Ceres Trust’s vision holds ecosystems as sacred and foundational to all life. Ceres Trust also knows that right relationship between humans and the earth, and between one another as people, are tantamount to our ability to survive and flourish.
Ceres Trust understands that the destruction of the earth is connected to the oppression of people – of women, of Indigenous and native peoples, of farmers, peasants, farmworkers and slaves. A deathly mix of misogyny/patriarchy, white supremacy, greed/unleashed capitalism, along with a loss of spiritual and cultural traditions that connect us to the earth, are to blame for our current situation. Or as put by Vandana Shiva, “We can and must respond creatively to the triple crisis and simultaneously overcome dehumanization, economic inequality, and, ecological catastrophe.”
In terms of approach to the work, our analysis requires investments in organizations that contest for democratic power. As Wendell Berry writes, “The great enemy of freedom is the alignment of political power with wealth. This alignment destroys the commonwealth - that is, the natural wealth of localities and the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community - and so destroys democracy, of which the commonwealth is the foundation and practical means.”
In addition, Ceres Trust believes that those most affected by ecological disruption and disaster must be at the forefront of efforts for change in order for there to be any likelihood of success. Ceres Trust denounces false solutions that solve one problem while creating another. The new economies that our communities construct, should we be afforded that opportunity, must take a holistic approach and foster equity, democracy, and ecological renewal across ecosystems and bioregions of all types. Finally, Ceres Trust profoundly values the knowledge and cultural teachings of Native peoples, farmers, and independent scientists, particularly biologists and ecologists.
In sum, Ceres Trust seeks to address the very root causes of ecological destruction and harms to human health, and supports efforts that advance comprehensive and equitable ecological solutions, grounded in the knowledge and cultures of people who have long called the land home.
These questions arise as internal guideposts for Ceres Trust investments:
- Does the organization or project hold the understanding that the flourishing of ecosystems and land–based, resilient livelihoods are necessary to our survival?
- Does the organization or project creatively address the triple crises of dehumanization, economic inequality and ecological catastrophe?
- Does the effort build democratic, multiracial/ethnic people power, and embody gender equity?
- Are those most affected by ecological and health harm well-resourced and providing leadership in the organization or project?
- Does the project or organization expose or mitigate against “false solutions” that will create ecological or health harms for other people or ecosystems if implemented?
- Does the project or organization expand access to and application of traditional knowledge, farmer wisdom and/or independent science?
Now, as much as ever, Ceres Trust must be bold and courageous in its grantmaking. When the threat of fascism rises up and we face the most aggressive environmental assault in recent memory, the system does not respond to pleading or compromise, but only to bold vision, tactics and demonstrated democratic power that demands another way for our people, our country(ies) and the earth.
Values and Grantmaking Approach
Dignity and equity: In its grantmaking, Ceres Trust builds relationships with grantees as partners who lead strategy development. Ceres Trust aims to be responsive to the real needs of grantee partners within a timeframe that works in practice, as opportunities and threats arise and evolve. Ceres Trust responds to the needs of organizations to build and strengthen their capacity and power. Finally, Ceres Trust supports efforts that assert people’s right to self–govern.
Collectivity and solidarity: Ceres Trust believes that robust relationships and partnerships, strategic reflection and learning in community, and long–term alliances are all important to success. Ceres Trust believes that solidarity and equity are a key part of holistic and enduring solutions to ecological and community problems.
Courage: Ceres Trust does not shy away from work ‘at the tip of the spear,’ investing in efforts to build power for stewards of the earth, and for those most affected by its destruction, to create long–term, systems–wide change. Ceres Trust supports tactics that publically expose the damage done to ecosystems and community health by industrial food, agricultural and forestry systems, as well as the science and Indigenous knowledge behind these claims.
Radical Generosity and Responsibility: Ceres Trust practices radical generosity in its distribution of funds held, and in relationships with others. Ceres Trust acknowledges the history of wealth accumulation in this country has been too often fueled by ecological destruction and violence against peoples, and that there is a particular responsibility held by people with access to wealth at this moment of ecological, economic and social crises.
Righteousness with the land (pono), meaning a cherishing and stewarding of the land: Ceres Trust supports efforts that are pono and that truly connect our own survival to the flourishing of the earth. Ceres Trust invests in food and agricultural systems that are effective and resilient. These systems rely upon a combination of ancestral knowledge, independent science, reverence for nature, and practical grit – with the human knowledge of their workings, as well as the seeds, plants, biodiversity, soil and trees, all held in public trust.