Rashida Lovely Makes Her Mark on Scranton, PA
Rashida Lovely has lived in Scranton for more than a decade and has brought a wealth of environmental and arts education to the area. She serves as the Director of Operations for the Black Chamber of Commerce and the NEPA Pan African Coalition. A biologist and dancer by training, Rashida is the embodiment of an EJ Champion in that she brings environmental justice and environmental awareness to her community in approachable and creative ways.
What encouraged you to take action in your community?
There’s a gap that needs to be filled. The government plays a role in ensuring that people are aware of best practices to preserve the environment. But communities of color and underserved communities are often missed in the circulation of that information. I like to reach into the community centers and daycare centers – the places where people are.
What are you working on now? Can you tell us about a recent or ongoing project that you are excited about?
I am excited about our Summer STEAM program. It’s an ongoing program where we really encompass the EJ work. Kids learn how to plant and grow foods. And we also work with engineers and scientists in the community as mentors to the kids who participate. Our goal is for the lessons and awareness from the program to become a part of everyday life for the students.
What are the greatest environmental justice challenges that still need to be tackled?
It’s always about the underserved community and connecting with them on their level. We need to support the organizations that are serving people on the ground.
Also important is providing a safe space -- creating spaces in nature where communities of color feel safe even though they don’t own the land. It’s important to the protection of the environment that we create spaces where kids and others can connect to the land.
Is there an EJ champion in your community? Does your community have a success story you would like to share? Email us your story for publication in the next Your Environment, Your Voice newsletter!