Following a career in environmental justice issues as a Greenpeace toxics campaigner, Niaz Dorry began working with small-scale, traditional, and indigenous fishing communities in the U.S. and around the globe as a Greenpeace oceans and fisheries campaigner. Since 2008 she has been the coordinating director of the Gloucester, Massachusetts-based Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA), which describes itself as “a fishermen-led organization working at the intersection of marine conservation and social, economic, and environmental justice.
An excerpt from our interview with Niaz:
The process of building trust and relationships in fishing communities is where I began in this work 20-some-odd years ago. It’s been a long road. Going back to community organizing values, once you are transparent about why you are there, what’s less relevant are the specifics of why you’re working with someone than about how you’re going about getting to know them. What’s important is trust building and connectivity and aligning basic values, maybe even foregoing some of the near-term campaign objectives you may have in the process, to create those relationships that might end up lasting a long time. Then you can come back and connect on something that resonates with both of you. That initial care in the relationship has come back to reward me and the work over and over and over again, because people get to know what you’re coming from, the level of integrity you’re bringing to the community and the relationships. You have to be clear on fundamental values that you stand for, so that when individual campaigns come up they’re rooted in the values you share. So when a new idea comes up, I can go back to those fishermen I had long relationships with to say “What do you think about this?”