NAACP Launches Climate-Smart Household Certification for Homes Embodying Just Transition

by Jacqui Patterson

A “Just Transition” is the North Star for those seeking an equitable, sustainable future. But what does that transition look like, in our homes and our day-to-day lives? To answer that question, NAACP launches its “Climate-Smart Household Certification” with an inaugural award at the home of Kathy and David Egland on Tuesday, April 6th in Gulfport, Mississippi.

On the heels of Black History and Women’s History Months, and two weeks in advance of Earth Day, this award illuminates pathways we can all take to address climate change, which disproportionately affects African-American communities and women. At the same time, the award celebrates the leadership of Black women in leading the way to Just Transition. The Climate-Smart Household Certification recognizes homes that embody the principles of Just Transition, as the Egland Family — Kathy Egland in particular — does so well.

Following the framework of Just Transition, NAACP Climate-Smart Households are defined as homes that actively denounce extractivism and exploitation, while embracing principles and practices rooted in regeneration, cooperation, caring for the sacred — including living in harmony with Earth systems, and deep democracy. In so doing, Climate-Smart Households are actively paving the path for effective, systemically rooted climate change mitigation and adaptation.

On April 6th, the Egland Family will steward the installation of solar panels and completion of energy efficiency upgrades. PosiGen, with its tagline, “Solar Power for ALL,” prides itself on providing access to solar power across income strata. With the Egland family project, the company will celebrate its first solar installation in Mississippi.

In their daily lives, the Egland family intentionally withholds patronage from extractive industries and companies and deliberately supports black businesses and other historically disenfranchised business owners whenever possible. When they are not able to support disadvantaged business enterprises, they support companies — like PosiGen — that are rooted in equitable principles and practices.

In addition to going solar, the Egland family has many long-held principles and practices that embody the tenets of Just Transition. As Hurricane Katrina evacuees, the Egland family has faced many storms before and since then. Two years ago, the Egland family worked with My Strong Home to install a fortified roof. With this reinforced roofing, they are not only increasing protection for themselves and their house, but they are also saving on insurance rates, which have skyrocketed due to actuarial science predicting extreme financial risk due to the increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events.

Another impact of climate change is shifting agricultural yields. As past president of the Gulfport local branch of the NAACP and continued active community leader, Kathy Egland spearheaded the development of a series of community gardens in Gulfport to address growing food insecurity. This action embodies the spirit and practice of regeneration and cooperation that are essential to climate adaptation and Just Transition. It also lessens the greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping and trucking of food. Additionally, Kathy and David developed their own household garden, which they not only use to feed themselves, but to contribute to the feasts they prepare for others. In the time of COVID, those community feasts transitioned to a drive-by format as critical anchors of Gulfport Mutual Aid.

Kathy and David are pillars of community service and social activism in Gulfport. Their contributions include organizing the annual Mother of the Year Award; fighting for the protection of Turkey Creek; training first responders on equity-based climate action; participating in campaigns to stop the Jack Watson Plant from burning coal, block the Kemper County Carbon Capture and Sequestration Plant, and fight the proposed wood pellet incinerator; working with the Master Gardener to train apprentices for the community gardens; mentoring multiple youth; organizing trainings on sea level rise preparedness and response; providing sanitation supplies to frontline workers during COVID-19; delivering meals to those in need; and more.

Following the survivalist conservation traditions of many Black families in the South and inventing some of their own, the Egland Family has many small household practices that make a difference for the planet and for the pocketbook. For example, they use old Clorox wipe containers as plastic bag dispensers to constantly reuse plastic bags. They put out buckets when it’s going to rain and use the captured water for their garden. With climate change threatening their crops by unseasonable freezing, they are turning their old gazebo into a greenhouse using a series of $5 clear shower curtain liners. The Eglands truly know how to get things done, by any means necessary.

Kathy and David model ways to not only survive but thrive in harmony with the Earth. But most importantly of all, they embody love and caring in all that they do for each other, for their family, for the community, and for the world. As a National Board Member and Chair of the National Board Environmental and Climate Justice Committee, Kathy Egland provides leadership in the NAACP and in multiple national and global forums. David is an ever-present and invaluable supporter who is always by her side, literally or figuratively. When David is at home and Kathy is off saving the world, they joke about his dutiful stewardship of the “honey-do list” that she leaves for him every time. All that they do, at all levels, embodies love of Mother Earth and her inhabitants.

To support the Egland household, in addition to the Climate Smart Household Certificate of Award, the NAACP will gift them with a rainwater capture barrel to make their lives of loving servant leadership just a little bit easier as they continue as global citizens of just transition.

Jacqueline Patterson is the Senior Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program.

A changing climate means a changing society. The Island Press Urban Resilience Project (URP) is committed to a greener, fairer future. www.islandpress.org/URP

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