Tamara is a native New Yorker and environmentalist focused on equity, access and community. She develops capacity building programs and creates multimedia campaigns to dismantle privilege and increase opportunities for vulnerable populations to access healthy air, clean energy, and a toxic free economy at the local, regional, and national level.

Tamara is the executive director of the Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN) based in Baltimore, Maryland. MdEHN levels the playing field for vulnerable populations in service to its mission to promote the elimination of exposures to environmental threats to improve human health.

Tamara casts a wide net in service to the environmental community. Among other activities, she is the co- chair of the DC chapter of EcoWomen. DC EcoWomen is a community of approximately 6,000 professional women who inspire each other to create a healthy and equitable society. During her tenure on the Executive Board she has held several positions including vice president of Professional Development where she produced the organization’s signature salon and monthly educational forum – EcoHour.

Tamara is the vice chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments: Air and Climate Public Advisory Committee, where she advocates for meaningful engagement and responsive public resources. She is a director on the Board of Directors for Women’s Voices for the Earth, a mighty organization based in Missoula, Montana, where she supports science based advocacy that gives voice to women fighting to protect their health from toxic chemicals. She is also co-chair of the Green Leadership Trust.

She received has a JD and Masters of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School and a BA in Political Science from
The City College of New York.

Yolanda has diligently made it her life’s mission to play a role in outreaching and educating others, working with small businesses to fortune 500 companies – in the areas of cultural inclusion and education for over twenty years. In 2011, she took her skill sets of communication design and marketing and stepped out on the limb to become a bicycling advocate in her community under the developed name Ride in Living Color. Her goal was to tell the stories of African Americans bicyclists along with presenting the health and social benefits this type of recreational and active transportation offers communities like hers. In the act of advocating for increased bicycling in her community and throughout the country, Yolanda took another advocacy leap in
2015 and enrolled in the Urban Sustainability Master’s Program at Antioch University, Los Angeles. She graduated in June of 2018, with the mission of furthering her mobility and environmental justice work in low income and communities of color. Yolanda has utilized your skills and experiences to address the transportation equity issues in unconventional and regenerative ways, as she too works to always build upon healing approaches of investigating, designing, and implementing creative mobility justice solutions.

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Baltimore is a Black city. Baltimore is where the Civil War started and while it was on the side of the Union, it is also the birthplace of redlining and currently in its infrastructure has some of the most extreme examples of the difference between being Black in the United States and being white in the United States.

We spoke to Dr. Lawrence Brown associate professor at Morgan State University in the School of Community Health and Policy to learn more about Baltimore’s racial apartheid and to compare the green space in Baltimore’s predominantly white Bolton Hill to the green space in Sandtown-Winchester.

Michelle Joan Wilkinson, Ph.D. is a curator at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Wilkinson co-curated two of the inaugural exhibitions for the new museum: A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond and A Century in the Making: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Wilkinson is also developing the museum’s collections in architecture and design.

Prior to NMAAHC, Wilkinson spent six years as Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. In that capacity, she curated over twenty exhibitions, including A People’s Geography: The Spaces of African American Life and two award-winning shows—Material Girls: Contemporary Black Women Artists and For Whom It Stands: The Flag and the American People.shifting landscape

She has also worked at the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Wilkinson contributed essays to New Thoughts on the Black Arts Movement and Potentially Harmful: The Art of American Censorship. Her writing has also appeared in the International Review of African American Art, ARC Magazine: Contemporary Caribbean Visual Art and Culture, Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, and Revue Noire: Art Contemporain Africain, among others. Wilkinson’s current research project, “V is for Veranda,” about architectural heritage in the Anglophone Caribbean, has been presented to international audiences in Suriname, England, India, and the United States. Wilkinson is active in several associations in the museum field. She served on the Inclusion and Access Task Force of the Association of Art Museum Curators and she is on the board of the Center for Curatorial Leadership (CCL). As a CCL fellow in 2012, Wilkinson completed a short-term residency at the Design Museum in London.

She holds a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and a Ph.D. from Emory University.

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Gisla Bush has been a resident of the City of West Park, Florida for most of her life. She is the eldest of 9 children. Gisla received a homeschool education from the age of 5 to 15. At the age of 15 she began a dual enrollment program at FAU High School, where she took college classes through Florida Atlantic University (FAU) during her 3 remaining years at FAU High School. She graduated from FAU High School in the Spring of 2013 and 3 months later, at the age of 18, graduated from FAU with a Bachelor’s Degree in UrbanDesign with a minor in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Not only was she able to complete her 4-year Bachelor’s Degree in 3 years but she also graduated with cum laude honors. Subsequently she obtained her Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning in the Fall 2015 with a 3.8 GPA. Gisla was the youngest in both her bachelor’s and master’s degree programs to graduate at her commencement ceremonies within her given major.

During Gisla’s collegiate career, she, along with her two sisters, Gabrielle and Grace, who also accomplished similar feats, were recognized by FAU on many occasions. She was recognized as one of the “Graduate Students Making Waves” for the entire College of Design and Social Inquiry, a recognition that was also included on the FAU website as well as the FAU Graduate College brochure. She, along with her sisters and parents, were recognized at President Kelly’s 2014 State of the University Address for all of their accomplishments. She and her 2 sisters were also recognized during the half-time break at the first FAU home football game in 2014.

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More recently she was deemed one of the 100 most outstanding women in the history of FAU and was included in a book, Legacymakers: 100 Women of Distinction at Florida Atlantic University, that gave recognition to these women. This book was debuted at the 2016 FAU Gala. Additionally, Gisla was the youngest ever recipient of the Robert A. Caitlin/David W. Long Scholarship from the Planning and Black Community Division of the American Planning Association, a national award. Gisla recently started a new business venture called Gigi The Planner where she aims to aid with increasing the number of black planners by inspiring black kids to become future planners. She plans on doing this by conducting workshops in the community to teach the kids about her field of study. This past summer she conducted two successful workshops. All together there were a total of 44 attendees for both workshops, all of whom were very much engaged and intrigued about the field of urban planning. She is currently working on expanding her business to also provide career coaching for future planning students, current planning students, and those that are looking for assistance in making the next step in their career. In the meantime, she is currently working for the City of Pompano Beach as a Planner and has been there for 5 years, working in her field since the age of 18. Currently she is a Division Officer of the Planning and the Black Community Division of the American Planning and Association. In addition to that she serves on three advisory committees in the City of West Park.

She is also very involved in her church, Koinonia Worship Center and Village, serves in many different capacities in her local assembly as an usher, Sunday school teacher, event planner, amongst other things.

Also, in an effort to give back to the community she and her two sisters, have begun a math tutoring program for school-age children called GB 3 Literati in the surrounding community. In her free time, Gisla enjoys reading, crocheting, performing the piano with her family musical ensemble BG Harmonies, and, most importantly, spending time with family and friends.

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Newburgh was the headquarters of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. It was also the second place in the United States to have streets lighted by electricity. But Newburgh is currently a Black(ish) city. A Black city that rural people from the south moved to looking for a better life at a factory and they found one –for a brief moment, but then all the jobs were taken away. Newburgh was currently the Black city that I was looking for coffee in. That is when I found Blacc Vanilla.

Blacc Vanilla  is a coffee shop.  If an En Vogue video morphed into a coffee shop, it would be this coffee shop.  I ordered a mocha with almond milk and asked for the wifi code. The wifi code was M*E*L*A*N*I*N.Blank Print Document (12)

When you come into Blacc Vanilla, Melanie and Jerrod greet you, they own the shop. Jerrod grew up in Newburgh. We all chatted and found out we had similar interests and histories, one of those being bicycles and the other being Black liberation.

Melanie explained that her and Jerrod wanted to have a bicycle giveaway. She said at first she was going to have the kids earn a bike, but then thought, every kid should have a bike. Having a bike is normal.

Why do Black kids have to earn things that other people just get for being alive?

As a radical person who understands child development, behaviorism, and psychology, I definitely approved her message.

Access to good health should not have to be earned.

This made me think about the systematic institutional racism that impacts the transportation infrastructure, urban planning, the indoor built environment, and the outdoor air quality in Black communities and how normalized Black suffering is.  (more…)


Therese McMillan assumed the position of Chief Planning Officer for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“LA Metro”) in April 2016. In that capacity, she provides executive leadership for Metro’s planning, grant funding, and real estate functions. Key responsibilities include implementing the agency’s “Measure M” transportation sales tax ordinance; developing the countywide long range transportation plan; strategic fund program administration; and focused initiatives in transportation equity, “active transportation” planning and projects, and Metro’s contributions to the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Prior to joining LA Metro, Ms. McMillan served as the Acting Administrator for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) of the US Department of Transportation. During her almost 7 years at FTA, McMillan led reforms in transit safety, emergency response and resiliency investment; capital planning and oversight, and civil rights program development and oversight, including Title VI and ADA.

Before her career at FTA, McMillan was Deputy Executive Director of Policy at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the regional planning and funding agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay area. During her time with MTC, Therese was an instructor in transportation funding and finance at the Mineta Transportation Institute, San Jose State University. She earned her B.S. degree in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning at UC Davis, and joint Master’s degrees in City and Regional Planning, and Civil Engineering Science at UC Berkeley.

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Reports yesterday from WUSA9’s Mike Valerio was that the DC Vienna Metro exit was blocked to the public for white supremacist protestors.

This Monday they will say that anti-racists outnumbered the white supremacists, but the fact is DC is the chocolate city and it’s become the caramel city owing to the white supremacists involved in creating its urban planning, transportation, political, and economic policies.

The Black people in DC can’t even access the Metro during business hours, but Metro closes an entrance for white supremacists?

Almost twice as many white people in DC take the Metro to work than Black people, in fact white people are so close to their jobs they can walk to work, more white people have the privilege to walk to work, 19,000, than Black people have access to the Metro, 16,000.

The racism that has long been experienced by the Black community in DC is racism under soft power. In S&M this is called soothing before the beaten. It is how you soften someone up, so they are less likely to complain or cry when you give a really good punch.

You make a little bit of pain normal, so then when you unleash your real self, there is less squirming.

Sadistic racism is normalized in DC, institutional and personal.

The term soft power in politics, but they say it means persuasion or co-opting, like you co-opt Black politicians to smile in photos and not do anything when the people who voted them into office are moved out of their homes through economic violence and then you persuade Black people to live far away from the train on the other side of the river by not giving them a loan to buy a house by the train, yeah I guess that is persuasion.

According to DC Economic Strategy the median income of Black people in DC is $44,000 the median income of white people in DC is $154,000.

The Black DC community bears the brunt of automated and human policing.

Much of the Black community is segregated to the east side of the Anacostia River. These communities are the last to get the benefits of urban planning and dollars spent on infrastructure. The Black community is the first to be mocked as the old DC. The Washingtonian a trendy magazine even had a campaign to show that DC is whiter now (so better)  with white people smiling under a #ImNotATourist hashtag and wearing I’m not a tourist T-shirts.

Not one Black person in the photo shoot.

There is no attempt to hide the contempt of the Black community in DC.

I’ve been to DC three times and if I don’t make an effort, I will never see a Black person. The first time I did not see any Black people.  I went to a coffee shop that played jazz music, with Black people on the walls, and I was the only real Black thing there.

The white supremacists didn’t just come to DC this weekend, protected by the DC police with a private train and entrance from Metro, they’ve been there.

They go to work every morning on the Metro.

White supremacists have silently shown themselves for years in DC.

They have shown themselves in the policies they have created, supported, and implemented, policies that have robbed DC’s Black residents’ of their voices, economic opportunities, and now their homes.

by Lark Lo