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Meet Annie de la Bouillerie Goeke of Earth Rights Institute in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Annie de la Bouillerie Goeke.

Annie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I found my passion at the early age of 16 when I left home to venture out and explore the world. This journey that I called ‘my school of life’ took me to the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, South Pacific, Europe and North America. It made me the global citizen that I am today. I explored being a political activist and leader for two decades, co-founding the Green Party Movement in the U.S. and worldwide, as well as an organizer in the Peace Movement. With these skills combined with my community activism, I co-founded Earth Rights Institute, a non-profit organization.

My objective is to inspire, educate and bridge people who want to collaborate and engage in the world social and green movement. My work is about bringing individuals together and realizing the interconnectedness of life and how each of us affects the world we live in today. As one described as planting seeds of change, I have tackled climate change, poverty, injustice and environmental degradation. My work is about connecting the dots, spreading positive concepts and helping others find innovative solutions to crises they face. Whether I am involved here in Santa Monica with city planning or launching an EcoCity initiative in West Africa, I find a way to bridge these worlds together. My global experiences have led me to meet Presidents, village leaders, UN dignitaries, women organizers, indigenous healers, activists, co-creators, artists, educators, government officials and creative entrepreneurs. Each story I carry is filled with the heart and soul of individuals who have a similar love for our mother Earth. This is my community. As I continue to strive to help build a world of peace, my present efforts are focused on addressing Climate Change here and in Africa. As Los Angeles now leads the way in climate action, I am making myself and my organization a part of these efforts. It is possible to change the world and I am doing it daily with my friends, colleagues, partners, friends and family.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
To become a strong, passionate and engaging individual, I believe it is necessary to experience obstacles and challenges whatever path you choose. It is through our personal breakthroughs that we can evolve into being a master of our craft. I have faced many struggles, disappointments and failures with my work and personal life but these rejections and sabotage of some of my programs including war and conflicts, lack of funds, politics and or simply being ahead of time, are what makes me the warrior of my skills. Each time I hit a wall, I get up and start again. Part of my strength comes from the people I work with especially my African colleagues. I realized how important it is for me to have hope as it encourages them to believe in themselves. The magic of success so often lies in the ability to persevere and seek truth in the matter. No matter whether it has been a divorce, lack in financial support and having to face the Nay Sayers, I would never trade my life for what I received back.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Earth Rights Institute – what should we know?
Earth Rights Institute (ERI) is designed to be an equilateral knowledge platform, where local people collaborate with academics and development professionals, both local and foreign, by exchanging skills, experiences, and knowledge to solve crucial development issues such as widespread poverty, climate change, land right disputes and environmental degradation. We take an innovative approach to join education, advocacy and research in building ecologically, economically and culturally sustainable communities in some of the world’s poorest regions. ERI advocates a model of development that supports the re-localization of development expertise. We believe that in order to empower communities to manage and direct their own development, strategies and expert knowledge must be conceived locally. We are an United Nations NGO (Non-Governmental Organization).

We are very proud of so many programs and collaborations we have been a part of these past 16 years. We strive to be a vessel for people to engage with us to bring positive change. Our most impressive program today is our Climate Action Plan for Cocody in the Cote d’Ivoire. It is the first comprehensive African city program that provides the right set of actions and tools for the local population to engage in the reduction of carbon output. Our model is positioned and considered internationally by the COP 21 & 22 to be the one that can mobilize the rest of West Africa. As this is a great thing, it is also a great responsibility. And our role here in LA is to bring news about this initiative and how our support and recognition here in the USA is extremely important to making it a success. Africa needs help to address climate change that affects us all. Their participation is necessary if we are to achieve our goals in lessening the destruction that comes from climate change.

What sets us apart as a non-profit organization is our holistic approach, our long-term experiences, the community-based designs we provide and our ability to work collectively worldwide. We are structured differently from most non-profits as our doors are always open for people to join us, to bring their expertise and passions to our organization. We have a very good trusted reputation and we don’t shy away from regions that are extremely challenging. If we are called upon, we do our best to help, connect and support in whatever way we can by bringing the tools and resources needed for them to become empowered and self-reliant.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Over many years, I have had the opportunity to meet extraordinary people from all walks of life who have inspired me and helped me be the person I am today. Some of them are well-known and others just beautiful people.

Some of the most well-known people who I have worked with are the following:

Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, Indian Activist Vandana Shiva, UN Delegate Marta Benavides, Ralph Nader, Thomas Linzey Founder CELDF, Australian Senator Christine Milne, Sweden MP Lotta Hedstrom, Philip Leakey in Kenya, Ingrid Bentacourt (Colombia), Hazel Henderson, Helen Caldicott, Noel Brown (founder UNEP), Gore Vidal and others.

I also want to credit my own community – Santa Monica. I have worked with the local government as a former Chair for the Commission on the Status of Women and Young Girls. Santa Monica is certainly a role model in sustainability and over the years I have used their resources and programs as a model to highlight in other regions around the world.

Currently, I have been building a bridge between their sustainability office and the African EcoCity initiative in West Africa. There are numerous other Los Angeles organizations that I have collaborated with and have been impressed by their efforts and work they do such as Climate Resolve, LA Office of Sustainability, TreePeople, Teaching Green, Sustainable Works, UCLA Green Campus and more…

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Image Credit:
Earth Rights Institute

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