environmentally protective technologies and promote their availability to people in all parts of the Earth. When doubtful about the consequences of economic goals and technologies on the environment, we will allow an extra margin of protection for nature.

For more information on World Environment Day and the Environmental Sabbath, contact UNEP, Room DC2-803, UN, New York, NY 10017; unep.org

Earth Wisdom from
The World's Faith Traditions

UNEP Earth Sabbath Newsletter

Hinduism: The Earth is our mother and we are all her children.

Buddhism: Children know in their minds that all human beings are the same. It’s time for elders to listen to the child’s voice.
-- His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

Judaism: A person’s life is sustained by trees. Plant them for the sake of your children.
-- From the Seder Tu Bisheyat (The Festival of Trees).

Islam: Whoever soils the river, on the day of judgment, that person is going to be given the responsibility of cleaning the river.
-- Sheikh Ahman Kuftaro, Grand Mufti of Syria.

Native American: We are taught to plant our feet carefully on Mother Earth because the faces of all future generations are looking up from it.
-- Oren Lyons, Chief Joagquisho of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederation.

Sikhism: Air is the Vital Force. Water the Progenitor. The Vast Earth, the Mother of All. Day and Night are nurses, fondling all Creation in their lap.
-- Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism.

Bahá’i: If an animal be sick, let the children try to heal it; if it be hungry, let them feed it....
-- Abdu’l-Bahá.

Christianity: One generation passeth away and another generation cometh; but the Earth abideth forever.
-- Ecclesiastes 1:4.

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