HCWDC INTERN ASHLEY PORTILLO INTERVIEWS Founding Member of thE Baltimore Jewish Environmental Network
A: Well I spent a lot of time in the ocean and near the mountains so that definitely gave me a lot of appreciation for nature. And with my Jewish upbringing, I went to the synagogue a lot with my parents. In Hebrew there is a phrase that translates in English to “healing the world”. That was stressed a lot in my household and in my religion. My faith definitely made me become more socially active and aware of the need for environmental justice.
Q: Why do you think that is?
A: Great question. I think it has always resonated with me. It just felt right. I’m also drawn to complex questions, which I have found in social justice as well, but I’m attracted to the complexity of the human connection to nature.
Q: Do you have a mantra or any specific phrase that you live by?
A: My mantra is more in terms of my organizing and my activism. You always have to organize people where they’re at, not where you’re at. A lot of politics is about telling people what to think and talking to them. For me, I live by my organizing and belief that faith and environmental protection go hand in hand.
Q: Has it been difficult trying to get the faith community involved in becoming more environmentally active?
A: That’s a hard question to ask so broadly, but I think we’ve made a lot of progress in environmental protection. Unfortunately, people still see it as economics and the environment- the costs. But there is a lot of opportunity and we have a long way to go to really establish it as a value rather than a political issue. We have politicized the environment and that’s a major impediment.
Meet Josh Tulkin on Wednesday, November 10 at the World House Series event, "A Moral Dilemma: Is Going Green a Choice Between Right and Wrong?" with Reid Detchon, VP Energy and Climate, United Nations Foundation, former chair for the Environment Committee, Episcopal Diocese of Washington; Sarah Jawaid, Research Associate, Urban Land Institute, Coordinator, DC Green Muslims; and Carl Rollins, Member of the Advisory Board, DC Farm to School Network. FREE Panel Discussion and Reception at THEARC, 6:30 p.m. Register now!
For more information on the Humanities Council’s World House Series: The Philosophy of Green, visit http://www.wdchumanities.org/.