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Have You Ever Thought of the Ghetto and Sustainability Together ?

Can we possibly associate the Ghetto - commonly referred to as an area clearly deprived of economical power, social opportunities, and most of the time, environmental health – with a notion such as sustainability, which precisely relies on these three core values? How could people living “in a community plagued by violence, poverty, and health problems, (…) see our collective ecological crisis as more pressing than the everyday crisis of survival?” This is precisely the issue arts activist {{LNK|Marc Bamuthi Joseph|http://livingwordproject.org/lwp_mbj.html}} - National Poetry Slam champion, Broadway veteran, featured artist & founder of the national {{LNK|Youth Speaks|http://youthspeaks.org/}} poetry program - tried to tackle with his “{{LNK|LIFE is LIVING|http://www.lifeisliving.org/}}” festivals, which he likes to speak of as an effort to “Greening the Ghetto”.



“Since 2008, LIFE is LIVING has grown from a festival that uses art to foster environmental justice to a mobilized campaign much larger in scope.” The festivals happened in Chicago, New York, Houston, and every year in Oakland, where Joseph lives. Through music, dance, graffiti, sustainable materials construction projects, and a Speak Green youth poetry event, Joseph points to these people who fight daily, to sustain life in their micro community, a necessary step prior to being able to focus on the rest of the world. Joseph saw this “multi-channeled approach to environmental literacy”, a necessity to engage with “black and brown and under-resourced communities”.

The idea is to shift concern from environmental consciousness to “life as the primary value”. If it does not provide a direct answer to the questions of “how to transform the environmental movement into a universally inclusive one”, or “What sustains life in your community”, the LIFE is LIVING festival communicates the perception of communities “where sustaining life is about a lot more than changing light bulbs — a perspective too often missing from mainstream conversations about sustainability.”

“Part of what Life is Living seeks to do is rebrand these ideas so they’re more reflective of the world we live in… It would be irresponsible and incongruent to talk about green space if I wasn’t talking about the death of black boys” - Joseph wisely highlights.

Coherent views for a significant concept, which could be emulated to other sensitive areas in the world, don’t you think? Meanwhile, I invite you to check out {{LNK|Joseph's interview|http://grist.org/cities/greening-the-ghetto-from-survival-to-sustainability/}} by Claire Thompson.


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