June 2021 Newsletter

Reflections From Our Founder

It’s Official – July 13 is National Green Amendment Day! A Day To Support Transformational Change In How We Think About & Protect Our Environment, Environmental Justice and Future Generations

I was walking through a New York woodland over Memorial Day weekend with my daughter, one preserved in my mother’s memory. I was thinking about how lucky we were to have this time in nature, to breathe the clean air, to experience the peace that comes from hearing the rustling of leaves in the wind and birds chirping above, and to enjoy the excitement of at any moment seeing a wild animal or a rare new bloom of a special flower.

I started to wonder about the future of my children. I hear them talk with friends about their fears for the future. They’re not worried or wondering about where they might go to school, what job they might get, if they will have children, or meet the partner of their dreams. They are worried and wondering about the Earth…What will it be like to live on this planet? Will the storms of climate change overwhelm everything? What species will disappear? And should they even consider having children of their own?

I remembered an article I read about how across our nation children attending public schools in urban areas, such as nearby New York City, rather than breathing in fresh air to support their learning, they are breathing in neurotoxicants that are harming their physical, emotional, and educational development. The disparity between the experience of my children on that day and those in environmental sacrifice zones hit me hard. No child should have to worry that the water they are drinking at home or school is laden with cancer-causing toxins or be denied the joy of wandering in healthy nature and all of the fun and beauty it provides.

And I thought about our Green Amendment Movement.  Our Green Amendment Movement is about using the strongest and most powerful legal tool we have in our nation – our state and federal constitutions – and putting them to work for true environmental protection and justice.  Green Amendments are about creating an opportunity to address the environmental inequities of the present and future – to ensure our children and communities have clean water to drink and healthy air to breathe, and that no community is overwhelmed by environmental degradation so others can enjoy the many benefits of healthy nature. It’s about taking the actions we can today to ensure a more stable climate for our children in the future.

I truly believe in the power of this vision for protection and change and it is why, despite all the high hurdles for securing constitutional change, that I remain dedicated day in and out to advancing this idea.

Just when all of this swirling mix of emotions and thought hit its peak, my daughter pointed off to the side of the path – there in full glorious bloom was my mother’s favorite native wildflower, an Orchid Lady Slipper.  It is a rare plant to find growing wild in nature.  I had walked this path for years since losing my mother and never had I seen even a hint of a lady slipper.  To me this was a message from my mother….from the previous generation…..that if you keep walking, and thinking and looking for the path of preservation, restoration, protection and change, and you stay dedicated to that path, you will be rewarded with environmental beauty and victory that can and should be enjoyed by all.

Green Amendment Day, July 13th, is a great entry point onto the path of this transformational movement for environmental protection, justice and change.

Green Amendment Day is a day for people to learn about the power of Bill of Rights protection for the rights of all people to a clean and healthy environment; to learn how constitutional Green Amendments strengthen Environmental Justice; to speak up and take action for Green Amendment protection of environmental rights and to help spread the word across their community, state and our nation.

If you are a legislator, Green Amendment Day is a great opportunity to announce your support for constitutional Green Amendment protections for your constituents and future generations, and to encourage or even challenge your legislator colleagues to do the same.

If you are a nature lover or activist, challenge your friends and family to take action with you in the name of environmental rights on Green Amendment Day.

Please join me in celebrating Green Amendment Day and take the opportunity to learn about, and act upon, the power of our growing national Green Amendment Movement. Event details below.

Spotlight Story

On May 20th, NJ Youth Leaders from the New Jersey Student Sustainability Coalition, Bye Bye Plastic Bags New Jersey, and high schools across the state urged their legislators to protect their right to a healthy environment and take the next steps in advancing the New Jersey Green Amendment at a virtual press conference.Throughout the conference, they shared the stories behind their support of the Green Amendment and urged legislators to schedule hearings, allow the public to testify, and cast their vote on the record on whether or not the rights of all New Jersyans to a healthy environment should be protected.

Watch the full press conference on Facebook or YouTube. Since the event, Senator Ruiz (District 29) signed on as a cosponsor of the NJ Green Amendment, becoming the 13th Senate cosponsor. In just a few short months, New Jersey youth have become trained volunteer leaders through our Getting Up to Speed to Lead training program, and have developed legislative webinars, volunteer trainings, video shorts, and an entire week of Green Amendment Earth Day events. The voices of our NJ’s next generations of leaders must be heard!

Upcoming Events

New York Environmental Rights Panel
Wednesday, June 9, 6:00pm EDT

Join prominent New York law professionals with varying legal backgrounds for a short presentation and dynamic panel Q&A to discuss the New York Green Amendment and its environmental justice benefits and community impacts.

Featured panelists:

Carl Howard: Assistant Regional Counsel at EPA
Christine Appah: Environmental Justice Lawyer
Katrina Fischer Kuh: Haub Distinguished Professor of Law at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University
Jessica Steinberg Albin: Environmental attorney and adjunct professor of law

Featured Speakers:

Maya K. van Rossum: Founder of Green Amendments For the Generations & the Delaware Riverkeeper
Kate Kurera: Deputy Director at Environmental Advocates NY

This event is sponsored by Green Amendments For The Generations, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Pace | Haub Environmental Law, Environmental Advocates NY, and Adirondack Mountain Club.


National Green Amendment Day
Tuesday, July 13, All Day

GAFTG is partnering with environmental justice leaders across the nation to launch the inaugural Green Amendment Day on July 13th. Green Amendment Day is dedicated to educating and engaging civil rights, environmental, environmental justice and Indigenous leaders and community members across the nation around the power of Green Amendments for ending environmental racism and restoring environmental justice through constitutional empowerment.

In honor of Green Amendment Day, we’re challenging you to take action for the Green Amendment Movement! Action items will be released closer to the day. Follow us on social media and start spreading the word! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

To end the Day of Action on July 13, join us for a presentation and Panel of Leading Environmental Justice Voices from across the nation at 7:00pm EDT

Our panelists represent different areas where environmental justice intersects: a grassroots leader, a legislator, a scientific expert, a Tribal Liaison, and a Green Amendment national expert. Hear first hand how they are pursuing true environmental justice with the power of a Green Amendment.

Panelists include:

Kim Gaddy, Founder and Director of the South Ward Environmental Alliance
Kerri Evelyn Harris, Community Organizer and Advocate
Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, serving New Mexico’s 16th District and lead sponsor of the NM Green Amendment
Dr. Sacoby Wilson, Associate Professor, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health
Terry Sloan, Director, Southwest Native Cultures
Maya van Rossum, Founder, Green Amendments For the Generations

The panel will be moderated by Maria Payan, Senior Regional Representative, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project (SRAP), Sussex Health & Environmental Network (SHEN)