So We Stand’s Principles

So We Stand organises to challenge environmental injustices from the frontline. This means recognising that it disproportionately afffects poor communities and communities of colour. We think environmental justice, social justice and anti-racism are the same struggle and by this we mean we recognise that environmental injustice intersects with all forms of structural social oppression – race, class, gender, sex, ability, age, sexuality.

What do we do?

– We work directly with frontline communties of resistance against sites of environmental injustice. So We Stand exists to support communities living in high emissions areas (for example near to power stations or airports), and other areas of environmental injustice. Anything that prevents people from living in a clean and healthy environment is an environmental injustice.

Those who are exposed to environmental injustices may have little power within existing systems of governance, consultation and economic and political inequality to make changes to improve or protect their environment. We see climate change as perhaps the starkest and biggest example of environmental injustice. Those who have created the problem through pursuit of power and profit have better resources available to them to escape from the consequences. Meanwhile, the poorest people, who have made less contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, are unable to change their environment or move away when there’s a drought, a hurricane, a tsunami, a famine. On a smaller and more local scale within the UK, those living under flight paths, next to motorways, or on the sites of planned open cast mines, are not those who stand to profit from these things.

–  We don’t prioritise our own voices or those of the more priviliged. We prioritise the voices of those already fighting their own battles.

– We are committed to anti-oppression. This means committing to constantly challenging ourselves as; individuals, SWS as an organisation, players in wider systems and structures as well as always being critical of the hierarchies in the world around us.

– We support community self-determination, while we may not always agree (as individuals) on methods, tactics and channels of communtiy self-defence – we fully support the right of communities to defend themselves in the ways they see fit. We support empowerment and defence from the people fighting injustices on the frontline on their own terms. This means not leading, judging or imposing – from us or anyone else.

How do we do it?

– We are committed to using popular education as our main tool for engagement. This means getting to know groups and adapting to their needs, working with their experience and needs and not imposing hierarchies.
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– This means solidarity with communities, on their terms. Providing the support they want, when they want it, in the forms that they want it. In practice this could mean many things like – running a workshop, helping to find funding, mean facilitating a meeting…
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– We see power in networking communities facing environmental injustices – to help end their isolation in struggle and to enable the sharing of experience, strategy, skills and importantly, stories of groups facing similar battles.
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– We are committed to, where appropriate, promoting these voices at a wider level by supporting groups in organising wider theoretical events, raising awareness of lived struggle.  Always when based on the principles above – never by pretending to know someone else’s story retelling it in our own voices.
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– supporting the development of CREATIVE resistance among communities.

– We are not against the so called ‘environmental movement’, but hold it in a critical friendship. We believe it holds with it an embedded sense of self-congratulation which fails to address it’s own privilege. This, in turn, up holds and recreates many of the unchallenged systems of oppression and hierarchy embedded in all struggle, including environmental struggle . To define yourself as a ‘movement’ or as an ‘environmental activist’ in itself invisibilises and ignores the real fight on the front lines of environmental injustices, it denies the experiences of those environmental warriors who are not part of your ‘movement’ but who fight daily for their health, lives and communities. Therefore, we will not organise with groups that we feel don’t organise within an anti-oppression framework in this sense.

(see anti-oppression organising page for more detailed explanation)

Who are we?