Hartford Community Climate Day is a Big Success!

Martha Klein

May 2022

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Sierra Club Connecticut co-hosted Community Climate Day in April in collaboration with Hartford community leaders and non-profits, and a fun time was shared by all. Event organizers and participants included Nonprofit Accountability Group, Operation Fuel, Connecticut Climate Crisis Mobilization, NAACP Windham/Willimantic Branch Environmental Justice Committee, Green Eco-Warriors, Sunrise Movement CT, Worker’s Voice, BLM 860, 350 CT, Hartford Proud, CT Oral Health Initiative, CT Citizen Action Group, and others. 

 

This event was organized to create an inviting space at the Pond House in Keney Park for the community that lives in North Hartford to come for education, fun, food, and entertainment. The event was focused on mutual aid and education, in addition to the free food and music. Food was purchased from Black owned and Hartford based businesses. The youth Drum and Dance group, Hartford Proud, performed and were also the excited recipients of fourteen free bicycles, helmets, and locks that were donated by Wilton Quaker Meeting and BiCiCo. Energy efficient light bulbs were distributed, as were books on efficiency to educate kids about climate and environmental issues. Groups that tabled provided information on energy burden and about accessing help with electric and heating bills. 

Creating an inclusive environmental movement means building community with the most impacted people and identifying groups that serve the most impacted as leaders. A commitment to equity and inclusion is at the heart of the work of Sierra Club volunteers and staff, and that commitment means organizing in a new way today. To move beyond the limitations that focusing on the concerns of white people of privilege causes, we are learning to organize with our allies of color and are learning to listen. 

 

Intersectionality centers work on issues articulated by Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and recognizes that people on the front lines of environmental injustice are the leaders. Mainstream environmental groups have traditionally been narrowly focused on conservation of public lands, but largely failed to engage with the environmental concerns of low income and urban dwelling people. Air pollution, lack of green spaces, toxic exposure from buildings and industry, and poor access to fresh food are of greater concern for people living in predominantly Black and Brown communities than in the whiter and wealthier suburbs. The crisis of the environment and the climate is a crisis of racism and economic injustice. Therefore, anti-racism and intersectional organizing must guide our work. The first ever Hartford Community Climate Day was a wonderful opportunity to organize with allies on the front lines of the environmental justice movement, and to build solidarity with the most impacted communities who were forgotten or ignored by big Green NGOs in the past. 

 

Martha Klein is Beyond Gas Lead Volunteer and Chair of the Nominating Committee.  

 

Photo Attribution: Tenaya Taylor