groundWork’s 2020 environmental justice school kicks off

15th March 2020 - Activists from several community based environmental justice organisations are gathering at Valley Trust near Durban for three weeks. From the 15th March to the 4th April.

This is groundWork’s sixth Environmental Justice School which is drawing twenty two  activists from as far afield as Sekukuneland, the Karoo, the Highveld Mpumalanga, south Durban among other spaces.  In the past 5 years that the school has been running, 96 students from 7 countries have participated.

These are spaces where activists confront grave environmental problems which impact on their lives, their health, their land and water and the very air they breathe. They come together to share their experiences with other activists and groundWork. They come to strengthen their ability to mobilise by expanding their knowledge and to hone their activist skills.

The intensive programme is designed for them to get a broad understanding of the economic system we all inhabit. They engage with the history that brought them to the sets of circumstances they find themselves in and cover a range of topics pertinent to their struggles - environmental health, land exploitation, access to water, environmental rights, climate change and energy among others.

groundWork’s vision is one of a Just Transition and Open Democracy and these ideas are threaded through the school. The invited presenters are expert in their fields and groundWork campaigners work with them to develop activist knowledge.

It’s also about fun – a day connecting with nature in the Lower Mpushini Valley Conservancy in Ashburton East includes an interpretive nature trail along Iphithi’s Trail through the beautiful Valley Bushveld, into the timeless Euphorbia Forest. Then there will be the Mpushini Riverine Trail with a storytelling at Picnic Rocks, with water testing at the Mpushini River. Later, a visit takes the activists to an inspiring permaculture garden in Mpophemeni township and a visit to Mandela’s capture site in the Midlands.

The activists return to their homes and organisations at the end of the three weeks’ residential stay. There they will undertake an activist project over three months then return to the school for a week in July to report back and learn more.

Director, Bobby Peek, remarked on how groundWork’s Environmental Justice schools in previous years have seen the participants return home and undertake unexpected and bold actions. He says, “They draw on their knowledge to challenge those in power from a more informed basis. Others have started new environmental justice organisations. It’s very encouraging to see how they take the struggle forward and build the environmental justice movement.”


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Tsepang Molefe, Media, Information and Publications Campaigner
+27 74 405 1257

Bobby Peek, Director
+27 82 464 1383