The Work within the Work: Expanding Environmental Justice and Civil Society through Climate Adaptation, Mitigation and Community Resilience

April 21st, 2021

Resources shared by presenters and participants


This keynote presentation is part of the 2021 Virtual Local Solutions: Climate Preparedness and Communities of Practice Conference sponsored by The Island Institute and NOAA. The presentation will open the discussion about the deeper aspects of our work in addressing climate adaptation, mitigation and community resilience planning through the lens of justice and equity.  

In order to strengthen civil society, our climate work must embrace differences and empower communities.  It must be emphasized that environmental justice is more than a set of indicators or a list to check off. We must aspire for a substantial recalibration in the distribution of risks, exposures, impacts, who participates in decision making and how best to protect the most vulnerable. In order to create just and equitable institutional responses to a changing climate, we must undergo a cultural transformation. 

This virtual keynote presentation is open to the public and available at no-charge. Pre-registration is required.


About the Presenters

Running-Grass is an educational and cultural theorist and environmental activist. His expertise spans several fields including multicultural education, critical pedagogy, and environmental and wilderness education. He is widely published and nationally recognized for his formative contribution to the field of multicultural environmental education and environmental justice.

Running-Grass was one of the 300 delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in 1991, which launched the Environmental Justice movement onto the national stage. Since the late 1990s, in his position at the United States EPA, he has worked on Environmental Justice issues at various levels of government including federal, state, and local with a focus on identifying and addressing these issues at the community level.  After 22 years, he retired from EPA in 2019 and is renewing his work with Three Circles.

He is a faculty member in the Urban Environmental Education Graduate Program at Antioch University, Seattle, where his courses focus on multicultural environmental education, multicultural environmental leadership, and issues of racial justice.


Dr. Abigail Abrash Walton is an innovative, mission-aligned leader, with 30 years of higher education and public interest experience.  She holds appointments as an administrative leader and faculty in Antioch University New England’s Department of Environmental Studies, where she directs the Conservation Psychology Institute and co-directs the Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience.  Under her leadership, the New England campus developed and advanced its own climate action plan, including significant reductions in electricity usage through low-/no-cost behavior change strategies and installation of the first public-access EV charging station in the Monadnock Region.  Previously, she served as program director for the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights and New Hampshire Citizens Alliance and as a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program.

Abigail’s areas of research, practice, and public engagement are at the nexus of mission-aligned leadership, social justice, sustainability and climate solutions.  She has published on these topics, including “Positive deviance and behavior change: A research methods approach for understanding fossil fuel divestment,” in Energy Research and Social Science: Problems of method in the social study of energy and climate change; “Fossil fuel divestment: The power of positively deviant leadership for catalyzing climate action and financing clean energy,” in Evolving Leadership for Collective Wellbeing – Lessons for Implementing the United Nations Sustainable  Development Goals; “Local solutions report: Identifying and meeting the needs of local communities adapting to climate change” (with Simpson, M., Rhoades, J., & Daniels, C.); U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit road test: Bridging the data-practice divide (with Simpson, M., & Castriotta, M.); “Conservation through Different Lenses: Reflection, Responsibility and the Politics of Participation in Conservation Advocacy,” in the journal Environmental Management, “The Amungme, Kamoro and Freeport: How Indigenous Papuans Have Resisted the World’s Largest Gold and Copper Mine,” in The Globalization Reader (Lechner & Boli, eds.), and “The Victims in Indonesia’s Pursuit of Progress,” an invited New York Times op-ed.

Her recent engagement includes contributing as invited reviewer for the 2020 U.S. Government Review, Working Group II contribution to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Resilient Development Pathways (Chapter 18).  Abigail chaired the City of Keene’s Planning Board (2011-2014) and served on the Steering Committee for the City’s Master Plan, which focuses explicitly on sustainability, climate change mitigation and adaptation. Her leadership contributed to the city’s adoption of a Hillside Protection Ordinance and Surface Water Protection Ordinance as well as updates to the Planning Board’s development standards to include Comprehensive Transportation Management and Low-Impact Development.

She has been a commentator for The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio, “Democracy Now!” and the PBS NewsHour, among other media outlets. Abigail holds a M.Sc. in Political Theory from the London School of Economics and Political Science, a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Permaculture Design Certificate from the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center.


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