An interfaith response to climate change
propelled by the moral imperative for immediate and just climate action
in Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan

Short Interview with Claire McSwiney

In anticipation for the event tomorrow, we asked Claire a couple questions about her enthusiasm for activism and the ideas behind The Intersectional Environmentalist! Claire McSwiney teaches in the biology department at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, is a former scientist at the Michigan State University Kellogg Biological Station, and is a parishioner at St. Thomas More Catholic Parish Church.




What made you interested in Intersectional Environmentalist and its author, Leah Thomas?

“The Intersectional Environmentalist” written by Leah Thomas first and foremost gives me hope.  For many years at Hope for Creation meetings, as well as St. Thomas More’s Environmental Ministry and Social Justice meetings, we have struggled with the question “How do we attract young adults to our organizations?”    At Kalamazoo Valley Community College I have taught Environmental Issues for many years.  The students that take that course are predominantly white.  So,  a book written by a young adult from the BIPOC community is going to be a great resource as we struggle to join forces with the generations that are inheriting the environmental issues created by previous generations.  


How do you feel the insights in the book have benefited your activism?

Facilitating a discussion about “The Intersectional Environmentalist” will contribute to both my advocacy and teaching.  For the first time, since I went on my first retreat with Green Faith in 2009, I am going to be able to discuss Environmental Justice with my faith community.  Up until now, I have used what I learned in that training to teach students in an Urban Ecology class and the Environmental Issues class at KVCC.  From an advocacy perspective, the sheer number of people and organizations that are uplifted in this work is inspiring and I will use them as examples for “how to do it.”  In Chapter 2, Leah Thomas points to tools provided by the EPA for mapping environmental hazards in our neighborhoods.  Making people aware that these hazards exist is the first step toward collective action to fight these problems.  When folks throw up their hands and say that nothing can be done,  I would counter with the witness provided in this book of the many sprouts of hope that are coming up in our communities across the nation.     


Everyone is welcome to join us in our Analysis to Action training series! Find out more here!

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  • Tanai Dawson
    published this page in Blog 2023-03-01 17:03:30 -0500