The Foundations for Leaders Organizing for Water and Sustainability, or FLOWS Program, at CU Boulder, helps bridge social justice and environmental issues by giving leadership training opportunities, green job skills, and free energy and water upgrades to the communities who need it most.
FLOWS coordinators Magnolia Landa-Posas and Angela Maria Ortiz Roa, as well as Michelle Gabrieloff-Parish, Energy & Climate Justice Program Manager at the CU Environmental Center, spoke to us about why the work that FLOWS accomplishes is integral to low-income communities in Boulder.
“A lot of the stuff we are talking about, even though there is solid science behind it and is very grounded in science; at the same time a lot of it is very logical, and makes sense, especially to people from any traditional culture; because in order to be in-tact you had to have been doing something sustainable for however many thousands of years. We’re trying to tease that part a little bit and help their community see their practices as being sustainable… trying to name that as sustainability practices and not just being frugal.”
FLOWS works by sending technicians consisting of CU students as well as other Boulder residents to low-income neighborhoods to upgrade and start conversations about sustainability with residents. Upgrades include things like replacing light bulbs, fixing plumbing issues, making sure refrigerators are working correctly and more, while Conversations with residents consist of a questionnaire to help start a dialogue about being sustainable.
“There is this natural dialogue, that is ignited during our visit… a lot of these communities are doing a lot more than we think or give them credit for. Most of these communities are
communities of color or immigrant communities, so it’s been very powerful to kind of rescue those traditions that we forget or want to deny when we migrate.”