Minnesota Sierra Club Honors 'Green Heroes of Color'
The Sierra Club's North Star Chapter and the Minneapolis NAACP teamed up recently to honor six "Green Heroes of Color" in Minneapolis. That's Leslie Fields, above, the Club's national Environmental Justice director, giving the keynote speech.
Minnesota Sierra Club EJ organizer Karen Monahan, below at right with Fields and Minneapolis NAACP President Booker T. Hodges, put together the event with help from fellow staffers Stacey Kawakami and Michelle Rosier.
Monahan, speaking below, is helping develop a new environment committee for the Minneapolis NAACP. Sierra Club Midwest Field Director Alison Horton also participated in the Green Heroes of Color celebration.
The event drew well over 100 people and included a panel of environmental justice initiatives, a demonstration garden, and youth performances by the Climate Change Crew and the Arts Us dance crew. Below, Arts Us does its thing.
"I started out as a baby lawyer at the Washington Bureau NAACP, working with community leaders all over the country as folks created and advocated for the environmental justice movement," Fields said in her keynote remarks.
"From toxics reform to climate change, this nation needs to have the combined resources of the Sierra Club and the NAACP. As we move from a carbon-based economy into a green economy, this partnership will be critical to the success of any local and national advocacy."
U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison, below, a legislative champion of clean energy who helped found the Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota (EJAM), was among the Green Heroes of Color honored. "What do environmental injustices say about the way we rate our fellow human beings," he asked. "Wherever there is environmental injustice, we will band together and fight."
Earlier that day in Washington, D.C., Ellison had introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to ban the use of atrazine, the most commonly detected herbicide in U.S. waters. Found at its highest levels in Minnesota, atrazine is associated with infertility, low birth weight, and abnormal infant development. "Working in agriculture should not endanger your life," Ellison said.
Others honored as Green Heroes of Color were environmental and human rights activist Van Jones; sociologist and author Robert Bullard, widely regarded as the "father" of environmental justice; New York City EJ activist and economic consultant Majora Carter; Indigenous Environmental Network Executive Director Tom Goldtooth; and Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Commissioner and EJAM co-founder Annie Young, below at right.
Among the evening's featured speakers was Collie Graddick, below, an agricultural consultant from the Co-Op Project, a Twin Cities farm cooperative.
Learn more about the Sierra Club's environmental justice and community partnerships work across the country.
All photos by Les Barry.