We want to tell you about our trip to Egypt last November, how we found abundance in the desert, and the lessons that we are taking with us for the journey ahead.

Our trip started in the Nubian city of Aswan, on the Nile River, to meet with the Black people of Nuba. The Nuba too have experienced physical displacement due to water — only their flooding was caused by dams. We shared stories of injustice and resistance over okra and stuffed bell peppers. On a full moon, we saw ancient temples, drank fresh mango juice, and prayed for our allies. We took inspiration from community-controlled, sustainable eco-refuges across Africa.

With fire and sustenance in our bellies, we flew from Cairo to Sharm-el-Sheik, the site of the UNFCCC COP27 gathering. We were joined by two indigenous delegates from the Houma Nation as well as members of the Black and Vietnamese-American communities from Louisiana. We met each day to practice collective decision-making. And, Taproot Earth threw the best party, the Black Climate Leaders Global Social, where we danced with more than 150 people from across 17 countries of the African diaspora. Taproot Noire made its mark.

The COP itself was corporate, propaganda-filled, and shiny. It could have paid the debt of several countries. Amid all of that, Taproot Earth participated in panels at the Justice Pavillion (Traditional Ecological Knowledge + Legal and Scientific knowledge), the IPCC pavilion (Philanthropy’s role in supporting the climate justice movement), the Water Pavillion (the human right to water), and the USCAN Climate Reparations press conference with frontline leaders from the Amazon and Madagascar. 

We confronted Special Envoy John Kerry, personally, demanding that the US commit to the Global South demand for a Loss & Damage Financial facility (fund). It was a solid win for the frontlines. The devil, of course, will be in the details.

How do we not just survive, but thrive, amid these contradictions: in a beautiful desert country with majestic sunsets, small mountains, and rugged hills made of pure granite, we witnessed both bounty and wide-scale poverty, exacerbated by a military and surveillance state. These contradictions surround us.

We anticipate more hurricanes, blizzards, and wildfires. We tread slowly and listen closely, knowing that the solutions rest with the communities who have survived and sustained for so long.