Community organizing plays an important role in the context of my issue because the people are the best way to protect the lands being destroyed by the palm oil industry. If the people are invested in their community they will be the defenders of the local forests. A community organizer that has had a direct impact on this issue is Willie Smits. He is the founder Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation. Some challenges associated with community organizing would be getting a community to work together to reach a common goal, as well as having the money and resources to actually have an impact on changing the situation at hand. The most important thing to consider is that to have community organizing there has to be something beneficial for the people and a plan that people will believe can actually bring forward changes. Pertaining to the Justice-Oriented Citizen model, people are personally trying not to buy items containing palm oil because there are many alternatives that do not support the unsustainable industry.
There are many advocates against the palm oil industry that are trying to spread awareness, such as the palm oil free labels that are on some items in the stores. The social justice people are those that are addressing the root causes of the palm oil crisis and trying to fix them. The demand is too high which is why it has become unsustainable. There are palm oil tree farms but not enough to meet the demand. Willie Smits bought land in Borneo and created jobs to take the land from a biological desert to a forest again. The TED talk is How to Save a Rainforest given by Willie Smits. People think his work to save the orangutans is amazing, but he instead thinks it represents our failure to save them in the wild.
Pertaining to community organization, he created a place called Samboja Lestari, where he wanted to involve the local people and restore the rainforest. East Borneo, where it is located, had nothing due to the decline of agricultural productivity with resulted in 50% of people without jobs and a high crime rate. Willie realized that this was a place that could be turned around if there was a solid plan put into action. Not only is the land destroyed due to the deforestation from the palm oil industry, it also faces the issue of fires, which can also spread to the local people and destroy their homes and families. Willie knew that the people would protect the rainforest if it were providing them enough to live. Willies land provided 3,000 people with jobs.
They started to rebuild the forest by planting 1,000 trees a day, but also had to address the fire issue. The local people knew that sugar palms were fire resistant so they decided to make sugar palm rings to try and prevent fires from spreading. The sugar palms also provide a lot of income for the local people. Overall, Willie Smits is a prime example of how a single person can become a Social- Justice Oriented Citizen. His efforts have restored land in Borneo that would otherwise still be barren due to the deforestation from the palm oil industry.