The green movement is in full swing these days. President Obama and his Administration are talking green jobs every day. The environmental movement is enjoying its day in the sun as the nation embraces green principles. Businesses such as Wal-Mart and Starbucks have implemented some sort of green practices. And, we even have Planet Green, the television station dedicated to teaching America how to live and build green.
Earlier this year, I launched Ubuntu Green www.ubuntugreen.org, a non-profit focused on building sustainable and equitable communities. I was particularly concerned with the impact of the green movement on urban centers, low income families and communities of color. It became very clear to me during my 20 years of public policy work that many of the progressive environmental, land use and transportation movements had often overlooked these constituencies. I was also concerned about how federal resources dedicated to green projects would impact these communities. Were companies that receive green job funds reaching out to underserved communities? Were we requiring that infill, redevelopment and new development in urban communities use the highest LEED standards, in order to not only lower energy cost and usage, but to also build healthy homes and other buildings? Were we helping to promote green lifestyles in communities that would include promotion of community gardens, farmers markets, and access to healthy foods?
As the green movement enjoys its day in the sun, we must take a moment and pause to ensure that all Americans are sharing the ample benefits. Government, foundation, business, non-profit and other entities must dedicate educational, technical and financial resources to ensure that the greening of our society is part of a long range commitment that does not end with the next election or shift in policy priorities.
I choose Ubuntu Green as a name of our organization, because I believe deeply in the South African term Ubuntu, which speaks to the common humanity and interdependence of all of humanity. The green movement will not be successful unless its goals are firmly rooted in ensuring green justice through the improving of the daily lives of all the world’s citizens.
This Blog originally appeared at blog.ubuntugreen.org