Editor’s Note: In late June, New Leaders Council named their ”40 Under 40” — a group exemplifying “the spirit of political entrepreneurship.” Below is a guest post from Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, one of a handful of those recently crowned “40″ who were kind enough to take time from their busy schedules to share some of their wisdom with Care2. More posts will be shared over the coming days–so stay tuned!
BY PHAEDRA ELLIS-LAMKINS, CEO, Green For All
My mother raised me to care about my community and country. It deeply troubles me that, right now, millions of unemployed Americans searching for work are, on a daily basis, facing rejection letters, unanswered phone calls and growing stacks of unpaid bills.
It’s unjust that people are going in and out of emergency rooms, suffering from asthma and having heart attacks, all because they live in a polluted area and can’t afford to move elsewhere.
This is not the kind of America any of us want; we can do better. We must do better by shaping a future where the opportunity to find a good job and live in a clean community is available to all.
This is the future we are fighting for at Green For All. Every day, we work to provide people with new hope through the green economy; by supporting these new and growing industries, we can address the problems of poverty and pollution at the same time.
From working crafting inclusive policies with legislators, to working with grassroots leaders to make change happen at the local level, we are driving green growth throughout the nation, and helping to shape a cleaner future for all.
From the beginning, we knew we had to involve young people in this work; throughout history — from civil rights to workers’ rights — young people have represented the ideals and conscience of our nation, fighting to keep America moving forward. They are a constant source of energy, ideas and creativity.
That’s why, in 2008, we began the Green For All Fellowship which provides training programs focused on the green movement to talented and up-and-coming leaders. When the program concludes, these leaders take the skills they have acquired to make a difference in their own neighborhoods.
So far, over 100 local leaders from communities of color and low-income communities have graduated and become Green For All Fellows. Block by block, they work diligently to bring new opportunities and sound environmental strategies to areas long ignored.
We’ve also launched the College Ambassador Program. Partnering with historically black colleges and universities, we aim to cultivate the next generation of green leaders. These students take part in expert trainings and lead by example, sharing a vision of a green future with their fellow students.
All of us, like so many Americans, were raised to care about our community and country. We reject all this talk about individualism. We know we’re in this fight together, and we’ve dedicated ourselves to shaping an America where it doesn’t matter where you were born or what your background is — you’ll have a fair shot at making a better life.
This is the most rewarding work I’ve ever done. It’s also the toughest challenge I’ve ever faced. But, I won’t back down. My mother taught me to never shy away from a fight.