As you may or may not know, I have been doing some exciting work with Ma’at Youth Academy in Richmond, CA.
MYA, as we call it, empowers youth through environmental education, and right now, we’re working on a “Youth Vision and Framework” for the City’s General Plan. Our students have met with the Mayor, attended a Leadership Institute sponsored by Urban Habitat, and are eager to share their opinions about development with city leaders. Most of all, they constantly inspire me with their resilience. Many of them go to more funerals in a year than I’ve been to in the last ten, yet they never lose their passion for social justice. I wondered last week if it was the violence my students face that makes them yearn for a better world, when one of them was quoted in the Contra Costa Times.
The connection between environmental and social justice is nothing new to me, but I must admit, it was Omar Freilla who really brought the message home for me. He put into simple terms something I had known in my heart all my life: no matter how much we like to think so, there is no “away.” There is no away we can throw trash to. There is no away we can hide our slums in, no away we can send our poor, huddled masses of our unemployed, our undervalued, our under-appreciated. We cannot send them east or south or west or north and pretend they are not there.
Freilla talked about the low-income areas of the U.S. that bear the brunt of the high-income ones: New York’s South Bronx, Sa...