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Memorial Photo Tribute for Pete Seeger’s 95th Birthday, May 3rd

by Orin Langelle, Langelle Photography

For Pete  

Born: 3 May 1919, New York City, NY 
Died: 27 January 2014, New York City, NY

pete seeger


Please have a look at these photos I took of Pete Seegerhttp://wp.me/p2Mr2B-TX last year during this performance in Buffalo, NY.  I believe this was the second to the last performance by Pete Seeger.

I thought it would be appropriate to release them in remembrance of what would have been his 95th birthday, this Saturday, 3 May 2014.

¡Pete Seeger Presente!



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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Events, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle

New Langelle Photography Program website launched

“The concerned photographer finds much in the present unacceptable which he tries to alter. Our goal is simply to let the world also know why it is unacceptable“- Cornell Capa (1918-2008)
Young girls in Amador Hernández   Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Young girls play in Amador Hernández

Today Global Justice Ecology Project is proud to launch the new website PhotoLangelle.org for Langelle Photography, a program dedicated to using the power of photojournalism to expose social and ecological injustice.

The website features the work of photojournalist Orin Langelle.  Langelle is Co-founder of Global Justice Ecology Project and from 2003 to 2012 was the Co-director/Strategist for the organization.  He now is the board chair and is focused on compiling his four decades of concerned photography.

We invite you to tour this beautiful new website, which is loaded with poignant portraits, dramatic protest photos and photos from Indigenous communities all over the world, among many others.

During the march against the Conference of Polluters.  Photo: Langelle/GJEP

Protest during Durban, South Africa’s United Nations Climate Conference, 2011.

For more information, contact: langellePhoto@PhotoLangelle.org

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Independent Media, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle

Sustainable Forestry Initiative Conference Protested in Burlington, VT (Op-Ed and Photos)

by Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project Executive Director

What follows is a series of photos along with an Op-Ed that I wrote for the Burlington Free Press–the Gannett-owned statewide newspaper of Vermont.  The Op-Ed (which has not yet been published) addresses the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) conference that came to Burlington this week, to much rancor from students at the University of Vermont.  The UVM students were mobilized to protest SFI’s bogus forest certification program by Adam Gaya, an organizer with ForestEthics.  They were joined by numerous residents of Vermont, as well as participants from Massachusetts and Maine.  All of the photos below are taken by Anne Petermann, with the exception of two photos which were taken by GJEP Co-Director/Strategist Orin Langelle.

Op-ED: Vermont is the Green Mountain State, not the Brown Mountain State–let’s keep it that way.

Regrown forest in Vermont near Camel's Hump. The SFI wants to certify as sustainable the large-scale logging of native forests to produce electricity. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

Vermont is a success story of forest regeneration.  In the mid-1800s, the state had lost about 80% of its forest.  Moose, songbirds and many other wild creatures vanished.  Today, much of that forest has regrown.  The state is now 80% forested and the moose have returned to Vermont once more.

I find it quite ironic, therefore, that the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) chose to bring its phony, timber industry-controlled forest-destroying “certification” conference to Burlington.

Why is it phony?  The SFI was founded by and is funded by the very timber industry it is supposed to watchdog.  It is the proverbial fox guarding the henhouse.  It’s purpose: make the large-scale deforestation activities of the biggest timber companies on the planet appear “green” by certifying them as “sustainable.”

Since 2004, SFI has conducted 543 audits of its “certified” companies to measure their compliance with SFI standards. Not one audit found any problems with the large-scale timber operations and clearcuts.

In one recent instance, two SFI-accredited auditors spent a mere five days assessing more than 46,875 square miles of public forest — an area larger than the entire state of Pennsylvania. Naturally, they reported no violations of SFI standards and found nothing wrong.

If you aren’t looking for problems, you won’t find them, and SFI are masters at not finding problems.  It is for this reason that the SFI certification seal cannot be trusted— whether office paper, envelopes or catalogs—their ‘green’ label is meaningless.

If we want to protect forests, and promote truly sustainable management of forests, then we must view SFI as greenwash, and a threat to forests and the people who depend on them.

SFI certifies hundreds of thousands of acres of forest across our region, and while they would like us to believe that these forests are well cared for, the fact is that they are as vulnerable as ever.  Plum Creek, one of the biggest participants in SFI’s certification scheme, owns nearly one million acres of timberland across Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire – and uses large-scale clearcutting and other destructive industrial logging practices.  Yet this rampant devastation is certified as ‘green’ by the SFI.  And guess what?  Plum Creek’s CEO sits on SFI’s board.

SFI protest in front of the Hilton where the SFI conference was occurring. Photo: Langelle/GJEP

SFI’s weak standards also allow other industrial logging practices that have resulted in landslides, widespread toxic chemical use and dangerous impacts to sensitive species.  In the future, SFI would even like to certify trees that have been genetically engineered–despite the fact that the public is overwhelming opposed to these dangerous Franken-trees.  If genetically engineered tree plantations are developed, the escape of pollen and/or seeds from them into native forests would be inevitable, irreversible and cause tremendous damage to forests.  To SFI and their corporate sponsors, however, GE trees mean enhanced profits and should therefore be certified.  Fortunately, we do not yet have GE tree plantations, so there is still time to stop this disaster.

For these and many other reasons, twenty environmental groups recently sent a letter to SFI demanding that the organization stop certifying destruction of forests as “sustainable.”  There are also several major U.S. companies – including Sprint, Allstate and Office Depot – that are disassociating themselves from the SFI.

Protester agrees to be "greenwashed" at the SFI protest. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

Meanwhile, the SFI continues to greenwash the products of forest destruction in order to intentionally confuse people who are truly concerned about the environment and want to make the right choices.

We Vermonters love our Green Mountains and want them to stay green–not blotched with clearcuts certified by SFI–which also is important as forests play a key role in stabilizing the climate.  And as we have seen with so much severe weather in Vermont this year, stabilizing the climate is more important than ever.

So, say no to SFI-certified greenwash products.  Say yes to truly sustainable, local, small-scale forestry.  Our forests are a treasure.

Let’s keep them that way.

Following are some additional photos from the protest:

Adam Gaya of ForestEthics speaks in front of the Hilton. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

Kate Kroll of the University of Vermont recites the crimes of the SFI. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

Brian Tokar, who teaches at the University of Vermont,riles up the crowd. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

Anne Petermann of Global Justice Ecology Project denounces the forest criminals meeting in the Hilton. Photo: Langelle/GJEP

SFI conference participant heckles the protest but is drowned out by loud chants. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

Protesters raise the volume. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

The SFI is seeking ways to make genetically engineered trees certifiable as "sustainable." Photo: Petermann/GJEP

Another victim of "greenwashing." Photo: Petermann/GJEP

As delegates begin to emerge from the conference, protesters get rowdy. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, GE Trees, Posts from Anne Petermann

Photo Essay from Vermont: The Recovery from Hurricane Irene Begins

As of Tuesday, 30 August 2011, there were still thirteen towns in the U.S. state of Vermont that were completely cut off from the outside world due to the torrential rains of Hurricane Irene.  This was because roads like Route 100, which runs north and south through the state, sustained catastrophic damage to its culverts and bridges for many miles.    In all, over 200 roads across the state were closed due to wash outs from the heavy rains that pelted the state for nearly twenty-four hours on Sunday, August 28.

Route 100--this and other washed out bridges and culverts cut off the town of Granville, VT from the outside world

Text: Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

Photos: Orin Langelle, Co-Director/Strategist, Global Justice Ecology Project

Orin Langelle and I toured a portion of our home state of Vermont on Tuesday, 30 August to witness and document some of the destruction that Hurricane Irene had left in its wake.  Though it was downgraded to a “tropical storm” by the time it reached Vermont, its torrential rains wreaked havoc around the state.  Where we live, we had been quite fortunate and only lost electricity for twenty-three hours or so.  Other parts of the state were far less lucky.  During our travels, however, we witnessed the resiliency of Vermonters, who tackled their own loss or the loss of their neighbors, not only with fortitude, but also with humor and a very New England-like matter of fact-ness.

The post-flood clean up effort begins in Waterbury, VT

Our journey began at Camp Johnson in Colchester, where the Vermont National Guard is stationed, to see what an official governmental response looked like.  Vermont’s National Guard sustained the heaviest losses per capita of any U.S. state during the occupation of Iraq.  Like many Vermont National Guardsmen, the young soldier we spoke with, Nathan Rivard of Enosburg Falls, explained that responding to the needs of his neighbors during disasters like Irene that was the reason he had joined the Guard.  The response to the storm was, he felt, the real story in Vermont. “It’s people helping people,” he explained.  “Not just the disaster, but how people respond after.”

VT National Guard personnel prepare relief packages

The Vermont National Guard responded while the storm was still raging to help Vermonters caught off guard by the inundation of water.  Before the sun was up on Tuesday morning, thirty FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) tractor-trailers had arrived at the National Guard’s Camp Johnson with water, ready to eat meals, blankets, cots and other supplies.

FEMA personnel prepare temporary shelters

Because of the widespread road damage, however, getting the supplies to the people who need them has been extremely challenging.  With thirteen towns completely cut off from the outside world, National Guard helicopters have been almost the only way to get help in from the outside—either in the form of medical assistance or basic necessities like food and water.

National Guard medical helicopter

The ability of the government to help over the long term, however, is highly uncertain as the number of natural disasters in the U.S. over the past year has severely depleted FEMA’s budget.

[Note:  We asked the VT National Guard what communities in VT were receiving supplies from the Guard  so we could document distribution.  We were never given that information.]

The People Pull Together

From Camp Johnson, we headed to Waterbury, where Vermont’s state offices are located–and sustained heavy flood damage.  Waterbury was submerged under 10 feet or more of water when the Winooski River rose to record flood levels in minutes.  Even the state’s emergency management office succumbed to the flooding waters and had to relocate to Burlington—the state’s largest city.  When Irene hit Sunday, WDEV (Radio Vermont) stayed on the air all day and night with a generator, despite losing power from the grid and their internet connection.  While a commercial station, they remain dedicated to their community.  WDEV provided valuable information to residents about flooding damage and impassable roads during the disaster.  See Democracy Now! for an interview with the WDEV station owner.

This photo shows the high water mark from the flood in Waterbury

By Tuesday, volunteers and neighbors were pouring support into the community.

At the first house we came to on Elm Street, one of the streets where the flooding had been the worst, a group was sharing stories about the scene on Sunday.  Their front yard was heaped with ruined debris.  The home’s owner explained to us that the water in the apartment he rented downstairs had been up to his shoulders.  He explained that he wouldn’t even be able to start dealing with the damage to the house until the insurance agent arrived—which wouldn’t be until Friday.

But, he emphasized, the outpouring of support had been amazing.  Restaurants were donating food to the relief effort, and a bus full of “Youth Build” participants had arrived earlier that day to pitch in.  “If you didn’t know there was a flood, you’d think it was a block party,” he explained with a smile.

Inside the house, it was easy to see just how destructive the flood had been.  Kitchen appliances were covered in mud, while at one end of what had presumably been the living room, a happy birthday sign still hung.  In another room, mud covered baby toys littered the floor.

A Happy Birthday sign still hangs on the wall

Cars did not fare well either during the flood.

Around the corner on Randall Street, the activity of clearing homes of debris and salvaging what could be salvaged was still under way.

Huge dumpsters lined the street and debris was being piled according to type with electronics in one pile, hazardous materials (mostly paint, stain and household chemicals) in another, and everything else going in the dumpsters.

We came across one woman who picked up a white jug and sighed, “this was an antique,” as she poured muddy water out of a gaping hole in its side.  “Oh well,” she said.  “It’s just stuff, right?” then chucked it into the dumpster.  “Bye.”

For some people the loss was clearly overwhelming.  Others got to work cleaning what could be cleaned.

Coming up the road we encountered three intrepid children, helping out the best they could by giving out bottles of water.  They were very serious about their job, asking everyone they met if they wanted something to drink.

Among the ruins were tarps laid out with items that had been salvaged and washed, drying in the sun.  Many people managed to tackle the mess with a positive attitude.

From Waterbury, we headed down Route 100—one of the hardest hit roads in the state.  Not far down the road, we came to Moretown, were the Mad River had lived up to its name.

Bridge over the Mad River, severely damaged by the flood

The Mad River, now back to its calm, pristine self, had become a raging torrent on Sunday, shutting down Route 100B and flooding the Village Cemetery.

Workers repair the bridge over Route 100B in Moretown

The cemetery fence was buckling under the weight of the flood debris that was caught in its chain links and many headstones had been flattened—including those of the entire Philemon Family (dating back to 1865) and Bulkley Family (dating back to 1822).

Across the street, another home was half-hidden by debris with a lonely pair of mud-covered rubber boots testifying to the people that had lived there.

Further down Route 100, on the border of Waitsfield and Warren, the Mad River had taken out half of the road.

Nearby, American Flatbread, a unique and very popular Mad River Valley institution featuring an outdoor bonfire, indoor clay flatbread oven and walls covered with Bread and Puppet art, had also succumbed to the raging mud.  As we passed, teams of people were pitching in to help clean out the mess.

Our final stop on Route 100, where we could go no further, was at the border of Warren and Granville.  The road was washed out.  Route 100 further to the south was closed due to water, and Route 125, the only link to the west, was also impassable.  This left the towns of Granville, Hancock and Rochester, all located along Rte 100, cut off from the outside world.

At the roadblock we spoke with some electrical workers who were trying to get to the town of Rochester.  They had been talking with the road worker at the wash out to see how they might travel south.  “We’re based in South Royalton,” one electrical worker explained.  “We’ve been trying to get to Rochester all day. They’re without power and we’re trying to get in to fix it.  We tried to get to Rochester from the South but couldn’t get in. Now we’re trying to get in from the North, but that’s not working either.  We’re going to try some small dirt roads now to see if we can get around these wash outs.”

The Mad River near Granville--not so mad anymore

While the record devastation around Vermont has been catastrophic to many communities, the spirit of collective teamwork that we experienced on our journey gave us a hopeful glimpse of what is possible and the mountains that can be moved when people pull together.  As we head into the uncertain future of escalating climate chaos and extreme weather, this spirit may be the one thing that enables communities to come together to find local, small scale, ecologically sustainable solutions to the climate crisis.


Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Natural Disasters, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle, Posts from Anne Petermann, Water

GJEP Photo of the Month: Freight train derails on same tracks used for Three Mile Island nuclear waste transport

Photo:  Langelle

On 26 January 1988, twenty-one cars from a Union Pacific freight train derailed near the dioxin contaminated ghost town of Times Beach, Missouri (US).  Some of the cars plunged off a forty-foot trestle and onto the banks of the Meremec River.  A fire ensued.  Downwind from the smoke, Washington University’s Tyson Research Center was evacuated because one of the derailed cars contained the residue of toluene diisocyanate (TDI), a toxic substance.  These were the same tracks used to transport nuclear waste from the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident to a storage depot in Idaho.

Due to activist and public pressure the TMI trains were re-routed off of the faulty tracks, but ultimately not stopped.

With the tragic situation of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan still unfolding, the German and Italian governments are rejecting nuclear power.

Additionally, Times Beach in the 1990s saw many protests and much citizen participation to stop a waste incinerator that was  to be built in order to burn dioxin-contaminated soil (thereby releasing dioxin into the air).  The government ignored the outcry of the people and built the incinerator.

Orin Langelle, GJEP’s Co-director/Strategist, is currently working on a book of four decades of his concerned photography.  From mid-June to mid-July Langelle is working on his book as an artist in residence at the Blue Mountain Center in New York’s Adirondack Mountains.

Also check out the GJEP Photo Gallery, past Photos of the Month posted on GJEP’s website, or Langelle’s photo essaysposted on this Climate Connections blog.

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Filed under Nuclear power, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle

April Photo of the Month: Mist Over the Lacandon Jungle

Mist over the Lacandon Jungle in Chiapas, Mexico as seen from the community of Amador Hernandez. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Orin Langelle, Co-director and Strategist for Global Justice Ecology Project, is working on a book documenting four decades of his concerned photography.

See more of Langelle’s photo essay about the community of Amador Hernandez in the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas, Mexico by  clicking here.

Read more about the struggle of the Indigenous Peoples of Chiapas against unjust development and false solutions to cliamte change by clicking here

Also check out the GJEP Photo Gallery and past Photos of the Month.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle, REDD