Authors: Karen Monahan Originally published on BlackEyedPeas.GreenForAll.org on Friday, March 26th. Karen Monahan works for Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota (EJAM), and is an alumni of the Green For All Academy. Last night I flew from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Des Moines, Iowa, where The Black Eyed Peas were playing. As a Green For All Academy Fellow, I was honored to receive a special award on behalf of Green For All from Governor Chet Culver of Iowa. Plus, I got to meet The Black Eyed Peas, who Governor Culver also awarded for their work to raise awareness about what “green” can mean for America’s communities. “The State of Iowa is a national leader in green initiatives and we honor The Black Eyed Peas and Green For All for their ongoing commitment to raising awareness of the importance of a transition to renewable energy sources and green job creation,” Governor Culver said in a press release. It was really great to see the younger generation, public officials, grassroots organizers, Ludicrous and the Peas all coming together around the promise of the green economy. The most exciting part for me was forging new connections and reaching out across lines to help further my work at Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota (EJAM). We often talk about working together and helping each other out across lines, yet we often find competition, and are in conflict with our surrounding states over federal grants, enticing people to come to our state for jobs, enticing businesses to invest in our region, etc. But yesterday was a good day for solidarity. There has been tension between Minnesota and Iowa. See, Iowa is way ahead of Minnesota in terms of green industries, with wind energy farms and turbine manufacturing in particular. However, I learned yesterday that it also has the highest incarceration rate of African Americans. After receiving the award, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with State Representative Wayne Ford and discuss what each of our states is working on – our strengths and weaknesses. We realized that we have a chance to help each other to make sure that both of our states have what they need to progress. We made a commitment to meet next week to discuss concrete steps we’ll take to assist each other, including perhaps setting up a conference call with other interested officials and advocates. The green economy is about lifting up the whole country, and helping those with the least prosper. I walked away with a connection and understanding that is extremely important for building the green economy. I never thought I would be working with Iowa. This is one more example of how we can help each other, so that everyone wins. There’s enough for all of us, when we can show reciprocity. I also want to say thank you to Green For All for helping to make another powerful connection to help bring the green economy to the next level. Go Black Eyed Peas! Go Green Economy!