Tuesday evening July 14 a few leaders of the community came together at a Sacramento Green Drinks virtual meeting to discuss the nexus between the Environmental movement and Social Equity concerns. The panel consisted of Nailah Pope- Harden, Arianne Ortegaray, Paul Willis, and Logan Dreher (see below for background on each panelist). Ed Fletcher, Independent journalist/filmmaker, was supposed to moderate the conversation but due to technical reasons, he was unable to join in. Luckily Paul was able to step in and help guide the conversation.

 The panelist dove into many topics surrounding the environment during the stream here are some key points:

 Underserved communities do not always need a multimillion-dollar project, because chances are that project will only serve a few people. There are many smaller projects that can reach a lot more of the community. Paul Willis pointed out that things as small as better making public transportation free could solve many issues. And Arianne Ortegaray made the connection that if solar panels were put in these underserved communities, not only would their bills go down but it would also be great for the environment. I also brought up the point that the south side of Sacramento has the worse air quality and the least number of trees. One small project that could take place is planting more trees in areas that have bad air quality. Nailah Pope-Harden pointed out that we don’t have to stop there with what we ask our government for, we can ask that the council meeting be moved to high schools. Not only are high schools in the center of our community but that also gives better access for communities of color to attend council meetings. (Right now council meetings are held on the north side of Sacramento with no direct public transportation that leads to it, making it difficult for underserved communities to attend the meeting if they do not have another form of transportation.)

It is very important that people of color are able to show up to these meetings and have their voices heard so that they have a say in what is happening in their communities. Logan Dreher addressed that we should improve youth engagement with the council. Making having council meeting at high schools another great idea. 

If you are able to attend council meetings remember that you are showing up for others too. You can be a voice for them and help advocate for underserved communities.

You go to the council meetings and tell the council how they can better serve you and those around you, but what’s next? One way you, as an individual can better serve your communities, is by first finding what you are passionate about. It’s not always big, it can be a minor thing. Then find out if there is a group that focuses on that. Make sure people know that you want to serve if you don’t tell them they will not know that you want to be a part of that conversation. By growing in your capacity to serve you can improve the lives of many people. 

About the Panelists

Paul Willis

 “I am an agent of change. My goal in life is to create a positive change in the lives of people around me. I’m passionate about education, sports, and the arts. I’ve aligned myself with professional and service opportunities to work for and alongside young people to affect their communities in a positive way. I’m open to new possibilities that will help me achieve my goal in both my professional and personal life.

Nailah Pope-Harden

Director of Nailah Outreach Consulting 

NOC dedicated to building up communities of color. The goal of the organization is to revitalize the community through activism, innovative communication, events, and travel.

Logan Dreher

Clean Mobility Partnerships Coordinator at GRID Alternatives

Select topics and moderate discussions for weekly community meetings on feminist issues, regularly attended by upwards of 20 undergraduate students.  Lead weekly meetings around developing facilitation skills, conduct workshops on campus, with local high schools.  Planned day-long conference for 100 local high school students to engage with feminist, social justice issues

Arianne Ortegaray

Corporate and Community Relations Officer at GRID Alternatives

“I serve as the liaison for our corporate partners and grantors to ensure maximum return on volunteerism efforts, donations, and awards. I also strive to increase public awareness and support for GRID Alternatives North Valley’s incredible mission and work.”

Thomas Hall


Saraia Jackson is a second-year computer science major at CSU Sacramento. Her long-term goal is to become a cybersecurity analyst. She wants to show young African American women that they can do whatever they put their minds to no matter where they come from. She also really wants to devote her life to helping children and making a difference. 

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | Tobin, EY, Moss Adams

BlueTech Valley, PowerSoft.biz

College of Engineering & Computer Science at Sacramento State