Community Climate Spokespersons Ready For Action

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New Alpha Community Development Corporation and its partners, The Climate Reality Project, Climate Speakers Network, Low Country Alliance for Model Communities, Kingdom Living Temple, The Whitney M. Slater Foundation, SC Environmental Justice Network, North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light, The Center for Earth Ethics, and The Imani Group convened in Florence, South Carolina March 10th 2017 for a much-needed day of training. As communities move closer to implementing clean renewable energy and energy efficiency projects it is imperative that their voices are heard. In South Carolina, there are several industrial-scale solar farms being built and community solar programs are about to be implemented. In order for communities to be justly and equitably involved in a meaningful way they must be a part of the planning and decision-making process. It was with that purpose in mind that the climate spokespersons trainers provided instruction for approximately 98 people on how to become climate spokespersons.

New Alpha Community Development Corporation will be opening a dialogue with state and city agencies, investor-owned utilities, electric cooperatives and municipalities. When solar projects are implemented on a large scale, even to the point where every business and resident uses solar energy, if not done correctly, there will still be results that are not just or equitable. For example, if low-income people and seniors on fixed incomes are unable to make their homes energy efficient, then even if that they solar energy, the still will be paying a disproportionate amount of their income to meet their energy needs. That will also mean that we will not have the maximum reduction and other greenhouse gas emissions attained. Thus, we will not be mitigating the impacts of climate change as effectively and efficiently as we can.

 

New Alpha CDC will be encouraging citizens throughout South Carolina to make sure that their communities are not left behind. One way that every person can participate is by joining our Communities Organized for Renewables and Energy Efficiency (COREE) program. If you want more information on how to become a member of the COREE program, please feel free to email us at newlphacdc@gmail.com.

If you would like to support the work of New Alpha Community Development Corporation, please feel free to submit a donation.

Why We Went to The Peoples Climate March

 

On April 29th, 2017 while 200,000 people marched in Washington, D.C. for the People’s Climate March, there were also 500 sister marches around the world. As soon as the march began, a very strong and apparent message was sent. In the forefront of the march were young people, accompanied by a banner held by African American youth from Newport News, Virginia. The next contingent was made up of indigenous people from across the country, then came the environmental justice communities, very evident in their blue t-shirts and banners, demanding healthy communities and environmental justice. There were also EJ representatives from WEACT and the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum, Black Lives Matter, historically black colleges and universities, and representatives from environmental justice communities from Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia as a southeast environmental justice coalition. Several groups from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi have already been involved in regional programs and activities.

As a follow-up to the People’s Climate March, these southern environmental justice organizations are committed to moving from mobilizing to organizing. They will be working together on several tactics an on an overall strategy in the coming months. Stay tuned for additional information.

 

Reflections from those in attendance:

“The People’s Climate March gave me hope for the future. The tens of thousands of people that were in attendance were overwhelming in the best way, and reiterated that the work we do is not in vain. It is moments like those that keep us all going.”
-Chynnah Tomlin, Made in Chynnah Creatives, Florence, SC

 

“I felt a lot of togetherness. We need to unite in the follow up work, and not let our efforts fall off by the wayside. We need groups to work together to keep things going forward in the future.”
Loretta Slater, The Whitney M. Slater Foundation, Florence, SC

 

“I was overwhelmed with amazement at the variety of people that came together for the cause. If we can get that many people to join together for the greater good of our country on ONE particular day just imagine what we the people could accomplish as a whole! Phenomenal experience–no question!
Brittany Newton, Student, Florence, SC

 

“The March was rejuvenating for my soul. I love the fact that with all the racial tension we came together as one. We want to save our planet so that future generations, our kids, can live on a safe planet.”
Jalen Washington, Entrepreneur, Florence, SC.

The South will Rise Again

The South will rise again. This phrase resonated throughout the southern region of the United States after the defeat of the Confederacy. Well, the South has risen again, but not as the denizens of white supremacy foresaw. The South rose again under the leadership of Americans like the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who made the promised potentiality of democracy more accessible to those who had been excluded. This was the civil rights movement.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the South rose again. This time when people who were the victims of environmental racism and practices sited polluting facilities in poor and people of color communities. These courageous efforts become the environmental justice movement, which spread across the United States and the world. Even the United States government started with Executive Order 12898 and President Clinton acknowledged the disparities in health, death, and economically devastated communities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established an Office of Environmental Justice. An Inter-Agencey Working Group, made up of all federal agencies was created to ensure that states and the federal government addressed and remedied issues that led to environmental injustice that impacted people of color, low income communities, environmentally overburdened communities, vulnerable communities, and tribes. Now the Trump administration and its proposed cuts threaten to not only roll back the clock but also to increase the millions of people threatened by death, disease, and increased weather-related disasters due to pollution and climate change.

Why is the South rising again? There are more polluting facilities in the South than anywhere else in the nation. Persistent poverty, high unemployment, the scarcity of jobs paying a living wage and access to affordable health care looms as one of the greatest threats in over fifty years.

Across the South, everyday people and the leaders of grassroots community-based environmental justice organizations mobilized to join the Peoples Climate March on April 29th in Washington DC. Most of these organizations were led by people of color. A group calling itself the Southeast Coalition had groups coming from Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. The Coalition is made up of state-wide networks in each of those states representing scores of environmental justices in the south.

“Our aim,” said The Reverend Leo Woodberry of Florence, South Carolina, “is to ensure that the issues impacting the people most affected by climate change are lifted up and addressed. Generally, when one hears the words climate change images of polar bears and melting glaciers are conjured up. We insist on putting a face to the problem because no matter where you go on this planet, the people most adversely impacted by climate change are overwhelmingly black and brown”.

The Southeast Coalition has already begun implementing a multi-state strategy around renewable energy, community education, organizing and activism. Despite what may be perceived as a downturn in the policies related to environmental justice and climate change, the Coalition is committed to ensuring that the South as well as the United States and the world rises again.

 

The People’s Climate March

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April 26, 2017 – Florence, SC

On April 29th, 2017, the People’s Climate March will take place in Washington, D.C. This march is a follow-up to the September 2014 march held in New York City, in which over 400,000 people attended. In light of the presidential political climate and the proposed budget cuts by the Trump administration, this gathering may be larger than the first. Contingents of people are traveling to Washington, D.C. from across the nation. In South Carolina, there are several groups of people who will be attending the march. The principal organizers of the march in the state of South Carolina is Kingdom Living Temple, New Alpha Community Development Corporation, and the Whitney M. Slater Foundation. These three organizations are some of the principal advocates for environmental justice in the state of South Carolina and has contributed to numerous educational campaigns, panels, programs, planning, trainings, and advocacy efforts throughout the state of South Carolina.

On April 28th, at 10:00 p.m., over 100 people from the state of South Carolina will gather at Walmart Supercenter on South Irby Street in the city of Florence, South Carolina to depart for the People’s Climate March in Washington D.C. They will be marching in support of efforts to address environmental justice, health, the issues of climate change, the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts, clean renewable energy, environmental justice, health, and economic development for vulnerable and frontline communities. Participants from South Carolina will join thousands marching up Pennsylvania Avenue and circle the White House, have a moment of silence, and then march on to the Washington Monument.

After the march, the leading organizations from South Carolina participating in the People’s Climate March will be holding a press conference to discuss upcoming statewide and local plans and activities following the march.

During the last two to three years, South Carolina was one of the leading states in the areas of environmental justice, renewable energy, and energy efficiency; these efforts will be seriously undermined by the proposed budget cuts.