News from Anthropocene Alliance

Catch up on the stories you may have missed about our actions and intiatives.


SUBJECT: Record Floods Prompt Nationwide Campaign

Local communities exhausted by consistent flooding
with little relief

Alliance of flood survivors launch United Flooded States of America

“We’re hurting, and need action to stop floodplain development and climate change”
– Alliance Director Harriet Festing

 More than 30 local and regional leaders across 16 states are joining together to start a national campaign to combat flooding. The United Flooded States of America, an initiative of Higher Ground, represent hundreds of thousands of people in cities, suburbs, towns and villages from across the U.S., who have been harmed by irresponsible building and climate change. They want action now to stop development in wetlands and floodplains, reform flood insurance laws, and reduce human-caused greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Their flag shows 50 stars, representing the 50 states, above a scene of flooded streets.

Starting July 1st, community leaders and flood survivors will bombard local, state and national politicians with videos, photographs, emails and postcards, documenting flooding that plagues many communities and often goes unaddressed. No one is safe from flooding, and these flood survivors are examples of that. They come from all walks of life and many have dramatic stories to tell.

The campaign was initiated by Harriet Festing, who leads Higher Ground, the largest flood survivor network in the country. “I’ve been working with some of these community leaders for almost two years, helping them find the resources they need to rebuild. But every time we meet, the subject returns to how to stop future flooding, not just recover from past disasters. After this year’s record-breaking flooding in the Midwest, we agreed that the time to speak up is now.” Pensacola, Florida leader Gloria Horning puts it this way: “These politicians must be part deaf not to hear what’s going on. So, we are going to shout out loud as we can: No building in floodplains and wetlands. Stop global warming now.”

Another leader in Port Arthur, Texas, Hilton Kelly, has seen all he needs to of flooding and contaminated streets, homes and waterways. “In our town, the oil and gas companies get what they need from our federal government and we get dirty and wet. We won’t take it anymore. They need to clean the place up, fix our homes, or pay us to move someplace safe and clean. When will our legislators get the message? This campaign is all about making sure they do.” 

Higher Ground and Anthropocene Alliance are funded by a generous grant from the Kresge Foundation. Additional funding for Higher Ground has been provided by the U.S. Climate Action Network, and the Climigration Network, which recently named Harriet Festing an “Agenda Setter.” 

Contact:
Dr. Stephen F. Eisenman 
Co-Founder, Anthropocene Alliance, and Director of Art and Policy 
s-eisenman@northwestern.edu 626-394-3311

Harriet Festing
Co-Founder, Anthropocene Alliance and Executive Director
www.anthropocenealliance.org
harriet@anthropocenealliance.org

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Prestigious Grant enables Anthropocene Alliance to launch new initiative

Higher Ground will help flood ravaged communities access federal funds

“Let Communities decide what kind of protection is best for them,” says Alliance Director, Harriet Festing

February 21, 2019. A grant from the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the world’s largest professional organization of geo- and atmospheric scientists, has enabled Anthropocene Alliance (Aa) to launch a new initiative called “Higher Ground: A Clinic to Support Flood Survivors and their Communities.” The program will help affected communities better understand their needs and untangle the knot of existing local, state and federal aid programs.  The basic idea, according to Harriet Festing, Director of Aa,  “is to let communities decide what kind of protection is best for them – home repair, home elevation or relocation – and then assist them to get the funding they need.”

Displaced residents in Connellsville, PA, coping with floodwaters from August 2016.

Displaced residents in Connellsville, PA, coping with floodwaters from August 2016.

Scientists have long recognized that heavier rains and rising sea levels due to climate change are causing severe flooding in hundreds of U.S. coastal communities.  Without fast action to mitigate and then end fossil fuel use, the problem is certain to grow worse. That’s why adaptation is as important as mitigation if the homes and lives of hundreds of thousands of people are to be protected. Flooding risk is particularly acute for low-income and historically marginalized communities; they are often the first in harm’s way and the last to receive support.

Developed in collaboration with Aa’s science partners at the Thriving Earth Exchange (an initiative of the AGU) and weather researchers at ISeeChange, Higher Ground is a clinic to help flood survivors in the worst impacted communities come together to understand their flooding risk, and obtain the funds they need for home repair, elevation or buyouts.  The fact is, considerable federal funding already exists to resuscitate flooded communities, but accessing it requires both a complex understanding of government programs and access to supporting scientific and engineering data.  Higher Ground aims to provide these through an integrated toolkit comprising community discussion, education, and data collection and analysis. The end result will be communities equipped to make persuasive cases to the various local, state and federal offices that control the resources.

“The grant from the AGU,” Harriet said, “will be used to host public, launch events in communities from the seven cities participating in the new program: Pensacola and Melbourne, FL; Staten Island, NY; Hartford, CT; Virginia Beach, VA; Port Arthur, TX and New Orleans, LA.  The lessons learned during the first, pilot year, will allow Higher Ground to quickly expand and be offered to dozens of other flood ravaged areas. Aa is currently working with a total of 41 communities in 20 states. 

Anthropocene Alliance is funded by a generous grant from the Kresge Foundation. Additional funding for Higher Ground has been provided by the Climigration Network, which recently named Harriet an “Agenda Setter.” Over the next year, she’ll be working with leading figures in the sciences, arts, academia, public health and environmental policy who share an interest in community relocation (“climigration”) and ecological restoration.


Anthropocene Alliance Welcomes “Green New Deal”

Executive Director says: “It’s just what our partner communities have been calling for”

February 7, 2019, Washington, DC – After months of anticipation, newly elected Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and veteran progressive Senator Ed Markey have introduced a resolution for a Green New Deal. The proposal, the name of which harkens back to Franklin Roosevelt’s historic New Deal to combat the Depression of the 1930s, aims to drastically cut carbon emissions by 2030 while also creating hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs in the clean-energy sector. Environmental and justice organizations across the country are hailing the measure as essential and long needed.

Harriet Festing, executive director of Anthropocene Alliance (Aa), which helps communities harmed by flooding and environmental abuse, praised the resolution, and called for congress to quickly draft implementing legislation. “This is just what our partner communities have been calling for. The people most hurt by climate change are the people this measure would most help: the poor, the historically marginalized, the elderly and the disabled. From Staten Island to Pensacola, Santa Barbara to Port Arthur, and Myrtle Beach to Lafayette, communities are hurting and the environment is suffering. In some parts of the country, such as Houston, Texas and Paradise, California, floods and fires have had an almost biblical intensity. Climate change isn’t the future, it’s now, and we need to act fast to reduce its devastating impact.”

Aa’s Director of Art and Policy, Dr. Stephen F. Eisenman was equally enthusiastic about the resolution.  “While we don’t yet know all the details, the goals and principles of the Green New Deal are just right. We need to combine environmental justice and economic justice, and science with fairness, otherwise people will see this as just another way for the rich to get richer and the powerful to become even more entrenched. I especially like the goal of working with farmers to drastically reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, though I wish the resolution had said something about the need to reform the way we eat – animal agriculture is a leading carbon emitter, and we need to transition to plant-based diets. That said, the goal of Net-Zero electric power generation by 2030 is exactly right, and the social justice goals are inspiring.”

Harriet Festing asked the inevitable question: “Will the Democratic House of Representatives, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi get behind the Green New Deal?” Right now, the answer is unclear. But with hundreds of environmental and justice organizations lining up in support, and grass-roots groups like Anthropocene Alliance equally engaged, the resolution has a chance of passage in the House. And with elections coming up in less than two years, the measure could even be adopted by the Senate. After that, it would become the basis of dozens of laws to stop the progress of global warming while providing jobs, better health and prosperity for all Americans. 


Election Day Wrap Up and Giving Tuesday

November 26, 2018. Tomorrow, November 27th is Giving Tuesday. We need your support!

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In 2018, we awarded ten mini grants to flood survivor leaders in low income communities in Hartford, New Orleans, Port Arthur, Melbourne Fl, New York City and elsewhere.  Listen to their stories.
 
We need $10,000 to award another ten grants.  We’ve got $4,500. Help us get the rest by donating now. Read more…


Hit ‘em where they live

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October 15, 2018. To get people engaged with global warming, you’ve got to hit ‘em where they live. That’s the premise of Anthropocene Alliance (Aa).  
 
We build grassroots coalitions of flood survivors, climate justice advocates and vegans wishing to protect their own homes and neighborhoods, improve health, and conserve their environment.
 
Here at Aa, we listen, learn, and then help impacted communities obtain government services, find pro-bono experts (for example in science, law, and insurance), and get in touch with other folks like themselves. Read more…


What Today's Headline Should Be

Fueled by Global Warming, Hurricane Florence Menaces the Carolinas

September 13, 2018. As expected, the first Atlantic hurricane of the season is a whopper. Coastal communities in North and South Carolina face the prospect of severe damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure, especially to the electric power grid. Inland agriculture, much of it given over to concentrated animal feeding operations (factory farms), may also be damaged, and neighboring communities along with them. The state has nearly 7,000 hog and chicken farms, the greatest share of them just north of Wilmington, near where the hurricane is expected to make landfall.  Animal excrement ponds are likely be overwhelmed by the volume of rainfall and spread waste across a wide area. Read more…

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Residents in Lemmon Valley, Nevada protesting flooding.

Residents in Lemmon Valley, Nevada protesting flooding.

What is a “Catalyst for Change”?

August 2018You’ve probably heard the phrase before; it’s become a cliché. But we want to introduce you to some real-life catalysts for change: our Flood Forum USA group leaders! Here’s what they’ve done: 

Read more.


Flash!!

June 2018. Our new Board members are:
 
Imaginative, but with feet on the ground.
Original, but steeped in history and science
Youthful, but with tons of experience
Connected, to those who matter: people and communities (and animals too), hurt by environmental abuse and climate change. Read about our new board members.


Flood Survivors United! 

Available to tell their stories. Contact them!

June 2018. For the first time in U.S. history, thousands of flood survivors from across the U.S. have united to protest persistent flooding and the devastation it causes.  More than 25,000 people from a dozen U.S. states have now come together in local alliances called Flood Forums. These in turn, have been united into a growing, national network called Flood Forum USA. The founder and ringleader of FFUSA is a 53-year-old British lady named Harriet Festing. “These are smart and energetic people, many of them poor, and they all deserve to be heard,” Harriet says. “While there are lots of worthwhile government and charitable initiatives, they often don’t reach the folks worst affected by flooding. It’s a national problem getting worse due to climate change.” Read the full press announcement.


She's got nowhere to go

April 2018. Environmental justice activist and flood survivor, Hilton Kelley, talks to local flood survivors in his hometown, Port Arthur, Texas - and pleas for help from local, state and federal government. Flood Forum USA is working with Hilton to help residents. 


"We don't get much assistance at all"

March 2018. We met with flood survivor activists Beth Butler and Gwendolyn Adams of 'A Community Voice' in New Orleans, LA.

Beth and Gwen gave us a tour of the Lower Ninth Ward which was so badly affected by flooding after Hurricane Katrina, and discussed the challenges they are facing now. Through our initiative, Flood Forum USA, we are currently matching A Community Voice up with pro bono scientists to help residents understand where they should be focusing their advocacy efforts.


Flooding and the g-word

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13 March 2018: I just got a lesson in flooding and gentrification. And it was ugly.
 
“Gentrification” means changing a neighborhood from working class to middle class, and from Black or Latino to white. It’s generally considered the result of educated, urban pioneers looking for affordable housing wherever they can find it, and the unfortunate, but unintended consequences that follow. In fact, it’s much more insidious. And many of you -- flood survivors and Flood Forum leaders – have experienced it yourselves. Here’s one story about gentrification in Pensacola, Florida.


Rob Moore of the Natural Resources Defense Council explains the threat to FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds.

You did it!

21 February 2018: Because of your calls and letters, the US Senate stripped the poison pill from the Disaster Relief package that was just signed into law. That provision would have gutted funding for the Hazard Mitigation Grants Program, which pays for buy-outs and home elevation. 

> Successes from Flood Forum USA.


We want you to be a vegan leader!

22 January 2018: "Cooperation and commitment— those are the words that best describe the mood of our first convening of grass roots, vegan leaders. Everyone participating in the video conference cared about animal suffering, human health, and the fate of the planet". Read more.


Can your diet fight climate change?

Humans could cut as much as 30 percent of the earth’s greenhouse gas emissions if they would abstain from livestock-derived products.

3 January 2018: Aa co-founder, Stephen F. Eisenman, talked to Jerome Mcdonnell on WBEZ Worldview NPR about veganism, VGNPWR and Anthropocene Alliance. Hear the broadcast.


First ever national convening of flood survivor groups.

Flood Forum USA launches “SPOUT!” to combat bad planning, corruption and climate change.

December 20, 2017.  Leaders of flood survivor groups from 15 cities and 9 states met last week to share stories, offer support and plan ways to reduce flooding and combat climate change.

Their slogans are “Organize or Drown” and “I Flood and I Vote!” and they want to be heard by politicians and developers from across the country. The leaders were brought together by Harriet Festing, head of Flood Forum USA, and director of Anthropocene Alliance, a Chicago-based non-profit launched last Spring. They call their gatherings SPOUT! and have started a Facebook group for dozens of other flood survivors and flood group leaders. Read press release.


Photo credit: CNT/RainReady

Photo credit: CNT/RainReady

Major Award to Help Flood Forum USA 

Grant from Kresge Foundation called “transformative” by FFUSA Director Harriet Festing

November 20, 2017.  Flood Forum USA, an initiative of the non-profit Anthropcene Alliance, has received a three-year, $350,000 grant from The Kresge Foundation

Recognized for its “capacity building” efforts, FFUSA will use the funding to accelerate its outreach to minority and economically disadvantaged communities across the US affected by flooding. 

Powerful hurricanes and record breaking rainfalls in Houston, Florida, Puerto Rico and Louisiana in 2017 brought the issue of flooding and climate change to the attention of millions of Americans ... Read full press release.


Chicago, once a swamp, also could be walloped by a catastrophic flood.

Stephen F. Eisenman

September 1st, 2017. The catastrophic flooding in Houston has been called “biblical” in scale, but unlike the Great Flood, it was widely predicted. 

Read our opinion piece in the Chicago Sun-Times.

 

Flooded homes are shown near Lake Houston following Hurricane Harvey Aug. 29, in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Flooded homes are shown near Lake Houston following Hurricane Harvey Aug. 29, in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Houston homeowner prepares for Hurricane Harvey.

August 25, 2017. The homeowner says "Sharing ideas of what we did today and praying to the heavens above: 18K lbs of sand bags $2250, 2mm waterproof barriers $450, trucks to deliver $459, Gorilla tape $110, labor to install $1400, $130 drain routers, then there's the tear down labor. We hope and pray, that it works."

 

 


grassroots flood groups demand action.

August 10, 2017. Across the US, flood survivors are forming grassroots groups to support each other and demand action against environmental abuse and climate change. Help us get their voices heard. 

 

Partnering with the Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX), American Geophysical Union

July 12, 2017.  Thanks to our partnership with TEX, nine Flood Groups from across the US are now benefitting (pro bono) from the services of hydrologists who will help them develop Flood Action Plans.

 

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HOW TO GET POLITICIANS TO DO THINGS FOR YOU

June 10, 2017. People sometimes ask: “Why don’t elected politicians hear us?” Flood Forum has produced a brief guide is intended to make sure they do. If you follow its three guidelines, you won’t always get what you want, but at least you’ll have a fighting chance.