Location: United States of America Host Organization: Mayday Space
LJ is an organizer, direct action trainer and a dancer. Over the past decade she has worked with resettled refugees, opiate users, families fractured by mass incarceration, homeowners in foreclosures and Indigenous communities on the frontlines of climate change. LJ is a Collective Member of Mayday Space, an organizing center and social movement hub in Brooklyn, a trainer for The Center for Story-Based Strategy and The Ruckus Society and the civilian-ally board member of About Face: Veterans Against the War.
LJ used her Fellowship to create a nonviolent direct action incubation and experimentation lab. She organized a series of ‘tac hacks’ – spaces for activists and professional makers such as electricians, designers and carpenters to come up with new and imaginative direct-action tactics. LJ’s final workshop was a climate justice ‘training of trainers' using the tac hack methodology.
LJ also built a digital resource commons for activists. The site includes a library of activist books, manuals and videos, alongside a database of physical organizing tools that New York-based activists can borrow from the Mayday space.
Linh has spent the last decade in climate action, across advocacy, media and social enterprise. She is passionate about strengthening civic institutions to achieve climate justice through tackling social inequality. Linh led the Australia and Pacific office for Climate Reality, Al Gore’s leadership program. She previously served as the editor-in-chief at The Verb, an environmental newswire service, where she covered the Paris Agreement negotiations. She is currently a board member at Climate Action Network Australia.
Linh worked with a number of campaign groups to design tailored engagement strategies on supporting and cultivating climate activism. She published a report on cultural adaptation of climate campaign resources for activists in Asia with The Campaign Strategy Fellowship. She also wrote a research paper on upcoming opportunities for public engagement with Climate Action Australia. Linh organized a series of roundtable events to present her findings to participants from various Australian climate organizations.
Throughout the Fellowship year, Linh was a guest co-host on Greatest Moral Podcast of Our Generation, a monthly podcast by Dan Ilic (journalist Fellow) that aimed to bring discussions on difficult climate topics to new audiences through comedy.
Fede is a storyteller and land defender. He works with social movements and communities to develop narratives that respond to day to day struggles, and that dismantle oppressive structures.
During his Bertha Challenge Fellowship, Fede worked with Andrea Isabel Ixchiú Hernández (journalist Fellow) to share three stories of resistance told by women. Their work focuses on the intersection of organized women, Indigenous rights and territory with an emphasis on water, land and governance.
Along with the three films, Andrea and Fede also organized ‘Curra da Terra’, an online gathering of more than 267 Indigenous women from 116 Indigenous nations in 37 different countries. The event called on Indigenous women from around the world to share their experiences of resisting profit-driven destruction of Indigenous territories, and the violence that accompanies it.
Juan is a climate justice organizer, campaigner and writer based in Berlin. He seeks to foster dialogues between anti-capitalist movements and community building networks. In recent years, Juan has been working with Bloque Latinoamericano, a collective of people and organizations of the left in Berlin. His work focuses on the defense of nature and territories, while highlighting the role that European transnational companies have in Latin America.
During his Bertha Challenge project, Juan worked with Yasna Carolina Mussa Valenzuela (journalist Fellow), to investigate the extraction of lithium from the ‘lithium triangle’ covering Chile, Argentina and Bolivia for electric cars marketed in Europe. Together they visited the Atacama salt plains, home to one of the largest lithium mines in South America, to understand the effects of lithium extraction on the local ecosystem and communities.
Juan used the community interviews, along with the work published by Yasna, to develop an educational curriculum for young people in Germany on lithium extraction. He also developed a series of short videos and animations for young people and teachers to explore alongside the curriculum.
Alex is an organizer and artist based on Dja Dja Wurrung Country, ‘Australia’. She has worked in film, theater, communications and troublemaking in many forms. This includes taking part in blockades from Jabiluka in Australia to la zad in France, collaborating on the Indigenous language and theater project, ‘Ngapartji Ngapartji’, and curating the Something Somewhere Film Festival. As a Producer, Director and Impact Producer, Alex has worked on powerful documentary films including Queen of the Desert, THE ISLAND, Island of the Hungry Ghosts and In My Blood It Runs. Alex was also the Global Impact and Distribution Producer on Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything project.
For her Bertha Challenge project, Alex created ‘The Planting’, a speculative audio performance that invites audiences to imagine a more hopeful and just future, and the pragmatic steps needed to get there. Her narrative imagines the introduction of a large-scale ecological recovery, Indigenous-led, employment program in Australia. The experimental sound work is designed to be experienced in tandem with ‘noisy’ weather events such as hailstorms or high winds, bringing together an imagined future and present reality of the climate crisis.
Narrira works as a UX researcher and technologist based in Brazil. She is a digital security trainer for social movements, activist organizations and third-sector organizations, aiming to strengthen privacy and security in collective actions and data uses. Narrira has also worked as a UX Researcher, examining technology products to improve privacy and engagement for human rights defenders. Previously, Narrira was a Mozilla Fellow embedded in the host organization Derechos Digitales.
As a Bertha Challenge Fellow, Narrira worked closely with environmental organizations, and climate and Indigenous activists to strengthen their digital security. She travelled to remote villages where a lack of internet access and digital skills have left activists vulnerable to security breaches and threats. Narrira conducted multi-day workshops, providing some basic steps that participants could use to increase their confidence in working with digital devices. In addition, Narrira ran a series of online tailored courses for activist organizations in Brazil and further afield.
Narrira used the workshops to develop a website with a series of public resources on digital security for activists and Indigenous land defenders.
Angeles is Lead Organizer of the Workplace Justice Team at Make the Road New York. Make the Road New York is one of the largest membership led community organizations in New York, providing direct services and organizing for housing, labor, immigrant rights, police accountability, environmental justice and more. Angeles drives the organization’s campaigning against the damage Amazon is doing to communities across New York and the country.
For her Bertha Challenge project, Angeles led a team of graduate students at New York University Wagner Graduate School of Public Service to survey and analyze data from Amazon employees and community members capturing the labor, community and environmental impact of Amazon's warehouse growth in Staten Island, New York. Angeles and a coalition of labor unions, community organizations and policy experts intend to release this report at the start of the New York session to build power in passing the first ever state level anti-trust legislation in the country to break up Amazon's monopoly power.
Angeles and LJ Amsterdam (activist Fellow) collaborated on creating mass popular education materials, including an animated workshop guide highlighting Amazon's exploitation of labor and land, and led direct action with immigrant community members and Amazon workers.
Sze Ning has been working with Indigenous communities in Malaysia for over 15 years, assisting in advocacy training, documenting and welfare aid.
Sze Ning worked with Elroi Yee (journalist Fellow) to focus on Malaysia’s Indigenous Orang Asli communities who are moving out of government resettlement schemes and returning to their customary lands. These lands are often exploited by the state and commercial enterprises for profit, leaving little resources for Indigenous communities.
Sze Ning and Elroi visited the Orang Asli villages several times during their Fellowship year to better understand what they need to organize against efforts to displace them. Sze Ning found that communities lack information on the most basic of public services. In addition to acting as a liaison point between the villages and healthcare professionals (a vital role during the COVID-19 pandemic), Sze Ning produced a short video toolkit that can be distributed over WhatsApp. She used humor and animations to provide accessible information on topics such as how to document customary lands and how to deal with land incursions by logging companies.
Lenin is an environmental lawyer and activist based in Zimbabwe. Lenin holds an LLBs Hons (University of Zimbabwe), a PGCert in Environmental and Natural Resources Law (University of London) and a Master of Laws (University College Cork, Ireland). Lenin has published research and academic works on the environment and climate crises and is the Founder and Director of Advocates4Earth, a non-profit environmental law, climate and wildlife justice organization.
Lenin’s Bertha Challenge project exposed the potential impact of methane-bed natural gas extraction projects on the environment and people living in Zimbabwe’s Northern Lupane District. In 2018, the Zimbabwean government announced plans for coal bed methane extraction plants in Lupane. To date, the government has failed to address the adverse impact of mining on the local environment and has been obstructive with providing information publicly about the investors and companies involved. Lenin used his Fellowship to develop a handbook and accompanying film to provide accessible legal information for communities and environmental activists opposing the mining developments.