On Monday 30th November, over 200 people tuned in to re-launch of the Black & Green Ambassadors programme – set to scale up its efforts to empower new leaders to work with and between diverse communities, businesses, other organisations and individuals on issues of sustainability, equality, diversity and inclusion. Their work will engage in and champion practices and initiatives aimed at an environmentally thriving and socially just future for all and work towards ensuring the environmental movement is inclusive and representative of all communities.
Environmentalists, community activists, civic and cultural leaders, businesses, local groups, artists and many more attended to hear about the critical importance of recognising, engaging and celebrating all communities and activities in the movement for environmental sustainability and social justice for all people and all parts of this planet we inhabit.
Keynote speaker Julian Agyeman – Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University, Boston, spoke of ‘just sustainabilities’ – the need to ensure ‘a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, whilst living within the limits of supporting ecosystems’. His powerful presentation shared reflections from Boston and Minneapolis to Bristol, and invited Bristol to think about the centrality of co-existence in shared space and the need for social justice to be intentional, implicit and front and center in our work.
Messages of support also came in from representatives from Ecuador, Nicaragua and Hannover, from reggae artist and activist Macka B, and from the Mayor of Nantes, which like Bristol is a former European Green Capital City – in addition to Bristol West Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire and three women recently named in the BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Power 2020 list, Brighton Pavilion Green MP Caroline Lucas, Judy Ling Wong CBE and Mya-Rose Craig. The launch event also amplified local community-led, grass roots projects working towards a fair and green future.
Handing on the baton, Zakiya McKenzie and Jasmine Ketibuah-Foley reflected on their experiences as the pioneering first Black & Green Ambassadors and led a conversation with new Ambassadors – Asia Yousif, Olivia Sweeney and Roy Kareem – on topics including connection to nature, the people who inspired their journey to become Ambassadors, and the importance of visibility and opportunities for diverse voices to be at the centre of building this green new world we are all aiming for.
To set the scene for this next phase of the programme, the event amplified the vision and mission of the programme, alongside the reveal of a brand new logo – a bold leaf with shades of green on one half, to recognise the breadth and depth of environmental activity, and tonal colours on the other half to reflect diversity communities contribution and involvement in this issue.
The event concluded with a powerful spoken word performance from local philosopher and poet ‘Philosophy of Mo’ – whose poem ‘A Place I Once Called Earth’ delivered a resounding call to action to leave here today in pursuit of goals – and encouragement to individuals, communities and organisations across the city and beyond to get behind the Ambassadors programme and its vision of a world in which all people are equally leading, delivering and benefitting from environmentally and socially just communities.
The event formally announced and thanked individuals and organisations whose support has enabled this next three year phase of the programme, including National Lottery Community Fund and Bristol City Council, and current sponsors First Base, The Society of Merchant Venturers, Bristol Energy Cooperative and Low Carbon Gordano and Bristol Friends of the Earth Supporters Group. Special thanks went to individual donors Andrew Garrad and Iain Mcguffog, and to all those who donated through a Just Giving campaign to support the programme and back new voices to create systemic change in Bristol’s green sector (which raised over £1,000 from individual donations during the event!).
Messages of support from speakers & supporters
“We three ambassadors couldn’t be more excited and proud to begin our time as Black & Green Ambassadors. We are looking forward to sharing our ideas, creativity, learning a lot and working with partners across the city. We can’t wait to get started, building upon the legacy and hard work of previous ambassadors Jazz and Zakiya.”
“We are constantly surrounded by inspiring and talented people, who support us in making the most of this unique opportunity. Many of these people have contributed to building this exciting relaunch and we would like to thank them for making the start to what is sure to be an incredible year and great as it can be!”Asia, Olivia and Roy, Black & Green Ambassadors 2020/21
“Working together with all of Bristol – in all of its diversity – and empowering communities is at the heart of our strategy to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies. Social and environmental issues are interlinked, as we know from uninsulated homes, poor transport options, and food poverty. Reflecting this reality is crucial – and so our environmental movement must look and sound like the city.”
“I am delighted to continue to support the Black & Green Ambassadors programme, as it moves from strength to strength by including and unleashing our city’s full talent and innovation to rebuild a better Bristol.”Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol
“Building on the successes of the Black & Green Ambassadors programme, I’m am so pleased to have taken part in the re-launch of the programme and to offer a few ideas for action at the intersection of social justice and environmental sustainability, or what I call just sustainabilities.”Julian Agyeman, Keynote Speaker
“From 25 years of funding environmental projects, we know that local community action can deliver positive environmental impacts alongside additional benefits for people to reap. This year we have been reminded that communities are best placed to understand their places and spaces, and so often play a vital role in responding in a crisis.”
“Thanks to National Lottery players, we are thrilled to be funding the Black and Green Ambassadors programme, which is demonstrating what is possible when people take the lead in tackling climate change. This funding will bring diverse local partners together, so they can learn from each other and have an impact within and beyond their communities. We can’t wait to see the difference the first three Black and Green ambassadors make in the coming year.”Jon Eastwood, Deputy Director of Regional Funding in England at The National Lottery Community Fund