2012 State of Diversity and the Environment Blog Carnival

Another Blog Carnival Presented by Rooted in the Earth! Read the original call for blogs.

I am going to keep this simple: my hope is to join with each of you  to meaningfully and fruitfully gather together face-to-face focusing on people of color and the environment in the near future. In 2009, Audrey Peterman did just that with Breaking the Color Barrier in the Great American Outdoors.

Some thoughts on some wonderful work in 2011 and where we are headed in the future including 2012:

~ Andrea Roberts’ Extending our Useful Lives Being Honest About Sustainability and Mortality

~ Rue Mapp’s The Year of Relevancy

~ Dianne Glave’s She Wolf  Transitioning to the New Year of 2012

Go to the blogs to read thoughts, ideas . . . some are transforming thoughts into action.

Do contact me at dianneglave@gmail.com if you would like to add your blog to this carnival.

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Thomas Merton Center: Environmental Justice

The Thomas Merton Pittsburgh’s Peace and Social Justice Center continues to do the good work. The center started 40 years ago focuses on social justice based on the non-violent resistance.

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They serve the Pittsburgh community and beyond in the areas of economic justice, anti-war, and prisoner’s right. Just recently, the center launched another committee on environmental justice based in part on faith and spirituality. Wanda Guthrie, one of the Thomas Merton board members, was central in launching this new committee. Many thanks for her hard work along with the other committee members present at the first meeting.

Photos by Dianne Glave

2012 State of Diversity and the Environment Blog Carnival

Welcome to the third Rooted in the Earth Blog Carnival!

People of color faced many obstacles in 2010 and 2011 including higher rates of unemployment during the Great Recession and increased conservatism concerning diversity/ethnicity in the US. There has also been much to celebrate with an African American president and a growing Latina/o population. I wondered in 2012, the new year, if the same ups and downs are true, when it comes to those working and serving for diversity (people of color) and the environment. Personally, I can count more than twenty people of all ethnicities I can reach out to with expertise concerning people of color and the environment. Five years ago, the ranks were thinner. At the same, time I sense some (justice) fatigue among the ranks.

I am sending a call for blogs responding to a the state of diversity and the environment in 2012. I will include your name, organization, a personal/non-profit description, and blog/website. The blog carnival is broad enough to include stories about nascent environmental movements among and concerning people of color, projects-in-progress that will help to grow the movement, ideas for the future, and more. For those who do not blog, please contact me directly so we can work together to add your perspective to the blog carnival.

Submit your blog to 2012 State of Diversity and the Environment by January 19th. All blogs will be subject to review based on suitability to the topic.

Dianne Glave

Barnes & Noble Book Signing

On September 10, 2011, I was invited by Nu Lambda Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. to share about Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environment Heritage at Barnes & Noble Bookstore at the Camp Creek Marketplace in East Point, Georgia. We followed with a group discussion, book signing, and personal conversations. Some in the audience asked:

  • What kind of research did you do for the book? How long did it take to research and write the book? It took several years at archives like Tuskegee University and Hampton University. And it took two years to write Rooted in the Earth.
  • Would you assign your own book to college students in one of your classes? Yes, but I would not rely solely on the book for my lecture and discussion.
  • Is the book used at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s)? I don’t know about specific schools but the book was marketed to the mainstream, academics, and librarians across the country.

Great afternoon! Great people! Of special note was Cynthia Parks, President of Nu Lambda Omega who was a charming co-host at the event.

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Many thanks to Na’Taki Osborne Jelks who organized and co-hosted the event.

Photographs by Na’Taki Osborne Jelks and Michael McCrimmon

Meet the Outdoor Baby Network

I recently discovered the Outdoor Baby Network. Wait, let me get this straight: they found me. And I’m glad they did. I do love children. I talk about my godchildren and the children in my family with great passion and love. I have also written about children in Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage.

So why is this important to me? Well, I have been encouraging African Americans to get outdoors along with the voices of Legacy on the Land and Outdoor Afro. If the parents and adults are not getting out, then the babies are not making it to the woods and beaches either.

Here’s an answer to this dilemma. Meet Outdoor Baby Network through the lens of it’s founder Heidi Ahrens:

Yes, I am a white woman. That said, I have long been interested in connecting people of color to nature. My first-hand experience was working with New York City Outward Bound and leading field trips with my classes in Brooklyn. I remember a conversation about the environment I had with a friend in Brooklyn many years ago.  When I asked her about joining Outdoor Baby Network, she responded with “Why should I join that site?” She echoed the sentiments I’ve heard from other African Americans: “Black people don’t do that.” It’s been my understanding that most African Americans live in urban places and are disconnected from nature. Also, time and money is necessary, a luxury both impoverished whites and blacks don’t have. Economic barriers are a reality to nature including outdoor play spaces for babies and children.  There is a connection though for many African Americans in their roots in Africa and bond through visits to family members still in the South.

I am aware as a white woman, that there is a divide between blacks and whites, and that it widens even further when it comes to nature. In a small way, I’d like to diminish that divide with Outdoor Baby Network. With my heart and soul, I want all families, including African Americans, to experience the joys, challenges and excitement the outdoors can bring in a connectedness to the living world.  I invite you to come join in the conversation, if you have not already done so. I know many African Americans, Dianne counted among them, are already experienciencing nature. I understand the negative aspects but also wish to embrace positive aspects of the African American experience. Through Outdoor Baby Network and Rooted in the Earth, I offer my support to families to enhance their health and personal well-being through nature exploration and adventurous travel.

This new connection with Rooted to the Earth and Dianne Glave feels like a positive way for people to reach out to one another, and to nature.

Learn more about Outdoor Baby Network. Read  one of Heidi’s blogs: Snow-Filled Bathtub.  Visit Dianne’s African American and the Environment Group linked from Outdoor Baby Network.

Photos Courtesy of Heidi Ahrens



In Conversation with Philip O’Neal of Green DMV

GREEN DMV is a non-profit that promotes clean energy and green jobs as a means of diminishing poverty in low-income communities in the United States.  Philip O’Neal and Rhon Hayes are the co-founders.

Dianne: Philip, let’s start by writing poems that includes themes of nature.  I’ll write one too inspired by your verses.

Philip:

Winter’s magic in grandma’s garden, deep roots, moments of loneliness, feeling forgotten, and silenced.

While Grandma, warm, weaves her basket with the thoughts of strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes and egg-plant.

D: I like it. Grandma! Fruits and vegetables. Here’s mine . . . borrowing some style from ee cummings . . .

i dream

of stark trees through

eight window panes in a row

like sentinels

waiting

first glance desolation

future

spring hides under brown, grey, and silver bark

leaves wait for warmer days to unfurl

winter is not desolate

breath exhaled

spring

D: We spoke–a short conversation–for the first time a few weeks ago. I would like to know more about you.

P: I was born and raised in Elizabeth City, NC. Attended Elizabeth City State University. I’m married to my beautiful wife of 7 years Danielle, with one son Logan and a little princess on the way in May. Danielle and I lived in Atlanta for 4 years, before moving to Washington DC in 2004.

D: What led you to become an environmentalist?

P: The first person who made me realize I was an environmentalist was Dr. Robert Bullard, a long time educator and environmental justice activist who teaches at Clark-Atlanta University. In 2007 I heard him speak on a panel at a Congressional Black Caucus forum on Climate Change. A statement that I will never forget is when he said. “If you drink water, eat food or breathe air. Or any two out of the three, then you’re an environmentalist”

D: Ah yes, Dr. Bullard! He has clearly influenced your thinking. Any other influences?

P: I can’t pick one person that has been the greatest influence in my efforts. But I feel that my thinking was cultivated from academics such as W.E.B. Dubois and Dr. Julianne Malveaux, civil rights leaders such as Dr. King and Gandhi, to environmental leaders past and present from Dr. Bullard to Al Gore. Between each name, I can fit a hundred or more names, it’s that many! I represent the sum of many individual ideals mixed in with my own little individual flavor.

D: How did you and Rhon come up with the idea to launch greendmv.org?
P: It kind of organically happened, (no pun intended). I call it strategic intuition. We knew the green movement was going to be the next boom, and we knew historically low-income communities and communities of color typically don’t get the information early enough to take advantage of ground floor economic movements. So we made it our mission to insure the left out communities of the past, would be locked in the green economy of the future.

D: Tell me about the contributions of others working for and with Green DMV.

P: We have relied heavily on volunteers. For the first 2 years, Green DMV was funded from our own pockets. After out first two grant requests were denied, we just found creative ways to get things done, like organizing volunteers and making our organization attractive to supporters. Since then, we’ve received support from Home Depot, Whole Foods, Giant Foods, City Governments and more.

D: Yes, the hard work in environmentalism relies heavily on the work and good will of volunteers. Another question: why do you think clean energy and green jobs are important?

P: Environmentally, this is the most important work that needs to be done. Economically, because these are the jobs of the future. If you take a look around, it’s very rare that you see a solar panel on a person’s home. Now let’s take a look in the future. It will be very rare not to see solar powered home. Between now and then, somebody has to do this work and currently the workforce doesn’t exist to supply the demand of all those projects. Somebody has to train and hire this new workforce. So why not train the people who have had barriers to employment for this new industry?

D: How can environmentally conscious energy and jobs change our lives here in the United States?

P: A new industry will be created to boost our economy, which will support jobs in both metropolitan and rural cities and towns.

D: What is our responsibility as individuals and a nation to the rest of world when it comes to protecting the environment and its resources?

P: All I ask is that we be conscious of little negative acts. That’s all. If you can just ask yourself a question, “Am I doing the right thing?”, even if you do the wrong thing after that, I’d be happy.

D: Could you share something about Green DMV’s latest initiative?
P: In partnership with the District of Columbia and AARA, GREEN DMV is taking on the daunting task of educating the entire faith-based community of Washington DC, to take part in the efforts to fight poverty and pollution in our Nation’s Capitol. We’re calling this “The Green Faith Initiative- One Green City Through Faith.” The church is the backbone of the community and there is no way we can inform poor communities effectively without the support and efforts of the faith-based community.

D: Do you spend time outdoors? What is your favorite activity? Do you hike? If so where? A favorite park?

P: Honestly, My favorite activity is doing spontaneous things with my family. Living in Washington DC, there’s just so much history and things to do.

D: How is Barack Obama doing concerning the environment? Michelle Obama?

P: Well, President Obama just isn’t the first black president; he’s the first green president. Approving 500 Million dollars for Green Job Training, he get’s it and now after the State of the Union Address, he’s focusing on getting them all employed in the green sector. Michelle is focused on the greening of our bodies with the Let’s Move initiative. She’s ensuring that we have healthy schools and fit kids.

D: Thank you, Philip. I look forward to ways Green DMV will continue to change the green economy.

Photos Courtesy of Green DMV

2011 MLK Day: Remembering Martin Luther King the Environmentalist

Before Martin Luther King was assassinated, he had broadened his Civil Rights agenda to include advocating for the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War and the sanitation workers striking in Memphis.

Courtesy americaslibrary.gov

On MLK Day, I like to remember Dr. King as the environmentalist. Memphis sanitation workers went on strike in Memphis, Tennessee on February 12, 1968.  They wanted higher wages, and better hours and vacation time. “An unhealthy work environment” was “the subtext” as the workers “were exposed to hospital waste and rotting food, which drew rodents, roaches, and birds.” (Dianne Glave, Rooted in the Earth Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage, 131)

Dr. King arrived to support the sanitation workers at a rally on March 18. He continued his support with his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech on April 3rd at the Mason Temple in Memphis, saying,

“It’s all right to talk about streets flowing with milk and honey, but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day. It’s alright to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day God’s preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis.”

Thank you Dr. King for being an environmentalist–before environmentalism was en vogue–for African Americans, for the impoverished, for Americans!

2010 Keeping it Wild Gala

Sometimes it better, sometimes easier, to start with endings than beginnings . . .

 

With Shelton Johnson

 

I sat in the amphitheater at Zoo Atlanta listening to Shelton Johnson. He was the keynote speaker for the 6th Annual Keeping it Wild (KIW) Gala, and is a national park ranger and author of Gloryland. As I listened to Shelton, one row back from me I heard the rhythmic breathing of a six year old girl. Shelton’s passionate story-telling and cadence of that small child’s breathing mentally and spiritually took me outdoors.

I imagined being at Yosemite National Park, the source of many of Shelton’s stories. The adults–I was there too–were up late quietly looking up at the sky filled with distant stars and a crescent moon. We had tucked the children away in the tents and we could hear the distinctive breathing of each child, like different signatures on many pages.

So to beginnings. KIW hosted a wonderful gala. It began with a reception filled with people from so many cultures eating from their bamboo plates. Later, more guests filled their plates from a buffet with cornbread, black-eyed peas, and more.

In the amphitheater, the latter part of the evening, I felt love and joy seeing so many people of color listening to Shelton tell his stories. The Buffalo soldiers also drew me in. I cried when one of the soldiers stepped forward and affirmed Shelton in honoring the ancestors. Towards the end, a young woman strummed her guitar singing. We sang along with her about fighting pollution.

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I hope that KIW continues to grow and expands their good work. I may not always express my feelings in the moment but my heart was bursting and full last night, full of Yosemite National Park.

Photos by Dianne Glave

Sampling of Diversity and Environment Blogs and Websites

This is an exciting time with many blogs and websites focusing on diversity and the environment.

Here is a sampling of the ones I visit the most with some amazing people behind the sites:

Brown Girl Going Green

Chocolate & Arugula

Eco Soul Wisdom

Jarid Manos (Ghetto Plainsman)

Legacy on the Land

Outdoor Afro

What are some of your favorites? Which blogs and websites do you visit regularly? I’d love to learn more.

Lunch with Sierra Club’s Rita J. Harris in Memphis

What a great afternoon. I spent time with Rita J. Harris, the Regional Representative and Environmental Justice Organizer with the Sierra Club. We went to Boscos Restaurant & Brewing Company and her office, both in Memphis.

The Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships is part of the Sierra Club. Over our meals of salad, shrimp, and artichokes, Rita shared about her work at the Sierra Club.

Dotted all over Memphis are industrial companies polluting the environment and people. As a result, residents, particularly the impoverished, are exposed to air and water pollution. Carcinogens in pollution have long been shown to cause cancer, miscarriages among women, and deformities in newborns.  In addition, the many waterways including the Loosahatchie River and McKellar Lake are sources for catching fish, fish often poisoned by chemical pollutants like PCB’s and mercury. When people eat fish that looks seemingly healthy, they are ingesting these poisons.

Rita and Dianne Outside Boscos

Rita is passionate about environmental justice, fighting to protect marginalized people and the fragile environment. She works with citizens in monitoring air pollution levels, seeking to pass laws to regulate environmental inequities, and checking that the groundwater piped into homes is safe.

In the short history of environmental justice in the United States, we have environmental heroes including Benjamin Chavis and Robert Bullard who have served in the community striving to eliminate environmental racism. I count Rita among them.

She responded saying, “I know there are many others, and the fight for environmental justice has been brief if you compare the time it has existed with the long history of the Sierra Club, or other efforts that are over 100 years old. The EJ movement began back in the mid-1980s, but there are many EJ activists, community fighters, and I probably fall short in their shadows.”

Photo by Dianne Glave