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Intersections: Conversations on race, climate, and community-centered justice

A virtual event series
You're invited! Intersections: Conversations on race, climate, and community-centered justice.

Join Earthjustice for a four-part conversational series delving into community-centered lawyering, intersectional environmentalism, and the pursuit of justice. This will be a town hall–style event series moderated by Philip McAdoo, vice president of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Earthjustice.

Each event will include a live Q&A where you can submit questions for our speakers. The event platform will offer closed captioning and the option to dial in by phone for audio-only access.

Please register for the series below to receive information about how to join each event. Can’t join live? Register to receive a recording after the event.

Events
Intersections
April 29, 2021
View Recording
Intersectional Justice
May 27, 2021
View Recording
Community-centered Lawyering
June 24, 2021, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. PT / 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. ET
Register
Environmental Justice
July 29, 2021, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. PT / 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. ET
Register

Questions? Contact events@earthjustice.org.

Join Earthjustice for a four-part conversational series delving into community-centered lawyering, intersectional environmentalism, and the pursuit of justice. This will be a town hall–style event series moderated by Philip McAdoo, vice president of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Earthjustice.

Each event will include a live Q&A where you can submit questions for our speakers. The event platform will offer closed captioning and the option to dial in by phone for audio-only access.

Please register for the series below to receive information about how to join each event. Can’t join live? Register to receive a recording after the event.

Questions? Contact events@earthjustice.org.

Intersections

Thursday, April 29, 2021

How do you define “the environment”? How do you think of yourself in relationship with the environment? What do you see? Who do you see? Join Earthjustice president Abigail Dillen for a conversation with Dr. Carolyn Finney, author of Black Faces, White Spaces. Together we’ll explore the complicated relationship between race, land, and belonging in the United States.

Speakers:

  • Abigail Dillen, President, Earthjustice
  • Dr. Carolyn Finney, Storyteller, traveler, cultural interrogator, accidental environmentalist, and author of Black Faces, White Spaces

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Abigail Dillen is the President of Earthjustice, leading the organization's staff, board and supporters to advance our mission of using the courts to protect our environment and people’s health. Before stepping into her current role, Abigail served as the Vice President of Litigation for Climate & Energy, heading the organization's litigation and legal advocacy to achieve the essential shift from fossil fuels to 100% clean energy. Prior to that, Abbie was managing attorney of Earthjustice’s Coal Program, which has played a central role in forcing the overdue retirement of coal-fired power plants around the country.

Abbie has litigated many precedent-setting cases that have held polluters accountable and cleared the way for clean energy nationally. These wins include: requiring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to promulgate first-ever standards to govern disposal of coal ash and limit the wastewater discharge of toxic pollutants from coal-fired power plants; blocking a $2 billion transmission project to transport dirty coal energy from the Ohio Valley to East Coast cities; blocking permits for new coal-fired power plants; and cutting off federal funding of new coal plants.

Carolyn Finney, PhD, storyteller, author, and cultural geographer

Carolyn Finney, PhD is a storyteller, author, and a cultural geographer who is deeply interested in issues related to identity, difference, creativity, and resilience. The aim of her work is to develop greater cultural competency within environmental organizations and institutions, challenge media outlets on their representation of difference, and increase awareness of how privilege shapes who gets to speak to environmental issues and determine policy and action. Carolyn is grounded in both artistic and intellectual ways of knowing — she pursed an acting career for 11 years, but five years of backpacking trips through Africa and Asia, and living in Nepal changed the course of her life. Motivated by these experiences, Carolyn returned to school after a 15-year absence to complete a B.A., M.A. (both of these degrees focused on gender and environmental issues in Kenya and Nepal, respectively) and Ph.D. (which focused on African Americans and environmental issues in the U.S.) She has been a Fulbright Scholar, a Canon National Parks Science Scholar, and received a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Studies. Her first book, Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors was released in 2014 (UNC Press). She is currently working on a performance piece about John Muir (The N Word: Nature Revisited) as part of a Mellon residency at the New York Botanical Gardens and is an artist-in-residence in the Franklin Environmental Center at Middlebury College.

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Intersectional Justice

Thursday, May 27, 2021

What’s possible when we advocate both for people and the planet? Join Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., Leah Thomas, and Diandra Marizet for a conversation about challenging the status quo, connecting the injustices disproportionately affecting frontline communities with environmental harms, and building an inclusive version of environmentalism.

Speakers:

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Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., President & Founder of Hip Hop Caucus

Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. is the President & Founder of Hip Hop Caucus, a minister, community activist, U.S. Air Force veteran, and one of the most influential people in Hip Hop political life.

As a national leader and pacemaker within the Green Movement, Rev Yearwood has been successfully bridging the gap between communities of color and environmental issue advocacy. With a diverse set of celebrity allies, he has raised awareness and action in communities that are often overlooked by traditional environmental campaigns and elected officials. His innovative stance has garnered the Hip Hop Caucus support from several environmental leaders including the Sunrise Movement, League of Conservation Voters, Earthjustice, and Zero Hour.

He is a leader in campaigns calling for divestment from fossil fuels, increasing diversity in the climate movement, ensuring everyone has clean water and air, and international efforts to address climate change. He has also fought on the frontlines for vulnerable communities, including at the international climate negotiations in Paris and efforts to fight new oil pipeline developments in Maryland and at Standing Rock. He has received numerous awards for his work, including being dubbed as a New Green Hero by Rolling Stone and recognized by the Obama White House as a Champion of Change.

Leah Thomas, eco-communicator

Leah Thomas is an eco-communicator, aka an environmentalist with a love for writing + creativity, based in Ventura, CA. She’s passionate about advocating for and exploring the relationship between social justice and environmentalism. You could say she’s tryna make the world a little more equal for everyone and a little nicer to our home planet.

She is the founder of eco-lifestyle blog @greengirlleah, @thegreensgirlco, and The Intersectional Environmentalist Platform, which is a resource + media hub that aims to advocate for environmental justice + inclusivity within environmental education + movements.

Her articles on this topic have appeared in Vogue, Elle, The Good Trade, and Youth to the People and she has been featured in Harper’s Bazaar, W Magazine, Domino, GOOP, and numerous podcasts. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from Chapman University and worked for the National Park Service and Patagonia headquarters before pursuing environmentalism full time.

Diandra Marizet, Co-Founder, Intersectional Environmentalist

Diandra Marizet is a conscious curator, community builder, and founding member of Intersectional Environmentalist. She previously worked on Kate Spade’s apparel buying team and then shifted towards centering her work around elevating intersectional sustainability through the lens of fashion, social impact, and culture.

Diandra has used her work to build educational resources + experiences to help people explore how sustainability issues impact people and the planet.

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Community-centered Lawyering

Thursday, June 24, 2021, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. PT / 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. ET

How can the law be a method of innovative advocacy, creative problem-solving and true partnership? Join Angela Johnson Meszaros, Byron Chan, mark! Lopez, and Tracy Lloyd McCurty, Esq. for a discussion about building transformative change through the power of the law and community partnership.

Speakers:

  • Angela Johnson Meszaros, Managing Attorney, Community Partnerships Program
  • Byron Chan, Senior Associate Attorney, Community Partnerships Program
  • mark! Lopez, Co-Director, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice 
  • Tracy Lloyd McCurty, Esq., Executive Director of Black Belt Justice Center and Co-Organizer of the Black Farmers' Appeal: Cancel Pigford Debt Campaign

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Angela Johnson Meszaros is the managing attorney for the Community Partnerships Program. Angela’s docket focuses on working with communities of color on issues related to air pollution, energy, and the urban environment. Over nearly 25 years, Angela has used a range of tools to enhance the health, safety, and quality of life in communities impacted by environmental hazards. Angela’s efforts have focused on policy development, implementation, and enforcement in a variety of environmental areas including: the impacts of climate change policy on communities of color, eliminating extraction of oil in LA’s urban neighborhoods, meeting the health-based air standards established by the Clean Air Act, public participation in environmental decision-making, reducing childhood lead poisoning, land use policies and their impact on community health, reducing health impacts of air toxics from mobile and stationary sources, Superfund cleanup, and much more. Central to every effort is her partnership with community members.

Byron Chan is a senior associate attorney in the Community Partnerships Program, and is based in our Los Angeles office. Prior to joining Earthjustice, Byron was a litigation associate with Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy in Los Angeles, where his practice focused on complex commercial litigation in federal and state court. Byron received his J.D. from NYU School of Law, and his B.A. in History and Peace & Conflict Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

mark! Lopez (He/Him/His) comes from a family with a long history of activism. He was raised in the Madres del Este de Los Angeles Santa Isabel (Mothers of East LA Santa Isabel — MELASI), an organization co-founded by his grandparents, Juana Beatriz Gutierrez and Ricardo Gutierrez. This set his trajectory as a community activist. He engaged in a wide array of student activism at UC Santa Cruz where he earned his B.A. in Environmental Studies, and taught university courses at UC Santa Cruz, Cal State Northridge, and UCLA Extension. mark! earned his M.A. from the Chican@ Studies Department at Cal State Northridge, where he completed his Masters thesis titled The Fire: Decolonizing “Environmental Justice. mark! joined East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice as a member three years before joining the staff. After serving as lead organizer for East Yard Communities and co-director with EYCEJ co-founder Angelo Logan, mark! served as the executive director for over six years. He is now serving as Eastside community organizer & special projects coordinator. He organizes in the area where he was born, raised, and continues to live. mark! is the 2017 North American recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize.

Tracy Lloyd McCurty, Esq., Executive Director of the Black Belt Justice Center and Co-Alchemist of the Acres of Ancestry Initiative/Black Agrarian Fund (AAI/BAF), a multidisciplinary, cooperative nonprofit ecosystem rooted in Black ecocultural traditions and textile arts to regenerate custodial landownership, ecological stewardship, and food and fiber economies in the South. Similar to the vast mycelial networks that support the natural world, AAI/BAF ecosystem explores nourishing collaborations that deepen linkages of ecological harmony, collective land tenure, ecocultural traditions, music, and cooperative economy, while raising community awareness, activism, and action. Decades of farmer-led organizing combined with Tracy's lead advocacy efforts over the last three years through the Black Farmers' Appeal: Cancel Pigford Debt Campaign laid the groundwork for the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which provides $5B in debt cancellation, tax relief, and related services for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and farmers of color. To reconnect with spirit world, Tracy enjoys walking barefoot on the soil of stewarded Black family land, documenting Black family land memories of triumph, and foraging for honeysuckles.

Born in Durham, North Carolina, Tracy was enriched by the familial stories of her indomitable great-great grandmother, a sharecropper who toiled in the fields harvesting cotton and tobacco in Scotland Neck, North Carolina. Later, her grandmother became an independent farmer, who acquired a 30-acre farm that has remained in the family for six generations. She received a B.S. from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and a J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel-Hill School of Law.

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Environmental Justice

Thursday, July 29, 2021, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. PT / 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. ET

What’s possible when we put economic, racial, and social justice at the core of what we advocate for? Earthjustice Senior Vice President of Programs, Sam Sankar and Vice President of Litigation for Climate and Energy, Jill Tauber will be joined by environmental justice leader Michele Roberts to discuss and share a vision of intersectional justice and our role in the movement.

Speakers:

  • Sam Sankar, Senior Vice President of Programs, Earthjustice
  • Jill Tauber, Vice President of Litigation of Climate and Energy, Earthjustice
  • Michele Roberts, National Co-Coordinator, Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform