Rootskeeper formed in January 2015 and began by organizing the California Crossroads Tour. Working with local leaders, we developed this tour as a series of 9 separate speaker panels, each reflecting the intersection of how toxic fossil fuel extraction methods and energy issues have impacted individual communities across the state. The tour brought together workers, advocates, non-profit organizations, grassroots groups, and elected and community leaders under the common goal of highlighting how toxic energy diminishes our collective well-being. It was a huge success.
Clean Not Extreme
Rootskeeper spearheaded and developed the political response to the release of the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) Report. The CCST Report was an 2 year independent scientific study mandated by the passage of Senate Bill 4 which examined oil operations and well stimulation methods in California.
The study had compelling findings and made strong recommendations to protect public health. Among the findings and recommendations, the scientists concluded that shallow fracking - unique to the geology of California-would likely contaminate groundwater. The scientists also recommended science-based setbacks from oil operations to protect public health, and also recommended stopping the practice of using toxic oil wastewater to irrigate crops in the central valley. To highlight some of these and other findings, we worked with partners to create the Top Ten Reasons to Ban Fracking and Extreme Extraction. To further highlight the importance of this study, we identified and trained numerous grassroots leaders throughout the state to spearhead local actions on a distributed day of action on August 1st 2015 - which we called the the Clean Not Extreme events.
Three weeks later, on August 25 in Sacramento, we turned out a room full of activists to a hearing on the CCST Report. That same day, we held a press conference about the petition delivery and stated our objections to the continuation of fracking and extreme extraction in California. Assembly member Das Williams, Senator Ben Allen, and Senator Mike McGuire spoke out at this press conference, and all declared their support for a ban on fracking.
Faith Against Fracking
Working in communities of faith, we created an original 20-minute documentary, entitled Faith Against Fracking, for a national audience, and a California version that we have been screening in communities of faith and for congregations. We have held over 60 screenings in California so far, and have built strong relationships with a number of faith leaders and people of faith. We are engaging people who have never been active in the movement, and are developing new grassroots leaders and active communities from the ground up.
Protect California Food
The California state government has convened a panel to examine the safety of the use of oil and gas wastewater for agricultural irrigation. While this practice has been going on for years, it has has only recently come to light and is currently undergoing heightened scrutiny. Chevron is selling its wastewater from the Kern Oil field to several water districts, who then sell the water at a huge discount to local farmers. There is no attempt to filter out either the toxins added to the water by the oil industry, or the naturally occurring contaminants that come up with the water.
In response to public concerns, Rootskeeper founded and created the Protect California Food coalition and campaign to galvanize public pressure to stop this practice until its risks have been independently assessed. On August 9 we delivered the 350,000 petitions that were gathered to Governor Brown at a press conference on the capitol steps, where we we were joined by elected leaders. We’ve received considerable press from the event, and livestreamed this video of the press conference through our Facebook page.
Dear Governor Brown
Rootskeeper worked with members of Californians Against Fracking to organize over 70 house screenings of the new documentary Dear Governor Brown (DGB), a film that explores the community and health impacts of oil drilling around the state of California. Our friend and ally, Mark Ruffalo, was the Executive Producer of the film, and so we hosted him, via web conference, for an after screening discussion with all of the house party attendees.
Health Forum and Health Groups
Rootskeeper has been working closely with the Health Working Group of Californians Against Fracking, which includes Breast Cancer Action, Center for Environmental Health, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE), and Center for Biological Diversity, among others. In partnership with these organizations, Rootskeeper conceived, bottom-lined, and produced the health forum Drilling Down Into Health Impacts: The effects of oil and gas on California’s communities. We brought together a powerful panel of speakers including Seth Shonkoff of Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE for Healthy Energy), Martha Dina Argüello of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles (PSRLA), Barbara Sattler of Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE), and Sandy Navarro of Esperanza Housing Corp in a panel discussion moderated by Sahru Kaiser of Breast Cancer Action. The event focused heavily on science and evidence, rather than relying upon advocates like us to tell the story. The panel succeeded in highlighting the impacts of oil and gas on frontline communities, as well as the recommendations in the CCST report, and the inaction of government on implementing these recommendations. Watch it here.
National Grassroots Support/Americans Against Fracking
Rootskeeper has also been working actively on campaigns to ban fracking nationally and, working with national partners, was instrumental in founding Americans Against Fracking, a coalition of over 300 organizations calling for a ban on fracking. Through this work, we helped to organize the March for a Clean Energy Revolution in Philadelphia on the eve of the Democratic National Convention and helped get national press coverage in major media outlets. In addition, as instrumental members in the coalition, we plan and execute frequent conference calls often attended by hundreds of people that serve as virtual gatherings for activists from around the country who come to get educated and find out what they can do to help push national policy away from fracking and other dangerous forms of extraction and towards a just rewewable energy future.
Trainings & Empowerment
Rootskeeper facilitates and holds trainings in advocacy, education, grassroots power building, communications and press, and paradigm shifting.
Building a movement from the ground up, Rootskeeper works closely with grassroots activists, helping them to develop local power and networks so that advocacy and action to protect communities isn't based or solely initiated on leadership from advocacy organizations, but instead is robust and community lead from the ground up. Through this work, we help to give activists tools to create their own local power, and contribute to a decentralized power base which, in turn, works with other grassroots leaders and activist groups to create power and influence decision makers.