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Why I Am an Environmentalist

August 7, 2010 Tell the Story

By Sarah Massey

Becoming a Live Green Spot is a natural extension of my work at Massey Media and, basically, everything in my life. My goal is to help audiences to see the connections between the health of our communities with the health of our planet. I’ve worked with under-served communities in urban neighborhoods to give voice to environmental justice. At Massey Media, we stand up to the companies and government agencies that dump, pollute, and rip mountains apart for coal. We advocate for good, green jobs so workers can be a part of the green economy, building for a healthy future for our children and grandchildren.

My BA is in International Studies and Geography, and I went exploring in Mexico and Europe to better understand human systems. What you might not know about me is that I hold a Masters of Urban Planning (MUP) with a concentration in transportation and environment from Hunter College. Hunter College is a university rooted in social justice, and the MUP’s focus is bringing public services, health, and equality to under-served communities. My degree taught me to both plan for public transit and to take an advocate role with government to access the needed support and funds. Everyone knows public transit is better for the environment and helps people with disabilities get around, so why can’t we have more of it?

With that knowledge, I worked as a transit riders advocate with the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, the country’s largest transit system. I rode the rails and studied bus lines. I worked with passionate people who wanted public transit to be the best it could be for what they saw as the capital of the world. At work, I met a group of community organizers from Harlem, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, who were fighting to make sure that transit would have only positive impacts for the community. I felt compelled to help more directly. We championed the “If You Live Uptown, Breathe at Your Own Risk” campaign that brought clean air buses to NYC and also DC. Later on, my passion for working on rights campaigns took me to the labor movement at the National Employment Law Project and the AFL-CIO, where I advocated for better, healthier working conditions for all workers. I see myself as a connector between the two movements: I am both green and blue.

As a New Yorker, I’ve always loved public transit, walking through cities, and I know how to live with a small footprint. DC allows me to also live near green spaces and access bike trails and local farms. I buy used and recycled clothing and products whenever I can. I’ve never owned a car and I hope I never have to. I have four wheels: a mountain bike and a road bike.

my road bike with spray paint

my road bike with spray paint

My professional and educational experiences, along with my personal values, have informed my choices for running my own company. As a business owner and a boss, I want the best for my staff, our clients, and everyone we impact. We empower our clients to have strong voices for a positive vision of the planet. My team has flex time and a communal workspace to make the work life more healthy. We are dedicated to reducing waste on the job. Being a business owner offers a special opportunity for leadership, and I strive everyday to be a good role model. I serve on the Board of the DC Employment Justice Center and I am the founder of the Fabulous Women Biz Owners DC, a group for support and networking. I am proud to exemplify what it means to be both environmentally and economically sustainable. I hope others get on board.

Making Massey Media a Live Green spot and being an environmentalist, a community organizer, a labor activist, a vegetarian, and living without a car, wearing recycled fashion, and buying produce direct from a farm are all the big and little choices I make everyday to show my commitment to a better planet for all of us. My mom and dad, who are also social justice advocates, taught me that fulfillment comes from doing generous work and living with integrity. I try to follow in their footsteps, and I pay homage to my parents by giving the company our family name.

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