ClimateCovid P2.4: Abolition Ecology



Panel 2.4: Abolition Ecology

DSA Santa Cruz Ecosocialist Working Group (represented by Martabel Wasserman, A. Laurie Palmer, and T. J. Demos.)

Q & A

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10 replies
    • Gwendolyn Hallsmith says:

      The dismissal of XR tactics as not having “structural opposition to fossil capital” might be true of individual chapters, or in Santa Cruz; it is not true in Vermont. XR is flawed, like many mass movements, but it seems odd that you single them out when there are far more flawed “green” organizations out there.

      • Tj Demos says:

        Yes for sure–XR chapters differ (and we like NYC’s additional and decolonial, anticapitalist fourth demand), though the original UK formation has been severely criticized along these lines (for instance, here:, which corresponds in part to our own critical read of XR. However, they’re certainly not the only enviro movement to critically examine–and we would want to add any Big Green org that operates within the terms of green capitalism to our list, in addition to XR–so your right about that. And, we also wanted to clarify, as we tried quickly toward the end of the video, that our purpose is not simply to dis XR, but to work with them, collaborate, and push them more toward more of an anticapitalist and decolonial solidarity. Many thanks for the comments.

  1. Gwendolyn Hallsmith says:

    The Solitary Garden – wow, such a powerful organizing theme. Has the artist developed curriculum materials for schools to do it? Same with the Tribunal… classes could convene them, too.

  2. Tj Demos says:

    Here’s our abstract:

    “[A]bolition has to be ‘green.’ It has to take seriously the problem of environmental harm, environmental racism, and environmental degradation. To be ‘green’ it has to be ‘red.’ It has to figure out ways to generalize the resources needed for well-being for the most vulnerable people in our community, which then will extend to all people,” Ruth Wilson Gilmore told Chenjerai Kumanyika in a recent Intercepted podcast. As members of DSA Santa Cruz Ecosocialist Working Group, we analyze, organize and create together in order to prefigure and enact an abolitionist horizon informed by the radical Green New Deal and the decolonial Red Deal. Our video presents two of our ongoing projects, exemplifying our participatory agit-prop and creative propaganda: The Multispecies Tribunal Against Private Property for Crimes Against the Commons and the Abolition Ecology Walking Series. Both take our local surroundings in Central California as conflictual sites within which to critically analyze structural challenges and imagine systemic transformation. The Tribunal gathers performative testimonies (humans and non-humans) that offer evidence of harm enacted against the multispecies commons by private property. The Abolition Ecology Walking Series explores the nexus of police violence and environmental destruction (by transforming Santa Cruz’s vital ecosystems into racialized scenes of biosecurity and defensive botany, where real estate value trumps housing justice priorities), and how abolition ecology produces antiracist environmentalism. Working at the intersection of art and activism, we discuss how our local praxis envisions and enacts the systemic changes required globally for anti-capitalist and abolitionist environmentalisms.

    -DSA Santa Cruz Ecosocialist Working Group (Martabel Wasserman, Laurie Palmer, T. J. Demos)

  3. Jolie Gobler says:

    Thank you so much for your work! You all are making me very hopeful for the future.

    I hadn’t heard this term “abolition ecology” before listening to this presentation but I think it is the perfect way to approach the environmental and political crisis we are experiencing. I am very interested in the abolition and ecology walking series. I think that slowing down and looking around us can be really educational. It’s really easy to overlook some of the many ways that the species around us are struggling. I had never thought about private property itself being violent but realizing that extraction is the engine of private property construction really puts things into perspective. I really like this idea of transforming landscapes into shared spaces where we can prioritize the life of all species over property, and also recognize indigenous sovereignty. Issues of houselessness, gentrification, and other forms of racialized displacement are deeply connected to the liberation of ecosystems from the private property regime. I want to thank you all again for envisioning and working towards a future without private property where all species are free to thrive.

  4. Cambria Wilson says:

    I am a huge fan of the Multispecies Tribunal in Defense of the Commons. What a proactive, welcoming, conscious, powerful collective. I think the projects described have such a wide and diverse reach, which is impressive because I know how difficult it can be to synthesize the many focuses of a just transition. It was also a warm surprise to see my friends, boss, and former professors in the pictures of past activities. It was reassuring to me that we are on the right track and illuminates the connectedness of the people. I think that visiting and defending sites of extraction is key, since this is key to the harmful practices normalized and promoted in our world today. Perhaps the aspect that I appreciated most is the inclusion and amplification of Indigenous communities. It’s true what Ruth Wilson Gilmore said: “To be green, it has to be red”. These are the people who have been at the frontlines of environmental injustice since before the declaration of the United States as a country. Yet, for thousands of years before, the land was protected by them with respect and acknowledgement of natural limits. That is something we need to go back to if we want to move forward.

    • Tj Demos says:

      Thanks so much Cambria. The defense of Indigenous lands is indeed crucial to our practice, as it is also to our attempts to imagine a decolonial ecology. In our region, this means fighting to defend Juristac, the sacred territory of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, against current extraction plans. “Juristac (Huris-tak) lies at the heart of the ancestral lands of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band near Gilroy, California. For thousands of years, our Mutsun ancestors lived and held sacred ceremonies at this location in the southern foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, above the confluence of the Pajaro and San Benito rivers. The cultural landscape encompassing Juristac is known today as the Sargent Ranch. An investor group based in San Diego purchased the land at a bankruptcy auction and is currently seeking to develop a 320-acre open pit sand and gravel mining operation on the property. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band vehemently opposes the proposed mining project. We are asking the public to join us in standing for the protection of our sacred grounds.” For more info:

  5. nseymour says:

    Thank you all for a wonderful presentation. (Also, Hi Martabel! I met you at the _Nature Camp_ event a while ago.) I loved your explanation of the purposes and effects of these events, but the nerdy pragmatist in me wanted to know more about the nitty-gritty logistics. How do you support the labor of designing and organizing them? A grant perhaps? Any practical tips you would offer to those interested in doing similar events? Do you have any planning documents you would be willing to share? etc. ( Finally, Elizabeth Lara has some new work forthcoming on prison ecology that might be of interest, if you’re not already familiar. Thanks again!

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