What do you do when the health and foundation of communities and their environment are being undermined?
Stand.earth (formerly ForestEthics) was founded nearly twenty years ago by a group of dedicated people who were working day in and day out to solve a big problem: What do you do when the health and foundation of communities and their environment are being undermined?
Our founders were leading a global effort to stop the logging of rare thousand-year-old forests on the coast of British Columbia. Indigenous communities had lived there since time immemorial and their lands were being logged at an alarming rate, putting their way of life and a global biogem at risk.
We were founded to do something very specific:
- Figure out which companies were selling products made from these thousand-year-old trees;
- Hold those companies accountable through high-profile events, demonstrations, and discussions with the executives;
- Create advertisements, petitions and more to make sure their customers know what’s in the products and; and
- Protect the forests.
This strategy, called markets campaigning, proved incredibly successful. Most of the hundreds of companies we communicated with wanted nothing to do with the destruction. They either stopped selling the products or insisted their suppliers make them from something more sustainable. Their collective demand to stop the unsustainable logging on Canada’s West Coast worked.
The story of the Great Bear Rainforest campaign was covered in newspapers around the world and is about as epic as they come, complete with mythic white Spirit bears, cultures that stretch back millennia, majestic trees taller than a twenty story building, and rainforest wolves.
As unlikely as it might seem, the tools we learned in an ancient rainforest have proven incredibly successful as we have evolved to take on issues that threaten not only forests, but our climate as well. In places like Alberta’s tar sands, we’ve brought the power of markets campaigns and organizing to stop new pipelines and oil infrastructure projects that threaten the safety of communities and our environment.
Today, our campaigns challenge destructive corporate and governmental practices, demand accountability, and create solutions that protect the forests and the stable climate required to keep our planet – and us – thriving.
As we’ve done since the start, we pursue audacious solutions, campaign for as long as it takes to see them through, punch way above our weight, and treat everyone, including our adversaries, with respect. Our work has resulted in sweeping industry-wide changes and environmental protection on a massive scale.
Doing the Impossible: We know that a better world is out there—our role is to push toward that place. We will get there by doing what has never been done, doing what some say cannot happen, doing what is believed to be impossible.
Practicing Pragmatic Idealism: We take our dreams and make them real by adopting outcome-driven strategies, by overcoming adversity, and by maintaining our focus for as long as needed to succeed for people, wild places, and our climate.
Seeking Leverage and Embracing Dynamic Tension: Significant progress requires power: we are constantly searching for leverage and applying it at the precise location needed to unleash the forces of change while embracing the discomfort and dynamic tension that this requires. To maximize this leverage, we reject dogmatic thinking, we are comfortable with uncertainty, and we embrace uncommon allies.
Standing with Impacted Communities: We are committed to respecting and supporting the rights of Indigenous Peoples to free, prior, and informed consent. In recognition of the structural racism and ethnic inequities that result in significantly greater toxic burdens for low-income communities and communities of color, we are also committed to building collaborative relationships and campaigns that embody decolonization and that support impacted communities.
Valuing Relationships: We practice fierce compassion to speak truth to ourselves, our colleagues, our allies, and our adversaries with skill and grace. Collaboration is our preferred approach, but we won’t take no for an answer. If confrontation becomes necessary, we don’t see our adversaries as enemies but as people with whom we disagree.
Cultivating the Power of People: Investing in our team is a priority and we strive to do so through leadership training and mindfulness practice to tap into the immense power resident in each of us. We are also dedicated to partnering with and supporting the leadership of frontline changemakers and allies whose work is indispensable to realizing our common goals for people and the planet.
Striving for Balance: Sometimes we have to sprint, and we sprint hard. We go above and beyond to achieve our goals. However, significant change is a marathon. In order to re-charge, we strive to balance our professional and personal lives. This enables us to bring passion, creativity, and excitement to the marathon that is our mission.