Pages tagged "academy"

Reflections on Environmental Justice from Northern New Mexico

Authors: Beata Tsosie-Peña, GFA Fellow, Class 5 Since attending the Green for All Fellowship Academy Training, I have come back to my work with the local non-profit organization Tewa Women United (TWU) with enhanced leadership skills, and increased support on the environmental issues we face, as individuals, families, and as an organization. As part of my Green For All campaign, I am working within our organization to make our daily program activities a model for environmental consciousness to the families and community we directly serve. We are also starting a “Living Seed Library” that offers local, non-GMO seed to our gardening communities, and documents oral histories and plant knowledge. We are also planning and proposing community garden projects and food justice resolutions to the City of Española, New Mexico as well as a large scale mural that tells our story on how we are impacted by the nuclear weapons industry in Northern part of the state. The proactive work our local environmental justice group focuses on around food justice and self-empowerment is a good balance when engaging in the constant struggle of opposing the contamination being enacted upon our people and agricultural resources by nuclear weapons production. This past year was a difficult one – we are still recovering emotionally, physically, and spiritually from the devastating Las Conchas Fire, which destroyed the watershed of my homeland of Santa Clara Pueblo and 80% of its’ forested lands. This is the third fire, which threatened Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL), and many of us watched helplessly from a smoky haze as our forests burned and the labs, which threaten our health and existence, were saved. It is difficult to accept that our people are economically dependent on this threatening industry, and we will continue to advocate to change its mission from a nuclear weapons focus to one that supports true “green” energy and sustainable research, land conservation, legacy waste cleanup and restoration. It is ironic that as our state breathed in heavy smoke for over a month, our current governor disbanded the environmental board, which approved a statewide ban on open burning and detonation of hazardous and chemically toxic substances, as well as implementing a cap on coal emissions. She has now opened the door for these harmful activities to potentially start again. Now, a proposed six billion dollar weapons facility known as the CMRR-NF (Chemical Metallurgy Research and Replacement Nuclear Facility) is in the beginning stages of construction at Los Alamos. There is an outcry of opposition from local organizations and the impacted community. No other facility of its kind is in such close proximity to populations who still live off the land, and it will be located on an active, seismic fault zone. The risks and costs with the project are too high –we will continue with our opposition against CMRR-NF and other Los Alamos activities that threaten our environmental and reproductive health. Through utilizing our cultural strengths and traditional knowledge, we are collectively working to heal our families and communities from an imposed culture of violence, and now, from the impacts of fire. If even one person hears our story, if nature’s story is told, then her suffering has found voice in those community members who have not forgotten how to listen and learn from our connection to place. Since time immemorial, we have been caretakers of this land, and we will continue to work in 2012 for our shared expertise to have equal voice in order to enact positive social change.

Beata Tsosie-Peña — Fellows Class 5

Beata Tsosie-Peña is from Santa Clara Pueblo, and was raised in El Rito, NM. After studying permaculture design, and out of personal concern for future generations, she became interested in developing solutions to economic and environmental problems. She became active with Tewa Women United's Environmental Justice program three years ago. She felt a calling after experiencing the trauma from the testing and waste disposal detonations from LANL on a regular basis in her ancestral homelands.

Featured Fellow: Claudia Jackson

Authors: Maritza Martinez

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Every year Claudia Jackson and her daughters continue the family tradition of shearing sheep along with her parents who are sheep ranchers. Her work at Diné Biinanish Yá’át’éehgo Nooséél (Navajo Green Jobs) is deeply aligned with the traditions of her family. Being green is “the same culturally as what my family has been doing” she says. “The elders understand it,” she says about the green economy, “they say ‘these are the solutions we have forgotten.’” For Claudia, the promise of the green economy is also the promise of bringing together the wisdom of the older generation and the younger generation. Both groups have so much to offer and to learn from each other, whether it is learning to spin the wool from the sheep into yarn and using social media to engage with others in the green movement.

“I am not working for this one program, I am working for the people.”


As the Navajo Green Jobs Coordinator, Claudia is working to develop a green business incubation program in communities. She sees her role as the maestro of the green movement on Navajo Nation, bringing many of the groups and organizations working on the issues together to work harmoniously as a whole to reach their goals. “To collaborate you have to go outside of your circle,” she says of her success working with community groups, businesses and elected officials. In order to build the green movement on Navajo Nation, Claudia has had to look beyond the priorities of each entity and identify the common goals of the movement. Culturally, this makes perfect sense as well. There is a long tradition of partnership and collaboration going back to the elders meeting at the trading posts and working together.

“I have to walk the talk. I’ve had to change my lifestyle.”

Claudia quickly realized that working collaboratively also means opening up personally as a means of building trust with communities. “In my culture you have to say your clan and that is how people know you. If they don’t know you, they don’t know how to approach you,” she says of working within Navajo communities. There is a saying in Navajo, doo’adanjit’įįhgo, which means: You can’t be shy. You have to walk up to people and talk to them. As someone who has always liked to be in the background doing the work, taking on a leadership role has been a learning experience and a personal challenge for Claudia. Taking on this leadership position has meant some lifestyle changes, from carefully choosing her words in public to modeling green practices in the community.

“Everything I teach is about growing.”

When she starting farming a plot of land at the North Leupp Family Farms, she brought her parents and children along with her to help plant crops. The joy of working together as a family yielded a great harvest. Claudia attributes this to “the love and connection with the earth” they felt as they cultivated the land. She approaches all of her work with this same philosophy of collaboration and synergy with the earth, drawing inspiration from her family and from the elders in her community who see her mission as “the work they knew we had to come back to.”

“You always have to have time for yourself”

Claudia meditates and runs to stay focused. Making space to recharge is so important for leaders. For Claudia, running is a means of meditation. In February, Claudia will be running in the Sedona Half Marathon to raise funds for green projects in Navajo communities. It has been seven years since Claudia’s last half marathon and she is ready to prove she can complete it in about two hours.Check outher blog about her training and her work. Or, sponsor her!

The Green Economy In Coal Country

Authors: Maritza Martinez, Fellowship Program Manager

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In an article on, Green For All Fellow Eric Mathis discussed the importance ofcreating a mutually beneficial environment for the fossil fuel and renewable energy industries in order to bring about a successful transition in West Virginia's energy production.

As the age old “us vs. them” debate continues, many West Virginia residents, companies and entrepreneurs are beginning to identify synergies between renewable energy and fossil fuels, specifically building unexpected coalitions in the heart of coal country. As a social milieu that is built upon a long and proud tradition of producing coal to fuel the development of the first industrial revolution, what opportunities are on the horizon for WV playing a role in simultaneously maintaining its dominance as an energy producer as well as bringing about a less anti-coal version of what Jeremy Rifken has deemed theThird Industrial Revolution? Using WV as a test bed, it is my belief that anetwork economycan only emerge from a mutually beneficial strategy that identifies synergies between fossil fuels and RE (e.g., Hybrid car) given the present political climate in the U.S."

Continue readingWest Virginia Energy Outlook 2012: Identifying Synergies Between Renewables and Fossil Fuel.

This video courtesy Our Mountain State.

Victory For Clean Air In West Buffalo

Authors: Natasha Soto, GFA Fellow, Class 5

This is the story of how we fought to make the air in our community cleaner - and won. 

Read more

Green For Everybody in Nashville

Authors: Sizwe Herring, Green For All Fellow, Class 5

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We have had a green boon for our unified movement building in Middle Tennessee. Green For All Fellow candidates Yeama Sow, Michael Hutchingson and myself have had the pleasure of hosting and enjoying the presence of three Green For All community leaders.


The author is pictured at center with community members

The whirlwind began when Green For All founder Van Jones visited Vanderbilt University for a down-to-earth discussion of the current situation in DC. He told us the ever-important personal stories. We learned about his Mom talking about God's green earth, actually yelling "What in God's green earth have you done now??!!" He gave us some powerful manna to thrive on as we maneuver through the new green economy. (View the full speech.)

Green For All Fellow Zoe Hollomon from the Massachusetts Avenue Project in Buffalo, NY led an Urban Agriculture workshop with us at Community Food Advocates at Tennessee State University. Zoe shared her techniques for mobilizing, motivating, educating and building a successful network of engaged community members. “Community has to see the relationship between food security, the local food movement and environmental impact of what we eat…and how we can improve that relationship,” explains Zoe. People loved her! She is so real and a great communicator. Of course, I knew this from her presentation at the Green For All Academy in Oakland this summer. This is why relationship-building throughout all levels of community is so important.

Sister Rosa Gonzalez, Green For All’s Education and Outreach Director, graced us as lead guest presenter at the Tennessee Sustainable Economy Summit at David Lipscomb University. She brought her expertise in discussions around equity, community benefits and partnership developments to over 100 people. "Tennessee has all the pieces in place to build the movement for a thriving green economy in the region, from a city-wide energy efficiency program to culturally-relevant grassroots organizing for a more localized and healthy food system," says Rosa about her experience in Nashville.

Many of you may recall the travails and prevails of the George W. Carver Food Park, featured on the Green The Block blog in September. The destruction of our compost and community garden project only threw us off our "A" game for a few. We are thankfully rebounding and emerging with projects in 5 Nashville neighborhoods! We are shoring up our "community enterprise" foundation with the help of my Green For All mentor Shamar Bibbins in Washington, DC. We are excited to have a new family of supporters and cheerleaders for EarthMatters here in Tennessee. Let's keep each other in high regard, both prayerful and confident in each other, as we manifest new green consciousness and lovingness in foundation building of each of our new and growing green lives, families and economies.

Learn more about or support the work of the Earth Matters Network.

Fellow Chester Thrower: Retrofit Homes, Shift the Paradigm

Authors: Maritza Martinez, Fellowship Program Manager “It’s all about self-motivation.”
Chester did not only get involved in green economy work for himself, he sees the work as an avenue for reducing violence in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. He believes that training young people for solar panel installation is a concrete way to break the cycle of poverty. "If low-income people are not aware and are not exposed to these opportunities right now, two, three years later it may be too late. We may get shut out of the process again,” says Chester. Contrary to what the media says, he knows green jobs do exist. "It is about positioning oneself in order to take advantage of the opportunities that will come down the pike! [Jobs] will not be handed to you, you have to grab them," he says. “You have to want to be involved in change.” Earlier this year, Chester received funding through Green For All’s Fellows Fund to launch Project Seal-Up, a start-up green business designed to retrofit old housing stock with simple Do-It-Yourself and cost effective updates. In the last 4 months, he held training sessions for low-income residents explaining the benefits of CFL lighting compared to incandescent and how to put a household on a diet by doing the small things that make a difference on monthly bills. Last month, he also began installing blower doors and draft finders for program participants. Chester’s vision for Project Seal-Up goes beyond the individual houses he has helped retrofit in his community. “Ultimately this will result in the success and empowerment of a community, as well as a vital paradigm shift for historically disadvantaged minorities,” he says. Chester and Project Seal-Up were recently featured by Pop City Media. (Read more about the project.) “I would recommend that people spend a few years working for someone else in the same field before starting their own business.” Recently, Chester started a new job at EIC Comfort Homes as an Energy Auditor. Each day, he drives an hour and a half to Castle, PA to evaluate the energy efficiency of homes for low-income residents. Through a program at the utility company - Penn Power, residents can receive the necessary retrofits to make their homes more energy efficient. The work is challenging. On a typical day, Chester may find himself climbing into an attic or crawling under a mobile home to find energy inefficiencies. “I feel good when I go into someone’s home and they are grateful for the savings we provide,” says Chester about his work as an energy auditor.

People Are Talking About Pacha'€™s Pajamas

Authors: Dave Room, Green For All Fellow (Class 4) I didn’t realize when Rosa Gonzalez invited me to join the Fourth Class of Green For All Fellows that it would help catalyze my life’s work. What started out as a project to document stories in South Africa in January 2011 morphed into a story-centered advocacy project that helped prevent disproportionate impact of layoffs on flatland schools in Oakland in April 2011. Now it appears altogether something different but it still has story at its center, and it speaks to me deeply.

Going into 2010, I could feel that the foundation for my life’s work was emerging. So I really dug into the work, foregoing many social and recreational opportunities. My solace at the time was that 2011 would be the year for me to cultivate balance. I remember my Grandma used to say, “Be careful for what you ask for, ‘cause you might get it.” In 2011, the balance I got turned out to be BALANCE Edutainment (“BALANCE”), a social enterprise I started with Aaron Ableman. BALANCE is an edutainment production firm that develops educational entertainment products at the intersection of pop culture, health and sustainability. The company’s current efforts are focused on solving one of the world’s most pressing problems, that is, bringing environmental consciousness to the masses. The environmental movement is near a tipping point that could make being green a way of life, but it needs to engage youth, people of color and mainstream thinkers. Our flagship brand Pacha's Pajamas helps young people to learn about their relationships with other species and ecosystems, and to more fully appreciate Nature. BALANCE is developing “Pacha’s Pajamas” as a social brand that combines corporate branding techniques, entertainment, and ecological education. The brand has licensable elements as well as a number of products with licensable elements. We are positioning Pacha to be the first animated music sensation on Youtube; her music features celebrities and talented child vocalists and emcees. BALANCE is in an exciting moment. Our book has received amazing testimonials from giants like Van Jones and Vandana Shiva. Our performances have reached approximately 8,000 kids and adults to rave reviews. In fact, we just had a performance at the Chabot Space & Science Center this past weekend. We are also getting tremendous interest in collaborating from social enterprises and nonprofits. BALANCE is like asproutbreaking through the soil; our current size has no bearing on the size we could become and yet, at the same time, we are vulnerable, requiring ample water, minerals and sun. We are raising funds through a Loudsauce campaign to continue to grow. Read more. Support us!
  • Give the gift of the Pacha’s Pajamas book and CD, become an Associate Producer or claim one of the other cool rewards through our Loudsauce campaign. Our Loudsauce campaign ends on Friday, December 16,so please contribute today!
  • Give a tax deductible donation to our nonprofit project, BALANCE Films
  • Introduce us to people and networks that may be interested in investing, publishing and/or distribution

Fellow Ashara Ekundayo, "Cultivating the Edge"

Authors: Maritza Martinez

For Green For All Fellow Ashara Ekundayo food and art are the entry points to getting people involved in sustainability work. By constructing new spaces and ways for people of varying backgrounds to connect, often over food and libation, she works to “illuminate mindfulness regarding our personal, spiritual, and professional interconnectedness to the environment.”

"I am a working to cultivate the ‘edge,’ a permaculture concept that speaks to the new fertility that thrives where two systems meet."

Ashara describes herself as a catalyst, a cultural worker, and an artivist committed to social justice. She makes connections by creating and cultivating opportunities for individuals and organizations to strategically collaborate. These connections span the globe - from co-founding The GrowHaus, an interactive indoor farm and marketplace in Denver, CO, to being the project manager of the BoldFood Professional Fellowship for international urban growers, food security organizers, and policymakers in the U.S. and East Africa in partnership with the U.S. Dept. of State’s Bureau of Cultural Affairs. Ashara sees herself as an ecologist and her work as anthropology, remembering and re-tooling the lessons of our Ancestors for sustainable living in the present.

"Culture is the cure."

This new Bay Area resident joined forces with and other Green For All Fellows to co-found and co-curate The Grow Sessions, a multi-genre installation utilizing participatory listening and performance as community healing mechanism, at Oakland’s monthly Art Murmur. Deemed a “Cultural Jedi” by her peers, she is also the founding producer of venues such as, the Denver Pan African Film Festival, and the “Cafe Nuba” spoken-word & music showcase. Her latest multi-media offering, launching in Spring 2012, will share intergenerational women’s stories of food and family from the rainforest to the corner store.

"I have an art practice; it is that of the curator."

Drawing on the role of a curator, in a nutshell, Ashara describes her niche as acquiring, displaying and promoting the work of social and cultural activists while building community. As the entrepreneur-owner of BluBlak Media Consulting, she has held a number of roles in the social justice space – from on-air host at FreeSpeechTV to development coordinator to program officer to executive director. “I believe in biodiversity and ceremony in all aspects of my being and I seek to find ways to present all those possible opportunities to my communities of practice as well as those just beginning their journey.”

Want to learn more? Follow Ashara Ekundayo on Twitter.

Ashara Ekundayo — Fellow, Class 3

Ashara Ekundayo is a cultural worker, a food justice activist, a journalist, and an entrepreneur who serves in community as a strategic connector, working with her clients to increase capacity and visibility while building sustainable partnerships.

Resistance is Fertile: The Science Behind Climate Change

Authors: Mark Welsch, Fellow Candidate, Class 5 I was honored to spend seven hours with Dr. James Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Dr. Hansen is one of the world's best-known and respected researchers on the long established scientific facts of global warming and climate change. I arranged for him to meet with Nebraska State Senators Ken Haar and Heath Mello, Omaha's Mayor Jim Suttle, and other important players in Nebraska politics and electricity production. They were impressed with the clarity of his message: If humans do not stop burning all fossil fuels by the year 2030, global warming will cascade out of control and cause catastrophic human and natural disasters in the United States and around the world. Unfortunately, the world's poor will be the ones who will suffer the most from these changes. In a recent paper, Dr. Hansen outlined what governments need to do to stabilize climate, fulfilling their obligation to young people and future generations. Dr. James Hansen interviewed by the local TV station

PHOTO: Dr. Hansen interviewed by the local TV station

Dr. Hansen's message reenergized my work to reduce Nebraska's dependence on coal and debunk the myth that climate change is not real. We must stop increasing, and start to reduce, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere by 2030. If we don't reduce the amount of CO2 back to, or under, 350 parts per million (PPM) the remaining glaciers, including the ice sheet on Greenland, will melt and disappear into the oceans, causing them to rise 20+ feet in this century and over 200 feet in the future centuries. Some rivers will dry up and others will have massive floods very often. CO2 is at 392PPM and rising about 2PPM every year. Before the Industrial Age started burning huge amounts of millions-of-years-old fossil fuels, the Earth's atmosphere had around 270PPM. If we don't stop CO2 emissions, the only way to stop the Earth from heating up after 2030 would be through costly bioengineering processes that have yet to be developed. To learn more about the effects of climate change on sea levels and Antarctica ice sheets, I recommend the documentary Secrets Beneath The Ice.

Fellow candidate Mark Welsch (L), Tim Rinne (C) and Dr. James Hansen (R)

PHOTO: Fellow candidate Mark Welsch (L), Tim Rinne (C) and Dr. James Hansen (R)

Local Action is Most Important Right Now

We all need to work together to keep this planet cool enough to avoid massive deaths of people and extinctions of 20 - 40% of everything alive today. This summer, many areas in the US experienced floods, droughts, massive fires and dust storms that were all made worse because of global warming. Climate change will only get worse if we don't stand up and take action quickly to stop putting more CO2 into the air. Local action is most important right now. You can make a difference. Every state will need to change their laws to force power companies to reduce the amount of CO2 they put into the air. I urge you to utilize the resources are available at for beginners and experts alike. Please join me. Resistance is Fertile!

Mark Welsch — Omaha, NE

Mark Welsch was raised on a farm in southeastern Nebraska where he learned about environmental and economic problems first hand. His father was politically aware and active, teaching him the importance of caring and working for things that he cares about. In the past six years Mark has played a key part in pushing the Omaha City Council and Mayor and the state's Senators and Governor to pass laws that clean the indoor working environment by making almost all workplaces 100% smoke-free. Read Mark's full profile »

More Local Bang for the Public Buck

Authors: Sandra MyungJae Yu, Green For All Fellow, Class 4 For my term of service as a Green For All Fellow Candidate, I focused my work on a project we are calling the "Talent Hub" with the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund (DRWF), a pool of philanthropic investments dedicated to improving the ineffective workforce development system in Detroit. The project takes a sector-based approach focusing specifically on green construction. How high is unemployment in Detroit? In the words of our Mayor's Chief of Staff, Kirk Lewis, whatever the number is, 40% is "directionally correct." And a lot of our unemployed adults are what we call "hard to employ" – they may not have completed high school, or have spotty work history, or prison records. In response, local community organizations have created really good programs that combine basic education, such as literacy, math, job readiness, resume-writing, GED prep, with technical training to prepare residents for jobs in construction, weatherization, deconstruction, and environmental remediation. Construction jobs are green jobs! Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ) has had very good placement rates, which our job developer will say is due to his prowess... and also the fact that we train our workers for a "diverse portfolio of legally required certifications." In an industry where jobs are short term, a worker certified in asbestos, lead, and hazmat can find their next job a lot quicker than someone with just one certification. A worker certified in anything can find a job more easily than someone without any certifications. Unfortunately, not all single-focus training programs share this approach. There are several different job training programs in the local area, just in the "green" sector - environmental site remediation, weatherization, construction, deconstruction, lead abatement, asbestos abatement, hazardous waste removal, energy auditing. There are also a number of big, publicly subsidized development projects. For big projects whose funding comes from HUD, there is the Section 3 policy that encourages local hiring. Amazingly, there isn't much (or any) coordination among the different federal agencies that fund training (DOE, DOL, EPA) and those that fund the construction/repair/remediation/development projects for which residents are being trained (HUD, EPA, DOE). Nor is there very much effort or political will at the local government level to follow its own local hiring policies and leverage local jobs out of public expenditures. As it is, there is a weak "try your best" mandate to contractors to hire locally, and then contractors are given a list of 6-7 different training agencies to call. While Doing Development Differently in metro Detroit (D4) works on ways to strengthen the policy environment for local hiring through coalition-building and advocacy, the DRWF Talent Hub focuses on facilitating local hiring by making it easier for trained/qualified workers and contractors find each other. The Talent Hub proposes to maintain a sector-specific citywide master list of all of the trained and certified jobseekers, and serve as a single point of contact for city contractors who are looking for Detroit residents with the required skills. As the Talent Hub pilots this quarter, I am excited about the impact it will make on local hiring, income security, and ultimately, quality of life.

Sandra Yu — Detroit, MI

Sandra grew up in Southeast Michigan, then earned her SB and Masters in City Planning from MIT and taught high school for one year in Mexico before returning to the area to join Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice as the Build Up Detroit Program Manager. Her first encounter with environmental justice was in an international context, but since starting at DWEJ, she have come to understand... Read Sandra's full bio »