Kari Fulton is the National Campus Campaign Coordinator for the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative. Fulton works to support and mobilize diverse youth and organizations by building awareness of the connection between environmental and social justice issues.
Noted as a young leader to watch by Elle and Glamour magazine, Fulton was a member of the planning committee for both Power Shift 2007 and Power Shift 2009 the largest youth summits and lobby days on climate in US history. Through her work in the youth climate movement, Fulton was awarded the Brower Youth Award (Earth Island Institute) and the Damu Smith Power of One Young Professional Award (Deep South Center For Environmental Justice at Dillard University).
Currently, Fulton acts as a spokesperson for the Energy Action Coalition is a senior fellow with Young People For the American Way (YP4) and a member of the YP4 Leadership Academy. She is also a graduate of the John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University. In her spare time Fulton is a blogger on checktheweather.net and a member of the board of directors for the Lets Raise A Million Project and Dreaming Out Loud, an after-school program in DC.
Question: How would you advise groups working toward progressive change?
Kari Fulton: I would suggest that they look and see what else is going on and how they can work with other people especially in the progressive world, I think our biggest short fall is that we have so many chiefs and not enough Indians, you know what I'm saying? I hope that wasn't racist and... but anyway, but I really think it's like there's too many people trying to be the leader and not enough people trying to sit on the bench and just root for the team. Okay, like some people just need to root for the team and if there's already stuff that's going on, I think, we should try and work better together and I think that's the beautiful part about working in coalitions is I get to see the good and the bad of working together.
And so hopefully as I grow as a leader I can start my own coalitions and continue building on the work of these phenomenal organizations that I've had the opportunity to work with thus far but that I believe is what is going to make this progressive front stronger, if we are more unified. Because people will scratch and scratch at our diversity and that's how the conservative agenda wins every time because they can just go on straight up values issue where people would just jump on it because it's hot at that moment like no gay marriage and there is a lot of people regardless of race or culture that'll say, "Yeah, I'm down with that, no gay marriage," which is messed up, but we have to figure out our agenda, what we stand for and not from a perspective of, "This is my circle of what I do," or "this is what my circle or this is my circle," and that is what the environmental justice Movement is about, just like I said with that training. Everything is connected back to your environment and
So if we looked at this environment as the main agenda for our progressive movement, right? Because without our environment we can't do anything, you know, we can't fight for any of this rights, if we don't have our environment together and we look at that, we do research and we do real discussions with the grassroots and we take their insight and what they are working on and we build that up and we cultivate it into a stronger policy on stronger actions then we can make real change. But if we continue to divide ourselves, we are just going to be divided and we are going to allow the next Bobby Jindal or Matt, you know, whoever to come in and possibly win the presidency in 2012... And on the Mayan calendar is coming up very quickly so I definitely think we should be thinking about that as well and figuring out a plan of action, because even if it's not real, it should ignite a fire to say, "Let's get this together."
Recorded on: May 8, 2009