In this “Conversation with a Leader,” Stuart Coleman talks with environmental and climate justice activist Catherine Coleman Flowers. Stuart is an Omidyar Fellow and Executive Director of WAI: Wastewater Alternatives and Innovations, and he had followed Catherine's work over the years. He was interested in talking with Catherine because she was a pioneer in bringing national attention to sewage pollution as a civil rights issue with serious environmental and human health consequences.
Catherine is a co-vice-chair of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, the founding director of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, and a policy Fellow for Elemental Excelerator. After years of campaigning for sanitation reform in her home state of Alabama, she published her book Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret in 2020. Her work made international headlines and has created a movement to recognize sanitation as a human right.
Catherine and Stuart's conversation took place during her recent trip to Hawai‘i, where she visited rural communities on O‘ahu’s windward side. Seeing how many cesspools in these areas are in the inundation zones, she saw first-hand how climate change and sea level rise pose devastating effects on neighborhoods and coastal environments. During her visit, Catherine committed to working with Elemental Excelerator, WAI, and other nonprofits to bring national attention to this issue.
A special mahalo to our partners in creating this video:
Catherine Coleman Flowers
Elemental Excelerator - Dawn Lippert and Josh Stanbro
Institute for Climate and Peace - Maxine Burkett
WAI: Wastewater Alternatives and Innovations - Stuart Coleman
Paepae O He‘eia - He‘eia Fishpond
Wakeful State | Video
Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs — This model aims to address the unique challenges that Hawaii faces in the ever-worsening climate crisis. Elemental says these solutions can scale well beyond the islands.