Tuesday, May 3, 2011

RAN-TC INVADES MANKATO!!!


On Earth Day this year we had the opportunity to visit Mankato State and the Mankato Area Activist Collective in order to give our presentation on the problem with palm oil. They were celebrating Earth Week and thought it would be a good idea for us to come down to celebrate... we agreed!

On Thursday April 21st a handful of us twin city folk took the 2 hour trek down to Mankato. We arrived a little late, but arrived in time to enter an Intro to Sociology class and gave a short 10 minute speech on who we are and what we do and more importantly the evils of Cargill.Afterwards, one woman told us she will talk to her friend who works at Cargill the next time she sees them!

We took a short break and then headed to the auditorium to have a longer more in-depth conversation on palm oil, Cargill, and what we as Minnesota activists can do to change the production of palm oil. we had a very open dialogue and got into things that even stumped us ranfolks, like the cycle in which palm oil is produced. 

Once more we were offered to enter another class, this time a class on globalization. We gave our little diddy on the problems with palm oil and opened up the classroom for questions. An African man started the conversation by commending on us on the work that we did. He then began to tell us his story, and the story of palm oil in Africa. How it's used in everyday life and how it fuels the local economies. The story shifted as he told us how large corporations came in offering benefits if the people of land let it be used for palm oil production. Many people said yes. The corporations then began bringing in different subspecies of palm and messed everything else up. He told us how his people never thought of fighting back like us Minnesotans have and offered us a chance to come into his community and give our presentation. 

Through out the course of a couple hours we were able to give our presentation on palm oil to over 50 different people and give a different perspective of monocultures and consumerism. Most students don't recognize what goes into their comfort food their eating during finals. It was also a learning opportunity for us because we all knew that Palm orignates from Africa, but we've never heard any first hand accounts. 

Hopefully, we will be able to get back to Mankato in the near future for more classroom and community presentations.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

RAN Twin Cities hosts workshop at MN Green Party event




Gathering information and statistics for the presentation last Saturday was an unsettling reminder for us about how much is at stake in this battle for the autonomy of forests and forest people, but sharing our palm oil presentation with other steadfastly passionate activists was a positive reassurance: Minnesota’s garden of rabble rousers will turnip the heat on any monoculture that threatens peace and justice.        
On February 12th, members of RAN Twin Cities attended the annual Green Party MN winter meeting to share the work we’ve been engaged in over the past year and to raise awareness of the Minnesota corporations whose actions have contributed to rainforest destruction.
 During the meeting green party members mingled at the RAN table, shared personal stories, and talked about the environmental issues that they're most deeply invested, all while signing petitions and learning more about the role Cargill has in the international palm oil market.
During one of the breakout sessions RAN TC members gave a comprehensive workshop on how the palm oil industry is destroying communities and rainforests and how several Minnesota-based corporations are intimately tied to the fate of this product and the ecosystems that it is produced in.
Our presentation focused on the devastating impact of monoculture expansion in the islands of Indonesia and Malaysia, but it also showcased the activism and campaign successes that have taken place right here in Minnesota.
While international pressure in the form of growing consumer consciousness is still constricting around the largest private corporation in the U.S., Cargill, activists from across the U.S and Minnesota have successfully leveraged General Mills’ coveted company image to coax a palm oil policy commitment.
         While the participants of the workshop were optimistic to hear that some home-grown companies like General Mills are starting to get the picture, they recognized that big-agribusiness monoliths like Cargill are going to need a mobilization of grassroots pressure to put people before profits: Thanks to all the old-timers and youngster activists from the MN Green Party who proved that you can never too old or young to be a totally rad eco-activist!