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Sam has been organizing, teaching, and coordinating critical participatory action research on the intersections of environmental, economic, border, cultural, gender, geographic and racial justice since the 1980s. He is currently the Executive Director of MN350 where he leads their work on climate justice.
Among his innovations there, just over the past year: a) he has joined the Board of the MN Agrarian Commons and through that is working to advance land justice for BIPOC farmers in Minnesota; b) has launched an environmental justice funding working group composed entirely of BIPOC EJ organizers to change the future of EJ funding from margin to mainstream; c) organized a series of scenario planning sessions in Northern Minnesota that link Native Nations and the cities and counties in the region to envision and enact a shared just transition framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote mutual thriving and full honoring of Treaty Rights; d) worked with the Forever Green initiative launched by the University of Minnesota to make the region’s journey toward perennial Polyculture and continuous living cover be Forever Equitable; and e) he is just now fostering a joint organizing effort with Ecological Design, The Nature Conservancy, Native Nations, farmers and poor rural communities to re-imagine and invest in the future of forests in Minnesota in a way that sequesters massive carbon through reforestation, braids local ecological knowledge with science and policy to promote wise natural solutions, and eradicates environmental injustice while improving both environmental and population health.
Sam is also a founder and action research facilitator with the Sierra Leone Foundation for New Democracy in West Africa and the Environmental Justice Coordinating Council, which has one cohort of EJ organizers working in North Minneapolis and is launching an additional cohort in Saint Paul in the near future. Sam’s ongoing research agenda focuses on ecological imperialism and climate justice praxis across the African Diaspora and peasant and indigenous populations working to address climate change.
His most recent publication co-authored with numerous scientists in Canada focused on intercultural partnerships with indigenous nations to protect bird populations and biodiversity in the Boreal Forest. He is currently working on an edited volume with two colleagues on ecological imperialism in the global south – lifting up the solutions emerging from people most impacted by climate and environmental injustice in world-ecology.
In honor of the request to serve on panel on ‘perennial policy’, for the sake of today’s conversation, Sam considers himself a Perennial Policy Organizer committed to support our mutual thinking through of ways in which agroforestry can be organized at all scales as a natural solution to the climate crisis that braids the three core objectives of his organizing work: earth care, people care, future care.