There’s a mighty tree that has been growing in Brooklyn, New York for some time now; and they have been and will continue to be an undeniable force and voice for Climate Justice. That tree and voice is UPROSE. UPROSE is Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community based organization, founded in 1966. Today, they are a nationally-recognized intergenerational and multi-racial/cultural community organization that promotes sustainability through organizing, education, leadership development and cultural/artistic expression.This past Saturday I was  invited to take part in their Community Arts Block Party to make art for the #Peoplesclimate march.

Before I got my hands dirty, or painted anyway, I got to speak briefly with UPROSE’s compelling and venerable Executive Director, Ms. Elizabeth Yeampierre. Ms. Yeampierre is a prototypical New Yorker; fearless, profound and capacious, and at the same time extremely affable.  She explained the collaborative structure of UPROSE and the importance of incorporating youth development into most, if not all, of their activities and initiatives, noting, “communities are stronger when they are intergenerational.”  

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Braving one of the hottest and most-humid days this summer and even a brief downpour, the UPROSE crew were unphased; designing beautiful posters, dancing to a mix of old-school hip-hop, house and authentic Puerto Rican tunes and generally having a blast. The festive nature of the block party attracted the likes of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez who represents New York’s 7th District. Congresswoman Velazquez made her position on climate change known with a poster that she designed and painted herself (that’s her in the event-appropriate green shirt to the right of Ms. Yeampierre).
My biggest takeaway from attending event was an overwhelming sense of pride.  As a person of color, who is very involved in the environmental movement, it was so refreshing to see organizations such as UPROSE taking a lead in the environmental discussion. Environmental Action looks forward to working with UPROSE and similar organizations, and we will be frequently updating you of their efforts ahead of and following the People’s Climate March.