SZA Teams Up With TAZO and American Forests to Fight Environmental Racism
At the beginning of quarantine, the nine-time Grammy nominee, SZA, was releasing new songs because she was "bored" and "losing my mind," she told BAZAAR.com. But new music wasn't the only endeavor the singer-songwriter had underway.
On Wednesday, SZA along with the nonprofit organization American Forests and the TAZO tea company announced their partnership to fight for climate justice, according to a press release. Together they are launching the TAZO Tree Corps, a paid workforce that will plant trees in disadvantaged neighborhoods and underprivileged communities of color, BAZAAR.com reported.
"I can't tell you how many children I've met in the urban community, from all different colors of Black and Brown, that really just are not comfortable being in nature," the 30-year-old told BAZAAR.com, "I think the biggest takeaway from this is that quality of life and racism are so directly connected."
The TAZO Tree Corps will hire 25 fellows who will be trained in climate justice, tree planting and maintenance. The fellows will be locally hired from communities in Richmond, Virginia; Minneapolis; the Bronx; San Francisco and Detroit, HuffPost reported, specifically "where historical discriminating zoning practices have left many low-income communities and communities of color with less green space," according to a statement.
But the tree planting initiative recognizes more than just the value green spaces add to urban communities. It also recognizes "that environmental racism and classic racism are directly connected, and it's probably one of the worst aspects of inequality," SZA told BAZAAR.com.
While trees in the U.S. absorb 17.4 million tons of air pollution, improving air and water quality, communities most impacted by pollution carry a disproportionate burden from the climate crisis because they are situated near chemical treatment plants, highways or heavy polluters, according to a statement.
"Trees do more than beautify a neighborhood – they're life-and-death infrastructure for health equity and climate justice," Jad Daley, president and CEO of American Forests said in a statement.
The climate problem is increasingly being recognized as a racial justice problem. For example, a study published in 2019 found that on average, Black and Hispanic communities were burdened by a disproportionate amount of air pollution than whites. Planting trees can alleviate some of the burdens. But SZA and her partners are not the first ones to introduce tree-planting initiatives in marginalized communities.
In 2014 a local environmental non-profit organization, The Greening of Detroit, partnered with the city to plant 1,000 to 5,000 new trees each year, working in neighborhoods in Detroit with painful memories of environmental racism. When the city and organization sought support from these neighborhoods, they "met stiff resistance: Roughly a quarter of the 7,500 residents they approached declined offers to have new trees planted in front of their homes," Bloomberg CityLab reported.
To better understand why some residents resisted the trees even if they knew the benefits they could have in their neighborhoods, researchers reached out to residents. Following the 1967 race rebellion, some residents remembered the city of Detriot cutting down elm trees in their neighborhoods and using helicopters to spray the toxic DDT from above to better "surveil their neighborhoods," Bloomberg CityLab reported. These memories left them wary of plans to plant the trees back.
"It's not that they didn't trust the trees; they didn't trust the city," Bloomberg CityLab reported. Some of this mistrust also came from the fact that these tree-planting groups were organized by outsiders of their neighborhoods, coming from other parts of Detroit, the University of Vermont wrote in a statement.
Lessons learned from the 2014 project, may be informing the TAZO Tree Corps, which plans to hire locals that are directly and disproportionately affected by environmental racism.
"There's something about them creating job opportunity in the disproportionately affected communities that makes me very attracted to the whole situation," SZA told BAZAAR.com. By locally employing people to plant trees "you're actually insourcing, rather than outsourcing, from the direct community, then creating value," she added.
Apply to be a part of the TAZO Tree Corps here.
Billboard caught up with SZA to discuss her role with TAZO Tree Corps, maintaining her creative balance, positive affirmations, and the making of "Good Days."
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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