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Green movement returns to grassroots on Earth Day…

April 22, 2011 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

( Environmental and health protection in America has always been a grassroots, community-powered movement. The first Earth Day took shape more than 40 years ago, when people came together in their communities to demand clean air to breathe, healthy water to drink and swim in, and safe lands to build homes, businesses and churches. This Earth Day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and President Obama are continuing – and expanding – that tradition by bringing together some of our nations’ greatest grassroots assets into the new Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Initiative.

The Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Initiative is an effort being led by the White House to bring together our communities’ most active groups with important work that is happening throughout our government. Along with the EPA, other agencies are coordinating with secular and faith-based non-profit organizations to serve Americans in need, from veterans to residents of rural communities to people seeking health services.

With environmentalism’s grassroots history, this collaboration makes perfect sense. Throughout American history, faith and neighborhood groups have shown the extraordinary power they have to advance justice issues, open pathways to new opportunities and improve the world we live in. We saw that power during the Civil Rights Movement, when Dr. Martin Luther King, along with other faith and community leaders, brought together motivated citizens to work for change. And we saw it on the first Earth Day more than 40 years ago, when twenty million Americans stood together for a healthier nation.

Bringing new partnerships to our communities is critical. The environmental conditions we live with set the stage for healthy lives, educational success and economic opportunities. The burdens of environmental degradation – which are all too often concentrated in low-income and minority communities – lead to health issues like asthma and heart disease. Pollution in the air and water are deterrents to investment in our communities, and turn away businesses that might otherwise set up shop and create jobs.

Written By Lisa Jackson

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