Oregon environmentalists can point to many hard-won victories to preserve ecological diversity. But they've been less successful promoting diversity within their own ranks. The result has been a cultural divide that leaves people of color not just outside the mainstream environmental movment but excluded from having a voice in how we meet the huge environmental challenges that face us. The question is "how do we bridge that divide?" Dave Mazza talks with Marcelo Bonta, founder and executive director of the Center for diversity and the Environment, and Tony DeFalco, Coordinator of the Young Environmental Professionals of Color group. Both men have recently been named fellows of the TogetherGreen Conservation Leadership Program, a new conservation intiative of the National Audubon Society with support from Toyota that funds work on community-focused projects contributing to greater environmental health.
Bonta is using his fellowship to create the "Diversifying the Environmental Movement Forum," a dialogue series bringing together the environmental community and communities of color to find action-oriented solutions to the cultural divide. DeFalco is focusing on local partnerships that create training and employment opportunties for low-income Latinos in green jobs.