Embracing our multiracial heritage

by Becky Gillespie


My husband and I recently had the pleasure of watching the film “Summer of Soul ( … Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” at the Del Oro Theater. The documentary chronicles a pivotal moment in Black culture by interweaving interviews from festival attendees and performers along with clips pertaining to the political and social climate in with the festival footage. The festival featured amazing talent from Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, and The Fifth Dimension to Nina Simone, B.B. King and Mahalia Jackson.

I was amazed to encounter such incredible music through this film — musicians like The Staple Singers, The Edwin Hawkins Singers, and Mongo Santamaria — that I probably would not have encountered in my day-to-day life.

Although the festival took place over the course of six weekends in 1969 and was attended by thousands, the event was overshadowed by Woodstock. For nearly 50 years, the footage sat in a basement because, according to original producer Hal Tulchin, no one wanted to buy footage of “Black Woodstock.” I and my fellow filmgoers almost missed this opportunity, as Hal Tulchin passed away in 2017 and many of his archives and memorabilia in his basement were destined for the trash bin.

The Harlem Cultural Festival is just one small sliver of our country’s past that was nearly forgotten because our society has historically chosen to ignore and even silence non-white voices.

Instead of continuing to push aside and denigrate these voices, we need to include them. In that respect, I was happy to see that the California Board of Education adopted the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum so that my school-age children will have the opportunity to learn a more robust history of our country and learn more about the multitude of people who comprise it.


(Note: The Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum is a guidance document that provides support to teachers and administrators in developing courses and/or instructional content in a specific topic area. It is strictly a resource. It does not replace classroom curriculum or materials, nor are schools required to use it as it is a supplemental resource. https://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/cf/esmc.asp).

We are at a critical juncture in the great experiment that is the United States of America. Although our country is multiracial, since the first Europeans encountered Native Americans upon their arrival, we have done a poor job of listening to those who are not white.

We need to decide if we want to embrace the shared humanity of all our citizens by learning more about the experiences of our fellow Americans, which includes Native American, Black, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Latinx and others. Or do we continue to marginalize nearly 40% of the people in our country?

I submit that most Americans, regardless of race, don’t want our country to fail. In order for our great experiment to continue, we must be open to learning from one another. Our history can no longer be one-sided. It must include more perspectives and recognize the imperfections of those involved and of the policies and laws created, as it is this recognition that allows us to continue striving to improve our country for all our citizens.

Watching “Summer of Soul” on the big screen, I not only enjoyed the musical performances, I learned also about the political and cultural climate in the summer of 1969 from a Black perspective, thereby enhancing my understanding of that era. Thankfully, the footage of the Harlem Cultural Festival was salvaged so that we can learn from and enjoy it today.

Hopefully, my kids will also learn about the Harlem Cultural Festival in school alongside the discussion of Woodstock so they have a better understanding of that time in our country’s history. Let us continue to seek out and save these treasures from our past to share in our great American story.

Becky Gillespie lives in Nevada City.

No Climate for Reopening a Mine

Sharon Delgado



As we residents of Nevada County struggle to adapt to extreme drought, heat waves, water shortages, periodic power outages, and threat of forest fires, Rise Gold is trying to persuade us that reopening the Idaho-Maryland mine would do us good. Yet regardless of its recent flawed and deceptive survey, the mine would negatively affect the community in many ways, including in our ability to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

In June, our region got a taste of a record-shattering heat wave which, further north, led to many deaths. We are in a historic “severe to exceptional drought,” resulting in depleted reservoirs and mandatory water restrictions. Fire insurance rates are skyrocketing and policies are being cancelled as fire season extends to almost year-round and as wildfires become ever-more ferocious, burning more acres. Even as we pack our go-bags and create fire safe spaces around our homes, we know that catastrophic forest fires could come at any time. Reopening the mine would only make these climate-related impacts worse.

The leaked report of the 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns of “progressively serious, centuries’ long and, in some cases, irreversible consequences” that will impact people around the world with multiple climate calamities at once: drought, heatwaves, cyclones, wildfires and flooding, leading to widespread hunger and disease. So far, the earth’s average global temperature has risen slightly over 1 degree Celsius, which is about 2 degrees Fahrenheit.  Just imagine what it will be like if it rises to 3 or 4 degrees Celsius! The IPCC report warns, “Life on Earth can recover from a drastic climate shift by evolving into new species and creating new ecosystems… humans cannot.”

Nevada County has had the foresight to respond proactively by adopting the Nevada County Energy Action Plan, which was developed by the Sierra Business Council, with support from PG&E, in collaboration with Nevada County and community members. The plan, based on scientific climate forecasts in the context of our region, states: “From record temperatures to proliferating wildfires and changing precipitation patterns, climate change poses an immediate and escalating threat to the region’s environment, economic strength, and public health.”

The plan is intended to “guide local government decisions that will help achieve greater efficiency, reduce costs, and demonstrate the County’s commitment to energy independence and community resilience” and to “inspire residents, businesses, and other public agencies in Nevada County to participate in community efforts and maximize energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water efficiency.”

This plan should guide analysis and decision-making about the mine as it relates to climate. It points to goals, strategies, and ways to implement policies that will enable us, as a community, to adapt to projected climatic changes and mitigate harm by lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. But reopening the mine would take us in the opposite direction.

Adapting to climate change means developing resiliency so that we human beings, our fellow creatures, and coming generations can survive and thrive as much as possible. This means carefully preserving our region’s air, land, and water. The mine would further pollute our air, replace life-sustaining ecosystems with mine waste, and deplete our precious groundwater, putting wells at risk and sending millions of gallons of treated wastewater daily down Wolf Creek. Adaptation means generating sustainable forms of livelihood, housing, education, business, agriculture, and more—locally-based as much as possible—and moving away from fossil fuels to justly-sourced renewable power. Many community members, local businesses, and local nonprofits are working to attain just such a vision. Rise Gold’s extractive business model does not align with these goals.

Because it is a global problem, we must also do our part to mitigate the harm of climate change by reducing our regional carbon footprint. The Nevada County Energy Action Plan calls for gradually reducing annual residential electric use by 12 percent. Rise Gold’s projected electrical use would cancel out this goal by annually using electricity equivalent to 5,000 new homes and could strain our already overburdened power grid.

Even more significant would be the massive carbon emissions caused by diesel-powered heavy equipment used for: constant construction during the first year and half; ongoing continuous excavating, underground blasting, drilling, rock crushing, loading, hauling, unloading, spreading, and compacting to create engineered fill up to seven stories tall; continuous mine de-watering by pumping, treating, and sending millions of gallons of wastewater down Wolf Creek; increased new diesel truck traffic (up to 100 round trips a day, seven days a week, sixteen hours a day). This would result in significant increases of GHG emissions rather than decreases as outlined in the County’s Energy Action Plan.

Please, let’s put this debate to rest once and for all and not waste everyone’s time and energy by pretending we should seriously consider reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine every time another penny-stock company comes along to propose it. The County has taken a proactive approach with its plan to foster resiliency and mitigate the harmful effects of climate change. Let’s not turn back now.

Sharon Delgado is a local retired United Methodist pastor and author of Love in a Time of Climate Change: Honoring Creation, Establishing Justice (Fortress Press, 2017). Her blog is at sharondelgado.org.

Nevada County Energy Action Plan, https://www.mynevadacounty.com/DocumentCenter/View/35183/Nevada-County-Energy-Action-Plan

Minewatch Nevada County, https://www.minewatchnc.org/

Community Environmental Advocates, https://www.cea-nc.org/

Yale Climate Connections, July 1, 2021, https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2021/07/western-canada-burns-and-deaths-mount-after-worlds-most-extreme-heat-wave-in-modern-history/

USA Today, June 23, 2021, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/06/23/climate-change-future-impact-life-earth-united-nations/5326888001/

Local Grandmothers Highlight Intergenerational Pipeline Struggle

In late May, I travelled to Minnesota by train with three other local grandmothers, Janie Kesselman, Shirley Osgood, and Joyce Banzhaf, to join a 31-member delegation of 1000 Grandmothers for Future Generations. Our purpose was to highlight the intergenerational nature of the struggle to stop construction of the Enbridge Line 3 dirty tar sands oil pipeline. Together, we visited and helped out at the Water Protectors Camp which serves as a welcome center for visiting Line 3 activists, we hosted young Indigenous activists from a frontline camp for a memorial ceremony on the 1st anniversary of George Floyd’s death, and we held two public demonstrations, including one at the Minnesota Governor’s Mansion in St. Paul See video of that action here  and See pictures of the trip here.

The delegation included Lakota grandmothers from South Dakota. Madonna Thunder Hawk and Mabel Ann Eagle Hunter  have been activists, struggling for Indigenous rights and the rights of Mother Earth for over 60 years; Alcatraz was in 1968, and not their first big action! They were engaged with the American Indian Movement (AIM).  Their daughters and niece , now also grandmothers, had also been involved with AIM as children and teens and were also part of this delegation. All of us were motivated by concerns for today’s children, for the natural world and our other-than-human relatives, and for future generations.

Our grandmothers’ trip was a precursor to the Treaty People Gathering that is taking place early in June in support of the Anishinaabe people, whose treaty rights are threatened by this pipeline. (See #TreatyPeopleGathering). Massive demonstrations are taking place along the route of pipeline construction. Thousands are participating, including Indigenous leaders, celebrities, climate justice activists, and others who understand what is at stake if the construction of oil and gas pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure continues to extend the fossil-fuel era. People are engaging in major public actions, including nonviolent civil disobedience at pipeline construction sites.

The Nevada County contingent stayed an extra day and participated in an action led by Indigenous youth where two young people were arrested for trespassing and stopping workers from continuing construction by climbing onto the newly-laid pipeline. The four of us did not risk arrest and made it to the train for our return trip that night. We returned home grateful for being welcomed and included, sobered by all that we had learned and have yet to learn about respecting Indigenous leadership.

The Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline would run from Canada through the Mississippi headwaters and Minnesota’s lake country, threatening its pristine waters. It also runs through sacred ancient wild rice beds, traditionally harvested by the Anishinaabe people. This land is under treaty with the Anishinaabe, who have the rights to hunt, fish, and gather wild rice, all threatened by this pipeline. Treaty rights are the law of the land, with priority over federal or state laws.

Enbridge, a Canadian corporation, has a terrible safety record, with over 1068 pipeline spills before 2013, leaking 7.4 million gallons of oil. Disastrous spills continue. Enbridge calls the new Line 3 a “replacement pipeline” although it is constructing 300 miles of pipeline along a new route, abandoning the old pipeline to deteriorate in place, and doubling the quantity of dirty tar sands oil.

Climate activists make the case that long-lasting fossil fuel infrastructure such as pipelines locks us into increasing greenhouse gas emissions and rising global temperatures for decades. This project alone would have the climate impact of 50 coal mines, counteracting Minnesota’s plans to reduce climate change by investing in renewable energy, green jobs, energy-efficient buildings, and electric cars.

Since 2011, the United States has been a net exporter of fossil fuels. Under the Paris Climate Accords, our exports of fossil fuel are not counted. So even if we reduce emissions nationally, by continuing to increase our exports of fossil fuels we cancel out our stated intentions to reduce global climate change. Stopping construction of new oil and gas pipelines is a necessary step to addressing climate change.

Finally, solidarity with Indigenous peoples in their struggles for a livable world is a way to affirm indigenous wisdom and perspectives that move us from a worldview that promotes organizing society around the market to a worldview that promotes organizing around concern for the whole community of life. This lays a foundation for actions that impact the future in ways that further the good and heal the past.

For anyone who is convinced that the struggle against Line 3 is an important effort, there are many actions that we can take. Indigenous leaders are requesting that supporters call on President Biden to cancel this pipeline.  Find a petition here:  https://www.stopline3.org/take-action. Go to https://www.stopline3.org/biden for more information on how to contact Biden and make it clear to him that there is a large and diverse intergenerational movement to #StopLine3.

Sharon Delgado is a grandmother, retired United Methodist pastor, author, and activist. Her blog is at sharondelgado.org.



Local Grandmothers to Help Stop Line 3

Hello friends. Now that I am fully vaccinated, I am getting ready to take a train trip later this month to Minnesota with three local friends to join about 25 other members of 1000 Grandmothers for Future Generations. We will be joining members of the Anishinaabe tribe who are resisting the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline that would go through their territory. We are going at their ,invitation. While we are there we will support their efforts however we can, when we get back we will share their story and how it ties in to the larger struggle for a livable future.

Climate activists and others are joining together to support the Anishinaabe in their attempts to defeat Line 3. Public pressure led by Indigenous people and supported by environmental groups led to the defeat of the Keystone XL Pipeline, helped along by creative coalitions such as the “Cowboy and Indian Alliance” that included ranchers along the pipeline route. Likewise, public action draw international attention to the Standing Rock Sioux’s struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which a judge recently ruled as being illegal. Coalitions against are now at work to stop Enbridge Line 3.

Where does stopping construction of new oil and gas pipelines fit into the overall struggle for a livable future? Long-lasting oil and gas infrastructure such as pipelines not only vastly increase the capacity of fossil fuel development but lock in the extraction, transport, processing, sale, and burning of such fuels over decades, accelerating climate change into the future. Pipelines frequently pollute lands and waters along their routes through their frequent spills.

The very definition of climate justice is that we need to listen to and serve as allies to those who are on the front lines and at most risk of harm related to fossil-fuel extraction and climate change: people in sacrifice zones where fossil fuels are extracted, transported, and processed, usually communities of color; people in poor countries and communities (often communities of color) where the impacts of climate change are often first and worst; children and young people whose futures will be made much harder because of policy choices made today; and yes, species that are struggling to survive as ecosystems are degraded and destroyed.

On Earth Day this year, Earth Justice Ministries published a commentary about The Rights of Indigenous People and the Rights of Mother Earth. Acknowledging the rights of Indigenous people and centering their voices about caring for creation is critical if our work to create a livable future is to bear fruit. This awareness is essential for anyone concerned about climate change and other environmental damage, for simply changing our lifestyles or working piecemeal on individual policies will not bring about the overall systemic change that is needed. It will also require a change of worldview and frontline communities taking nonviolent action to keep polluting fossil fuels in the ground.

To contribute to our travels, you can donate to the Go Fund Me account Send Grandmothers to Help Stop Line 3.

To find out more about the effort to halt construction on Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline, see the resources at Honor the Earth, Stop Line 3. Stay tuned for more!