COMMUNITY ALLIANCE FOR GLOBAL JUSTICE
NFFC is featuring a different member organization each month. This month we're showcasing Community Alliance for Global Justice, otherwise known as CAGJ.
CAGJ is a grassroots membership-based organization in Seattle founded by artists and activists who helped to coordinate the historic shutdown of the World Trade Organization meeting in 1999.
They strive to carry on the protests’ legacy of effective and creative collective action for global justice, working in solidarity with powerful social movements of the Global South, especially in Africa as well as the US and Europe, who inspire them with growing resistance to the corporate-driven economic model – a model pushed by the US, European Union, and transnational corporate elite.
CAGJ’s core mission is to strengthen the global food sovereignty movement through community-based education, mobilization and organizing with a commitment to ending all forms of oppression. They work to transform unjust trade and agricultural policies and practices imposed by corporations, governments, and foundations. CAGJ promotes alternatives that embody values of racial, social, and environmental justice, collective liberation, solidarity, community self-determination, and ecological health.
CAGJ and partners throughout the hemisphere defeated the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) thanks largely to the mobilization of huge numbers of Latin Americans who emphatically opposed an extended North American Free Trade Agreement. CAGJ also helped to build the coalition in Washington State that succeeded in persuading all Democratic representatives in Congress to vote against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), nearly defeating the deal.
While they continue to monitor the institutions promoting corporate globalization, currently CAGJ focuses on building positive alternatives to corporate control by supporting the movements for healthy local food economies. In 2007 they initiated this work through their Strengthening Local Economies Everywhere (SLEE!) Dinner, a successful event that is now repeated annually. Their next major project was co-convening a Food Politics Teach-in at Seattle Central Community College in December 2008. Many of their current volunteers and projects launched from that amazing gathering!
CAGJ organizes for food sovereignty using a racial equity framework prioritizing the people most impacted. They focus on building leadership and relationships, local as well as international, and shifting the narrative around food systems through research, analysis, and outreach. They are very active members of the National Family Farm Coalition, US Food Sovereignty Alliance, and the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa.
Food Justice Project
Through community education, political action, anti-oppressive organizing and community-building, the Food Justice Project seeks to challenge and transform the globalized, industrial, corporate-driven food system and promote existing alternatives. Volunteer orientations are held each month immediately before Food Justice Project (FJP) meetings. The FJP meeting directly after offers the opportunity to meet current organizers and become involved immediately.
AGRA Watch is a CAGJ project challenging the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s questionable agricultural programs in Africa, including its Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The Gates Foundation and AGRA claim to be “pro-poor” and “pro-environment,” but their approach is closely aligned with transnational corporations, such as Monsanto/Bayer, and foreign policy actors, such as USAID. They take advantage of food and global climate crises to promote high-tech, market-based, industrialized agriculture and to generate corporate profits while degrading the environment and disempowering farmers. CAGJ recognizes their programs as a form of philanthro-capitalism based on biopiracy, and works closely with African, European, and North American movements who oppose this failing, unjust development model and support agroecology and regenerative agriculture.
Through membership in the WA Fair Trade Coalition, CAGJ builds on their historic organizing to halt pro-corporate investment deals known as Free Trade Agreements. CAGJ seeks to offer viable trade alternatives to the current US trade model that prioritizes corporate profits over people and the environment.
CAGJ also strives to increase public understanding of trade by advocacy and education about the links between trade and the food system, food sovereignty, immigrant rights, climate justice and economic justice. They articulate a vision of trade based on fair trade, not “free” trade that will raise, instead of lower, global food, agricultural, environmental, health, and labor standards.
Theory of Change
Working with a local consultant and a dozen CAGJ members, the alliance updated their mission and vision statements, then mapped backwards from the question, ‘What are the necessary conditions to achieve our vision?’ to develop their ‘Theory of Change’.
Learn more about CAGJ’s inspiring research, organizing, and advocacy at https://cagj.org/.