Environmental Grantmakers Association - building leadership across issues
In early October, I participated in the annual retreat of the Environmental Grantmakers Association, the professional association for environmental funders in the US. Each year, the retreat offers funders an opportunity to hear from big picture thought leaders and from leaders across broad spectrum of contemporary issues. The topics ranged from local to global, fracking and climate change to marine conservation, toxics reduction and more. I was pleased to have the opportunity to hear from and meet with Kumi Naidoo, ED of Greenpeace International (who is broadening that organization's role in social equity as well as environmental causes), Van Jones, William Cronan, Nomi Prins, and others. I was also thrilled to help organize one of the plenaries with colleagues which brought in a wide diversity of perspectives OUTSIDE the environmental field. Colleague Manuel Pastor, Professor at UCSC and prominent demographer led a vibrant discussion with Bhairavi Desia, ED of the NYC Taxi Workers Alliance and Theaster Gates, an urban planner and artist in Chicago. All three reminded us of the need to engage new consitutuencies, meet people where they are and remember that labor issues can have environmental considerations and urban community development embodies a web of issues and constituencies, and that the arts can open doors to all the others. It was great to see other Switzer Fellows there as speakers and colleagues.