I came home to the rolling green hills of the Mohawk Valley, to my laughing cousins, and to the beginning of a new upstate new york.
It seems the new green economy has inspired the homeless, community organizers, faith leaders, and local officials alike. On my first day home I attended the launch of a new green low-income housing block in the poorest crime ridden area of Utica, NY—Corn Hill. Corn Hill is one of those area’s that never received enough public assistance and therefore remained a hot spot for drugs, murder, and racial disparity.
But things started to change with the initiative of two women, Reverend Skates and Reverend Meier. Their commitment to the area and their beautiful vision for a transformed community brought all the right people together. We heard from speakers from the NYS Governor’s office, they mayor of Utica, and local homeless women that were moving into these new green homes.
I haven’t been so moved than when I heard Reverend Skates lead us in a visualization of the buildings around us. We yelled out words together like “Green!” or “Community Garden” pointing to broken down buildings and empty lots. With all of the right people in the room you could almost feel the space around you changing, especially when so much already had.
I think as young people we sometimes see ourselves bearing the entire burden of changing everything starting with policy and then our local communities. This reminded me of a couple things: 1) Positive change can flourish everywhere– without my involvement 2) Building up our local economies and communities deserves as much attention as our national work.
There is something to be said about the tangible gratification of this kind of work. It can be a hard thing to balance when climate policy seems to be the most important, yet elusive thing.
Passing a strong climate bill that protects communities like these, is the key to actually tangibly building a green future and more green communities.
As I get more in tune with my surroundings that balance becomes more critical. Let us integrate more hands-on creation in the movement and really shape the present for our local communities!