Promoting Professional Development and Best Practice in EE
Roles at NAAEE:CCC Fellow
Faith in Place
Veronica has spent the past 35+ years in many parts of the US as well as Southern Africa and the Caribbean working on community development/human capacity programs and projects, many of which she developed. Creating projects that provide people with the tools to be better caregivers of the earth while building their human capacity has been her primary objective. For the past 6 years she has worked as Congregational Outreach Director for Faith In Place, engaging communities across Illinois on issues related to sustainability; water, energy, food/land use, environmental policy and advocacy. Veronica is also currently a Toyota TogetherGreen Fellow, serves on the Illinois Vital Land Working Group and is an Environmental Justice Commissioner for the State of Illinois.
After working as an environmentalist in many parts of the world and especially in urban settings, Veronica was convinced that many people still do not know what climate change is, nor are they convinced that it exists. Even the very vocabulary that is often associated with climate change- carbon footprint, CO2 emissions, adaptation, biofuels, carbon sequestration, greenhouse effect and the like- are not a part of the conversations that are taking place in the communities she engages with regularly. Veronica is a firm believer in the motto, “if we ‘really’ knew better, we’d do better”. Therefore, she is developing a project that engages community and congregational leaders (youth and adults) in both the African American and Latino communities across Chicago to become Climate Change Educators (CCE). The CCE would facilitate group discussions on the effects of climate change on their perspective communities/neighborhoods and how they can began to make both individual and communal behavior changes to offset the impact of climate change.The project will focus on educating community leaders from both groups on the definition and implications of climate change, the contrasting opinions about its reality, as well as the strong evidence of its existence. The CCEducators would be trained to conduct workshops, facilitate discussion groups and promote educational events such as green movie matinees, green drink meet-ups, speaker forums, engaging and collaborative sessions with local artists and other environmental groups to get their message across. Cultural relevancy will be at the forefront of the project; it is important that this work speaks with and to the communities involved. Her hope is that communities will benefit from engaging with ‘ecological ambassadors” from their own communities. It’s about trusting the messenger.