In honor of Clean Water Action's 50th birthday, we are lifting up voices and stories in the Clean Water movement through #CleanWater50Stories. Our story is the story of everyday people who have used their power to make a difference to create a healthier and greener future for all. '
Meet Cee! Cee got involved with Clean Water Action through our Youth Action Collaborative that they joined as an undergrad at UMass Boston. Cee came to this work with deep roots as a displaced Appalachian. Their experience growing up and seeing the devastation that the fossil fuel industry brings to communities like theirs made them a fast and fierce advocate for clean water systems and community health. As a member of the Youth Action Collaborative, Cee spent a year particpating in lobbying efforts and advocacy around a number of important climate bills. Cee has since moved back to Kentucky, where they've founded the state's firt ever residential composting service, and provide private consults to municipalities and private sector companies that are interested in preserving Kentucky through envionmental policies. We're so proud to see everything that Cee has accomplished since they were with Clean Water Action, and they'll always be a part of our Clean Water Action/ Youth Action Collaborative family.
What's Your Connection to Clean Water?
I was recruited as a undergrad student at Umass Boston to participate in Clean Water Action’s youth advisory board. I spent one year on the board and participated in lobbying efforts for various energy bills, attending and provided testimony at a televised town hall meeting and much more! At the end of my one year, I was awarded the Youth Leadership Award and still proudly display it in my office.
What's Your Favorite Clean Water Action Memory or Story?
There were so many cool and fun things that I did during my time with Clean Water Action, it’s hard to pick a single memory. However, the monthly meetings held at the downtown Boston office were some of the most life changing discussions for me. In those meetings, I learned so much about navigating local and state politics, working with corporate partners, collaborating with local leaders and fellow nonprofits.
As a displaced Appalachian that struggled to find my identity in such a different and exciting new place, my work with Clean Water Action helped me feel seen, empowered and valuable. Clean Water Action helped me feel as part of the community I longed to connect with. As I have since moved back to hollers of Kentucky, I carry a new identity with me—as a “Bostalachian” and I’ll always be grateful for every moment I spent volunteering with Clean Water Action in Massachusetts.
Why Do You Care About Clean Water?
My very first “job” I worked for my father’s oil and gas company digging trenches and repairing leaky pipelines at the young age of 13. I’ve seen firsthand how devastating the fossil fuel industry can be to water systems and community health/well-being. Caring about clean water is but one extension of my identity as a Appalachian Environmental Justice advocate.
What's Exciting for Clean Water Now & for the Future?
Since moving back to Kentucky, I founded the state’s first residential composting service and have provided private consults for mayors, city councils, bourbon distilleries and county waste divisions that are steadily becoming committed to preserving the Bluegrass state through environmentally positive policies. My work in Kentucky is a direct result of the empowerment I experienced with Clean Water Action. I think that I’m just one on many examples of how Clean Water Action is making a national difference in the environment and social attitudes around sustainability and preservation.
As Kentucky and Appalachia more broadly become deeper invested in community engagement around environmental preservation and legislation, I would love to see a Clean Water Action Appalachia or something of the sort.