On August 4, 2009 Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus and Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins of Green For All sat in a room surrounded by a diverse group of notable national leaders: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and Department of Energy Under Secretary Kristina Johnson to announce a campaign that is sure to change how America looks at going green. Green the Block is a national campaign and coalition led by the Hip Hop Caucus and Green For All working to ensure that low-income communities and communities of color have the resources and platforms needed to access the benefits and opportunities of the growing clean-energy economy. Rev. Yearwood calls this “our lunch counter moment of the 21st century.” I call it about damn time.
As a Youth Climate Justice activist and now the Green the Block Program Coordinator with the Hip-Hop Caucus, I see this campaign as so much more than the White Jouse press conferences, the celebrity good deed or the hip new green campaign. Green the Block is a movement to regain control of our communities and our economy. For far too long, people of color and low-income communities have lived in the shadow of dirty polluting industries, continuously getting the short end of the environmental and economic sticks.
This campaign is a bold message that we are fired up and ready to go. From the Barrios of Los Angeles to the hoods of New York City to the Navajo Nation’s reservations all the way to the suburbs of Maryland, organizations are signing on in droves ready to Green the Block. We will work together to make sure our communities are not left behind in the emerging green economy. We want to bring environmental justice and clean, green jobs to our communities. Furthermore, we want to show America and the world that we are ready to be leaders and investors in the Clean-technology industry. Through Green the Block we will work to make sure our country creates a clean energy economy that is strong enough to fight pollution and poverty at the same time.
The only thing we need now is you. On Sept. 11th the Green the Block Coalition will join President Obama’s United We Serve campaign in hosting service and awareness events all over the country. To find out what eco-friendly service events are going on in your city or to volunteer visit Greentheblock.net. At Greentheblock.net you can also find out more information on the Green the Block Coalition and how you can sign up your organization. We hope you can join us on September 11th and as we grow the Green the Block movement. Remember this is bigger than hip hop and deeper than politics; it is about saving us from pollution and poverty today and this planet for generations tomorrow.
Kari Fulton is the Green the Block Program Coordinator through the Hip Hop Caucus and an internationally recognized youth climate leader. Her work has been featured in Glamour and Elle Magazine and she is a regular blogger at Checktheweather.net.
UPDATE: The White House posted a live question and answer session on the Green the Block program with Council on Environmental Quality advisers Van Jones and Christine Glunz: