2007 According to Simran Sethi: Wish for 007
My wish/prediction for double 07 is that we continue to redefine the environmental movement as a social justice movement. As Robert Bullard, the environmental justice luminary says, "the environment is everything: where we live, work, play, go to school, as well as the physical and natural world."
(For great overviews of the EJ movement, check out this essay on "The Soul of Environmentalism" authored by Redefining Progress Executive Director Michel Gelobter and others via Grist.) Hurricane Katarina and the 2004 Tsunami have not only demonstrated the unprecedented impact we humans have on climate change, but have highlighted the disparities between the haves and have-nots. Each and every one of us has the opportunity to bridge that chasm and reframe environmentalism as a human right. Everyone deserves equal access to clean air, pure water, and healthy food.
TreeHugger Jacob Gordon and I have spent the last few months interviewing environmental leaders for TreeHugger Radio. I was inspired by National Wildlife Federation President Jerome Ringo's remarks about the evolution of environmentalism into a more inclusive movement:
We all breath air, we all drink water. That gives us the common ground which can be a basis to work from. . .When many of the conservation organizations were formed back in the 30s, conservationists were mainly sportsmen — the people who would catch a fish to hang it on the wall. The folks who would catch a fish to put it on the plate didn't join clubs, and couldn't afford to anyway. The movement emerged as predominantly white, and predominantly male.
Now we are in an era where poor people are not engaged because poor people have a list of priorities that consist mainly of quality of life issues. Poor people are more concerned with next months rent than they are with depletion of the ozone layer. We face the challenge of helping poor people to reprioritize, so environmental issues are as important to them as next month's rent. As I say to people living in "Cancer Alley" in Louisiana, what good is next month's rent if you are dying of cancer as a result of living next door to a chemical plant? We have every reason to engage poor and minority communities, and they have every reason to get involved.
I raise a Modmix organic cocktail to individuals, businesses and non-profits featured on TreeHuggerTV like People's Grocery (bringing organic food to the inner-city of West Oakland), Comet Skateboards (using sustainable materials to build their boards and keeping employment within the community), and Grid Alternatives (outfitting low-income homes with renewable energy options).