Press Releases

Forever Adirondacks Campaign Director Aaron Mair Honored at WE ACT for Environmental Justice Gala 

Thursday, October 21, 2021 

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Forever Adirondacks Campaign Director Aaron Mair will be honored at WE ACT’s 2021 Gala today, along with three other leaders of the environmental justice movement. 

“I am extremely grateful to WE ACT for its leadership in environmental justice advocacy. From its early days as a tiny group of activists in West Harlem, it has worked to improve the lives of poor people who are forced by economic necessity to live in environmentally compromised places, where their homes and children are at risk every day,” said Aaron Mair, Director of the Forever Adirondacks Campaign. “WE ACT has been on the front lines of fighting to keep public housing out of industrial zones, where traffic, noise, and pollution make living conditions miserable. And they have fought to keep new sources of pollution from being sited in Black and Latinx neighborhoods, providing the skills and resources to organize and fight for their communities. 

“Air pollution and water pollution respect no geographic boundaries, so WE ACT’s work provides benefits far beyond the north end of Manhattan,” Mair said. “Together, folks in Harlem and folks in the Adirondacks fighting against air pollution will bring cleaner air and longer lives to urban neighborhoods, while also making it possible one day for poor folks in the Adirondacks to feed their families with fish and wild game free from the mercury contamination caused by acid rain.” 

Mair will address the WE ACT Gala audience (virtual) on his Adirondack Green New Deal proposal, which focuses on generating new green jobs, clean water, and wilderness protection to the Adirondack Park. 

“As New York invests in the protection of this national treasure we know as the Adirondack Park, it is putting tens of millions of dollars into providing pure drinking water and cleaning up wastewater,” Mair said. “That means good jobs in engineering, construction, operation, and maintenance of public works projects all over the Park. Protection of wilderness will require trail designers, trail construction and maintenance crews, rangers, conservation officers, summit and lake stewards, invasive species control personnel at boat-washing stations, wildlife biologists, planners, and a wide variety of other skilled jobs. 

“This investment can help to lift the lives of people who have not recently found a direct pathway to living and working in the Adirondacks,” Mair said. “To accomplish that we will also need to provide job seekers with the skills and credentials needed to succeed. That means programs at community colleges and universities in and around the Park, and connections to traditionally black colleges and universities.” 

The Environmental Justice Movement began as an effort to call attention to and organize against environmental racism, which had not been made a major focus of mainstream, largely white, environmental advocacy agendas. Some 30 years ago, a multinational group, including WE ACT, attended The First People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in Washington D.C.  

At the event, The Principles of Environmental Justice were created and agreed upon, and still stand as a guiding set of principles for the Environmental Justice Movement today. WE ACT is the lead organizer of the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum, and has provided effective leadership in the development of New York City and northeast region environmental justice alliances to network, collaborate and impact environmental policy-making. 

Mair is the director of the Forever Adirondacks campaign of the Adirondack Council. He is a retired New York State Department of Health epidemiological-spatial analyst and Environmental Justice pioneer and was the 57th president of the nation’s oldest and largest environmental organization, the Sierra Club.  

As an advocate for environmental justice and activist in Albany’s Arbor Hill community, he was responsible for the creation of the W. Haywood Burns Environmental Education Center and the Arbor Hill Environmental Justice Corporation.  

He is a graduate of, and holds an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from, Binghamton University. Mair also trained at Rhode Island’s Naval Education and Training Center and attended the American University in Cairo. 

Mair was a delegate to the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, Durban; pioneering member of the National Black Environmental Justice Network; National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in Washington DC; a founding member of Friends of Clean Hudson that led the successful fight to dredge PCBs from the Hudson River; and received an EPA Environmental Quality Award for his efforts. Mair was a NYLCV board member, and was the Environmental Justice expert witness for the Sloop Clearwater’s Environmental Justice Contention at Indian Point Relicensing Hearings in front of Atomic Safety Licensing Board. 

The WE ACT Gala is slated for Thursday, October 21 from 7:00-8:30 PM EDT. 

You can purchase your tickets here.  

Other honorees include Roxanne Brown, International Vice President at Large, United Steelworkers; Omar Freilla, Co-Founder & Director, Collective Diaspora; Davida Herzl, Co-Founder and CEO, Aclima Inc.; and SUNS Solar Workers Cooperative. You can read all the bios and learn more about our honorees here.

Established in 1975, the Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. It is the largest environmental organization whose sole focus is the Adirondacks.  

The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy, and legal action. It envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, core wilderness areas, farms and working forests, and vibrant, diverse, welcoming, safe communities. Adirondack Council advocates live in all 50 United States. 

`For more information: John Sheehan, Director of Communications, 518-441-1340 

 

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