In yesterday’s post we covered just the first half of people highlighted in Greenpeace’s article, “8 Black Environmentalists You Need to Know” (https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/8-black-environmentalists-need-know/), and my head is still swimming with ideas on how to help my own community in environmental justice. I hope you’re ready for more, because today’s post will focus on the second half of that list, which is by no means any less impressive than the first half.
Environmentalist Christopher Bradshaw and Dreaming Out Loud
First up is Christopher Bradshaw – whom, according to the article, is “a social justice entrepreneur who founded Dreaming Out Loud, Inc., an organization dedicated to creating economic opportunities for the marginalized community in the D.C. metro area” (https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/8-black-environmentalists-need-know/). Bradshaw does an incredible job in his work in connecting the disparaging parts of Black history – from slavery and sharecropping – to today’s inadequacies in food equality – and addressing both through leadership and economic opportunity. Just take a look at the Dreaming Out Loud homepage, and specifically their journey, to see what I mean:
“DOL began with teaching character and leadership development in DC public charter schools but soon recognized systemic issues around the food system which led to the creation of community farmers markets, with the help of a local church and one farmer.
Chris also recognized that these issues were connected to historical legacies of slavery, sharecropping, and entrenched systemic racism with intersections across the spectrum of social justice issues. As the organization evolved, we expanded into urban agriculture and food system work with a focus on economic empowerment of marginalized communities.
Through economic opportunity, using workforce development and entrepreneurship training, DOL is driving deeper change within the community creating financial stability and food security. DOL aims to use the food system as a powerful tool of resistance, resilience, and advocacy for structural change.”
Link here: http://dreamingoutloud.org/about/.
Similar to the work that Tanya Fields is doing in New York (check out yesterday’s blog post to learn more: https://suntexllc.com/environmentalism-for-and-from-environmentalists/), Mr. Bradshaw helps communities in the DC area familiarize themselves with sustainable farming practices, and even provides a space for people to get their hands dirty working directly with the soil and building community as they go (https://dreamingoutloud.org/farm-food-hub-at-kelly-miller/).
Environmentalist Peggy Shepard and WE ACT
Next up from the Greenpeace list of inspiring environmentalists: Peggy Shepard. According to the article, “Peggy Shepard is co-founder and executive director of WE ACT For Environmental Justice and has a long history of organizing and engaging Northern Manhattan residents in community-based planning” (https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/8-black-environmentalists-need-know/). Just a quick browse of their website and you can tell that you’re dealing with an impressive group of social and environmental justice warriors. WE ACT’s mission is to (https://www.weact.org/):
“build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices.”
If you check out their laundry list of activities on the “What We Do” page of their website, you’ll see exactly how they work to accomplish this mission, and there is certainly no shortage of reading material outlining their impressive accomplishments.
Environmentalist Jeaninne Kayembe and Urban Creators
Speaking of talent and hard work, next on our Greenpeace list of inspiring environmentalists is Jeaninne Kayembe. Given my own personal devotion to composting, I can already tell you that the work she has done to co-create Urban Creators, and in “transforming a 2-acre garbage dump into a farm” has me giddy (https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/8-black-environmentalists-need-know/). What does Urban Creators do? Check out the following quote directly from their ‘About Us’ section to learn more (https://urbancreators.org/):
“Since 2010 we have used food, art, and education as tools to nurture resilience and self-determination in our neighborhood. Now, we are supporting the emergence of a new generation of Urban Creators, organizers, artists, growers, and local businesses who are working to build equity and collective liberation in our communities.
Life Do Grow (LDG) is a Neighborhood Creative Commons, situated in the heart of North Central Philadelphia on the ancestral lands of the indigenous Lenni-Lenape. LDG is a dynamic and ever-evolving ecosystem of creative ideas, currently comprised of an urban farm, public park, outdoor classroom, community marketplace, venue for artistic and cultural expression, and co-working/co-creation space for local businesses, artists, organizers, growers, and creators. It is a canvas for ingenuity; a safe-space to explore boundaries, discover passions, and experiment with new ideas; a hub for community to organize, build equity, and foster economic opportunity; and an organic garden where we can all connect more deeply with the earth and one another.”
Because we are a solar company, I can’t help myself in also highlighting that “In 2019 we [Urban Creators] installed a solar energy system with Youth Build Charter School to power Life Do Grow, and were honored by the Bread & Roses Community Fund with their Annual ‘Tribute to Change’ Award” (https://urbancreators.org/mission-history/). It’s safe to say the work they’re doing is transformative and nothing short of phenomenal.
Environmentalist Omar Freilla and Green Worker Cooperatives
This brings us to the final honoree on the Greenpeace list of inspiring environmentalists, Omar Freilla. Thanks to the article, we know that “Freilla is the Founder of Green Worker Cooperatives and creator of the academy model of cooperative development. Green Worker Cooperatives is a South-Bronx based organization dedicated to incubating worker-owned green businesses in order to build a strong local economy rooted in democracy and environmental justice” (https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/8-black-environmentalists-need-know/). On further inspection of the company website however, we get the full picture of what this means. Check it out for yourself, here: https://www.greenworker.coop/coopacademy, including their partner organizations, here: https://www.greenworker.coop/ourcoops.
While I can’t speak to the future of SUNTEX, I know that these incredible people will be part of the fabric of inspiring stories which carry us forward in our work in Texas, and I couldn’t be more grateful to them for all that they do. Huge shoutout to Greenpeace as well for curating this list so that we may learn more about their work and how to help. Please check out the individual links throughout today’s and yesterday’s blog posts to learn more about how you can help support their work directly too!