Youth present efficiency efforts at Shiloh Temple and Masjid An-Nur

As we continue to grow and build community, we are constantly opening our eyes and hearts to meet new people and build lifelong relationships. Although COVID has thrown a wrench in meeting one another in an organic sense, it has opened new doors and opportunities in ways that we could not have imagined. Who knew that we could learn to be teachers, students, and the observer, sometimes all in one go!

Before the pandemic took place and before the murder of George Floyd, we were still building community and in that, we strengthened relationships with a couple of congregations through the Energy Efficiency Program. Shiloh Temple International Ministries and Masjid An-Nur were the congregations we were fortunate enough to continue working with and build programming to become more sustainable.

Back in 2018, we had the pleasure of working with Shiloh Temple to get solar panels on the roof to supply energy to some homes and work in close collaboration with Masjid An-Nur on various projects such as the Iftaar Dinner and other community events. This project, also in partnership with the Just Solar Coalition, was able to take 2 youth from each congregation and work with them to create a final project that presented on a topic and pitch proposals that would help their congregation reduce their carbon footprint and become more sustainable with $4,000 allocated to each.

The Just Solar Youth Project was a 6-month pilot project that would teach the youth topics such as the different types of lighting, what trash, recycling, and composting is, renewable energy sources, and so forth. This project was truly an adventure as we maneuvered through COVID, replacing field trips and meet ups with Zoom meetings and Google docs. The youth adjusted very well and continued to thrive, no matter what the project held and what the world would throw at us next.

In June, the youth chosen from Masjid An-Nur, Diadou and Yakyah Sall, powerfully presented on the impacts of recycling and composting and how more people should be given the opportunity to do so. Their proposals included a plan to incorporate recycling and composting bins with the waste systems already in place. To get the community involved, one of the proposals included hosting a community wide trash pick-up day and paying residents per bag of trash they pick up.

The youth from Shiloh Temple, Toni and Nitara Williams, spoke eloquently on the impacts of our carbon footprint and proposed changes such as switching out the soaps for something environmentally friendly, taking a 3 stage approach to changing the incandescent light bulbs to LEDs, using compostable plates and utensils for large gatherings, and implementing a rainwater collection system for a future rooftop garden. This project allowed for us to continue paving the way for a more sustainable future and present the world with four new environmental activists.