Hello PLAN Members! I’m Ciara (she/her) and I am one of PLAN’s two Co-Executive Directors. I graduated from Swarthmore College in 2016 with a degree in education and environmental studies. I got my start as an environmental justice activist organizing against an incinerator in my hometown of Chester, PA. My friends, family, and neighbors imagined a world without environmental injustice, a world in which Black communities and other marginalized communities did not bear the burden of dominant waste management practices. We imagined a world without exploitation and an end to capitalist, extractive economies – a world where the health of our environments and the health of the people are one and the same. Trash has been a great entrypoint into my own understanding of environmental justice and I am honored to be able to continue this conversation with PLAN and its broader network of activists, advocates, and students.
My interests in zero waste, environmental justice, and self-determination have brought me into many different types of spaces. I’ve created a science-based gardening program for elementary aged students in Chester. We conducted environmental assessments and discussed what it looks like to shape one’s environment. I worked at Mural Arts Philadelphia where I supported neighborhood-based art projects co-created with the purpose of restoring and redefining public space. We addressed questions like: what is this space used for, who is it for, and what relationships and skills can this space cultivate? I’ve supported the development of an intergenerational, Philly-based environmental justice group called Trash Academy. I’ve also worked within Philadelphia City Government as part of the Office of Sustainability. There, I worked to address the questions: what does it look like for a city to be accountable to those most marginalized by the dominant practices of environmentalism? What does it look like to account for the past while also looking towards the future?
My organizing has led me to conversations about whose communities are valued, who has access to decision making, safe working conditions and employment opportunities, mental health, the connection between the local and the global, and more. I learned first hand that trash, like many issues, requires an intersectional approach. I’m committed to understanding and addressing issues in their full complexity and am excited to support those interested in doing the same.
Get in touch with me about:
- The history of environmental justice organizing
- Campus programming
- Intergenerational collaboration
- Curriculum building
- Establishing campus & community connections
- Restorative Justice