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“What Moves Us”: A more equitable future

My name is Portia Lee (they) and I am an intern at Green Streets Initiative this summer. Growing up in Hilo, Hawai’i, I have always been very interested in the environment– the clear sky, the blue water, the luscious green trees. However, it was not until I got to Boston University that I realized the environment was not accessible to everyone equally. The environment provides the food we eat, the water we drink, the setting of our daily life. It is more than an aesthetically pleasing view, but dictates so many other factors in our lives as well. As a low-income person of color, I knew I did not have as many opportunities as other people, but being in Boston showed me how people from my economic bracket do not have equitable access to a clean and healthy environment. This is what initially sparked my interest for environmental justice and aiding marginalized communities in environmental justice practices.

Green Streets Initiative, an organization that works with promoting healthy and environmentally-friendly modes of transportation, including public transportation, aligns with my career goals. The mission of elevating the voices of people from low-income communities who typically take public transportation more frequently resonates with me. I hope GSI is the stepping stone I need in order to make tangible change within my community by bettering public transportation and helping people travel in safe and healthy ways, while alternatively reducing their carbon footprint. 

With the Green Streets Initiative promoting public transportation, they are promoting accessibility. Accessibility supports ALL members of the community, and provides independence for people. In Hilo, public transportation was limited and it was not until I moved to Boston for college that made me realize I have autonomy and independence to make my life one that I wanted to live. With these small, daily acts of taking the T, I was taking environmentally friendly steps towards a green future. 

After GSI, I want to get my Masters in Environmental Management in order to better get a grasp on how my contribution can better make a difference in my community. After that, I am not sure where I will end up or where I want to go. But I do know that my passion for people and equitably will guide me towards a sustainable future.

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