A Moment to Reflect on 2013…

The world watched on as Nelson Mandela’s body was transported to its final resting place in his childhood village of Qunu, South Africa this weekend. In the days following his death, we all mourned and remembered and have no doubt resolved to carry on his spirit and determination to continue to fight for social justice.

In the midst of reflecting on Mandela’s life and legacy, we also looked back at the last 12 months of our highlights and victories of 2013, but could not also help but think of other human rights heroes whom we lost this year. Without them, our movement victories would not be possible.

Becky Tarbotton ¡Presente!

Nearly a year ago, the activist community mourned the unexpected loss of Rebecca Tarbotton.

As the Rainforest Action Network’s Executive Director, Becky led the organization with determination and grace, embraced the desire and sought out the opportunity to holistically link environmental and social justice movements. She was a strong woman and leader, fighting, championing and creating a better world for all.

Take action to honor Becky by signing this petition to stop fracking.

Raúl del Águila ¡Presente!

In February, we bid farewell to Fair Trade pioneer, Raúl del Águila. Raúl was the Managing Director of COCLA, a Fairtrade certified cooperative in Peru made up of 23 primary cooperatives. With his own cooperative, they went from selling 2% of their coffee on Fair Trade terms to 40% and used the Fair Trade Premium to open services for victims of domestic violence.

We thank Raúl del Águila for all the work that he has done for producers and the whole Fair Trade system throughout the years. We will continue to take your legacy to build a stronger Fair Trade movement. Our hearts go out to your family, friends, and fellow cooperative members.

Take action to honor Raul by calling on World’s Finest Chocolate to go Fair Trade.

Saul Landau ¡Presente!

Saul Landau was a legendary documentary filmmaker, author, and activist with a prolific body of which work includes more than 40 documentaries and 14 books spanning from an intimate documentary portrait of Fidel Castro, to the indigenous uprising in Chiapas, to the effects of nuclear radiation exposure. Landau’s work was educational, thought provoking, and an inspiration to all of us at Global Exchange.

In particular, Saul Landau was deeply connected to Cuba, and expressed with great clarity the failings of U.S. foreign policy towards the island nation. We honor Saul Landau’s work in both the movement to normalize relations with Cuba and his untiring work to promote justice and equality in all parts of the world.

Take action to honor Saul by supporting the end to the travel ban to Cuba.

Robin U Roberto Romano ¡Presente!

Robin was leading child rights advocate and director of the investigative documentary, Dark Side of Chocolate, which looked into the realities of child labor and trafficking in the West African cocoa industry. International Labor Rights Forum’s Judy Gearhart had this to say about the passing of Robin:

”Robin Romano’s passing is a tremendous loss to all those who advocate against child labor. Robin’s passion and commitment to exposing injustice and the exploitation of children was an inspiration to me personally, and I’m sure to many others…Robin’s spirit, drive and compassion will continue to inspire our commitment to exploited children in West Africa, the US and so many other places around the world.

Take action to honor Robin by ordering a Fair Trade Peace on Earth action kit for the holidays.

Eleanor Biggs ¡Presente!

Closer to home, and part of our hearts, we lost a supporter, activist, jokester, and mother to all at Global Exchange, Eleanor Biggs, this summer.

Technically, Community Rights Program Director Shannon Biggs’ mother, she regularly made the trip from Sacramento to our offices to stuff envelopes, serve drinks (or just volunteer) at the Open House, tear up the dance floor at the Human Rights Awards, and rallied in the streets dressed in pink. Her commitment to educating her bridge ladies about Fair Trade vs. Free Trade was true people-to-people ties at work. We raise our glass and miss you very much, Eleanor.

Take action to honor Eleanor by telling your Congressperson to vote NO on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Let the spirits of these amazing activists live on through each one of us as we take on another year of resisting injustice, envisioning alternatives, and taking action.


It’s been just over three weeks since friends, co-workers, colleagues, allies and the world learned of the tragic passing of Rebecca Tarbotton on December 26, 2012. Vacationing with her husband and friends on the west coast of Mexico, she tragically died from asphyxiation from water she breathed in while swimming in the Pacific Ocean.

As the Rainforest Action Network’s Executive Director, Becky led the organization with determination and grace, embraced the desire and sought out the opportunity to holistically link environmental and social justice movements. She was a strong woman and leader, fighting, championing and creating a better world for all.

She was also full of love for others and a lover of fun.

On the memorial page for Becky, Global Exchange co-founder Kevin Danaher (amongst hundreds of other mourners) spoke of her dedication and lust for life:Becky celebration invite

“Becky was a sweet angel and a courageous warrior for Mother Earth. She inspired us all and we should consider ourselves very fortunate to have shared work and fun with her. She will be sorely missed. Although our hearts are broken, we can show our respect for the bright shining light that was Becky by rededicating ourselves to the struggle she was dedicated to.”

A public memorial will take place to honor Becky’s life in San Francisco on Saturday January 26 at the Herbst Theater at 5pm. More information can be found here.

Our deepest sympathies go out to RAN staff and Becky’s family.

Rainforest Action Network’s Statement

Rainforest Action Network mourns the unexpected loss of our visionary Executive Director Rebecca Tarbotton.

Our organization, and the community that has grown around it for more than 25 years, are mourning the loss of Rebecca Tarbotton, who died unexpectedly on Wednesday (Dec 26, 2012) while vacationing in Mexico with her husband and close friends.

Rebecca Tarbotton, known to friends as Becky, was a profound thinker and leader. She was dedicated to merging environmental and social justice movements, and building campaigns that inspire transformational changes in forest protection, climate change and human rights. A self-proclaimed “pragmatic idealist,” Becky was deeply admired by a whole movement of activists for her boldness and clarity of vision. The RAN staff, her friends and family remember a “force of nature” with an infectious laugh, adventurous spirit, and a heart bursting with love.

Under her leadership, RAN achieved tremendous victories in preserving endangered rainforests and the rights of their indigenous inhabitants. Most recently, Becky helped to architect the most significant agreement in the history of the organization: a landmark policy by entertainment giant, Disney, that is set to transform everything about the way the company purchases and uses paper.

Becky spent much of her time thinking about how to inspire masses of people to work for transformational social and environmental change, and how to push the country’s biggest corporate polluters to reform their ways.

As she said during a keynote address in October 2012: “We need to remember that the work of our time is bigger than climate change. We need to be setting our sights higher and deeper. What we’re really talking about, if we’re honest with ourselves, is transforming everything about the way we live on this planet…We don’t always know exactly what it is that creates social change. It takes everything from science all the way to faith, and it’s that fertile place right in the middle where really exceptional campaigning happens–and that is where I strive to be.”

Rainforest Action Network is committed to continuing the course that Becky set. We will continue to focus on our core purpose of protecting forests, moving the country off of fossil fuels and defending human rights through effective, innovative and hard-hitting environmental corporate campaigns–campaigns powered by people like you.

Tarbotton died on Wednesday on a beach in Mexico north of Puerto Vallarta while vacationing with her husband and friends. The coroner ruled cause of death as asphyxiation from water she breathed in while swimming. She was thirty nine years old.

Her ashes will be scattered off of Hornby Island in British Columbia where her family owns a cabin and where she spent much time with family and friends. Public memorial services will be held in San Francisco, CA and in Vancouver. Dates are still to be determined.