Here is part 5 of our 7 part series to introduce some the of leading activists at RAN, our Palm Oil Action Leaders. These amazing people are taking on the highest level of action with our palm oil campaign, and we want you to know who they are, so you take action with them in your hometowns. Below is Jacob’s story, an activist from Chicago, on what inspired him to apply to the Palm Oil Action Leaders Summit and how his experience at the Summit impacted him. If you live in the Chicago, IL area and feel inspired by Jacob’s story, sign up to work with him by clicking the sign-up link at the bottom of the page!
Jacob Foster, 30, Chicago, IL
Jacob has been an activist and organizer in the Midwest since 2009. His first introduction to Rainforest Action Network was in May of 2014, while he worked with Greenpeace. As part of RAN’s Global Day of Action calling on PepsiCo to eliminate conflict palm oil, RAN had organized a banner drop at the Sweets and Snacks expo hosted at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center. Jacob, along with 14 other activists, dropped a huge, 60 ft. banner during the opening of the expo, sending a strong message to PepsiCo demanding that the company cut Conflict Palm Oil. After the exciting action, Jacob spent some time with several of RAN’s campaigners, and had the opportunity to get to know them better and familiarize himself with RAN’s overall work and mission. While their passion for the cause was clear, it was their deep concern and compassion for the Indigenous communities that fall directly victim to palm oil industry practices that inspired and made a lasting impression on Jacob. Thus, when he came across the possibility of working with RAN again as a Palm Oil Action Leader almost a year later, he was quick to act on that opportunity.
The Palm Oil Action Leaders Summit was an inspiring and revitalizing experience for Jacob. Being an activist can be tough, especially when one has taken on a leadership position, and Jacob (like any activist) is familiar with the obstacles that present themselves in this line of work. However, the Leaders Summit was a relieving opportunity for him to set those mental challenges aside, and be a part of a supportive community of individuals that share his passion for creating change:
It can be hard to be not just an activist, but a leader of activists in your own community, because people have their own lives, their own needs, their own dreams. So to get to spend some time with an entire group of folks who have, to whatever extent, agreed to subsume [activism] into the same larger context that you have is incredibly powerful and rejuvenating. And that feeling of not being the only one is the most important feeling I'll carry with me.
Jacob has a compassion and sincere desire to create positive change that he brings to any space he occupies. His warm heart and dedication to his work is a key component to the Palm Oil Action Leaders program, and we are very grateful to have him on our team!
Do you live in the Chicago area and want to work with Jacob to fight Conflict Palm Oil? He and a group of activists are getting ready for an event in Chicago coming up in early August, and are looking for some volunteers to join them.