Environmentalism is about saving the environment (the whales, the trees, the seals, the rain forest). Environmental Justice is about saving people from toxins being dumped into their environment. In essence, it is the intersection between environmental stewardship, racial justice and economic justice. Impoverished communities of color suffer the greatest threats to their health from toxic dumping, food discrimination, lack of green space, and energy consumption. These injustices cause astronomical rates of cancer, asthma, hunger, and depression in impoverished communities of color.
Faith Leaders for Environmental Justice Collaborative is a diverse array of faith leaders committed to making deep impact on issues of environmental justice in New York City through coordinated collective action on issues such as food justice, climate justice, and energy conservation. More than 100 faith leaders representing Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist faith congregations have joined forces with environmental justice agencies and are informing the faithful of issues affecting our City today, and mobilizing their bases in coordinated action. Faith Leaders for Environmental Justice currently focuses on three major issues: Food Justice, Climate Justice and Energy Consumption.
The area above 125th Street has gained the distinction in recent years of being one of America’s urban “food deserts.” It is nearly impossible to find healthy food within walking distance in uptown Manhattan. The lack of healthy food increases rates of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and other life threatening and life-altering diseases. These conditions also work to ensnare families in cycles of poverty; higher medical bills combine with less insurance coverage to equal mountains more debt. The Food Justice Working Group seeks to make healthy food more readily available to under-resourced neighborhoods. Currently focused on neighborhoods above 125th Street, the working group is educating and encouraging churches and other worshiping communities to engage in local initiatives such as: Community Sponsored Agriculture projects (CSAs), local food co-ops, community gardens, roof-top gardens, adopt-a-local-emergency-food-provider, food stamp outreach, advocate for improvement in food and hunger policies, support supermarket creation above 125th Street.
Click here for full video of the Good Food Good Jobs Coalition Celebration of F.R.E.S.H. (Food Retail Expansion to Support Health) Victories!
Climate Justice and Energy Conservation: Climate change and unregulated energy consumption hits poor communities of color first and hardest. The Climate Justice Working Group seeks to engage faith communities in New York City around issues of climate change and energy consumption through education and direct action initiatives. The group seeks to provide communities with theological and liturgical resources that will aid in the framing and motivating of congregations on issues dealing with the stewardship of the shared environment. The workgroup also seeks to provide faith communities with tangible ways they can live out this stewardship in their larger religious communities as well as their individual households. This includes connecting faith leaders and representatives with organizations that focus on areas of energy consumption and reductions of carbon footprints, as well as coming up with unique ways faith communities can utilize their unique roles in society to provide leadership in the way people of faith interact with Creation.
Leadership Structure Faith Leaders for Environmental Justice is a collaborative project. All of the following organizations are co-sponsors of Faith Leaders for Environmental Justice through the donation of their staff time, materials, and by sharing the cost of quarterly breakfasts.
Co-Chairs: Charles Calloway, WE ACT for Environmental Justice Lisa Sharon Harper, New York Faith & Justice
Leadership Team: New York Lawyers for the Public Interest New York Theological Seminary Ecologies of Learning Interfaith Center of New York New York Divinity School Interfaith Voices Against Hunger/Feed the Solution Hazon St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
Working Group Facilitators: Food Justice: Kerry Birnbach, Interfaith Voices Against Hunger Climate Justice/Energy Conservation: Charles Calloway, New York Faith & Justice
Faith Leaders for Environmental Justice is a collaborative effort between more than 100 churches, organizations, and environmental justice advocates to leverage our collective influence on behalf of and in partnership with under-served communities in our city.