Learn from the Past & Prepare for the Future
During February many holidays could (and should) be celebrated such as Random Acts of Kindness Day, Valentine’s Day, Sri Lankan Independence Day, Black History Month, and countless others.
Moss Ball Pets wants to acknowledge Black History Month by highlighting 8 Black environmentalists. Marimo, these fun little green orbs of algae (moss balls aren’t moss?), are only around today because of a global community of people who have persistently cared about environmental science and conservation. Without environmentalists, many unique natural wonders would cease to exist!
Fun fact: You can learn more about Marimo Matsuri (a Japanese conservation festival) by clicking here!
Annually, as Black History Month takes place, people tend to focus on the tragedy of slavery and the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement. However, Black people have more to offer the world than pain. Black people continue to tremendously contribute to each area within society ranging from the arts to sciences, and every category in between.
As we move forward, it is important to maintain an emphasis on learning from our past so that we can prepare for our future. Taking time to acknowledge these environmentalists is our way of reminding people that we’ve come a long way in terms of caring for each other and our world, but there is still work to be done.
1.) Rue Mapp: Founder, and CEO of Outdoor Afro
Rue Mapp began Outdoor Afro as a blog in 2009. She used it to share a variety of media and stories with the world to promote healthy living and environmental education. Currently, as a nonprofit, Outdoor Afro has connections all over the U.S. (in almost 30 states).
2.) Ibrahim Abdul-Matin: Author and Speaker
Ibrahim Salih Abdul-Matin is known for his authentic approach to improving public engagement with the natural world. He is an urban strategist best known for his writing as well as his approach to innovative sustainability which he shares with governments, Fortune 500 countries, and many more people from all walks of life.
3.) Dr. Wangari Maathai: Kenyan Activist & Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
She has so many accomplishments, like many of the people on this list, we could dedicate an entire blog post to the legacy that Dr. Maathai created. Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate (Ph.D., Anatomy, University of Nairobi -1971).
She later went on to become the founder of the Green Belt Movement. This movement focuses on getting people together, primarily women, and evoking a love of conservation within them so that they could understand how planting trees positively affects Kenya (and subsequently Africa) for decades to come. So far, members of the Green Belt Movement have grown over 50 million trees.
4.) Will Allen: Farmer, and Ex-Professional Athlete
Will Allen is an urban farmer who is based in Milwaukee. He first rose to fame as the founder of Growing Power, which was a nonprofit farm that supplied thousands of people with the opportunity to learn how to farm as well as access to fresh fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy, as well as fruits, vegetables, and honey. This nonprofit was in place from the mid-1990s until 2017, so for almost 25 years, Will collaborated with numerous others to incorporate urban farming in various states and even other countries! To learn more about what happened to Growing Power, click here.
5.) Dr. Carolyn Finney: Author, and Professor
A storyteller, author, and advocate for environmental justice, Dr. Carolyn Finney lives a life dedicated to making the great outdoors an accessible respite for all. She does have varied interests as she has pursued some acting roles and spent five years backpacking around the world. Her book, Black Faces White Spaces, focuses on how people’s view of the natural world in the U.S. changed over time due to racial violence, Jim Crow laws, and other forms of division.
6.) Ron Finley: Fashion Designer, and Community Leader
Will Allen would probably be very supportive of the self-proclaimed Gansta Gardener, Ron Finley. Ron grew up in South Central Los Angeles, so he is familiar with the anguish caused by having to drive over half an hour just to get fresh produce. When Ron became fed up with the food desert, in 2010, he slowly began a movement that has come to be known as the Ron Finley Project. The project focuses on expanding community food gardens to other places categorized as food deserts. If you’re interested in participating or donating, it would definitely help since this is the 10th year the project has been operating.
7.) Majora Carter: Urban Revitalization Strategist
Majora is an internationally renowned urban revitalization strategist most commonly linked to her project in New York City, the South Bronx Greenway. This beautiful revitalization project encompasses over 11 miles of pedestrian and bicycle lanes that connect neighborhoods and give people a waterfront view. She first realized The Greenway was needed when she was taking her dog for a walk and it led her to an abandoned dump filled with debris in South Bronx. Majora Carter founded Sustainable South Bronx, and this organization continues to improve life in New York City by providing green job training as well as other environmentally educational ventures.
8.) Chris Bradshaw: Founder of Dreaming Out Loud
A rising social entrepreneur and environmental justice advocate, Christopher Bradshaw is instilling change all over the U.S. He believes that an equitable food system could change the lives of many people on a socioeconomic level. Dreaming Out Loud was founded in 2008 to address food disparity in low-income communities in Washington, D.C. Now Chris and his team are still working towards environmentally just and sustainable food growing practices and he even cites Will Allen as one of his main influences.
Take Time To Celebrate Contributions
Some may think that these contributions are irrelevant because they personally do not understand how these changes caused positive change for the world. Others only use Black History Month to focus on some of the figureheads from the Civil Rights Movement like Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King Jr; there should also be some time dedicated to discussing other contributions black people have made to society such as in the field of environmental science.
Although it is important to note that Black people have contributed tremendously to our society, these eight Black environmentalists are our focus as we try to encourage others to expand their knowledge of black history and the importance of sustainable living.
This month does not need to rely on constantly reporting the struggle of black people and our diaspora, it is important to discuss our contributions to society and our achievements as well so that future generations can continue to aspire to greatness instead of suffering to attain success.
Author: Tierra C. Watkins
Tierra C. Watkins is a freelance content creator and the CEO of Watkins Writing. She has been the lead writer for Moss Ball Pets since 2017. Tierra is currently attaining her Bachelor’s degree in Communications from The Evergreen State College. She focuses on using her writing to highlight the unique aspects of authentic products or services so that small businesses can thrive. Follow her on Twitter @tierra_watkins or LinkedIn.