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The ONE|NB 10-week “Planting Seeds” program focuses
specifically on youth interested in learning about environmental justice.
Above, teens plant herbs and write private messages under their planters
for what they hope to achieve through the program. Photos by Stephen Ide, ONE|NB

A dozen teens who live in the 02908/02909 ZIP codes in Providence planted herbs on June 20, beginning their personal growth through the “Planting Seeds” program. The program is an offshoot of NeighborWorks America’s Building Leaders, Building Communities, leadership development training that aims to support resident leaders and prospective leaders in creating the community change they want to see.

ONE|NB is hosting the 10-week program, which focuses specifically on youth interested in learning about environmental justice.

Over the course of 10 sessions, the high school students from Providence will be learning about their own leadership styles, methods for forming teams around shared issues, and the many organizations already doing amazing environmental justice work in their communities – all in the hopes that the “seeds” they plant will grow into local action.

Some of the students attending the first session were a bit tentative to talk about what they hoped to achieve through the program. Others, however, jumped right in to say they wanted to learn how to be active when it comes to their environment. But the hope is that through each weekly session, the teens will learn skills that they can use if they hope to make changes in their community, said program director Lucy Berman, CPO Project Manager at ONE|NB.

“If participants walk away from this program feeling more sure of themselves as decision-makers, more excited about building power with others, or just more comfortable with the sound of their own voice – that, to me, will be a success,” she said.

Facilitators Leah Stuckey and Shelley Peterson, both members of the Central Providence Opportunities Resident Advisory Council, noted that the weekly sessions are supposed to be casual and a way for the teens to put their minds together and make things better in their community.

Future weeks will feature speakers from the Olneyville Neighborhood Association, African Alliance of RI, Garden Time, and the Racial and Environmental Justice Committee, including discussions about environmental justice, and racial equity, among many other topics.

What is Environmental Justice?

According to the Environmental Protection agency (EPA), environmental justice (EJ) is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. Read more about the meaning of environmental justice.