It is no simple mission we set out on 20 years ago, when California Greenworks moved from idea to reality. Yet, it is the simple things over time that have left an impression.
As a founder, I, alongside my good friend Nancy, was baffled at the urban blight that plagued the inner city. Yet, motivated by an inner passion for green spaces and equal rights for disadvantaged communities – we testified against the litter in our oceans and streets, the environmental inequities that faced the world, a community filled with systems of injustice … we started California Greenworks.
We took on our mission as protecting the planet from these systems of injustice: not solely for the sake of the planet, but, importantly, for the sake of our fellow citizens.
This first step was two decades ago.
One of the most important lessons we have learned is scalability. We do not – and in fact, cannot – solve every issue wholly and miraculously. One tree can make a difference. One community clean up can create positive outcomes. One student’s life impacted can make a difference.
For example, I remember a student participating in our youth education program, and he told me this program gave him his first opportunity to see the ocean. It really struck me how simple things like a visit to the beach may not be simple to others. This scenario is one among the long list of burdens of climate injustice.
While every one act makes a difference, the fact of scalability is one we must address our current climate with now. The world is on a path towards calamity. Since an ecosystem is, by definition, about connections and systems, an often overlooked connection within environmentalism is the social justice aspect.
Today, in America, there are systems in place that pave the way towards calamity. Institutions designed to protect us, instead commit murder. When the simple utterance of Black Lives Matter creates anger and fear, this is a symptom of the calamitous path.
Throughout the history of the United States, people of color have been targeted and attacked for being people of color. This system has plagued these populations in marginalized communities, disproportionately impacted by issues of climate change – among other challenges. Since these atrocities are systemic, the solutions must also be systemic.
We cannot solve everything at once, but we can create means of redemption. If you are concerned with the foreboding environment, we remind you that the environment can only be saved when our systems of injustice are footnotes in history. As a scalable remedy, we invite everyone to say the names of the most recent victims of this system: Alonzo Bagley, Tyre Nichols, Keenan Anderson, Eric Holmes, Ki’Azia Miller, Eric Allen … the list is tremendous. Through remembrance we can be motivated towards action. Through one single action, we can be motivated to take the next step and create more action.
Now we must march forward together, tackling issues of climate inequity, climate change and planet earth sustainability. We have to take a more proactive position, and get in control of our environment and that means finding ways to reduce fossil fuels and be more responsive to the needs of our climate.
There are great places in our city that we can enjoy. For example, Kenneth Hahn Park is among my favorite places to visit – it’s close to me, and it’s improved quite considerably over the years. This is proof that, working together, we can create positive change and restore our environment.
I look forward to meeting more community members and working alongside you to create this change, for the next 20 years and beyond.
Celebrating 20 Years in Service
Our team at California Greenworks is excited to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2023. We’d love you to join us this year in our mission to create a more equitable and green community. Check out our upcoming CELA Awards ceremony, where you can meet environment leaders honored for their impact, and be inspired to take environmental action.