Building a Diverse and Inclusive Future
Celebrating Pride Month at Clean Water!
“I find an echo of my Queer community in green spaces, on the open ocean, and high up in the mountains. Every corner teems with life. It calls, “We’re here. We survived. Let’s just live.” - Micael Glackin
Happy Pride Month, a month dedicated to honoring and celebrating the LGBTQ+, or queer, community! Clean Water Action is proud of our diverse staff members. We'll be highlighting some of our LGBTQ+ staff at Clean Water Action for Pride Month! Today, we are excited to feature Micael Glackin (They/Them), Administrative Assistant in Oakland, California and member of Clean Water Action's LGBTQ+ Caucus, which exists to provide a safe place for queer-identifying folks across the organization to connect and find support.
Originally from the East Coast, Micael finished an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and Politics at the University of San Francisco. Micael's academic career focused on a balance between the sciences and the humanities. Pairing studies of ecology, GIS mapping, and environmental data analysis with community garden outreach, Environmental Justice, and decolonial lenses on human rights and stewardship. A Bay Area resident, Micael applies these lessons to help in Clean Water Action's work in Oakland, California.
Why is it important for Queer people to get involved in the environmental movement?
The systems that legislate Queer and BIPOC communities out of existence are the same systems that strangle our lands, waters, and skies for extraction of short-term profit. In the same breath, we are alienated from our environment. Liberation must include environmental justice. In implementing such lenses as Queer ecology, we can recognize that we are innately part of our environment; not separate. There is Queer joy in wild, green things. I find an echo of my Queer community in green spaces, on the open ocean, and high up in the mountains. Every corner teems with life. It calls, “We’re here. We survived. Let’s just live.”
What are some of the intersections between the environmental movement and Queer justice from your perspective?
Environmental justice and the inequities of climate change are inextricably linked. Overlapping systems of oppression ensure that BIPOC and Queer communities will be hit the hardest by climate catastrophe, and these consequences are not far off on the horizon. These same communities are at higher risk for pollution and its adverse health effects. Due to systemic housing discrimination, an overwhelming majority of housing insecure and unhoused people are Queer, BIPOC, and Disabled. Leaving us vulnerable to next year’s once in a century hurricane or once in a century heat wave. The current moment demands immediate and decisive action.
What does Clean Water Action do to address these intersections, and how can Clean Water Action further address them?
Community is the antidote to isolation and fear. When I started working with Clean Water Action, I was thrilled to learn of the POC and LGBTQ+ caucus. At the LGBTQ+ caucus I was able to find greater connection to the work and the organization. Affirmation of climate action, environmental justice, anti-racism, and Queer activism being integral to my work. I cannot overstate how vital the caucus and the organizing space it creates are, but I believe this should only be the beginning. More can be done to make Clean Water Action a Queer safe and Queer positive organization. With current events in the United States, Queer lives need to be protected and our efforts at Clean Water Action must rise to meet this crisis.
How can we create an inclusive environment for diverse staff, partners and supporters?
Do not turn away from injustice and be brave enough to look bias and bigotry in the eye. When confronted, you may feel uncomfortable and defensive. Be willing to sit with that feeling. Reckon with it and be able to change your mind. We are all, frankly, exhausted. Like the thousand slings and arrows, we cannot take up the fight every hour of every day. We need to be able to rely on each other, and that requires trust. Trust requires sustained effort; it is built and reinforced. This is all to say, be kind. Just be kind.
What LGBTQ+ environmental activists do you most admire?
There is no one person I can point to as a monolith on this matter, the people I most admire are on the ground, in the weeds and the thick of it. Every day, ordinary people who look up from the cacophony of apathy, existential dread, and helplessness, and choose to care— pipeline protesters at Standing Rock, Forest Defenders in Atlanta, scientists screaming at the doors of capital buildings, and countless more. I admire the People, capital ‘P’, the common person filled with compassionate fury for their fellows and our blue-green planet. Queer people are embedded in this fight. I know their names and faces; I know the people they love and the wide, wild, and wonderful spectrum of expression we employ to capture the joy of living and loving. They are not pillars; they are the foundation. Strong and dauntless.
How has working at Clean Water Action made you feel comfortable expressing your identity and pride?
No organization is perfect, but I am thankful for the partnerships I have forged here at Clean Water Action. There is not one policy that has accomplished this, but I appreciate the efforts of individuals here who reach out and make space for Queer voices. There is strength in numbers and in the awareness that we are not alone.
What would you like to see more of at Clean Water Action for Queer staff and Queer people?
I would like to see an expanded awareness and availability of resources, especially to canvassers. Given the current threats to LGBTQ+ rights in the United States, advocacy, education, and protection for the Queer community is absolutely needed.
Clean Water Action is dedicated to supporting members of the LGBTQ+ community. While no one environment is perfect, we are proud of the community we have created, and we are glad to highlight passionate Queer staff like Micael, who find joy and activism in the work they do at Clean Water Action.