Dear Green City Force Community,
Earlier this month, we held our annual Youth Summit designed by graduate staff member Precious Colon and produced by our amazing team. The summit brought together current Corps Members with alumni and inspirational speakers and experts from NYC and around the country. The theme of the summit was “community”. Over two and a half-days, organized into sessions clustered around “For the people” and “For the culture”, we had many amazing moments. Gangster gardener Ron Finley in dialogue with our GCF members and alumni about food justice and urban agriculture, as well as former NYCHA resident, entertainer and entrepreneur Yandy Smith messaging the power of leveraging the people of NYCHA as a resource for support in dreaming big!
I was particularly moved by the workshop co-led by GCF alum Brandon Nixon, and former staff member Rosalba Ramirez on herbal remedies focused on the healing power of nature. Their wellness session and the responses of the participants highlighted for me two features of this past year: the generosity of our GCF community, and just how hard it has been. “Community” has been the banner we’ve been holding high through the twists and turns of the past year together. This Thanksgiving, I want to thank every person reading this for your part in our GCF community.
In our ongoing pursuit of centering BIPOC leadership in our work, National Native American Heritage month is an opportunity to reflect on the Native legacies and leadership around us, and a reminder to learn from Native leaders and influencers shaping environmental movements, year-round.
Check out the Native-to-Native “Indigeneity Conversations” podcast, hosted by Bioneers. The first episode features Matriarch Casey Camp-Horinek sharing her path “growing up in poverty, rich in culture”, …”working to reject the things that are killing you mentally, spiritually, physically” and building a movement for the rights of Nature. It’s inspiring and thought-provoking, and you can access it here.
Bioneers also offers a Decolonizing Thanksgiving newsletter and resources, a starting point for ongoing exploration.
Connections to the Lenni-Lenape, who lived and thrived here before they were driven out by the colonial settlers, exist in names we use every day at GCF, like Gowanus and Canarsie.
The Lenni-Lenape land acknowledgment begins: “We are still here.” See also the note on “Why do we acknowledge the land?” in the Land acknowledgment tool kit.
The vibrant presence of Native Americans in our society is the focus of online and in person exhibits by the National Museum of the American Indian.
You can learn more here:
Wishing you all a restful and reflective season of peace, wellness, and appreciation for our Native leaders.
In gratitude for all you do,