Earth | Food | Life: Covering the Climate Crisis and Our Broken Food System

Earth | Food | Life (EFL), a project of the Independent Media Institute (IMI), produces and publishes reports on climate change threats, provocative animal rights essays, and insights on the frontlines of the food revolution that is sweeping America—increasingly organic, increasingly sustainable, increasingly humane. In the past six months alone, EFL has worked with more than 30 authors—including IMI writing fellows, freelance reporters, consumer advocates, frontline activists and experts across several fields—to bring dozens of exclusive articles to readers across the globe.

In recent months, EFL has held both the Trump administration and the corporate sector accountable for malfeasance, unethical decision-making and promoting profit over public health, the environment and the rights and welfare of animals. EFL editor Reynard Loki recently talked to Emmy Award-winning director of “Gasland” Josh Fox about his new performance project, “The Truth Has Changed,” which reveals how big data and big oil are fueling climate denial and the right-wing misinformation campaign to get Trump reelected in 2020. Trump’s White House was also in the crosshairs of Elliott Negin, who denounced the administration’s sustained and repeated attacks on science, while Adam Kolton condemned Trump’s reckless push to drill in the Arctic.

Our broken food system also remains a central focus of Earth | Food | Life. David Coman-Hidy, Tia Schwab, Priya Sawhney and Taylor Ford each unveiled different aspects of the animal cruelty inherent in factory farms, while also spotlighting deceptive corporate practices that keep consumers in the dark, and Elizabeth Henderson uncovered the financial plight of small family farms facing the powerful forces of food sector consolidation, including unfair food pricing. Laurel Sutherlin, Michael Green and Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner explored various ubiquitous—and legal—substances in our food system, some of which, like PFAS, are toxic to humans, and others, like palm oil, which threaten biodiversity and endangered wildlife through rampant—and sometimes illegal—deforestation.

In 2020, EFL will continue to produce hard-hitting reports, exposés and op-eds to reveal how both the public and private sectors have been working to undermine advancements and protections in animal rights, food safety, and the environment. In addition, EFL will continue to produce weekly “Take Action Tuesday” newsletters, which give readers easy ways to have their voices heard through petitions, consumer pledges and letters to state and federal legislators.

About Earth | Food | Life:

Edited by Reynard Loki, Earth | Food | Life explores the critical and often interconnected issues facing the climate/environment, food/agriculture and animal/nature rights, and champions action; specifically, how responsible citizens, voters, and consumers can help put society on an ethical path of sustainability that respects the rights of all species who call this planet home. Earth | Food | Life emphasizes the idea that everything is connected, so every decision matters.

To learn more, visit Earth | Food | Life on the web, on Twitter, or email EFL editor Reynard Loki at [email protected].

Jeff Bryant’s Commentary on Charter School Funds Waste Published in Chicago Tribune

The following is an excerpt of an article that was originally published on the Chicago Tribune on December 17, 2019.

Click to read the full article online.

Commentary: Millions wasted on charter schools


Between 2006 and 2014, the federal government gave the state of Iowa millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded grants to open 11 new charter schools. Ten of them promptly failed, after burning through more than $3.66 million of taxpayers’ money.

During the same period, Kansas received $8.9 million in federal grants to finance 29 new charter schools. Twenty-two of those schools 76% closed or never opened for even a day, wasting almost $6.4 million.

Georgia received 140 federal grants for charter schools, with more than half the schools closing, at a cost of $23 million. Delaware’s federally funded charter schools had a nearly equal attrition rate eight out of 14, a loss of $3.6 million.

These are just a few of the jaw-dropping findings in a new report from the Network for Public Education, an advocacy group started by Diane Ravitch and other educators to support public schools and oppose efforts to privatize education.


The above is an excerpt of an article that was originally published on the Chicago Tribune on December 17, 2019.

Click to read the full article online.

MIR Director Kali Holloway Interviewed in H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online

The following is an excerpt of an interview that was originally published on H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online. Click to read the full interview online.

Confederate Symbols in Monument and Memory is an H-Slavery discussion series on monuments and memorials commemorating the Confederacy and historical memory. It follows ongoing contests over the placement of monuments to the Confederacy and other forms of commemoration on public grounds and examines debates over their purpose and implications.

This post features an interview conducted by H-Slavery editor Alex Tabor (Carnegie Mellon University) with Kali Holloway, Senior Director of the Make It Right Project—an Independent Media Institute initiative to “do more than just ‘raise awareness’ or ‘start a national conversation’” about Confederate monuments and statues that instead “aims to genuinely move the needle, creating measurable, visible change.” Ms. Holloway is currently a Senior Writer at the Independent Media Institute and the co-curator of the Theater of the Resist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; she has contributed to several HBO and PBS documentary films and her writing has appeared in the Guardian, TIME, and The Huffington Post, among several other outlets.

H-Net’s interview with Kali Holloway can be accessed here. Visit here to learn more about Kali Holloway and the work of the Independent Media Institute or Make It Right Project.

How does the Make It Right Project relate to other initiatives hosted by the Independent Media Institute (IMI)?

Great question. At the time of the Independent Media Institute’s founding in 1987, there was a clear and pressing need for greater public access to, and elevation of, progressive journalism that covered news often overlooked by mainstream outlets, and which engaged perspectives ignored by the corporate press. In the decades since, that need has grown exponentially. We’re at a point of staggering hyper-partisanship and disinformation in conservative media, and ever-increasing corporatism within mainstream media overall, both factors that have had devastating consequences on the political, social and cultural shape of this country. IMI’s approach to addressing those issues is essentially holistic. We serve as a platform—a clearinghouse of sorts—for independent journalism dedicated to addressing systemic issues across the board via projects/verticals dedicated to topics from voting rights, to education, to the economy, to climate/environment. The Make It Right Project’s journalistic output is part of IMI’s larger effort to produce crucial media that then appears in over a dozen major progressive and independent outlets in the U.S. IMI’s collective journalistic output shows how none of these issues are siloed—and IMI’s coverage of those topics illuminates their interrelatedness. We think of IMI’s work, which touches on so many areas, as offering a broad vision look at the critical issues we’re facing on every front and where they intersect, with incisive ideas on how to address them and create substantive social change. 

How does the Make It Right Project differ from other initiatives that seek to draw attention to Confederate monuments and inform different audiences about their history and meaning?

We frequently work in collaboration and coalition with other groups around the country that are either singularly dedicated to removing Confederate markers—and we also partner with organizations whose mission stretches beyond, but also includes, the removal of Confederate memorials. The latter includes local chapters of groups like Black Lives Matter, NAACP, DSA, the Women’s March and SURJ; the former describes partners such as local divisions of Take Em Down, Chapel Hill’s Move Silent Sam, and De-Confederate Austin. One slight difference between us and some of our collaborators is that, while we endorse every good-faith effort to take down tributes to the Confederacy—in whatever form those tributes take, including roads, schools, building and city names—Make It Right is focused specifically on the removal of monuments and statues. We also place an emphasis on journalism and media as a means of public outreach and engagement, a focus informed both by the fact that I come to this work as a journalist and IMI’s background is in independent media. That said, we are always more than happy to bolster the work of like-minded groups with differing targets. 


The above is an excerpt of an interview that was originally published on H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online. Click to read the full interview online.

IMI Fellow’s Reporting Points to Progressive Priorities for 2018 & 2020 Voting Issues

Fellow Steven Rosenfeld issued three recent reports on the upcoming elections and why it’s crucial to America’s future for voters to maintain faith in the democratic system—and dangerous to spread information to the contrary, without evidence.

GOP Attempts To Purge Voter Rolls Failing Before Midterm

As a key deadline approaches next week on updating statewide voter rolls before the November election, it appears a controversial data-mining operation mostly used by red states to purge legitimate voters is withering, or at least dormant, in 2018.

Read More

A Letter to the Author of a Very Misguided Article About the Hacking of American Elections

Dear Michael Harriot: Your latest article in The Root—arguing that Russia hijacked the 2016 presidential vote count and the “updated” essay attempting to clean up those errors but not backing down—isn’t merely another edgy musing with dots that don’t that connect, or substituting your gut feeling for proof.

Read More

Putin’s Propaganda War Is Key to His Meddling in U.S. Politics—And We’re Not Prepared for It

A curious dichotomy has appeared in the American political world when it comes to preventing a repeat in 2018’s elections. While there’s been much ado and action from officials to prevent hacking the computer systems that comprise the voting process—one of Russia’s 2016 tactics, there’s also a corresponding absence of federal action when it comes to proactive efforts to stop online propaganda, which was Russia’s other major focus.

Read More

Rosenfeld’s reporting underscores how a rising tide of alarmist reporting about voter trends isn’t reflecting what’s new in 2018 nor will encourage Americans to believe their vote matters, will be counted, and that they can have confidence in the process. As the 2018 midterms approach, Americans of every political persuasion need to know what’s being done to safeguard voting from cyber threats, which is a lot, compared to the federal government’s hands-off approach allowing freewheeling online propaganda to continue largely unabated from 2016.

Make It Right’s 10 Most Unwanted Statues

This is the Make It Right Project‘s infographic for 10 Most Unwanted Confederate statues.

Photo credits:

All photographs have been cropped and modified from their originals.

  1. “Civil War Monument Dallas” by Jdaily57, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia.
  2. “Silent” by Don McCullough, CC BY 2.0, Flickr.
  3. “Lee Park, Charlottesville, VA,” by Cville dog, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia.
  4. “Body Language* and a Heritage of Hate, Sam Houston Park, Houston, Texas 0422101209BW” by Patrick Feller, CC BY 2.0, Flickr.
  5. “John C. Calhoun — Marion Square Park Charleston (SC) 2012” by Ron Cogswell, CC BY 2.0, Flickr.
  6. “Seattle – Lake View Cemetery – Confederate Veterans Memorial” by Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia.
  7. “P1030305” © 2009 James Popp, Flickr, all rights reserved.
  8. “9684 Heyward Shepherd Monument – Harpers Ferry, WV” by lcm1863, CC BY-SA 2.0, Flickr.
  9. “Tribute to the Women of the Confederacy” by Mathew105601, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia.
  10. “Our Confederate Soldiers – Downtown Sculpture – Denton – Texas – USA” by Adam Jones, CC BY-SA 2.0, Flickr.

Message from the Board of the Independent Media Institute

April 17, 2018, New York City

To Independent Media Institute Supporters:

We wish you could have been with us this week as we met with the staff of IMI to discuss the organization’s future in the aftermath of our recently announced sale of AlterNet. We had the honor of meeting with some of the finest progressive journalists working today. We heard from Kali Holloway, IMI’s senior writing fellow and project director, who will be covering social justice issues and also overseeing IMI’s new annual grant program for emerging women journalists. We received a fascinating preview of Steven Rosenfeld’s series on factors affecting democracy and the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, as well as the latest from Jefferson Morley on his reporting on the secret world of intelligence and security agencies. IMI’s environment and food editor Reynard Loki spoke about his work around the intersection of climate change, animal rights and food. Manager of Editorial Projects and Programs Administrator Jenny Pierson explained the process for editing the journalism produced by IMI fellows. The board was also briefed by Executive Director Jan Frel on Valerie Vande Panne’s Local Peace Economy coverage, looking at activism and visionary efforts to make our society dependent on more sustainable systems and infrastructure. It was inspiring to listen to them talk about their work, and it left us even more excited about IMI’s future as we re-focus the organization on its core mission of using independent media to create a positive impact in the world.

IMI will maintain a strategic partnership with AlterNet, now owned by AlterNet Media, to distribute special media projects on a range of pressing social and political issues, from the economy to the deep state, social justice, gender, equality and the environment. New projects we are exploring include long-form investigative reports, podcasts, book publishing and video. We also want to continue IMI’s many decades of work cultivating emerging voices and diverse viewpoints in independent journalism.

In addition to establishing a robust foundation for IMI‘s work going forward, in recent months we have taken steps to ensure that IMI is the safest and most productive workplace possible. As many of our supporters are aware, IMI is one of many media organizations whose leadership has recently addressed allegations of sexual harassment. Like most of those organizations, we took steps to act quickly and proactively to ensure the safety of the workplace and its employees. At IMI, those steps included removing the organization’s executive director; conducting an independent assessment of current and some former staff—an assessment that revealed no new allegations against previous leadership or anyone else on staff; strengthening anti-harassment policies and updating complaint procedures; offering regular interactive training; and conducting ongoing anonymous employee audits. We are committed to maintaining a fair, safe and productive workplace going forward.

We have great hope for the future of IMI and are actively recruiting new board members to help shape IMI’s direction during its next stage. Many thanks to the longtime readers of AlterNet and supporters of IMI, and we hope you will accompany us on this next iteration of our mission.


The Board and Management of the Independent Media Institute