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Every Day is Earth Day: BSI 2024 Earth Month Recap

Since 1970, many people on the planet observe April as Earth Month. Due to imperialism, colonialism, genocide and globalization, there has been a mass adoption/assimilation of western/eurocentric worldview that is centered on man vs nature. The constant socialization of this worldview resulted in a fractured relationship with nature that we as humans need to repair. According to the EPA, "...before 1970, a factory could spew black clouds of toxic smoke into the air or dump tons of toxic waste into a nearby stream, and that was perfectly legal. They could not be taken to court to stop it."

To answer the question of how this was possible, many cite the fact that there were no legal or regulatory mechanisms to protect our environment like the EPA, the Clean Air Act, or the Clean Water Act.

In spring 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day as a way to force this issue onto the national agenda. Twenty million Americans demonstrated in different U.S. cities, and it worked! In December 1970, Congress authorized the creation of a new federal agency to tackle environmental issues, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. One of the many results of capitalism is a blatant disregard for the need to steward mother earth in a respectful way and place our environment over profit, which has led to a global ecocide and the growing need to shift the destructive activities of humans as inhabitants of the ONLY planet we call home.

One small step in the right direction was to intentionally mark a time to celebrate our planet and take action to protect it through Earth Day. Celebrated annually on April 22nd, Earth Day is the largest civic event in the world, with over a billion people participating each year.

Fun fact: The official Earth Day theme for 2024 was "Planet vs. Plastics." 2025 will be the 55th anniversary of Earth Day.

Our organization, Black Sustainability, Inc., celebrates Earth Day every day through our work to ensure our communities collective cultural memory is refreshed with how we used to (and often still do) protect the planet. This season, our team had an eventful #EarthMonth. We began this month on April 3 focusing on the next generation, speaking to Spelman and Morehouse students, sharing our work as an organization and sharing the unique journey to working in a Black AND Green space. Gratitude to Professor LaToria Whitehead, PhD, MPA for the invitation to speak to her class and gratitude to the students for such dynamic questions!

Our team then attended panel hosted at the ArtsXchange on April 11 where our Executive Director and Co-founder, Raina Turner- Greenlea spoke. Raina the opportunity to speak on our Black Sustainability Network map, the importance of the work of pollinators (insects, animals and humans as pollinators when we share our work and enhance education) and investing in Black land stewards.

Raina shared the panel with Georgia's youngest farmer, the 8 years young Kendall Rae Johnson, and entrepreneur! Learn more about her non-profits Kendall Rae’s Green Heart and aGROWKulture. Last but not least, joining them on the panel was BSN member and official summit photographer Khalifa Sultan Lee, representing HABESHA, Inc. and the agricultural work that continues throughout Atlanta and West Africa. Khalifa also has worked with Black Sustainability on the Clean Energy Advisory Board NPU Representatives in equitable energy spaces and seeks to provide energy efficiency and ecological resilience for underserved families. The conversation was moderated by Arts Xchange Board Member, Cheryl Johnson and brought forward other change makers within the Atlanta area.

Pictured Left to Right: Pasheena Eaton, Afia Raina Turner-Greenlea, Cheryl Johnson, Khalifa Sultan Lee and Kendall Rae Johnson (front)

Then for a packed Earth Day Weekend, we sponsored a Learning Journey April 19-April 21 hosted by BSN members Brother David and Sister Maria Muhammad in Sparta, GA at their land, The Grove at Freedom Village. Sixteen Black Sustainability Network (BSN) members registered to attend to learn more about cooperation and conflict resolution, off-grid living, homesteading, building with rammed earth and constructing a mobile green house!

Pictured Left to Right: Kelyce Allen, I Am Green Team + Attendees, Maria Muhammad

On April 20, we were also able to attend bEARTHday Fest, hosted by BSN member Annamarie Ngala-Bey. Every year her zero-waste organization, Fort Negrita pulls this amazing event together to celebrate for Earth Day/Earth Month. The event was held at the Outdoor Activity Center stewarded by the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance. Our marketing and communications specialist Lauriel Stewart attended this event and tabled for BSI where she spoke to attendees about BSI's mission, our growing network and advocating for our people to shift our habits to adopt a zero waste lifestyle and reduce the waste we generate. The event was amazing and we got a chance to see another of our favorite BSN member organization, Gangstas to Growers. Their newest trainees were out selling their delicious Sweet Sol sauce - you know we had to grab a bottle!

Pictured Left to Right: Gangstas To Growers Trainee, Lauriel Stewart (middle), Gangstas To Growers Trainee

As Earth Day materialized on the 22nd we celebrated the day by sharing space with an IG Live with BSN member Alexis Harris to amplify the amazing work she is doing with her organization Black Girl, Green Earth. If you want to learn more, check out their upcoming virtual event, Black Faces in Green Spaces on Sunday, April 28th.

Later this month, we will be joining the Slow Food Atlanta on Monday, April 29, from 5-8 pm, for their 2024 Annual Meeting. It is crucial that we support the movement toward reparative agriculture AND the return of SLOW FOOD vs Fast Food for the health of our planet, our bodies and the health of the next generation. We stand in solidarity with Slow Food Atlanta and the fact that food is tied to many other aspects of life, including culture, politics, agriculture and the environment. Through our food choices, we KNOW we can collectively influence how food is cultivated, produced, and distributed, and change the world as a result!

We are grateful to celebrate the Earth today and every day!

How did you spend Earth Day/Earth Month?

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