Black in Environment builds community and recognition for Black environmentalists
With environmental science being the least diverse field in STEM, Switzer Fellow Dr. Regan Patterson and Dr. Dominic Bednar launched Black in Environment in 2021 to build community for Black folks in environmental spaces and increase representation across environmental realms. They have created a team of dynamic co-organizers working together to achieve this mission, including Switzer Fellow Timnit Kefela.
Black in Environment is an innovative endeavor that facilitates community building by providing information about environmental issues and leaders whilst engaging in discussions on and within environmental fields. The organization facilitates Black In Environment Week, an annual outreach campaign to increase visibility of Black environmentalists, build community, and impart positive change across the globe. Black in Environment Week 2022 will take place April 18-22. Follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @BlackInEnviron to learn more and take part.
In honor of Black History Month, we asked Regan and Timnit a few questions about the project. We are excited to share about their achievements and looking forward to Black in Environment Week 2022!
Switzer Foundation: What is the mission of Black in Environment?
Regan & Timnit: The mission of Black in Environment is to build community for Black people in environmental spaces and highlight the scholarship, activism and engagement of Black environmentalists globally. The purpose of Black in Environment is to increase visibility of Black environmentalists, build community, and impart positive change across the globe. We aim to highlight multigenerational Black people in the environmental movement and counter the false narrative that Black people do not care about the environment.
Switzer Foundation: What are some of the results you have seen from the first Black in Environment Week?
Regan & Timnit: The inaugural Black in Environment Week in 2021 was a huge success. First and most importantly, we cultivated a digital community across a number of different social media platforms as evident in our social media followers:
- > 1400 followers on IG
- > 300 followers on Twitter
- ~ 150 followers on Facebook
- > 15 subscribers on YouTube
Moreover, during our week we highlighted and uplifted prominent Black environmental scholars, community organizers and advocates, farmers, plant-based chefs, and educators.
Our week’s programming was well attended and brought together a diverse and intergenerational group. We facilitated thoughtful conversations that spurred organic connections and enlightened the community on important work happening in the US, Dominica, and Antigua. Our week culminated with give-a-ways from a local outdoors company. We raised sufficient funding to well compensate each of our speakers.
Switzer Foundation: What are the plans for Black in Environment Week 2022?
Regan & Timnit: Planning for Black in Environment Week is underway. We are excited to continue to build upon last year’s foundational work by uplifting diverse Black environmental voices with more panel discussions, Instagram Lives, Twitter chats, and engaged workshops.
Switzer Foundation: Where can people go to find out more and get involved?
Regan & Timnit: To view our inaugural Black in Environment Week, people can check out our YouTube channel. Please like, share, and subscribe. Also, people can follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @BlackInEnviron. If interested in joining our planning team or email list, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Switzer Foundation: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Regan & Timnit: We are grateful for the Switzer Foundation’s support for Black in Environment Week and look forward to continued partnership.