Small acts really can make a difference, says organizer behind Black In Environment Week

Sharon Dorsey, one of the organizers of #BlackinEnviron Week focuses on activism, spotlighting Black professionals in the environmental fields and ways in which local action can produce results. Dorsey is a Baltimore native and Virginia Tech graduate student. (Courtesy Sharon Dorsey)

You don’t have to ditch your car and go live in a tent to help solve the problems caused by pollution and climate change.

Sharon Dorsey, a Baltimore native and Virginia Tech grad student, is one of the organizers of “Black in Environment Week.” Along with spotlighting scientists, engineers and policymakers tackling issues that threaten the environment, Dorsey said, organizers are talking about ways that local action can yield results.

Education is a big part of coming up with solutions, according to Dorsey. She advises checking to see what your neighborhood schools are doing on that front. “Support the addition of environmental education in your local school system,” Dorsey said. “Advocate encouraging all youth, kids of all ages, to take some kind of environmental science classes.”

Dorsey said many local environmental groups already work in communities across the region. In D.C., she pointed to City Kids and Generation Green.

City Kids, Dorsey said, is a nonprofit that provides outdoor experiences, internships and postsecondary education and career opportunities to young people in the District; Generation Green, an initiative created by Howard University students. “They’re establishing a community addressing Black social justice issues through an environmental lens,” she said.

The Black in Environment Week event is similar to other efforts by Black birders, Black engineers and other Black scientists to showcase people of color in fields that were traditionally seen as “white” areas of study. “If you search the hashtag #BlackInEnviron, you’ll see at least 100 Black scientists, educators and justice activists. So they’re out there,” she said. “I really encourage social media, because I’m a Gen Z’er,” she said with a laugh.

Dorsey said she knows that people can find the topics of climate change or environmental issues depressing. She also knows that people don’t like being lectured or scolded.

“Effective activists communicate the importance of sustainable actions and lifestyle changes in a way that makes people want to be an environmentalist and take an active role in protecting the environment.”

So, she said, feel free to start small. “If everyone does one small thing, we can definitely make the world a cleaner place.”

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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