1. Want to end gun violence now? Let’s save Philly block by block
  2. Here are steps Philly could take to cool urban heat islands
  3. The gas prices conversation we should be having
  4. Reclaiming Black land is challenging but not impossible
  5. Black clergy: Churches can sway views on climate crisis
  6. Can old Philadelphia refineries be cleaned up and restored?
  7. Here’s how Black Philadelphia can help in the environmental justice battle
  8. City Launches Environmental Justice Advisory Commission
  9. FIXING THE STRUGGLE SPACE
  10. SOLAR POLICIES ARE FALLING BEHIND – SO, HOW DO WE CATCH UP?
  11. IS PHILLY’S “TAP” WATER PROGRAM WORKING?
  12. Ian Harris
  13. Melissa Ostroff
  14. THE WATER BILLS ARE WAY TOO HIGH
  15. THE KEY TO APPROACHING FRONTLINE COMMUNITIES ON ALL THINGS GREEN
  16. ICYMI: Watch highlights, panels at ecoWURD’s 2021 Environmental Justice Summit
  17. BLACK MOTHERS NEED CLEANER & SAFER ENVIRONMENTS – IT’S A PUBLIC HEALTH IMPERATIVE
  18. USING DANCE TO SAVE A RIVER
  19. TRACKING PHILADELPHIA’S AIR QUALITY
  20. GETTING RELIGIOUS ON CLIMATE CRISIS
  21. WE NEED MORE BLACK PEOPLE IN AGRICULTURE
  22. WHEN THERE’S NO CLEAN ENVIRONMENT, WE HAVE NOTHING
  23. A PREMATURE END TO EVICTION MORATORIUMS
  24. THE LACK OF BELIEF IN CLIMATE CRISIS IS JUST AS MUCH A THREAT
  25. YOU CAN’T HAVE RACIAL JUSTICE WITHOUT FAIR HOUSING
  26. RUN OVER THE SYSTEMS: THE FUTURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM
  27. PENNSYLVANIA IS “WAY BEHIND” ON SOLAR. HOW DOES IT CATCH UP?
  28. Pandemic Relief For Black Farmers Still Is Not Enough
  29. A BLUEPRINT FOR THE NEXT URBANISM
  30. THAT ELECTRONIC & CLOTHING WASTE PILES UP. SO WHERE TO PUT IT?
  31. THE WOMB IS THE FIRST ENVIRONMENT
  32. A FRIDGE FOR EVERYONE WHO’S HUNGRY
  33. OLD SCHOOL FOSSIL FUEL ECONOMY VS. NEW SCHOOL CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY
  34. ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE IS THE TOP SOCIAL JUSTICE PRIORITY
  35. IN 2020, DID “BIG GREEN” BECOME LESS WHITE?
  36. CLIMATE ACTION CAN POWER OUR RECOVERY
  37. IN PANDEMIC, AN HBCU DOES IT BETTER
  38. A DANGEROUS LACK OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE PROTECTIONS
  39. HOW FAST CAN A BIDEN PRESIDENCY MOVE ON CLIMATE ISSUES?
  40. CRAFTING A BLACK-DRIVEN CORONAVIRUS AND CLIMATE “STIMULUS” AGENDA
  41. Penn to donate $100 million to Philadelphia school district to help public school children
  42. BLACK ECOLOGIES IN TIDEWATER VIRGINIA
  43. WHAT IS “FROM THE SOURCE REPORTING?”
  44. LEADERSHIP IN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
  45. THE ECOWURD SUMMIT LAUNCH
  46. National Geographic Virtual Photo Camp: Earth Stories Aimed to Elevate Indigenous Youth Voices
  47. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2020
  48. TOO MANY NATURAL GAS SPILLS
  49. GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK
  50. BLACK VOTERS ARE THE ECO-VOTERS CLIMATE ACTIVISTS ARE LOOKING FOR
  51. CANNABIS PROFIT & BLACK ECONOMY
  52. THE NATURE GAP
  53. BLACK PEOPLE NEED NATURE
  54. WHAT IS TREEPHILLY?
  55. IS AN OBSCURE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE IN HARRISBURG DOING ENOUGH?
  56. AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTALISM’S RACIST ROOTS
  57. “THERE’S REALLY A LOT OF QUIET SUFFERING OUT THERE
  58. “WE NEED TO GET INTO THE SUPPLY CHAIN”
  59. “AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW THAT GIVES YOU A VOICE”
  60. URBAN PLANNING AS A TOOL FOR WHITE SUPREMACY
  61. HEAT WAVES REMIND US CLIMATE CHANGE IS STILL HERE
  62. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
  63. IN PANDEMIC, MAKING SURE PEOPLE EAT & HOW HBCUs HELP
  64. WE’RE NOT DONE, YET – MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IS NEEDED AT THE PES REFINERY SITE
  65. COVID-19 IS LAYING WASTE TO RECYCLING PROGRAMS
  66. THE PHILADELPHIA HEALTH EQUITY GAPS THAT COVID-19 EXPOSED
  67. THE POWER OF NEW HERBALISM
  68. THERE’S NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
  69. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit
  70. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit 2020 Press Release
  71. Too Much Food At Farms, Too Little Food At Stores
  72. THE LINK BETWEEN AIR POLLUTION & COVID-19
  73. CORONAVIRUS REVEALS WHY ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS STILL THE CRITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME
  74. FROM KATRINA TO CORONAVIRUS, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
  75. COVID-19 SHOWS A BIGGER IMPACT WHERE BLACK PEOPLE LIVE
  76. THE CORONAVIRUS CONVERSATION HAS GOT TO GET A LOT MORE INCLUSIVE THAN THIS
  77. MEDIA’S CLIMATE CHANGE COVERAGE KEEPS BLACK PEOPLE OUT OF IT
  78. “WE DON’T HAVE A CULTURE OF PREPAREDNESS”
  79. PHILADELPHIA HAS A FOOD ECONOMY
  80. HOW URBAN AGRICULTURE CAN IMPROVE FOOD SECURITY IN U.S. CITIES
  81. MAPPING THE LINK BETWEEN INCARCERATION & FOOD INSECURITY
  82. PHILLY’S JAILS ARE, LITERALLY, MAKING PEOPLE SICK
  83. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2019
  84. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit
  85. “We Can’t Breathe: Zulene Mayfield’s Lifelong War with Waste ‘Managers’”
  86. “Is The Black Press Reporting on Environmental Issues?” by David Love
  87. “The Dangerous Connection Between Climate Change & Food” an interview with Jacqueline Patterson and Adrienne Hollis
  88. “An Oil Refinery Explosion That Was Never Isolated” by Charles Ellison
  89. “Philly Should Be Going ‘Community Solar'” an interview w/ PA Rep. Donna Bullock
  90. “Is The Litter Index Enough?” an interview w/ Nic Esposito
  91. “How Sugarcane Fires in Florida Are Making Black People Sick” an interview w/ Frank Biden
  92. Philly Farm Social – Video and Pictures
  93. #PHILLYFARMSOCIAL GETS REAL IN THE FIELD
  94. THE LACK OF DIVERSE LEADERS IN THE GREEN SPACE Environmental Advocacy Organizations – especially the “Big Green” – Really Need More Black & Brown People in Senior Positions
  95. PLASTIC BAG BANS CAN BACKFIRE … WHEN YOU HAVE OTHER PLASTICS TO CHOOSE FROM
  96. WE REALLY NEED POLITICAL STRATEGISTS LEADING ON CLIMATE CHANGE – NOT ACADEMICS
  97. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN A MUCH MORE CLIMATIC WORLD
  98. A SMALL GERMANTOWN NON-PROFIT “TRADES FOR A DIFFERENCE”
  99. IS PHILLY BLAMING ITS TRASH & RECYCLING CRISIS ON BLACK PEOPLE?
  100. BUT WHAT DOES THE GREEN NEW DEAL MEAN FOR BLACK PEOPLE?
  101. HOW GREEN IS PHILLY’S “GREENWORKS” PLAN?
  102. The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy event recap #ecoWURD #phillyisgreen
  103. Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just for wealthy white cyclists
  104. RENAMING “GENTRIFICATION”
  105. FOUR GOVERNORS, ONE URBAN WATERSHED IN NEED OF ACTION
  106. JUST HOW BAD IS THE AIR HURTING PHILLY’S BLACK FAMILIES?
  107. EcoWURD Presents:The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy
  108. IF YOU ARE LOW-INCOME OR HOMELESS, THE POLAR VORTEX IS LIKE A FORM OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
  109. NOT JUST FLINT: THE WATER CRISIS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
  110. DO THE TRAINS STOP RUNNING? THE SHUTDOWN’S IMPACT ON MASS TRANSIT
  111. BLACK WOMEN & THE TROUBLE WITH BABY POWDER
  112. A WHITE COLLAR CRIME VICTIMIZING NICETOWN
  113. IN NORTH CAROLINA, CLIMATE CHANGE & VOTER SUPPRESSION WORKED HAND-IN-HAND
  114. LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS WOULD GAIN THE MOST FROM GREEN ROOFS
  115. YOUR OWN HOOD: CLOSING THE GENERATIONAL GREEN DIVIDE IN BLACK PHILADELPHIA
  116. THE PRICE OF WATER: LITERAL & FIGURATIVE THIRST AT WORK
  117. THAT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT TRUMP DIDN’T WANT YOU TO SEE? YEAH, WELL, IT’S THE LAW
  118. RACIAL & ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO WILDFIRES
  119. NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTTS Philly Has a Cigarette Butt Problem
  120. HOW SUSTAINABLE CAN PHILLY GET?
  121. USING AFROFUTURISM TO BUILD THE KIND OF WORLD YOU WANT
  122. UNCOVERING PHILLY’S HIDDEN TOXIC DANGERS …
  123. WILL THE ENVIRONMENT DRIVE VOTERS TO THE POLLS? (PART I)
  124. ARE PHILLY SCHOOLS READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?
  125. 🎧 SEPTA CREATES A GAS PROBLEM IN NORTH PHILLY
  126. 🎧 BREAKING THE GREEN RETAIL CEILING
  127. That’s Nasty: The Cost of Trash in Philly
  128. 🎧 How Can You Solarize Philly?
  129. 🎧 “The Environment Should Be an Active, Living Experience”
  130. Philly’s Lead Crisis Is Larger Than Flint’s
  131. Despite What You Heard, Black Millennials Do Care About the Environment
  132. Hurricanes Always Hurt Black Folks the Most
  133. Are You Going to Drink That?
  134. The Origins of ecoWURD
  135. We Seriously Need More Black Climate Disaster Films
  136. 🎧 Why Should Philly Care About a Pipeline?
  137. 🎧 Not Just Hotter Days Ahead… Costly Ones Too
  138. Philly’s Big and Dangerous Hot Mess
Saturday, August 13, 2022
  1. Want to end gun violence now? Let’s save Philly block by block
  2. Here are steps Philly could take to cool urban heat islands
  3. The gas prices conversation we should be having
  4. Reclaiming Black land is challenging but not impossible
  5. Black clergy: Churches can sway views on climate crisis
  6. Can old Philadelphia refineries be cleaned up and restored?
  7. Here’s how Black Philadelphia can help in the environmental justice battle
  8. City Launches Environmental Justice Advisory Commission
  9. FIXING THE STRUGGLE SPACE
  10. SOLAR POLICIES ARE FALLING BEHIND – SO, HOW DO WE CATCH UP?
  11. IS PHILLY’S “TAP” WATER PROGRAM WORKING?
  12. Ian Harris
  13. Melissa Ostroff
  14. THE WATER BILLS ARE WAY TOO HIGH
  15. THE KEY TO APPROACHING FRONTLINE COMMUNITIES ON ALL THINGS GREEN
  16. ICYMI: Watch highlights, panels at ecoWURD’s 2021 Environmental Justice Summit
  17. BLACK MOTHERS NEED CLEANER & SAFER ENVIRONMENTS – IT’S A PUBLIC HEALTH IMPERATIVE
  18. USING DANCE TO SAVE A RIVER
  19. TRACKING PHILADELPHIA’S AIR QUALITY
  20. GETTING RELIGIOUS ON CLIMATE CRISIS
  21. WE NEED MORE BLACK PEOPLE IN AGRICULTURE
  22. WHEN THERE’S NO CLEAN ENVIRONMENT, WE HAVE NOTHING
  23. A PREMATURE END TO EVICTION MORATORIUMS
  24. THE LACK OF BELIEF IN CLIMATE CRISIS IS JUST AS MUCH A THREAT
  25. YOU CAN’T HAVE RACIAL JUSTICE WITHOUT FAIR HOUSING
  26. RUN OVER THE SYSTEMS: THE FUTURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM
  27. PENNSYLVANIA IS “WAY BEHIND” ON SOLAR. HOW DOES IT CATCH UP?
  28. Pandemic Relief For Black Farmers Still Is Not Enough
  29. A BLUEPRINT FOR THE NEXT URBANISM
  30. THAT ELECTRONIC & CLOTHING WASTE PILES UP. SO WHERE TO PUT IT?
  31. THE WOMB IS THE FIRST ENVIRONMENT
  32. A FRIDGE FOR EVERYONE WHO’S HUNGRY
  33. OLD SCHOOL FOSSIL FUEL ECONOMY VS. NEW SCHOOL CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY
  34. ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE IS THE TOP SOCIAL JUSTICE PRIORITY
  35. IN 2020, DID “BIG GREEN” BECOME LESS WHITE?
  36. CLIMATE ACTION CAN POWER OUR RECOVERY
  37. IN PANDEMIC, AN HBCU DOES IT BETTER
  38. A DANGEROUS LACK OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE PROTECTIONS
  39. HOW FAST CAN A BIDEN PRESIDENCY MOVE ON CLIMATE ISSUES?
  40. CRAFTING A BLACK-DRIVEN CORONAVIRUS AND CLIMATE “STIMULUS” AGENDA
  41. Penn to donate $100 million to Philadelphia school district to help public school children
  42. BLACK ECOLOGIES IN TIDEWATER VIRGINIA
  43. WHAT IS “FROM THE SOURCE REPORTING?”
  44. LEADERSHIP IN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
  45. THE ECOWURD SUMMIT LAUNCH
  46. National Geographic Virtual Photo Camp: Earth Stories Aimed to Elevate Indigenous Youth Voices
  47. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2020
  48. TOO MANY NATURAL GAS SPILLS
  49. GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK
  50. BLACK VOTERS ARE THE ECO-VOTERS CLIMATE ACTIVISTS ARE LOOKING FOR
  51. CANNABIS PROFIT & BLACK ECONOMY
  52. THE NATURE GAP
  53. BLACK PEOPLE NEED NATURE
  54. WHAT IS TREEPHILLY?
  55. IS AN OBSCURE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE IN HARRISBURG DOING ENOUGH?
  56. AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTALISM’S RACIST ROOTS
  57. “THERE’S REALLY A LOT OF QUIET SUFFERING OUT THERE
  58. “WE NEED TO GET INTO THE SUPPLY CHAIN”
  59. “AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW THAT GIVES YOU A VOICE”
  60. URBAN PLANNING AS A TOOL FOR WHITE SUPREMACY
  61. HEAT WAVES REMIND US CLIMATE CHANGE IS STILL HERE
  62. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
  63. IN PANDEMIC, MAKING SURE PEOPLE EAT & HOW HBCUs HELP
  64. WE’RE NOT DONE, YET – MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IS NEEDED AT THE PES REFINERY SITE
  65. COVID-19 IS LAYING WASTE TO RECYCLING PROGRAMS
  66. THE PHILADELPHIA HEALTH EQUITY GAPS THAT COVID-19 EXPOSED
  67. THE POWER OF NEW HERBALISM
  68. THERE’S NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
  69. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit
  70. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit 2020 Press Release
  71. Too Much Food At Farms, Too Little Food At Stores
  72. THE LINK BETWEEN AIR POLLUTION & COVID-19
  73. CORONAVIRUS REVEALS WHY ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS STILL THE CRITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME
  74. FROM KATRINA TO CORONAVIRUS, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
  75. COVID-19 SHOWS A BIGGER IMPACT WHERE BLACK PEOPLE LIVE
  76. THE CORONAVIRUS CONVERSATION HAS GOT TO GET A LOT MORE INCLUSIVE THAN THIS
  77. MEDIA’S CLIMATE CHANGE COVERAGE KEEPS BLACK PEOPLE OUT OF IT
  78. “WE DON’T HAVE A CULTURE OF PREPAREDNESS”
  79. PHILADELPHIA HAS A FOOD ECONOMY
  80. HOW URBAN AGRICULTURE CAN IMPROVE FOOD SECURITY IN U.S. CITIES
  81. MAPPING THE LINK BETWEEN INCARCERATION & FOOD INSECURITY
  82. PHILLY’S JAILS ARE, LITERALLY, MAKING PEOPLE SICK
  83. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2019
  84. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit
  85. “We Can’t Breathe: Zulene Mayfield’s Lifelong War with Waste ‘Managers’”
  86. “Is The Black Press Reporting on Environmental Issues?” by David Love
  87. “The Dangerous Connection Between Climate Change & Food” an interview with Jacqueline Patterson and Adrienne Hollis
  88. “An Oil Refinery Explosion That Was Never Isolated” by Charles Ellison
  89. “Philly Should Be Going ‘Community Solar'” an interview w/ PA Rep. Donna Bullock
  90. “Is The Litter Index Enough?” an interview w/ Nic Esposito
  91. “How Sugarcane Fires in Florida Are Making Black People Sick” an interview w/ Frank Biden
  92. Philly Farm Social – Video and Pictures
  93. #PHILLYFARMSOCIAL GETS REAL IN THE FIELD
  94. THE LACK OF DIVERSE LEADERS IN THE GREEN SPACE Environmental Advocacy Organizations – especially the “Big Green” – Really Need More Black & Brown People in Senior Positions
  95. PLASTIC BAG BANS CAN BACKFIRE … WHEN YOU HAVE OTHER PLASTICS TO CHOOSE FROM
  96. WE REALLY NEED POLITICAL STRATEGISTS LEADING ON CLIMATE CHANGE – NOT ACADEMICS
  97. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN A MUCH MORE CLIMATIC WORLD
  98. A SMALL GERMANTOWN NON-PROFIT “TRADES FOR A DIFFERENCE”
  99. IS PHILLY BLAMING ITS TRASH & RECYCLING CRISIS ON BLACK PEOPLE?
  100. BUT WHAT DOES THE GREEN NEW DEAL MEAN FOR BLACK PEOPLE?
  101. HOW GREEN IS PHILLY’S “GREENWORKS” PLAN?
  102. The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy event recap #ecoWURD #phillyisgreen
  103. Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just for wealthy white cyclists
  104. RENAMING “GENTRIFICATION”
  105. FOUR GOVERNORS, ONE URBAN WATERSHED IN NEED OF ACTION
  106. JUST HOW BAD IS THE AIR HURTING PHILLY’S BLACK FAMILIES?
  107. EcoWURD Presents:The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy
  108. IF YOU ARE LOW-INCOME OR HOMELESS, THE POLAR VORTEX IS LIKE A FORM OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
  109. NOT JUST FLINT: THE WATER CRISIS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
  110. DO THE TRAINS STOP RUNNING? THE SHUTDOWN’S IMPACT ON MASS TRANSIT
  111. BLACK WOMEN & THE TROUBLE WITH BABY POWDER
  112. A WHITE COLLAR CRIME VICTIMIZING NICETOWN
  113. IN NORTH CAROLINA, CLIMATE CHANGE & VOTER SUPPRESSION WORKED HAND-IN-HAND
  114. LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS WOULD GAIN THE MOST FROM GREEN ROOFS
  115. YOUR OWN HOOD: CLOSING THE GENERATIONAL GREEN DIVIDE IN BLACK PHILADELPHIA
  116. THE PRICE OF WATER: LITERAL & FIGURATIVE THIRST AT WORK
  117. THAT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT TRUMP DIDN’T WANT YOU TO SEE? YEAH, WELL, IT’S THE LAW
  118. RACIAL & ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO WILDFIRES
  119. NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTTS Philly Has a Cigarette Butt Problem
  120. HOW SUSTAINABLE CAN PHILLY GET?
  121. USING AFROFUTURISM TO BUILD THE KIND OF WORLD YOU WANT
  122. UNCOVERING PHILLY’S HIDDEN TOXIC DANGERS …
  123. WILL THE ENVIRONMENT DRIVE VOTERS TO THE POLLS? (PART I)
  124. ARE PHILLY SCHOOLS READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?
  125. 🎧 SEPTA CREATES A GAS PROBLEM IN NORTH PHILLY
  126. 🎧 BREAKING THE GREEN RETAIL CEILING
  127. That’s Nasty: The Cost of Trash in Philly
  128. 🎧 How Can You Solarize Philly?
  129. 🎧 “The Environment Should Be an Active, Living Experience”
  130. Philly’s Lead Crisis Is Larger Than Flint’s
  131. Despite What You Heard, Black Millennials Do Care About the Environment
  132. Hurricanes Always Hurt Black Folks the Most
  133. Are You Going to Drink That?
  134. The Origins of ecoWURD
  135. We Seriously Need More Black Climate Disaster Films
  136. 🎧 Why Should Philly Care About a Pipeline?
  137. 🎧 Not Just Hotter Days Ahead… Costly Ones Too
  138. Philly’s Big and Dangerous Hot Mess

Charles Ellison | Managing Editor

 

Recent weeks and months have seen an impressive uptick in headlines and current events highlighting environmental injustice and the way society is responding to it. A big part of the struggle in that response, however, is broader community awareness at the level which forces everyone to understand it fully on the grassroots to push adequate response at the so-called grasstops. World leaders wrapped up negotiations over what could have been a potentially groundbreaking global deal on climate change in Scotland, only to fall short. On the heels of that is a surprise announcement from President Biden that the U.S. and China will team up to fight climate. A judge approved a $600 million settlement for the beleaguered residents of Flint, Michigan who’ve had to endure contaminated water and dangerous public health effects for many years. Indigenous communities fighting the destructive Line 3 pipeline (which would cross over 200 bodies of water) in Minnesota may have found a major legal breakthrough that could stop future oil and gas pipeline projects. And, in Philadelphia, yet another junkyard fire catastrophe as thousands of residents had to choke on days of toxic fumes from burning fires. Unfortunately, that’s nothing new in Philadelphia.

 

The common theme that links every one of these developments is, actually, the issue of environmental injustice. What also links them is the failure of media, stakeholder institutions and policymakers to center environmental injustice in the conversations, coverage and decisions. As a result, it becomes a greater challenge to mobilize citizens and the heavily impacted “frontline” communities – Black, Brown and Indigenous – who are brutalized and beaten the most by increased climate disaster, constant pollution and bad health outcomes from unhealthy zip codes. Climate crisis and pollution impacts are no new thing to these communities – in fact, they’ve been dealing with it since before the United States gained its independence from Britain in the 18th century. One could easily make the argument that environmental racism has been the leading challenge faced by these populations since their very first encounters with either European slave traders or White settlers and colonists.

 

These are the communities, also, most likely to deal with heavy doses of day-to-day, trying-to-make-ends-meet economic and social distress. Everyday is an emergency day in Black communities, for example, in cities like Philadelphia where the poverty rate soars just above 30 percent, coupled by combat-zone levels of violence, a broken school system, high eviction rates, high incarceration and low labor participation rates. Just putting food on the table or figuring out next month’s rent are the priority issues. Events like the climate-focused “COP26” conference in Glasgow seem far removed and irrelevant to real-life concerns “in the streets,” so to speak.

 

That disconnect presents real problems when there’s little to no effort to connect those major climate-related and environmental events to everyday struggles faced by communities forced to the margins. When policymakers, non-profits or environmental advocacy institutions attempt to implement more localized eco-focused or “green” solutions and initiatives to distressed BIPOC communities, it’s tough going. That leads all too often to either of the following outcomes: 1) these communities have little grasp of what these “solutions” will do for them and, in some cases, are unresponsive or confused (“what does this have to do with me?”); or 2) communities will often reject such efforts when advocates and stakeholders – often White-led – arrogantly avoid or outright dismiss community input. We saw this happen in 2014 with “The Greening of Detroit” initiative, an aggressive White-led effort that set out to plant thousands of trees throughout Detroit, a majority Black city. While seemingly altruistic, the Greening effort missed a big spot: it never approached, talked with, consulted or even hired Black residents. Infuriated Black Detroiters snapped back. Indeed, all the trees were being planted by White people who didn’t live in the community.

 

The “green” sector, from large environmental non-profits to clean and renewable energy companies looking for new customers, must understand that it’s high time to exercise total inclusiveness in their market-shifting, climate-response and pollution-mitigation strategies. For example, solar energy companies cannot, on any conceivable level, believe that they can expand their market share or achieve “community solar” if 1) they are making no effort to close the racial gap among solar energy consumers and solar company employees, 2) their lobbyists are avoiding any sort of contact with influential Black, Latinx or other non-White legislators and 3) their outreach advocates make no effort to connect with these communities or interface, at basic, with their media outlets. Rarely do we hear or see solar energy companies pushing campaigns in Black newspapers or Black media outlets – yet, it’s almost comical to watch how frustrated they are by slow-going  expansion efforts.

 

The broader “environmental” activism sector, in turn, must understand that climate crisis, as it escalates, will never be fixed by avoiding environmental injustice and environmental racism. Environmental racism is the root cause of climate crisis once we investigate the chronology a bit deeper. In addition, while approaching “frontline” communities, eco-focused advocates can’t assume such communities will immediately get or understand what it is they’re talking about or that something “green” is automatically good for them.

 

Extra investment of time, resources and effort will need to, at the onset, center inclusiveness and cultural competency. That first starts, at the top, by grooming leadership and expertise directly from those communities. The assumption shouldn’t be that they can’t do the work – the assumption should be that they are the most knowledgeable about the work, even if they’re lacking in a degree. For example, when a clean energy company or green-focused advocacy organization’s outreach strategy involves attempts at persuading Black elected officials in  impacted communities, they’ll first need Black leadership and capable representation in their ranks. Even before then, it will be crucial to not use them merely as institutional tokens or window-dressing, but as leaders who are spearheading those outreach efforts.

 

Conversations or essential encounters with frontline environmentally battered communities must also meet them where they are. If green organizations are laying the groundwork for outreach to non-White communities, they need to first answer a key question voters and constituents ask during any political campaign cycle: “What’s in it for me?” This kind of messaging, the value proposition, must be crisp and simple. It must also be focused squarely on four elements that are priority to frontline-distressed communities, in this order:

 

1) How many jobs will this create? Will you hire me and/or people in my community for this?

2) How much will this reduce violent crime in my neighborhood?

3) How much healthier will I get if you do this?

4) How much will this immediately improve the quality of life in my neighborhood, from improved city services to cleanliness to increased property values?

 

We must answer what the value-add is. Be mindful of the fact that in many places, like Philadelphia for example, half the residents rent; therefore, it’s absolutely essential to ensure these initiatives are tenant-friendly and not just aimed at homeowners. The immediacy of results is also key since many people, especially urban Black communities, will give these efforts predictable side eyes upon viewing them as initiatives designed to only revitalize neighborhoods in preparation for future White residents. Once these questions are answered make sure to design a plan that includes frontline communities in every step of the decision-making process and, once again, hires and retains them for most, if not all, of the work that creates a fully inclusive green infrastructure economy.