Black, indigenous and people of color take center stage in a new environmental project by the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV). Cathy Strickler, founder of CAAV, has been intrigued by the potential impact of an award-winning book released in April 2020, for ages 12 and up, titled One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet by conservation biologist Anuradha Rao. By gifting copies of the book, she hopes that CAAV can reach young people who are choosing what their own path will be.
One Earth: People of Color Protecting our Planet “… profiles Black, Indigenous and People of Color who live and work as environmental defenders. Through their individual stories, the book shows that the intersection of environment and ethnicity is an asset to achieving environmental goals. The twenty short biographies introduce readers to diverse activists from all around the world, who are of many ages and ethnicities. From saving ancient trees on the West Coast of Canada, to protecting the Irrawaddy dolphins of India, to uncovering racial inequalities in the food system in the United States, these environmental heroes are celebrated by author and biologist Anuradha Rao, who outlines how they went from being kids who cared about the environment to community leaders in their field. One Earth is full of environmental role models waiting to be found.”
The seed money for the project comes from donations to CAAV’s anti-pipeline campaign. That effort created a large metal sculpture, The Defenders, which was installed at multiple sites adjacent to the proposed path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to amplify the voices defending lives, land, health, clean water and clean air from fossil fuel expansion. Jo Anne St. Clair, chair of CAAV and Karen Lee, who helped implement The Defenders’ project, agree with Cathy: “It is appropriate that seed money for future defenders comes from The Defenders’ campaign.”
Jo Anne and Cathy brought a dozen of these books to Vine & Fig in Harrisonburg’s north end on Wednesday, August 5, 2020, in support of New Community Project’s recently launched Rocktown Sprouts. Developed to teach local youth about nurturing land, water and their health through growing plants and composting organic discards, the One Earth books will find an attentive and receptive audience through this program.
Other copies of Anuradha Rao’s One Earth: People of Color Protecting our Planet will hopefully find good homes through local middle and high schools and/or other young people’s learning and service organizations.
Books purchased with the remainder of The Defenders funds were donated to Vine & Fig to distribute to educators and young people working to protect and enrich our community and world. Jo Anne presented two books to volunteers who have been tending the gardens and taking food to Waterman Elementary School and Our Community Place. She presented a third book to a JMU student organizer who will be working with Vine & Fig this fall. – Cathy Strickler, August 5, 2020
– Karen Lee and Adrie Voors