Saturday, November 20, 2010

African American Environmental Association: 25th Anniversary


By Norris McDonald

Today is our 25th anniversary.  We was incorporated on November 20, 1985.  The African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA) is the outreach arm of the Center for Environment, Commerce & Energy (Center).

You can see a listing of many of our activities during that time at our original website, which we converted to Multiply when the original Msn Groups platform ended).  There is more activity information at our History page. My career has been very satisfying.  From my beginning in the Fall of 1979 at the Environmental Policy Center (now Friends of the Earth) until today, the adventure has been incredible.  I started out in the Washington, D.C.-based environmental movement.  Jimmy Carter was president and was just finishing a rough 4-year run.  I shook his hand at the Democratic National Convention in New York in 1980 not knowing that Washington was about to get a completely new makeover.  The Reagan era was interesting and quite the challenge for the environmental movement.  I still remember his 'no standard standard' for appliance efficiency standards.  I also remember the Air Florida crash and the Metro subway accident on the day that I was walking back from the U.S. Department of Energy after testifying on appliance standards.

Well, without sounding like the old guy in the room sharing old war time stories that nobody really wants to hear, the situation today is as exciting as ever.  We are embarking on trying to build biomass power plants in Mississippi, California and in Kenya.  The adventure continues and I am having more fun than ever.  Our team is lean and mean and green. 

I have kept the AAEA small on purpose and will continue to do so.  I almost died from respiratory failure in 1991 and 1996 (intubated for 4 days in ICU each time).  After getting divorced and full custody of my son when he was 2 years old, I decided that I wanted to stick around to see my son grow up.  But I also wanted to continue with my entrepreneurial environmentalism.  So keeping it small worked.  Although I still struggle with a chronic acute asthma that could kill me any day, my son is now 18 and I am still 'doing my green thing.'  Life is good.  Hey, and we just opened a new Center Hollywood blog this week (Also see AAEA Hollywood).  Oh, and if you're feeling generous, feel free to click on our Donation button on our sites.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Remembering Environmental Justice Legend Dana Alston

Dana Alston was 47 years old when she died 11 years ago on August 7, 1999.

Dana Alston, left, was a leader of the original environmental justice movement that started in the 1980's. She was one of the organizers of the first National Environmental Justice Leadership Summit in 1992. She participated in the meetings to convince the U.S. EPA to open an Office of Environmental Justice. She was a committed environmental justice activist and the movement clearly benefited from her leadership. We remember you Dana. And we will never forget you.

Dana Alston received a Bannerman Fellowship in 1992 in recognition of her leadership in the development of the environmental justice movement. The Bannerman Fellowship Program was founded in 1987 on the belief that the most effective approach to achieving progressive social change is by organizing low-income people at the grassroots level. In 2002, the Fellowship Program was renamed the Alston/Bannerman Fellowship Program in honor of Dana Alston.

Dana died on August 7, 1999 at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. Dana was a native of New York and lived in Washington, D.C. She was in San Francisco for treatment of kidney disease and consequences of a stroke when she died.

Her son, Khalil Alston-Cobb, now 17, resides in Clinton, Maryland. He is (or was at 16) a skateboard enthusiast (see videos). Here is how Khalil describes himself on his MySpace page:

"I like Skateboarding, Playing videogames, listening to music, talking to Gurls, surfing the Web, and Chillin wit the Homies."
Khalil is also on Twitter. He has a great skateboarding video on He is listed on Children of the Struggle. Dana would be very proud of her teenage son. All who knew her are not surprised that Khalil is an energetic and productive young man.

Monday, August 2, 2010

NRDC Job Announcement: Program Assistant, Chicago Office

Natural Resources Defense Council
Job Announcement

Program Assistant
Chicago Office

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a global non-profit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. We have offices in New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Beijing, China. Our staff of over 350 includes lawyers, scientists, economists, and policy experts who work to protect the environment and public health through advocacy and education.

Position Summary:

NRDC seeks a Program Assistant to work in its Chicago Office. The Program Assistant will provide administrative support to the Director and Deputy Director of the Midwest Program, and the Midwest Director of Development. The candidate must be able to efficiently handle administrative tasks such as: coordinating and booking travel, handling phone calls, scheduling and coordinating meetings, processing expenses, handling budgets, proofreading and preparing materials.

Essential Functions:

• Scheduling and facilitating various internal and external meetings;
• Maintaining calendar appointments and meetings for Director and Deputy Director of Midwest Program;
• Processing invoices and business expenses;
• Tracking restricted grants and discretionary spending;
• Coordinating schedules and travel arrangements;
• Proofreading and editing correspondence;
• Coordinating mailings to donors and members;
• Providing general administrative support; Researching prospective donors and maintaining prospect lists for eight Midwestern states; and
• Providing support for development events.

Skills and Knowledge Requirements:

• Bachelors degree and interest in environmental issues a plus;
• 2-5 years previous administrative experience;
• Excellent written and verbal communications skills;
• Strong interpersonal skills;
• Ability to work in a fast-paced environment with the capability of handling multiple tasks at once;
• Must have the ability to work independently, prioritize multiple projects, and perform well under deadlines;
• Ability to maintain confidentiality a must;
• Excellent time-management skills;
• Ability to work well under pressure and be detail-oriented; and,
• Proficiency with Microsoft Office including Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint.

NRDC offers competitive salaries, excellent benefits, and a pleasant working environment and is committed to workplace diversity. Salary is based on a nonprofit scale and commensurate with experience. To apply please visit Please include salary requirements in your cover letter. Application deadline is Monday, August 9, 2010. No phone calls or faxes please. Please reference where you saw this posting. NRDC is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

For further information about NRDC, please visit