Orin Langelle

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"Orin Langelle became involved in the movement for social justice in the 1960s inopposition to the Vietnam War. He went on to earn a B.A. in media and communications from Webster University in St. Louis, MO. He trained as a photojournalist at the International Center of Photography in Manhattan under Cornell Capa, brother to renowned war photographer Robert Capa (1977-1978).

"In the late 1980s, Langelle helped lead campaigns that stopped logging in the Shawnee National Forest of Southern Illinois, Illinois’ Trail of Tears State Forest, and Saint Louis’ Forest 44. In 1991 he relocated to Vermont and in 1992 co-founded the international Native Forest Network at their convening conference in Tasmania, Australia. He subsequently co-founded the NFN’s Eastern North American Resource Center in Burlington, VT in June 1993. He worked as the Eastern North American NFN Campaign Coordinator from 1993 until 2001...

"Langelle then convened the First North American Temperate Forest Conference in November of 1993. This conference included over 500 forest activists from across North America as well as indigenous representatives from six nations. The conference was organized to build bridges between these communities of activists and encourage greater collaboration. Dr. David Suzuki and Winona LaDuke were the keynote speakers.

"In 1995 Langelle helped organize a coalition of groups to demonstrate against the impending execution of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal during the National Governor’s Association conference in Burlington, VT. The protests spanned five days and were directed at Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Ridge. Ultimately the death warrant was not signed and Abu-Jamal is still alive. In 1994, Langelle began working in solidarity with the goals of the indigenous Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico who made worldwide headlines when they rose up on New Year’s Day, 1994, the first day of the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Zapatistas condemned NAFTA as a death sentence for the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico. He helped organize an action at a Chase Manhattan Bank shareholders meeting that year in response to a leaked memo by a Chase executive calling for the elimination of the Zapatistas. In April of 1995 Langelle organized a climbing team that hung a banner in Washington, DC in support of the Zapatistas during the meetings of the World Bank and IMF. In June of 1996, Langelle led a delegation to Chiapas to participate in the Zapatista’s North America Encuentro in La Realidad. Out of this delegation, Langelle facilitated the production of an award-winning film entitled “Lacandona: The Zapatistas and Rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico,” which explored the connections between the destruction of the rainforest and the government’s war on the Zapatistas: including oil, precious hardwoods, and other valuable resources in the jungle that were sought by corporations...

"In 1998, this emphasis on Central America led Langelle to found ACERCA: Action for Community and Ecology in the Regions of Central America, which followed in the footsteps of the defunct EPOCA, with the advice of former EPOCA activists. As Coordinator of ACERCA, Langelle led numerous delegations to Nicaragua, including the first environmental justice delegation to the regions most heavily impacted by Hurricane Mitch, to investigate the cause for the massive destruction and loss of life. The delegation found that deforestation had worsened the flooding and was largely responsible for the collapse of a volcano crater lake that submerged entire villages in mud, killing thousands. Greenpeace later confirmed the findings of this delegation. In 1999, Langelle led a delegation to southeast Mexico that revealed what participants were told was a genetically engineered tree test plot. This led to Langelle writing a chapter on GE trees for the book “Redesigning Life? The Worldwide Challenge to Genetic Engineering,” and subsequently launching the first campaign against genetically engineered trees in June 2000 with a press conference in Boston during protests countering the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s annual conference. The press conference was covered on the front page of the Washington Post...

"In September of 2001 Langelle co-founded a new organization, Action for Social & Ecological Justice, which took over the role previously played by Native Forest Network Eastern North America, and which was founded in response to the broadening focus of the group to include more Latin American and social justice issues. Over the next two years, Langelle pulled together a coalition of groups to oppose the Plan Puebla Panama; helped organize mobilizations against the World Bank and the Iraq War in Washington, DC; participated in a delegation in support of the defense of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques against the U.S. Naval firing range; and continued to support the efforts of Nicaraguan groups to protect the Nicaraguan rainforest. In addition, Langelle worked with Global Exchange on an emergency delegation to the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in Chiapas, Mexico to document and publicize the efforts of Conservation International and the Mexican government to evict Indigenous communities from the forest. In June of 2003, he helped mobilize the largest ever protest against GE trees at an agricultural ministerial meeting in Sacramento that was preparing for WTO meetings in Cancun, Mexico later in the year.

"In September 2003, Langelle co-founded Global Justice Ecology Project and traveled to Cancun, Mexico that month to participate in and document the massive protests against the World Trade Organization. He obtained press credentials for the event that gave him inside access for the demonstrations... In January of 2004 Langelle co-founded the STOP GE Trees Campaign, pulling together a meeting with numerous groups from across the country to take unified action to stop the commercialization of genetically engineered trees. Langelle is currently the Co-Coordinator of the STOP GE Trees Campaign. In 2005 Langelle and GJEP Co-director Anne Petermann formed a partnership with the indigenous Mapuche group Konapewman in Temuco, Chile, to work jointly to stop the commercial development of GE trees in Chile...

"In 2007 Langelle attended the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya and did presentations on genetically engineered trees and their relationship to agrofuels and the carbon trading market. He toured in the spring of 2007 with activists who traveled through The Netherlands, Belgium and France to speak on the dangers of agrofuels. He spoke in a session attended by members of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. In the summer of 2007, Langelle helped organize several different workshops on agrofuels at the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta, GA. In 2007 Langelle helped co-found Climate Justice Now! during the UN Climate Conference in Bali, Indonesia. In 2008 he helped co-found Climate Justice Action in Copenhagen, Denmark and later that year the North American Mobilization for Climate Justice. In 2008 and 2009, Langelle was the Media Coordinator for the Global Forest Coalition. After the 2008 World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil, Langelle traveled to the Gran Chaco region of Paraguay where he was asked by the Ayoreo Indigenous People to “share the eye” by taking documentary photographs of one of the local settlements, “Campo Loro” (Parrot Field). In early summer the Ayoreo community received printed photographs of his efforts and put them on display. Langelle was the only photographer invited by the Ayoreo in recent years to take photographs of their community and lands.

"In the fall of 2010, Langelle, along with the Indigenous Environmental Network and Movement Generation organized a meeting of environmental justice, climate justice and community leaders and their allies at the Blue Mountain Center in the Adirondack State Park of New York. This meeting built climate justice strategies for the UN climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico in 2010 and resulted in the formation of a North American climate justice alliance consisting of front-line, grassroots, community-based environmental justice groups and their allies.

"In Cancun, Langelle coordinated a Global Justice Ecology Project media team with the Indigenous Environmental Network, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Climate Justice Now!, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), ETC Group, Grassroots Solutions for Climate Justice North America and others, highlighting their messages in dozens of major, international media outlets...

"Langelle was a longtime member of the International Federation of Journalists and the National Writers Union. While working with Global Justice Ecology Project, Langelle’s photographs have appeared in numerous publications including Z Magazine, The Progressive, Christian Science Monitor, Earth Island Journal, Seedling and others. He has contributed to online publications such as World War 4 Report, Toward Freedom, UpsideDown World and many other media outlets."[1]


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  1. Global Justice Ecology Project People, organizational web page, accessed November 30, 2014.