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Frontline Communities Practice Earth Day Every Day

April has just ended and May has begun—did you have a good Earth Month?

Last April, Front and Centered put together Earth Deserves More Than a Day, a week-long program of events highlighting the everyday work of our coalition members and other leaders from frontline communities around the globe and right here in neighborhoods across Washington State. The driving force behind #EarthDeservesMore was to highlight the stories of our members: people and communities who advance environmental justice and confront climate change every day of the year, not just on a holiday like Earth Day.

This year, we decided to highlight our members by supporting their own programming during Earth Month and attending as many member-organized or member-led events as we could! Below, we’ve provided a recap of some of those events, including photos and videos.

Some of these events were explicitly Earth Day-themed, while others were not—but all of them are part of our coalition’s daily work to address environmental harm, dismantle climate inequities, and advance a Just Transition.

We hope you enjoy this snapshot of the work our members do day in and day out—because climate justice, environmental justice, and Earth Day are every day.

CHWCMR — Community Health Worker Coalition for Migrants and Refugees

Last month, we attended CHWCMR’s “Care-a-Van” health and justice education event in Grandview, where about one hundred folks came through to learn and exchange information. Our coalition members Nuestra Casa and Colectiva Legal del Pueblo were also present to provide information and consultation services. Live trees were given away, kids made works of art, Colectiva consulted with farmworker clients, and farmworkers learned about pesticide protection and COVID safety.

CHWCMR works to increase the capacity and competencies of community health workers and community champions to meet the needs of frontline communities by creating sustainable opportunities, implementing innovative solutions, and cultivating productive partnerships.

Pictured here are CHWCMR staff and members of the community, taken as they pick up trees and berry plants CHWCMR was distributing for free as part of their Earth Day programming. Thank you CHWCMR for sending these photos our way!

Khimstonik — Non-Profit Giving Voice

About a week later, we attended an event in Pasco hosted by Khimstonik, an Indigenous-led organization dedicated to responsible land development and the sharing of information across local, tribal, state and federal lines.

Khimstonik held their event for Palouse Tribe visibility and Snake River dam removal on April 19 to “commemorate when Palouse Tribe Elders traveled to Washington, D.C. on April 19, 1988, to explain their sovereign land rights and ask for the return of those lands which were lost when the dams were built and flooded their homes and properties.”

Ione Jones: “We are still here. And we need to be a major part of [the Snake River dam removal] discussions. So, what we would like to do is just to share with the public to please remember that the Palouse people still exist. Our voices are still here.” (watch the video)

Here are some photos from that blessed and beautiful day in Pasco, featuring a meal of delicious traditional foods gathered from the land and waters, and a quick selfie before a canoe journey!

Pasco is located on the traditional land of the Cayuse, Palouse, Umatilla, Walla Walla, and Yakama Peoples, as well as the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, and
Black Farmers Collective

The next day, we went to celebrate Black Earth Day in Seattle, at an event hosted by both the Urban League and the Black Farmers Collective.

The Urban League’s mission is to empower those they serve with programming and essential services designed to support self-sufficiency. Their six focus areas are advocacy/civic engagement, education, entrepreneurship support, housing, public health, and workforce development.

Black Farmers Collective’s mission is to build a Black-led food system by developing a cooperative network of food system actors, acquiring and stewarding land, facilitating food system education, and creating space for Black liberation in healing and joy.

We had a great time at Black Earth Day, but you might be wondering: how did the event get started? Who and what is it for? Here’s a great video put together by the Urban League talking about just that, recorded after last year’s edition of Black Earth Day:

APRI Tacoma — A. Philip Randolph Institute, Tacoma Chapter

After going to Black Earth Day, we spent a beautiful evening that same day celebrating the legacy and future of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and in particular its Tacoma chapter, led by Sherrilla Bivens!

APRI Tacoma is dedicated to developing programs that will extend democracy to those who have been traditionally disenfranchised or discouraged from participating in the political system. We were honored to receive APRI Tacoma’s community service award at their banquet, alongside amazing community organizations and leaders doing The Work. Here are a few photos from that night, featuring Front and Centered staff, Sherrilla, and Jonathan Johnson of Tacoma NAACP:

UTOPIA WA — United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance Washington

Finally, we had such a great time with the UTOPIA crew as they closed out their 2024 Climate Summit last week!

UTOPIA put on a suite of great events for the occasion, including a Talanoa webinar where they talked about what it means for Pasifika communities to sustain their islands, and an Adopt-a-Street gathering in Kent that provided hot meals to the community as part of a street cleanup campaign. We joined UTOPIA as they closed out their Climate Summit at Highline College in Des Moines, where we gathered to discuss climate justice (pictured on the right).

UTOPIA Washington is a queer and trans people of color-led grassroots organization, born out of the struggles, challenges, strength, and resilience of the Queer and Trans Pacific Islander (or QTPI, pronounced “Q T Pie”) communities.

Every Day is Earth Day on the Frontlines

What we’ve shared with you here is just a brief snapshot of our coalition in action. This is just a small fraction of our membership and a small fraction of what they all do, day in and day out, in just one of the twelve months of the year.

There are so many more events and initiatives led or co-led by our members that we could have added here, such as La Marcha Campesina organized by Community to Community and Familias Unidas por la Justicia to support Skagit Valley tulip farm workers, or our ClimeTime Community Education in Action workshops (pictured at the very top of this article) in Yakima that we organized with Africans on the Eastside and APIC Yakima (Asian Pacific Islander Coalition of Yakima).

Our members don’t just make up our coalition and participate in our workgroups—they are also our family and friends who experience the harm of climate change and environmental racism first and worst. They guide our policy decisions and influence our advocacy so that they and their communities can live in a just, healthy, and thriving environment.

As climate change and environmental damage continues, it is forcing a transition in our frontline communities. But while transition may be inevitable, justice is not. We must build resilient, healthy communities so that we can be strong enough to advocate for and advance a Just Transition. Our members are doing that day in and day out, to ensure that our frontline communities are as resilient as they can be. That’s why, whenever Earth Day comes around, we always say that Earth Day is every day for communities of color, Indigenous peoples, 2SLGBTQIA+ folks, immigrants and refugees, and others on the frontlines of the climate crisis and environmental change.