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COULD NEW YORK WORKER-OWNED GREEN BUSINESS MODEL BE A SOLUTION FOR IMPROVING ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS FOR BLACKS NATIONWIDE?

4/19/2017, noon | Updated on 4/19/2017, noon
Top Black Environmentalists “Nikki Silvestri, who is the Executive Director of Green For All, Denzel Thompson, who is the Co-Founder ...
Omar Freilla, is founder of Green Workers Cooperatives and is one of the nations top black environmentalists. He has worked in the field for more than 13-years and says his primary goal is to develop worker-owned green business that help improve the environment and thereby the safety and health for blacks.

“Look at the fact that Flint, Michigan is a city that has been in the news because of a decision by its city managers to save money on water,” Freilla said. “They decided to change the source of the city’s water supply, resulting in people being poisoned. “Those types of decisions happen all the time and people of color are the ones who wind up losing because the decisions to save money

are made on the backs of African American communities, Latino communities, and African Caribbean communities,” he said.

Freilla added there would be no climate change if it wasn’t for the fact that Black communities have been considered expendable for decades upon decades.

“If the Gulf Coast wasn’t seen as a place where you could put oil refineries and not have to worry about the impact of the black communities in the areas, then the oil industry would be completely different from how it is now,” Freilla said. “We probably wouldn’t be talking about the

changes on the climate on the global scale because the industries would be operating differently.”

Freilla said one particular level of climate change that should be noted is the effects that wind and water have had on city systems. He stated that New York City and the Gulf Coast, have already seen the effects with Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina.

“Hurricanes are a lot more intense and when it’s more intense, it means that city systems like roads, transportations, subways and infrastructure gets overburdened and businesses wind up getting shut down due to water and wind damage,” he stated. “There are islands in the Pacific Ocean that are already under water, which has forced people to migrate and move to other islands. The United States is not at this level yet, but within 50 years, that is expected to change and it could be a lot sooner due to the new findings and reports of changes in the climate,” he said.

Organizing on the grassroots level has had an important impact on efforts to improve the environment for blacks. Green Workers Cooperatives is one of those organizations working to make conditions better. Based in based in South-Bronx, New York City, the organization’s goals are futuristic and focused. The organization is committed to the development of worker-owned

green businesses to improve the environment in neighborhoods occupied by minorities. It’s a business model that could be replicated in cities all over which are facing the fallouts that

negative disruptions in the environment can bring or that could bring, and It’s an organization Freilla founded.

Freilla said the Bronx was considered the “slumps” back in the 1950s and added the neighborhood has now become the dumping ground for a lot of industries that white and wealthier

parts of the city prefer not to associate with. He added the only way to change the situation is by building up more worker owned green businesses in communities and getting rid of out of-

state business owners who don’t value the health and safety of the people in the community.

“When you have owners who are workers, then that means the owners are living closer to where their facility actually is, which means that those owners are less likely to make decisions

that are detrimental to the health of the neighborhood because of their ties to the neighborhood,” Freilla said. “You don’t gas your own neighborhood because you don’t gas your neighbors

and you don’t want people talking bad about you at the supermarket.”

Freilla, who is one of the top black environmentalists in the nation has over 13 years of experience in cooperative & green business development. He said he started Green Workers

Cooperatives so he could turn the tide on environmental abuses that he saw happening in low-income communities of color.

He added Green Workers Cooperatives believes it’s important for people and businesses to be responsible members of their community and to take care of the earth that we’re all a

part of.

“People come to us with all kinds of business ideas and whatever their idea is, our approach is that every business needs to be a green business because if it’s not, then they’re contributing to the problem and making things worse,” he said.