What’s Your Superpower?
How can we best use our individual strengths to lead in our work? How can we collectively use our strengths to address the urgency around climate change? How can we create motivation, inspire action, and drive change in an equitable and just way? “What’s your Superpower?” was the topic of the 2021 Women in Green annual celebration, held virtually on December 15, 2021. We began in breakout groups where we identified our own individual strengths and as the event continued these important questions stirred the conversation.
Dr. Angelita Scott, Director and Community Concept Lead for the WELL Building Standard and WELL Equity Lead at the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), was the moderator. Rev. Mariama White-Hammond, Boston’s Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space and the founding pastor of New Roots AME Church in Dorchester, was the featured speaker. They spoke about the imperative to act more intentionally, holistically, and locally to address the climate crisis. They talked about how the climate crisis is a social, spiritual crisis about what kind of world we want to create. What are our values individually and collectively? How do we take care of ourselves, connect in our communities, and inspire each other to rise up and act?
Making An Impact, Together
We can create motivation and inspire action by moving from a strengths-based approach. Know what your superpowers are, break down silos, and make connections with others to move things forward. One of Rev. Mariama White-Hammond’s strengths that allows her to succeed as an activist, a pastor, and now as a government official is her skill in “making a claim.” She is skilled at taking complex ideas and presenting them in ways people can access them. She is skilled at distilling the moral, social, spiritual piece underneath what is being talked about. Rev. White-Hammond recommended that one of the best ways to use your strengths, engage with others, and inspire action is to dig in close to home. Be active where you are. Find a space to push that is realistic to the life you are in, whether your neighborhood, your workplace, your school. What you do doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Sometimes to take action you just need two other people you can call and rely on. You can be a climate warrior from wherever you are.
Women’s voices have historically been marginalized but in recent years we are seeing women, and specifically women of color, in more leadership roles. We are seeing a rise in women in politics and in women leading climate issues. Women of color are in leadership roles here in the City of Boston and in the State of Massachusetts. In addition to Rev. Mariama White-Hammond, we can look to others like Boston’s Mayor Michelle Wu and U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley. 15-20 years ago this was just an idea. A group of women started with the belief that this was possible, imagined it, laid the groundwork, and had patience and realized it would take time. Nationally and globally we can look toward leaders like Dr. Scott whose work includes a new WELL Health Equity Rating hoping to move equity across the globe.
An All-Hands-On-Deck Moment
Moving forward, as green building professionals, we need to be extremely intentional in how we do our work. To do our work well, individually and collectively, we need to know what each of our own strengths are and create spaces to imagine, inspire and organize together. We need to commit to all three aspects of the triple bottom line, spending as much time on equity issues as we have on the environmental and the economic issues of green building. This is an all-hand-on-deck, transformational moment in time. Young people have raised the profile of the climate issue. Without the climate strikes, without young people speaking out locally and globally, we would not be in the moment that we are in. We need to work together across generations. We need to create integrated, equitable and just spaces that allow us all to combine our superpowers in the most effective way.
I was inspired by Dr. Scott and Rev. White-Hammond and by everyone who attended the Women in Green event. There is much more to say than I could possibly capture here on this page. I encourage you to watch the recording, realize your superpowers, and engage with your community however you define it. And join us. The BE+ Women in Green Roundtable brings women together regularly on a quarterly basis and ends each year together for a larger celebration. Find out about all our events and register on our webpage. We are looking for a few key folks to join our Women in Green steering committee to help plan this year’s events. Let us know if you are interested by sending a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you also feel inspired and are looking forward to all that we can do together in 2022.