Posts Tagged ‘Winona LaDuke’

By Felicia Davis, Building Green Program Director, United Negro College Fund

(This article appears in the August, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)


The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Institute for Capacity Building has embarked upon an ambitious endeavor to catapult minority-serving colleges and universities into leadership roles in the transition to a sustainable green global economy.  Elevating the critical need for emissions reductions and social, economic and environmental responsibility is central to the mission of higher education institutions.  Energy efficient upgrades, LEED certified building, and interdisciplinary sustainability studies are key elements in campus-wide sustainability efforts.  Minority-serving institutions are in a unique position to make a quantum-leap by embracing and aggressively pursuing carbon-neutral campus infrastructures.  These institutions can turn liabilities, such as older inefficient buildings, into assets by adopting LEED standards for new and existing buildings.  They can lead the way to a sustainable future.

Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) in North Carolina, under the leadership of Chancellor Dr. Willie Gilchrist, is the first institution to sign

Felicia Davis presents ESCU Chancellor Willie Gilchrist award as first ACUPCC signatory since start of Building Green initiative

the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) with encouragement and support from the UNCF Building Green Initiative.  The ECSU Center for Green Research and Evaluation has embarked upon a ground-breaking plan to develop a modern, large-scale green economy in rural northeastern North Carolina by cultivating a “triple bottom line” approach to research and community development.  In keeping with the UNCF Building Green Initiative goals, ECSU is forging relationships with organizations – including universities, community colleges, public agencies, businesses, and nonprofit partners – that can help the university accomplish ambitious sustainability goals.  Focused on social, economic, and environmental sustainability in the rural 21 county service area, the ECSU Green Center places the creation of green jobs industries high on the agenda.  Plans to train local workers for jobs retrofitting campus buildings while developing new green industries are high priorities in keeping with the North Carolina Green Economy Initiative.


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Winona LaDuke spoke this afternoon at the 2nd UNCF Green Building Learning Institute about how tribal colleges and communities are working to create a equitable and just economy.  In order to build their resilience and self-reliance they are training technicians and renewable energy installers, putting up wind turbines and solar panels, and building healthy, efficient buildings.

At the same time they are fighting to protect themselves from a future destabilized by a continuation of the dirty energy economy by working to stop new coal plants that degrade the land and aquifers where the mining occurs, contribute to climate disruption, and create localized pollution problems like mercury in lakes and fish.

While she didn’t use the term, she touched on many of the core concepts of ecological economics – internalizing the true costs of our activities, recognizing the interrelationship, interdependence, and inseparability of human and natural systems, etc.

Winona may be best known as Vice Presidential candidate on the Ralph Nader ticket in the 1996 and 2000 elections, but she is along time rural development economist and advocate. Currently she serves as executive director of Honor the Earth, based in Minnesota that works to break the geographic and political isolation of Native communities and to increase financial resources for organizing and change.

Honor the Earth recently released a great report on Sustainable Tribal Economies (pdf) that is definitely worth checking out to learn more about the great work that is being done and could be done to create thriving tribal communities.

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