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JULIETTE BECK Printer Friendly Page
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  • Senior organizer for Public Citizen
  • Leading organizer of the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle

 

Born in 1973, the self-described “environmental justice advocate” Juliette Beck earned a BS degree in environmental studies from UC Berkeley in 1994. After completing her education, she served as an organizer and economic-rights coordinator for Global Exchange.

In July 2002 Beck joined the staff of Public Citizen's West Coast office, to direct the “California Water for All” campaign which sought to prevent the privatization of water supplies in that state. She also served as a senior organizer of Public Citizen's California office. While still in her twenties, Beck, who received many invitations to speak on public television and radio broadcasts, was named by Time magazine as one of America's most noteworthy “New Radicals.”

Beck has long believed that “corporations that exist to make a profit are less likely to consider the needs of low-income communities.” A strong supporter of Ralph Nader and the Green Party of the United States, she helped organize a number of large-scale protests against the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Alleging that “the widespread social, ecological and spiritual crises we've inherited are caused by living in a capitalist society,” Beck impugned “corporations” for having “created a very unjust and inhumane system” of “corporate globalism.” The hallmarks of this system included: (a) the proliferation of “sweat shops”; (b) the despoliation of the natural environment; (c) the relentless quest to “maximize corporate profits for the few” rather than to meet the “basic human needs” of the many”; and (d) the “targeting” of “minorities and teenagers” by an ever-growing “police state.” Moreover, Beck called for “a global revolution against corporate greed and unmitigated corporate power,” and a “transition” away from capitalism “to a more people-centered and environmentally centered system.”

In 2001, Beck contributed a chapter titled “The Globalization Movement” for the book Doing Democracy: The MAP [Movement Action Plan] Model for Organizing Social Movements, authored by JoAnn MacAllister, Mary Lou Finley, Steven Soifer, and Bill Moyer (not to be confused with the longtime PBS broadcaster Bill Moyers).

Lamenting that many people in the U.S.—particularly “low-income communities of color”—were unable to afford the high costs of clean drinking water, Beck in 2004 wrote that only government intervention could effectively make that commodity more widely affordable. Calling for an expansion of “public- and community-controlled water utilities,” she warned that “the push for increased corporate control of the global water commons” would “undermine … community-based, commonsense solutions.” “If the threat of privatization to low-income communities of color is to be stopped,” Beck added, “people of color in particular need to be included in water governance decisions. A recent study of water issues facing Latinos in California found 'a chronic and pervasive lack of representation of Latinos and other people of color at every level of water policy planning and decision making.'”

Beck revisited these themes in her June 2005 article, “Building a Water Democracy,” where she wrote that “water should be protected as a public commons, not subjected to international trade laws or the open market, which would deem it a commodity and sell it off to the highest bidder.” Adding that “people-centered and earth-centered water policies are the path to a water-secure future,” Beck warned against “international trade laws that grant corporations rights to commodify and privatize water and water utilities.”

In Beck's calculus, the pollution generated by human industrial activity—particularly in capitalist economic systems—is largely responsible for the potentially catastrophic phenomenon of global warming. She also maintains that many non-industrialized populations are affected disproportionately by these trends, through no fault of their own. For example, in her 2008 article “Social Change Not Climate Change,” Beck wrote: “Muslims, whether they are nomadic Bedouins in Jordan or Darfur or residents of low-lying Bangladesh, are among the most immediate victims of climate change. Prolonged droughts and in other places floods are forcing these climate refugees to abandon ways of life that have sustained these societies for thousands of years.”

Since 2012, Beck has served as coordinator of the Sierra Club's “Stop Clearcutting Campaign,” designed to outlaw a forestry/logging practice in which most or all of the trees in a particular area are uniformly cut down. While forest-industry experts maintain that clearcutting is often “a viable forest management tool,” Beck calls it an “extreme and arcane logging method” that benefits only the wealthiest “1 percent” while ignoring the welfare of “the 99%.”

 

 

 

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