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 do you help people see their impact on the planet?
Kari Fulton: Well, one thing that I really do is--I'm really inspired by one of my mentors, Dr. Robert Bullard who is considered the father of environmental justice--and one thing that he says often is that if you live on this earth, if you breath this air then your are an environmentalist and so I come from that tactic and that school of thought where everything that you do has... is connected to the environment in some capacities.
So one of the trainings that I liked to do the most is that I will ask people what they're interested in already and then give them case studies directly connected to what they're interested in and show how environmental justice impacts that specific situation and most of the time, unfortunately, I can use real life situations. So for instance it might say like what does, you know, you might be interested in gentrification, that's your issue that you are important in. So I'm going to give you a case study directly connecting gentrification to environmental justice and urban sprawl and access to resources like transportation and jobs because those are environmental justice issues, the ability to get from point A to point B in your environment, that's an environmental justice issue or where you're placing people when you deal with gentrification. Often times people go from one environmental justice hazard in a city to another environmental justice hazard where it's suburban area that was built for new home owners or low-income residents and it is build on top of a landfill or on top of another environmental hazard. So that happens a lot and we just try and connect it directly to what they're interested in and it doesn't even have to be a cause, it could just be like you like riding around in your car, bumping your music. So let me connect this to the environment and when we do that, that training I really like doing it because even the people who would not be engaged are engaged when you do that training.
Recorded on: May 8, 2009