As we celebrate Black History Month at GBA, we have compiled some content that you can explore which highlights the connections between racial equity and the built environment, as well as celebrations of Black leadership in sustainability.
Explore Social Equity in the Built Environment
Take a look at the topics and solutions we explored in GBA’s Social Equity in the Built Environment series. This series helped participants identify individual, regional, and industry-wide actions for embedding social and racial equity into green building practices and specifically highlighted challenges around access to green building jobs, community input on development projects, and access to healthy homes and schools.
Read this blog by GBA’s Ramona Crawford, describing her first experience attending the international Greenbuild conference, where a focus on equity was front and center as it remains a challenge for the green building industry. Here, Ramona shares major takeaways from the sessions she attended.
Celebrate Black Voices in Sustainability through GBA’s Inspire Speakers Series
Now ten years since it launched, the Inspire Speakers Series has always aimed to bring diversity of thought and perspective to the stage as we challenge our citizens and leaders to think differently about what is possible in our region. The series also aims to make topics of sustainability accessible to everyone, and to connect the dots among climate, health, equity, economy, and the built environment. We were delighted to see that three presenters from our Inspire Speakers Series lectures – Majora Carter, Karen Washington, and Dr. John Francis – were recognized in a listing of “28 African Americans Who Have Changed the World” through sustainability leadership.
Through this series, we envision a future of just, vibrant, and healthy communities throughout our region. Here are just a few highlights of some of our past events:
Sustainability for All: Reimagining the Future of Black Communities
This event featured Emmai Alaquiva, K. Chase Patterson, Joylette Portlock, Alyssa Lyon, and Camila Rivera-Tinsley. The keynote address was delivered by Jaqueline Patterson, who at the time was overseeing the environmental and climate justice program at the NAACP (which included a program focused on centering equity in the sustainable buildings sector) and who recently was recognized with a Heinz Award.
Watch Jacqui Patterson's keynote here.
Driving Systemic Change in Communities
Back when we hosted the Inspire Speakers Series live on stage in the warm glow of the Hill District’s Elsie Hillman Auditorium, Naomi Davis, Diane Bucco, and Majestic Lane helped us explore the roots of community challenges and possible solutions for driving deep, systemic change. Majestic Lane challenged the audience to look at sustainability in a new light and Naomi Davis asked the question of the century.
Creating Thriving Communities
Also on stage in the Hill District, this event in 2014 featured Dr. Antwi Akom who shared his own personal experiences as a Black man arrested on the college campus where he taught. He shared solutions developed in his I-SEEED program, reflected on the nation’s crisis of human imagination, and challenged the audience to think past livable communities towards smarter, more sustainable, equitable, and thriving communities. The City of Pittsburgh’s Grant Ervin joined Dr. Akom on stage for this event.
Celebrating the Legacy of the Divine 9
In 2021, GBA’s Inspire Speakers Series and Green & Healthy Schools Academy supported the SHOUT (Social Handprints Overcoming Unjust Treatment) student group to celebrate the rich history of the the Divine 9: the nine historically Black Greek letter organizations that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
Not only do many critical historical figures belong to these sororities and fraternities – Martin Luther King, Jr. and Shirley Chisholm among them – but so do our country’s current leaders including Vice President Kamala Harris and Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock. This student-led conversation was hosted online and featured discussions with several Divine 9 members. The event opened with a video created by Dr. Chuck Herring, SHOUT creator, GBA partner, and himself a member of a Divine 9 fraternity.
Dr. Herring’s video describes the history, purpose, and historical perspective of the Divine 9 organizations.