The idea of sustainability stands on three legs: the economy, the environment and social equity for the community. The Lake Apopka farmworker community is an example of an environmental justice community left behind in the policy and planning. It is not sustainable to address only the economy or only the environment. The Marsh Flow-Way Project and Lake Apopka Restoration Act were implemented to address the ecological issues such as the health of the lake but ignored the health and concerns of the people. Collaborations between community organizations like the Farmworkers Association of Florida and educational institutions like Florida A&M University College of Law are invaluable and can boost the strength and effectiveness of equity with regards to sustainability.
HBCUs are privy to the socio-economic and environmental plights of their student populations and the communities from which they come. They understand the importance of engaging the local communities in an effort to create innovative and interdisciplinary partnerships, to identify needs, solve problems and lead by example. Sustainable practices have been an integral part of the African-American community for centuries. Leadership exhibited by people like Professor Randy Abate and students like Cameryn Justice Rivera of FAMU College of Law and community activists like Jeanie Economos of the Farmworkers Association of Florida can collectively create comprehensive and sustainable solutions.
A HUGE “Thank you!” to Prof. Abate for inviting me to speak to several students about “Documenting our cultural shift toward sustainability.” And Cameryn, its great to see you again! It’s important to make the connections between sustainability and environmental justice. There is a strong connection between supporting communities by educating them in ways so that they can advocate for themselves and creating environmental policy so that all communities are considered in the outcome.
Florida A&M University College of Law