“Critique what you see; then create what should be.”

“Critique what you see; then create what should be.”

These inspirational words of wisdom were recently offered up by Pastor Heber Brown (Pleasant Hope Baptist Church) during the School’s first Ecojustice Retreat. 

The retreat is one result of ongoing, cross-campus conversations about the need to connect environmental concerns with other systemic racial, economic, and health concerns. The retreat also fits within a larger framework as the global movement for ecojustice—the concept of fighting against environmental racism and working toward environmental justice—gains momentum. 

After a Collection presentation by Zaria Dancer ‘20 and local activist and radio personality, Farajii Muhammad, a group of students and faculty approached Muhammad for assistance with organizing their ideas into what would become the Ecojustice Retreat. Muhammad advocates for the use of a community-based asset approach in working on social justice issues, which many found to be a source of inspiration. Upper School teacher and Sustainability Task Force Co-Clerk, Joshua Ratner notes that “so much of environmental thinking and activism is based on a pretty depressing ‘humans broke the oceans/climate/ biodiversity’ mentality. Thinking about what assets we have to build on and protect can really change that narrative, and that’s the most exciting part to me.”

After careful planning and a growing amount of excitement, the Ecojustice Retreat came together as attendees gathered on October 24, 2019 for a full day of community-based learning and exploration. The day of activities began with Glenn Ross’s “Toxic Tour,” which explores environmental injustice and community strength in East Baltimore, then continued with a visit to an urban farm that provides produce to local restaurants like Land of Kush (who catered lunch for the day). During their lunch break, the group heard from a few of the urban farmers and restaurant workers. Farajii Muhammad also spoke during the lunch and continued to raise awareness around assets-based community organizing. Retreat attendees later regrouped to discuss ways that the Friends School of Baltimore community can continue to support this local movement for ecojustice.

The retreat was made possible by the School’s INSPIRED (Institute for Public Involvement and Responsible Dialogue) program and is another example of ways that the community seeks to be in, of, and for Baltimore.
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