Post-Election Inspiration: A Statement from Dogwood Alliance Executive Director Danna Smith Following the 2016 US Presidential Election
We at Dogwood Alliance, like many of our allies who share the passion for protecting our environment, are continuing to process the results of our elections and the deep divides they have exposed. Sandwiched in between a hurricane that slammed the Southeastern coast, an intense period of drought, and a series of endless wildfires, it’s been a bit overwhelming.
We’ve been silent up until now because we know that in times like these it’s important to take a pause, to reflect inward and connect with the people and things that inspire us most. We are deeply concerned about the planet and its people.
However, we are not afraid; rather, we are determined.
Dogwood Alliance believes that real change happens from the ground up, not the top down. For 20 years, we have been mobilizing diverse voices to defend the unique forests and communities in the South – the world’s largest wood producing region– from destructive industrial logging. It’s never been easy challenging the status quo, and we have been ridiculed, discounted, criticized, and attacked over the years. We know how to affect change in the face of misinformation and denial because we have been doing it successfully for two decades now.
No matter the challenge, our commitment to stand strong for the forests and communities of the South remains the same.
In the face of our new political landscape, the words of the Black Lives Matter movement hold truth, “The work will be harder, but the work is the same.“
For guidance at this time, we find inspiration in our roots – Southern communities working on the frontlines of forest destruction.
Our work supports the courageous citizens who are speaking out, organizing, challenging the status quo, and holding government and corporations accountable in their communities. They are the true leaders of the day. Leaders like Shamaka, Vicki, Nakisa, Luis, Temi, JC, and countless others taking action every day give us hope and inspiration.
Our activists and partners occupy a wide spectrum of differing political beliefs and cultural backgrounds but also share many common values.
All of us depend on clean air, clean water, the interconnected life that makes up our natural environment, and a healthy economy. We believe these connections are much more meaningful than our differences. At the same time, we understand that forest degradation and damage caused by industrial resource extraction has had far greater negative impacts on the health and vitality of the most vulnerable in our society, including rural, economically-disadvantaged communities and people of color. We will continue to stand united against oppression, fear, hate, and the continuation of a system that allows the rich to get richer at the expense of our local communities, working people, and our precious natural world.
We also draw inspiration from the trees.
Trees are strong in their purpose and they do the job that they have evolved to do. They do not deceive. They have deep roots, are immovable, and provide shelter from the storm. There is so much to be found in the power of nature and our forests. In the stillness and quiet of the forest, we can find peace in a busy, noisy and often divided world and we can learn a lot about ourselves and our own strength
Protecting forests is more important now than it has ever been.
As John Muir said, “The battle we have fought, and are still fighting for the forests is a part of the eternal conflict between right and wrong…so we must count on watching and striving for these trees and should always be glad to find anything so surely good and noble to strive for.”
By exposing the truth about forest destruction, organizing citizen action, and leveraging strategic (and even sometimes unlikely) partnerships, we’ve changed the business practices of some of the largest corporations in the world, impacted global climate policies, and forced governments from the local to the federal level to take action. We are stronger today than we’ve ever been, and together we’re getting even stronger.
Some of our guiding principles for challenging times:
- Be the change and the leader we want to see in the world.
- Embrace challenges as an opportunity to organize and have courageous conversations.
- Support our rural and frontline communities in building stronger economies that protect the air, water, and land.
- Stand united in opposing injustice of any kind and lift up the most vulnerable in our society.
- Take action every single day.
Shifting a paradigm is not going to happen in a mere four years. Dogwood is going to keep its focus on exposing the truth about forest destruction, supporting frontline communities, strengthening our movement, and bringing diverse stakeholders with differing perspectives together in tough conversations that challenge the current thinking to get us closer to finding solutions. We can do this together.
We invite you to comment below with your thoughts about our guiding principles, the organizing for change you want to see, how you are feeling, and what inspires you.