Updated: May 23
For Immediate Release
April 28, 2023
Edidiong Mendie, Ph.D. - Executive Director
LOS ANGELES CA – Ezrach is a Los Angeles based nonprofit working to provide economic opportunity, growth, and advance sustainability to historically marginalized communities through community and faith-based organizations.
Ezrach, collaborated with Church of the Transfiguration to celebrate Earth Day and Transfiguration’s 100th Anniversary Kick-off. This event brought together faith and community leaders, environmental justice leaders, and residents of South Los Angeles to plant trees and engage in community engagement. TreePeople provided and supported the tree planting segment for this event.
Ezrach works to elevate the voices of Leimert Park residents in South Los Angeles. Daniel Ferguson, Co-Founder and President of Ezrach asserts “This is monumental. We saw a large disparity in our community, particularly in Leimert Park. Being a Leimert Park resident for all of my life, I recognized that things were changing quickly. We understood that there needed to be something done in the community to be able to help not only the socio-economic but environmental ills that plague our community. We know that the Church is really the epicenter for any possibility of change. We believe that the Church that takes care of its community, the community, in turn, will take care of the Church.”
Shaahid Ali El, Co-Founder, and Chief Thought Officer of Ezrach was in attendance. A Leimert Park resident since 1996 and local business owner in the community, Shaahid comments “Our Ancestors down in the Mississippi culture reminds us that the Earth doesn’t belong to us as we borrow it from our children. What we do now, draining resources will leave them with nothing. Humanity works together as a well-tuned machine, and we have to come together in these times. At Ezrach, we like to bring the community together.” Ezrach, a Hebrew word symbolizing indigenous roots to the land continues to be a voice for the community.
Achieving our emission reduction goals by 2030 requires all hands on deck. The collaboration and partnership of community-based organizations, and nonprofits, with the Faith Community and Houses of Worship, is essential to speed up our transition efforts to a clean and more resilient economy. The Biden-Harris Administration recognizes this principle through its passage of the transformational climate legislation - Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA provides for Faith Communities and Houses of Worship with cost savings such as direct payments “direct pay.”
A new normal has emerged and faith leaders must adapt to a largely virtual world to champion efforts that help our communities achieve a just transition toward a clean economy. “The Church has a mantle to pass the message to its members on the need to be sustainable in our practice and eco-friendly and I am thankful that Church of Transfiguration has stepped up to this call,” Dr. Edidiong Mendie, Executive Director of Ezrach states.
This well-attended event was a reminder of our responsibility to Mother Earth as Fr. Godwin Akpan, S.S.J, Head Pastor Church of the Transfiguration affirms “This is a gathering of friends and stewards of the Earth, and the Earth is our common home.”
Father Akpan explained that two important documents of the Church written by Pope Francis encouraged this celebration. The first is Laudato Si’ which emphasizes that the Earth is a common home and in all we do, we should take care of the Earth. The second is Fratelli tutti which encourages that “we are all brothers, and we should come together in fraternity and social friendship.”
Father Akpan further states “We exploit the Earth. Environmental harm is caused by sin understood as a broken relationship with God, with our neighbor, and the Earth. The book of Genesis which talks about dominion over the Earth is misinterpreted. This dominion doesn’t mean you should exploit the Earth.”
Environmental Justice remains at the core of environmental protection because marginalized communities, communities of color, the poor, and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by pollution and ecological degradation. Ezrach continues to work toward changing the trajectory of historically marginalized communities by being stewards of the earth and protecting our beloved community through its programs. On the need for environmental justice, Father Akpan states “Everything in creation is interconnected. We want to reiterate that care for creation is intimately connected to the promotion of a preferential option for the poor since those with the least are most harmed by ecological degradation.”
Father Akpan ends on this note “God created everything with intrinsic goodness. The celebration of Earth Day affirms what we teach that in light of ecological degradation and climate change, justice and solidarity, and commitment to the common good must be understood as intergenerational. As we mark and kick off the 100th year of Church of the Transfiguration, we want to participate in taking care of our common home Earth, and also encourage social friendship and fraternity among the community and neighbors.”
Talia Dotson, Urban Greening Community organizer of TreePeople who championed and led the tree planting segment closed with these words “We always name our trees because when you name your trees, you have ownership.” Talia also encouraged community residents to go around in a circle of gratitude and state one word about their experience. Residents' experiences from this tree planting event were “grateful,” “fulfilling,” “amazing,” “beautiful,” “connecting,” “bountiful,” “life,” etc.
Diversity in unity encourages us to work together to protect the Earth. We encourage everyone to continue to get involved with our community actions. And remember to act like every day is Earth Day.