Written By: Maritza Martinez, Fellowship Program Manager
In the face of problems like climate change, economic crisis and vast unemployment, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. It takes extraordinary people with big vision to turn that despair into action. True change that benefits us the most often comes from leaders within our own communities who have long-term vision. That’s why, at Green For All, we think it’s so important to invest in leaders who are working locally to create a brighter, healthier future.
With this in mind, we asked our network of local leaders from around the country who have been part of our Fellowship Program for their best ideas on how to grow the green economy in their communities. We were looking for projects that would not only help low-income residents, but that other communities could replicate. Seventeen of our Fellows answered the call with innovative, game-changing ideas. After rigorous evaluation from a team of extraordinary folks, we chose six projects that stood out for their potential to expand the green economy and lift people out of poverty.
Meet the six innovative leaders that are transforming their communities:
Ambrose Carroll • Green The Church Campaign • Oakland, CA
The Green The Church Campaign will train faith leaders to be instructors in the Roots of Success, an environmental and job-readiness curriculum. Once trained, faith leaders will be ready to engage and mobilize their congregations to initiate sustainability projects and form Green Team Ministries. The goal of this project is to connect the dots for religious congregants on environmental issues and to allow faith communities to embrace the green movement through theology. The project aims to mobilize a sector of the population that is already organized and has historically played a significant role in creating social change.
AshEl Eldridge • SOS Juice • Oakland, CA
SOS Juice is a solar-powered juice and smoothie bar aimed at creating healthier communities by providing fresh food options at farmers markets and festivals. In addition to providing wholesome food, the business runs as a cooperative, employing local youth from communities of color and purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers and food providers.
Daniel Nguyen • VEGGI Farmer’s Cooperative Composting Project • New Orleans, LA
The VEGGI Farmer’s Cooperative Composting Project was designed to divert waste from landfills in the community and support local farmers by building composting systems on farms and working with residents and businesses to collect food waste. The project will increase food security by promoting local and sustainable agriculture and engaging community members in working with local farmers. The composting business will also serve as a revenue stream for the VEGGI Farmer’s Cooperative, making it more sustainable in the long term.
Imhotep Adisa • Express Your Self Rain Barrels • Indianapolis, IN The Express Your Self Rain Barrels project was designed to tackle both high unemployment and water contamination from sewage overflow. The project will prepare emerging community entrepreneurs to develop businesses producing and selling rain barrels. Rain barrels reduce pollution from storm water runoff and conserve water for use in gardens. Community members will take part in a two-month training program on both rain barrel production and social entrepreneurship, and will continue to receive support as they launch their sustainable businesses. Pandora Thomas • The Green Life at San Quentin • El Cerrito, CA
The Green Life is a direct response to the need for environmental literacy, green job training, education, support and empowerment for men reentering their communities after incarceration. The project will finalize an environmental literacy curriculum specifically designed for the population as well as host the first San Quentin Green Festival.
Tony Anderson • Atlanta Green Light Corridor Capacity Building Initiative • Atlanta, GA
Atlanta Green Light Corridor Capacity Building Initiative project aims to heighten the environmental intelligence of student leaders and community stakeholders within communities of modest means. The project will bridge community civic engagement and educational awareness via direct-to-door delivery of green solutions. The volunteers will conduct showerhead and faucet exchanges, energy cost surveys, energy audits, weatherization assessments and CFL bulb retrofits.
A huge thank you to the other members of the selection committee for their hard work and dedication in identifying these six phenomenal projects: Cheryl Derricotte, Patrick Barnes, Selim Sandoval, and Zoe Hollomon.
Invest in local leaders like by Ashel, Ambrose, Daniel, Imhotep, Pandora and Tony by donating to the Fellows Fund.