Episode 7: “Moving Hearts & Minds” [April 24, 2018]

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CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THIS SHOW!

Broadcast Date: April 24, 2018
Broadcast Time: 6:00 pm ET / 3:00 pm PT
Stream: WPFWFM.org/radio
Live Radio: 89.3 FM in DC/Maryland/Virgina
Podcast: launching later this month! 
 
Overview:
 
Our hosts kick it with United States Representative Nanette Barragán (CA-44) to learn about her work fighting environmental injustices in her district in South Central Los Angeles, shaping policy as a freshman Member of Congress, and her thoughts on Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize. Our hosts also discuss the power of culture in building thriving urban communities through education, mobilization, and opportunities with Darryl Perkins, Director of Impact and Co-Founder of Broccoli City Music Festival. The Festival takes place annually in Washington D.C. with over 30,000 in attendance, featuring some of the most influential hip hop artists out there including Cardi B, Migos, and Miguel.

 

Episode 7 Guests: 

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_team_member _builder_version=”3.0.83″ name=”Congresswoman Nanette Barragán ” position=”United States Representative – California’s 44th District” facebook_url=”https://www.facebook.com/CongresswomanBarragan/” twitter_url=”@RepBarragan ” image_url=”http://think100.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Congresswoman-Barragan-April-24-2018.jpg” background_layout=”light” header_font=”Barlow|700|||||||” body_font_size=”20″ body_letter_spacing=”1px” body_line_height=”1.6em” header_font_size=”24″ body_font=”Barlow||||||||”]

Nanette Diaz Barragán was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2016, becoming the first Latina ever to represent California’s 44th Congressional district.

Born in Harbor City and growing up in its surrounding harbor communities, Nanette’s humble beginnings shaped her interest in issues that matter locally: environmental and health justice, immigration reform, strengthening the economy, and affordable and accessible education.

As the youngest of eleven children raised by immigrant parents from Mexico, Nanette knows about the challenges that many low-income minority families face firsthand.  Her father, a local repairman, instilled in her a strong work ethic and influenced her love for baseball (in particular, for the Los Angeles Dodgers). Her mother who only completed the 3rd grade cleaned homes, cared for others and worked in factories to make ends meet. Nanette learned from her parents values of hard work, and obtained her undergraduate degree from UCLA and her Juris Doctor from USC Gould School of Law.

With a desire to give back to her communities, in the late 1990s Nanette began her career in public service. She steered outreach efforts for African Americans in the Office of Public Liaison for the Clinton White House and worked for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) focusing on racial health disparities and discrimination.

Nanette was the first woman in 12 years to be elected to the Hermosa Beach City Council, and was then elected by her peers as the first-even Latina to serve as Mayor of the beach city. During her two-year term on the city council, Nanette was a strong advocate for environmental justice – she successfully stood up to a powerful oil company and stopped a proposal to drill 34 oil and water injection wells in Hermosa Beach and out into the Santa Monica Bay.

Nanette served as an extern to Justice Carlos Moreno of the Supreme Court of California and, at the Los Angeles Legal Aid Foundation, she fought for justice for low-income families.

In 2016, Nanette decided to take her advocacy to the national level. She ran to represent her neighbors, friends and family members in Congress, with a focus on bringing change and opportunities for those who need it most.

In the 115th Congress, Nanette was elected by her peers to serve as the freshman class president as well as a regional whip, working with her colleagues and reporting back to leadership their thoughts on legislation.  Nanette also is member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Progressive Caucus, and serves on the Homeland Security Committee (https://homeland.house.gov) and Natural Resources Committee (https://naturalresources.house.gov).

[/et_pb_team_member][et_pb_team_member _builder_version=”3.0.83″ name=”Darryl Perkins” position=”Director of Impact and Co-Founder of Broccoli City Festival” background_layout=”light” image_url=”http://think100.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Darryl-Perkins-Broccoli-City-April-24-2018.jpg” header_font=”Barlow|700|||||||” header_font_size=”24″ header_letter_spacing=”1px” body_font_size=”20″ body_letter_spacing=”1px” body_line_height=”1.5em” twitter_url=”@BroccoliCity” facebook_url=”https://www.facebook.com/BroccoliCity” linkedin_url=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/darryl-perkins-24020817/” body_font=”Barlow||||||||”]

Darryl is a creator and developer of social ventures that build sustainable communities, social capital, financial capital, and a healthy environment. He believes we shouldn’t have to choose between doing good work and making money; he works to rethink, re-imagine, and execute successful strategies to achieve both.

Darryl is a co-founder of Broccoli City, a social enterprise (not for profit/for profit) that roots itself in a triple bottom line strategy that focuses on people, planet, and profit. The Broccoli City team are working to “redefine the cool” towards people being active and engaged participants in their community. They are creating a culture that celebrates and rewards people who are “getting active” and doing the work to make our communities healthier.

On April 28, the sixth annual Broccoli City festival is taking place in Washington D.C. with performances by some of the biggest names in Hip Hop including Cardi B, Migos, and Miguel. The first Broccoli City Festival was started in 2013 to draw attention for Earth Day, aligning with the brands mission to build thriving urban communities to sustain future generations by mobilizing and educating urban millennials through social impact campaigns and major events. Through their programs, they are creating higher standards of sustainable living, environmental sustainability, renewable energy, economic opportunity, and access to high quality food and shelter.

Broccoli City Weekend, is an incubator for all who strive to create a better world. Broccoli City will host a variety of events leading up to the festival, everything from city runs, to community action events, to an all night art escape, culminating with the all-day Broccoli City Festival. The Broccoli City Week highlight will showcase the first Broccoli City Conference, a 2-day interactive conference co-hosted by GOOGLE DC, focusing on the brands mission to build thriving, resilient communities by improving and highlighting Environmental Justice, Economic Sustainability, Culture, Food Access, and Education in undeserved communities.

More at broccolicity.com.

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Episode 6: “We’re All In This Together!” [April 17, 2018]

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CLICK HERE TO STREAM THIS EPISODE! 

 

Broadcast Date: April 17, 2018
Broadcast Time: 6:00 pm ET / 3:00 pm PT
Stream: WPFWFM.org/radio
Live Radio: 89.3 FM in DC/Maryland/Virgina
Podcast: launching 4/16, this episode will be posted for download 4/18
 
Overview:
 
Our most basic public health protections are under attack. At the same time our ability to provide input into the decision-making process has been whittled away. These actions are especially dire for communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities, who already face disproportionate impacts from pollution, sagging infrastructure, and climate change. While United States Congressional Members of color and green organizations are stepping up to protect our communities, there is more work to be done to reverse historic wrongs and current actions being taken by the current Administration.
 
In episode six, our hosts sit down with United States Senator Cory Booker to dig into the challenges and solutions. Also joining us are Greenpeace Executive Director Annie Leonard and Deputy General Counsel Deepa Padmanabha to discuss their organization’s work at the front-lines of the biggest fights to free us from fossil fuels that are causing climate change. Tiernan Sittenfeld, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, also drops by to let us know just how well Members of Congress are doing to protect our communities and planet.
 
Check out some of the topics we’ll be covering in this episode: 

 

Episode 6 Guests: 

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_team_member admin_label=”Cory Booker” _builder_version=”3.0.83″ name=”Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)” twitter_url=”@CoryBooker” image_url=”http://think100.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Senator-Cory-A.-Booker-Photo.jpg” background_layout=”light” facebook_url=”https://www.facebook.com/corybooker/” header_font=”Barlow|700|||||||” header_font_size=”24″ header_letter_spacing=”1px” header_line_height=”1.6em” body_font=”Barlow||||||||” body_font_size=”20″ body_letter_spacing=”1px” body_line_height=”1.6em”]

Senator Cory Booker has represented the state of New Jersey in the U.S. Senate since 2013. Booker has proven his steadfast commitment to standing up for what matters most to New Jerseyans, from advocating for more federal resources to modernize New Jersey’s transportation system, securing funds to continue the long recovery from Superstorm Sandy, to ensuring that our communities are safe from the effects of pollution and climate change. 

In October 2017, Senator Booker introduced the Environmental Justice Act, which would strengthen protections for communities of color, low-income communities and indigenous communities.

[/et_pb_team_member][et_pb_team_member _builder_version=”3.0.83″ name=”Annie Leonard ” position=”Executive Director, Greenpeace USA” facebook_url=”https://www.facebook.com/greenpeaceusa/” twitter_url=”@AnnieMLeonard ” image_url=”http://think100.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Annie.jpg” background_layout=”light” header_font=”Barlow|700|||||||” body_font_size=”20″ body_letter_spacing=”1px” body_line_height=”1.6em” header_font_size=”24″]

Annie began her career at Greenpeace in 1988 and has returned to help the organization inspire and mobilize millions of people to take action to create a more sustainable future together. She is based in San Francisco.

[/et_pb_team_member][et_pb_team_member _builder_version=”3.0.83″ name=”Deepa Padmanabha ” position=”Deputy General Counsel, Greenpeace USA” background_layout=”light” image_url=”http://think100.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Deepa.jpg” header_font=”Barlow|700|||||||” header_font_size=”24″ header_letter_spacing=”1px” body_font_size=”20″ body_letter_spacing=”1px” body_line_height=”1.5em” twitter_url=”@GreenpeaceUSA”]

Deepa represents Greenpeace USA, which is a defendant in two SLAPP suits brought by Resolute Forest Products and Energy Transfer Partners.  Deepa has been with Greenpeace since 2011 and is based in Washington DC.

[/et_pb_team_member][et_pb_team_member _builder_version=”3.0.83″ name=”Tiernan Sittenfeld ” position=”Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, League of Conservation Voters (LCV)” facebook_url=”https://www.facebook.com/LCVoters/” twitter_url=”@T_Sittenfeld” background_layout=”light” header_font=”Barlow|700|||||||” header_font_size=”24″ body_font_size=”20″ body_letter_spacing=”1px” body_line_height=”1.6em” body_font=”Barlow||||||||” image_url=”http://think100.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Tiernan.jpg”]

Tiernan directs LCV’s policy and government relations efforts with Congress and the Obama administration on a range of issues, including climate change, energy, public lands, water, and chemical policy reform. She works on LCV’s legislative accountability campaigns and oversees the National Environmental Scorecard.

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JOIN: Justice First Tour! (NC/VA/GA/SC)

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Join theJustice First Tour throughout the Southeastern United States! The tour features local speakers, solution-centered dialogue, and is celebration through art and music. 

 

Southern communities are on the frontlines of the climate crisis. The Justice First Tour is calling for a strong network of grassroots and frontline organizations working together to advance justice of all forms. Please consider providing a donation to this crucial causehere.

Hosts: New Alpha Community Development Corporation, Dogwood Alliance, NC Climate Justice Summit, NC Interfaith Power and Light, the NC Environmental Justice Network, the Rachel Carson Council, and NC WARN. 
More: Southern communities are on the frontlines of the climate crisis in the US, bearing the greatest impacts of an economic system of exploitation that continues to concentrate power and wealth into the hands of a few, while many people suffer. Across the South, many of us have risen to address this challenge. Unfortunately, our very best intentions have often left our movement segmented when it comes to speaking with one unified voice. Now, more than ever, we need to come together and unite in one voice for climate justice and stand together to advance long-term solutions that put justice first and lift frontline communities up.
The Justice 1st Tour calls for a strong network of grassroots and frontline organizations working together to advance climate justice and forest protection, with a focus on 100% clean energy for 100% of the people. To solve the climate crisis, we need to put Justice first.
The Tour will travel to 10 Southern states to hold events that will feature local speakers, a dialogue on solutions, and celebration through art and music. Join us to be part of a movement of deeper relationships, elevated frontline community voices, and to build forward momentum as we organize solidarity events for the People’s Climate March and GOTV efforts for the midterm election.
Tour Schedule: 
  • April 12th in Raleigh, North Carolina: Long Pine from 9am to 1pm, and Unitarian Fellowship from 6pm to 8pm
  • April 13th in Charlotte, North Carolina: Union Presbyterian Church from 9am to 1pm for Prayer Breakfast
  • April 14th in Charlotte, North Carolina: Little Rock AME Church from 6pm to 8pm
  • May 19th in Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Union University from 9am to 1pm, Newport News from 6pm to 8pm (Location TBD)
  • June 21st: Savannah, Georgia, Location TBD
  • June 22nd: Charleston, South Carolina, Location TBD
  • June 23rd: Florence, South Carolina and Florence, South Carolina, Locations TBD

More dates and locations are to be added soon. Stay tuned at the Tour Facebook page.

 

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Episode 5: “The World Needs Fixers! The Grist 50 Episode” [April 10, 2018]

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CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE! 

 

Broadcast Date: April 10, 2018

Broadcast Time: 6:00pm ET / 3:00pm PT

Stream: http://think100.info/ep-5_-_the-world-needs-fixers-the-grist-50-episode_/

 

Episode Overview:

Want a reason to feel hopeful? Grist has 50.

Rev Yearwood and Mustafa Santiago Ali sit down to chat with the founder of Grist, the no-nonsense and cutting edge platform focused on solutions to climate change, sustainability, and social justice. For the past three years running, Grist has featured the work and profiles of 50 people cooking up the boldest, most ambitious solutions to humanity’s biggest challenges. In this episode, our hosts also interview two of those fixers, Nicole Sitaraman, Senior Manager of Public Policy at Sunrun, and Anthony Torres, Youth Climate Leader and Campaign Strategist at Sierra Club.
 

Episode Guests

 

Chip Giller – Founder – Grist: Chip Giller founded Grist in 1999, intent on using a new type of journalism to engage the next generation on environmental issues. Grist, which publishes online, now has an audience of more than 3 million monthly readers, and has been especially successful reaching readers in their 20s and 30s. Readers follow Grist.org for information, inspiration, and conversation—as well as an injection of much-needed humor. Now, with a new mission focused on the story of solutions, Chip is bringing together the protagonists of that story with a new program, The Fix @grist. The Fix is a network of unlikely, emerging leaders working to achieve a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck.

Chip has been honored with a Heinz Award for launching the country’s most influential green media platform, and been named a TIME magazine “Hero of the Environment.” He has been featured for his work in such outlets as Vanity Fair, Newsweek, and Outside, and appeared on broadcast programs including NBC’s Today show. Before launching Grist, Giller was editor of Greenwire, the first environmental news daily. He and his family live on Vashon Island, outside of Seattle.

Follow Chip on Twitter: @cgiller

Follow Grist on Twitter: @grist

 

Nicole Sitaraman, Senior Manager of Public Policy at Sunrun

2018 Grist Fixer Profile: The most thrilling changes in clean energy often happen in the wonkiest places, and that’s where you’ll find Sitaraman: drafting memos or testimony, meeting with legislators or local energy commissioners. At Sunrun, the largest dedicated residential solar outfit in the United States, Sitaraman leads regulatory and legislative outreach across the Mid-Atlantic to ensure solar markets remain stable and equitable. You could say she’s a big part of Big Sun.

She’s also a part of Sunrun’s new collaboration with the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program, which works to install solar panels, provide job training, and improve access to solar in communities of color.

Outside Sunrun, she’s on the Solar Energy Industries Association’s Consumer Protection Committee, which polices companies and arms consumers with information to ensure they get a good deal. And she convenes a group of African-Americans who are passionate about helping young people get a foothold in the industry. Today, African-Americans are only 7 percent of the solar workforce, despite making up 13 percent of workers overall. Says Sitaraman: “We need installers, but we also need the C-Suite.”

Follow SunRun on Twitter: @SunRun 

 

 

Anthony Torres, Campaign Strategist at Sierra Club:

2017 Grist Fixer Profile: A lot of climate hawks spent late 2016 and early 2017 in reassessment or mourning. Meanwhile, Anthony Torres was busy channeling his fellow engaged millennials into direct action, including coordinated sit-ins at the offices of New York’s Chuck Schumer, the new Senate Minority Leader, and Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware. The message: Do not play ball with the polluter-in-chief.

“For folks who are looking for a better way in their local communities: Start the hard conversations. Resist often in the ways you know best, because you are from that community.”

The son of a Nicaraguan immigrant father and a working-class New Yorker mother, Torres grew up with sea-level rise on his Long Island doorstep, and he understands how poverty, climate, and other social challenges are all knitted together. He’s proven especially adept at rallying peers to his side, both in an official capacity at the Sierra Club (where he helped coordinate communications and direct actions that aided in a defeat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership) and in extracurricular work with groups like #AllOfUs, a progressive collective aimed at organizing young people around threatened communities.

His advice on connecting different constituencies: “Activists need to create a story that is accessible to people who are not necessarily in our movements but who are in need of a bold and inspiring vision,” Torres says. “To me, it’s telling a story of America that intersects with race, gender, and class” and turning what might seem like differences into “a weapon in our arsenal that creates an America that never has happened before — a country for all of us.”

Follow Anthony on Twitter: @avtorres4

 

Join the Conversation

This show is of, by, and for the people – so we need to hear from you! You are vital in the process to improve our communities now and protect future generations. Join the conversation and submit questions for the show using #Think100 or to @Think100Show  Twitter and be sure to tag us @HipHopCaucus, @RevYearwood, and @EJinAction

 

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GRIST: The Koch Brothers Vs. God

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SIGN UP to join the group featured in this article on April 22, on a journey to central Virginia to connect with the people, places, and natural resources threatened by the proposed, controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline and compressor station. #FossilFuel
The Koch Brothers Vs. God

The fossil fuel lobby preached its gospel in Virginia. Now, black churches are fighting back.

on Mar 14, 2018

 

Rev. Paul Wilson fastens enough buttons on his jacket to stay warm on a chilly fall afternoon but still keep his clergy collar visible. He’s whipping up a crowd of demonstrators in downtown Richmond, Virginia, where they’re waiting to make a short march from Richmond’s Capitol Square Bell Tower to the nearby National Theatre. His eyes covered by sunglasses, and his head by a newsboy hat, Wilson speaks to the assembled about their Christian responsibility to protect the planet.

They’ve gathered for the Water Is Life Rally & Concert, an event to protest the proposed construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The development, a joint venture between several energy companies (including Richmond-based Dominion Energy), would carry natural gas 600 miles from West Virginia to North Carolina.

The pipeline’s proposed route runs directly between Union Hill and Union Grove Baptist churches, the two parishes where Wilson serves as pastor in rural Buckingham County, 70 miles south of Richmond. The proposed site for the pipeline’s 54,000-horsepower, gas-fired compressor station is also set to be built right between them.

“God gave man dominion over the earth, but not permission to destroy it,” Wilson later tells me as we discuss the pipeline over coffee at a diner in a suburb north of Richmond.

Even though the Water Is Life Rally was held in the Bible Belt, Rev. Wilson was the only speaker who cited scripture and invoked Jesus Christ. Drums and tambourines reverberated in unison to chants of “No justice, no peace! No pipelines on our streets!”, and the event’s other speakers railed against the greed of Big Oil companies and U.S. imperialism.

At another rally focused on fossil fuels a year earlier in Richmond, religion was front and center.

In December 2016, gospel music stars descended on a local community center in Richmond’s East Highland Park neighborhood. Hundreds of residents from throughout the area had answered the call to attend a concert marketed as an opportunity for enlightenment, both spiritual and environmental.

As a sea of hands waved through the air as eyes closed in prayer, what many in the crowd didn’t know was that they were the target of a massive propaganda campaign. One of the event’s sponsors was a fossil-fuel advocacy group called Fueling U.S. Forward, an outfit supported by Koch Industries, the petrochemicals, paper, and wood product conglomeratefounded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch.

The gospel program was designed to highlight the benefits of oil and natural gas production and its essential role in the American way of life. During a break in the music, a panel discussion unfolded about skyrocketing utility costs. The lobbyists and businesspeople on the panel presented a greater reliance on fossil fuels — billed as cheap, reliable energy sources — as the fix. Later, a surprise giveaway netted four lucky attendees the opportunity to have their power bills paid for them.

The event was one big bait and switch, according to environmental experts and local activists. Come for the gospel music, then listen to us praise the everlasting goodness of oil and gas. Supporting this sort of pro-oil-and-gas agenda sprinkled over the songs of praise, they say, would only worsen the pollution and coastal flooding that come with climate change, hazards that usually hit Virginia’s black residents the hardest.

 
Protesters from Buckingham County, Virginia, the planned site of an Atlantic Coast Pipeline compressor station, marched at last year’s Water Is Life Rally. Irene Leech

“The tactic was tasteless and racist, plain and simple,” says Kendyl Crawford, the Sierra Club of Richmond’s conservation program coordinator. “It’s exploiting the ignorance many communities have about climate change.”

Rev. Wilson likens that gospel concert to the Biblical story of Judas accepting 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus. Like many African Americans in Virginia, he initially didn’t connect environmental policy with what he calls the “institutional racism” — think racial profiling, lack of economic opportunity, etc. — that can plague black communities nationwide. Now he considers “the sea level rising or the air quality in the cities” another existential threat.

So in response to the Koch brothers’ attempt to sway their flocks, Wilson and others affiliated with black churches in Virginia have channeled their outrage into a new calling: climate advocacy. For Wilson, environmentalism has become a biblical mission.

“The climate is changing,” he says. “And it’s black folk in Virginia who will lose the most.”


The billionaire Koch brothers are one of the driving forces behind right-wing campaigns throughout the country. One of their primary activities is promoting fossil fuel production. According to Virginia environmental groups, that involves efforts to deny the existence of climate change and stifle renewable energy policies.

In struggling cities and towns, Big Oil bills itself as a savior, raising the hope that new plants and pipelines, like the Atlantic Coast project, will bring jobs and tax revenue. With an extensive network of advocacy groups throughout the country, the Koch brothers can spread that message anywhere, outsourcing efforts to sway public opinion without people realizing they’re pulling the strings.

 
In Richmond, industrial factories and interstate highways are often adjacent to African-American communities, causing air pollution and contributing to higher instances of asthma among blacks. Kenya Downs

Fueling U.S. Forward, until recently, was one of those campaigns. When HuffPost first reported on its existence in early 2016, the group had an annual budget of roughly $10 million and was run by Charles Drevna, a former petroleum industry lobbyist, and James Mahoney, a board member and former executive for Koch Industries. Later that summer, Drevna spoke at the Red State Gathering in Denver, telling the right-wing activist conference — in a speech where he referred to EPA employees as “clowns” — that the fossil fuel industry was losing ground because it was failing to connect with the public, especially minority communities, on a cultural, emotional, and personal level.

“We’ve done a terrible job in working with individual communities, working with the minority communities on how important energy is to them,” he said in a Facebook Live chat during the gathering with Fueling U.S. Forward’s communications director at the time, Alex Fitzsimmons. “And who gets hit the hardest when there’s a spike in energy costs? They get hit the most, and they get hit the hardest.”

At the Richmond gospel concert, Fueling U.S. Forward sought to link energy production to the everyday issues that it said stymie economic mobility for African Americans — such as prices at the gas pump, heating, and electric bills. That message was delivered in part through discussions featuring prominent African-American business leaders.

“It was a deliberate strategy to manipulate black Virginians into supporting fossil fuels,” the Sierra Club’s Crawford says.

One of the participants was Derrick Hollie, a career marketing consultant who is also the founder of Reaching America, a nonprofit that describes itself as “focused on innovative solutions for African Americans not based on right or left wing views but what makes sense for a more united America.” Reaching America cosponsored the Fueling U.S. Forward gospel concert along with Radio One, an entertainment network targeting African Americans now known as Urban One. The corporation once employed Hollie as a national sales manager.

Despite Reaching America’s nonpartisan claims, Hollie has been associated with the black conservative network Project 21 and identified as a right-winger on TV news shows. And much of Hollie’s environmental advocacy has been in line with the Koch brothers’ priorities. His arguments focus on what he calls “energy poverty” — when low-income households spend large portions of their disposable income to keep the lights on and fill up their gas tanks. He’s invoked the phrase while speaking in support of fracking in Maryland, Rick Perry’s appointment to lead the Department of Energy, and most recently, the Trump administration’s planned withdrawal from the Paris accord. Hollie did not respond to requests for an interview.

While Hollie has remained visible since the Richmond event — launching a Reaching America podcast series and palling around with Perry and other Cabinet secretaries — Fueling U.S. Forward has gone dark. Calls and emails to Fueling U.S. Forward and its president Charles Drevna to comment for this story were not returned.

Fitzsimmons, the group’s communications director, has moved to Perry’s Department of Energy, where he’s the chief policy advisor in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The organization’s website appears to have been shut down last fall, all videos from its YouTube page have been removed, and its social media platforms haven’t been updated in more than a year.

But Fueling U.S. Forward’s message lives on. Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, employs talking points that echo those Drevna used while promoting the organization in conservative circles, complaining that the EPA’s regulations pick “winners and losers” in the energy space.


Rev. Faith Harris remembers first hearing ads about the Fueling U.S. Forward gospel concert on urban radio stations back in 2016. A minister, teacher, and environmental activist at Virginia Union University, a Richmond-based historically black college, Harris was among many African Americans in the region angered by what she calls a “purposeful misinformation” campaign. She says it was surreal to hear a D.J. invite listeners to “learn the truth” about whether the country is using enough fossil fuels.

“I called the radio station to ask, ‘How could you do that?’” she recalls. “The debate isn’t whether there are enough fossil fuels, but about the health and environmental impact they have on the way we live on this planet.”

In the months after the gospel concert, the backlash bubbled slowly through neighborhoods, led mostly by community activists and clergy like Rev. Harris. It picked up steam following the Times article. Ultimately, Fueling U.S. Forward’s strategy of influencing one of the black community’s most sacred institutions — the church — would prove to be folly.

Within environmental advocacy circles, Harris says, there was an increased urgency to tell neighborhood leaders that the concert was part of a public relations campaign for oil and gas interests. The campaign had the unintended effect of rallying the Richmond black community against the Kochs and their goals.

Revs. Harris and Wilson now regularly tell their congregations how the fossil fuel industry harms low-income communities and people of color. Sea-level rise on Virginia’s coast has put low-lying cities in the Hampton Roads area, including Norfolk and Newport News — both of which are more than 40 percent black — at risk of extreme flooding. A hurricane during high tide could see entire neighborhoods populated primarily by African Americans and the poor swallowed up by the Chesapeake Bay.

 
Coastal flooding is a frequent occurrence in the Hampton Roads section of Virginia. Virginia Guard Public Affairs

“We in the church community have a moral responsibility to be out-front on protecting our flock from climate change,” Harris says. “I call it an authentic pro-life agendaThe Christian church, for too long, has allowed ‘pro-life’ to be defined solely as conception when, in fact, life is much more complex. It includes our quality of life while we’re here.”

The state’s African-American residents already face high rates of respiratory problems related to the processing of fossil fuels, like those that would flow through the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In Norfolk, clouds of dust from coal residue from nearby shipping yards and factories often cover parked vehicles. With such close proximity to toxic air pollution, nearly 11 percent of the state’s black population has asthma, higher than the national average of 7.6 percent.

“We have a coal factory right in the neighborhood,” says Antonio Branch, a community organizer with Richmond-based Virginia Civic Engagement Table, an organization aimed at educating vulnerable communities about risks to their health. “I’m asthmatic. My mother is asthmatic and she grew up in the same area. My son is asthmatic, and I have a baby boy who may soon be diagnosed.”

Branch considers the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline “part of a larger environmental attack” on minority communities in Virginia and neighboring North Carolina, two states on planned pipeline route. Many of the region’s proposed oil and gas projects sit near poor and rural areas. In Virginia’s Buckingham County, home to Rev. Wilson’s churches, the community closest to that facility is 85 percent African American. By contrast, the state’s overall black population is 19 percent.

“This isn’t a coincidence,” Branch says.


While gospel provided the soundtrack to the Fueling U.S. Forward event in Richmond, it was bluegrass and folk that pumped through the loudspeakers at December’s Water Is Life Rally. Rev. Wilson was one of a dozen or so African Americans taking part in the event. Most of those assembled to protest the Atlantic Coast Pipeline were white millennials and baby boomers who donned anti-establishment paraphernalia and waved “No Pipeline” signs to the honking cars that passed by.

 
Members of Virginia Civic Engagement Table (left) protested as part of the Water is Life Rally. Kenya Downs

Kiquanda Baker, the Hampton Roads organizer for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, helped put together the Water Is Life Rally. She sees African-American leadership as an essential part of changing the narrative surrounding climate change. But she admits that while the community is becoming more engaged in green issues, it hasn’t quite begun to break down the archetype of the white environmentalist.

Adding environmentalism to the fight for social justice that’s part of the African-American experience, she says, is the most critical aspect of swaying communities of color to fight global warming.

“Our role as community leaders is to show that all of these issues are connected,” Baker says. “The more aware we are of environmental injustices, the less likely our communities can be tricked into rallies by the Koch brothers.”

Baker says outreach efforts are slowly making progress throughout the state, even if community members aren’t yet the most vocal activists. But she’s encouraged that African-American residents are increasingly active where it counts most: the voting booth.

“A few folks I talk with, they may not be at the point where they’re ready to canvas or march,” she says. “But they are better informed about who they’re voting for and which corporations and interests would also be getting their vote.”

Virginia’s black community is also becoming more active in pressing elected officials on the environment and climate change. Two months after the gospel concert, clergy members joined the Virginia Conservation Network — a coalition of organizations and community members that advocates for clean energy and environmental justice — for a panel discussion on how to inoculate themselves from Fueling U.S. Forward–type messaging. Freshman Democratic Congressman A. Donald McEachin, who’d recently been elected to represent Virginia’s 4th District — which runs from the southwestern suburbs of Richmond to the southeast corner of the state — joined the discussion. He has since joined with two other freshman representatives to form the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Congressional Task Force.

After Harris and other activists spent months petitioning the state government, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe established an Advisory Council on Environmental Justice in October. Its role is to provide the governor with independent recommendations on combating “disproportionately high or adverse effects from pollution” that fall on low-income residents and communities of color. Harris is one of the advisors, and she sees her participation as part of a larger theological crusade.

“In black communities, the clergy has always been the leading voice of the oppressed,” she says. “So when it comes to making sure our flock have a planet to call home, it’s a fight we have to be in front of.”

 
Rev. Paul Wilson is educating both his congregations and surrounding community about attempts by fossil fuel proponents, like the Koch brothers, to exploit people’s misunderstanding of climate change. Kenya Downs

Rev. Wilson has also been preparing for the battle ahead. He’s already been arrested for protesting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline at the Virginia Governor’s Mansion. (He was sentenced to community service.) But as he made the trek back to Buckingham County after the Water is Life Rally, he was worrying about what the future holds, both for the pipeline he’s battling and his community.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is already a year behind schedule, and last November’s statewide elections could signal that momentum is swinging back in environmentalists’ favor. Democrats picked up seats in the House of Delegates, which could alter the timeline of the pipeline’s development. Several bills are currently up for vote that would require pipeline operators to obtain more permits before construction could begin.

When he’s not tending to his two churches, Wilson is a fifth-generation owner of a funeral home. He expects his daughter to take over the family business in the coming years, and his grandson has already chosen to study mortuary science, making it likely he’ll be the seventh generation to oversee the funeral home. Wilson hopes that by the time his grandson is running things, the environmental threats to his family and church members won’t have business booming at the funeral home for all the wrong reasons.

“God didn’t put me on this earth to pimp death for profit,” Wilson says. “That’s what the Kochs and these energy folks are doing to my people now. It’s up to us in the church to stop it.”

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END PLASTIC POLLUTION! SIGN THE PETITION.

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For Earth Day 2018, Hip Hop Caucus is teaming up with Earth Day Network to put an end to plastic pollution.

 

Click here to sign the petition to world leaders, urging them to phase out single-use plastics and find ways to manage billions of tons of plastic pollution.  

 

Did you know that 300 million tons of plastic are sold each year and that 90% of that is thrown away?

Did you know that a huge percentage of those plastics end up in our landfills, our oceans, our wildlife and our bodies?

Did you know that as plastic breaks down in our environment it can mimic human hormones and is linked to everything from breast cancer to early puberty?

Is that what we want?

Each segment of society bears the responsibility for this. Our corporations are making billions of dollars selling their products in disposal plastic containers but are refusing to take responsibility for what happens to the 100s of millions of plastic containers and bags that move through our global economy every single day. Our governments are unable or unwilling to take the health risks of plastic seriously and are not moving to ban single use plastics and non-recyclable products. And we are also at fault because we haven’t made the break from single use plastics even though alternatives are now on the markets.

Tell our global leaders that the world can’t take much more plastic. If enough of us get behind a global ban on single use plastics, we can begin to heal our oceans, our wildlife, and our children. Sign the petition now.

 

 

 

To World Leaders, national governments, and local legislators:

300 million tons of fossil fuel based plastic are sold each year and 90% of that is thrown away, destroying our food, our water and our health. Governments can make this happen now! They can ban single use plastics and help support a move to sustainable non-polluting, non-fossil fuel based alternatives.

We call on you to immediately phase out single-use plastics, support sustainable alternatives, and tackle the billions of tons of plastics that are already in our oceans, our streams, our wildlife, and ourselves.

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Episode 4: “The Fight for Justice Lives On! #MLK50” [April 3, 2018]

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CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE! 

 

Episode 4: #MLK50: The fight for justice lives on

 

Broadcast Date: April 3, 2018

Broadcast Time: 6:00pm ET / 3:00pm PT

 

Episode Guests:

  • Rev Leo Woodberry, Climate Justice & Energy Equity Activist
  • Damien Jones, Environmental Justice Outreach Advocate, Union of Concerned Scientists

 

Overview

The dream did not die on the balcony. Rev Yearwood and Mustafa Santiago Ali take us to the intersection of civil rights, and environmental and economic justice with two guests fighting the good fight. Legendary Climate Justice and Energy Equity Activist Reverend Leo Woodberry and Environmental Justice Outreach Advocate for the Union of Concerned Scientists Damien Thaddeus Jones add their voices to Think 100% – The Coolest Show On Climate Change.

In Think 100% Episode 4, broadcasting the evening before the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King, we will explore the intersectionality of civil rights, and environmental and economic justice.

 

Join the Conversation! This show is of, by, and for the people – so we need to hear from you! You are vital in the process to improve our communities now and protect future generations. Join the conversation and submit questions for the show using#Think100 on Twitter and be sure to tag us @HipHopCaucus

 

Episode Guests

Reverend Leo Woodberry was born and raised in New York City. There he became involved with community organizing at an early age, as a student organizer. He currently oversees and operates the Strategic Planning Division of Woodberry & Associates. With over 20 years’ experience managing non-profit and for profit organizations, Reverend. Woodberry has accumulated a wealth of knowledge, partnerships, alliances and expertise in the environmental justice movement. He became involved in environmental work in the 1990s with the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, around there issue of mercury emissions and advisories. He joined the newly formed African American Environmental Justice Action Network (AAEJAN) in 1994. AAEJAN was instrumental in uniting people of color across America, and in influencing the Ford Foundation and other philanthropic entities to support people of color communities disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards.

Reverend Woodberry has also worked with a host of other organizations such as the; Southern Organizing Committee (SOC), The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Xavier University of Louisiana, The Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University, The Environmental Protection Agency NEJAC (Region Four), SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, The National Wildlife Federation, SC Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Coastal Carolina League, South East Climate Network, Green Faith, Clemson Education and Research Center, Francis Marion University, WEACT, Advancing Equity and Opportunities, Agricultural Missions, Inc. and a host of other organizations. He has and continues to work in the areas of; water, air, as well as renewable and sustainable energy issues with the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

In August 2001, Leo Woodberry attended the United Nations Conference on Racism and Xenophobia in Durban South Africa. There he presented a paper on the HIV AIDS epidemic entitled “The New Trade Triangle” and was a contributor to the resultant environmental statement added and adopted to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and subsequently signed by 161 countries. Reverend Woodberry works with NGOs certified with the United Nations Civil Society Organization. Woodberry & Associates has offices located in Florence, SC. Reverend Woodberry attended Francis Marion University and The University of South Carolina. He retired from AT&T after 20 years of service and received three Vice Presidential Corporate awards. The SC State Senate also presented him with an award in recognition of his community service. Reverend Woodberry is the pastor of Kingdom Living Temple, Executive Director of New Alpha Community Development Corporation in Florence, SC, and a member of the SC Environmental Justice Network.

 

Damien Thaddeus Jones currently serves as Environmental Justice Outreach Advocate for the Union of Concerned Scientists. He is an activist, inspirational speaker, and thought leader who deploys faith, popular culture, and civic engagement as tools to empower everyday people. As an award-winning leader, Damien cut his teeth as a grassroots activist in Houston as co-founder of the civil rights group Houston Justice and evolved into a national advocate for liberty and justice for all communities. Damien led campaigns related to criminal justice reform, climate justice, and most recently helped organize over 200 HBCU leaders’ historic involvement in the 2017 People’s Climate March.

He previously served as Program Coordinator of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Leadership Institute where he prepared the next generation to take its place in the fields of community service and policy development and increased the pool of young African American leaders in public service careers and public policy positions. Damien, a veteran of the United States Air Force, is regularly called upon by the media for his innovative opinions on politics, popular culture, leadership, and social justice. Damien is the author of The 25 Undeniable Laws of Greatness: A Guide to Living Your Best Life, a handbook for optimal living. An engaging national speaker, he conducts keynote presentations for corporations and conferences.

Follow Damien on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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