“Whenever you’re in a fight, it’s going to be difficult. Whenever you want justice, it’s going to be difficult.”
The glass ceilings that come along with fighting for environmental justice do not faze Rev. Emily Carroll. She serves as the Sr. Pastor of the St. James UMC in Shreveport, LA. She is also the Protestant Religious Education Coordinator at Barksdale Air Force Base Chapel. In her role at Green The Church (GTC), Rev. Emily has been asked to speak at numerous rallies, workshops, and conferences over the past few years.
Rev. Emily, lives in the countryside, not too far from Shreveport, LA. She notices the effect that fracking (a drilling process that extracts oil or natural gas from underground) has on the community, but recognizes how difficult it would be to address it. Though the fracking has a negative effect on the environment, it has created jobs for the people within the community. The ‘justice’ part of environmental justice draws Rev. Emily to the cause. Justice for her community means families aren’t just surviving, but also thriving. As she continues her work, she hopes to help transform disenfranchised communities into utopias. This would look like, establishing the infrastructure to put grocery stores in food deserts, providing funding for adequate education, and even funding air quality monitoring equipment to let communities know if the air quality levels are unsafe.
Rev. Carroll also feels a spiritual calling to the environment in general and wants to be more at one with the earth. When it comes to her community, she’s noticed that although starting the conversation can be tedious, sometimes people are already doing things to help the cause without fully recognizing their impact. She recalls her uncle buying the abandoned property next to his home to build a community garden. The garden has fed many people fresh produce, it’s contributed to cleaning the air around them, and it has beautified the neighborhood. Her uncle was merely answering the call from God to feed the hungry.
Like her uncle, Rev. Emily believes that people have more power than they realize, and she works to help the community better understand the importance of environmental sustainability. Carroll notes there are a lot of barriers when it comes to creating a livable environment, but people can start with actions as simple as growing their own garden in their backyard. As far as any other tips, Rev. Carroll encourages people to have a positive mindset. Carroll says that anyone just beginning on their journey with environmental justice and sustainability should not feel discouraged, there are more people for the cause than those that aren’t. Utilizing social media is important to growing the community, and with faith in God, anything is possible.