New Docu-Series Highlights Intersection of Racial and Climate Justice

Christa Rosa Unger (left) and Aerin Monroe.
Aerin Monroe (right) interviews local leaders including Christa Rose Unger (left).
One Cal Poly Humboldt student is amplifying the role of communities of color in the fight for environmental justice through the docu-series, Sowing Seeds: Racial Justice and the Environmental Movement.

Aerin Monroe, Environmental Studies senior and Afro-Latin environmentalist, co-created, produced and hosted the series, which Saving California Salmon’s Valentina Dimas (‘21, Environmental Studies) filmed and edited.

He created the series alongside his wife, Dr. Susanne Sarley. The series aims to “bring about awareness of climate issues and provide guidance on how we can all work together to ensure healthy ecosystems and equitable justice for communities most severely impacted by climate change and environmental injustices,” he says.

His guests include local leader and environmental scientist Lonyx Landry and civil engineer Brook Thompson, whose work, along with others, sheds light on the intersection of race and the environment in Humboldt County and beyond. 

There is very important work that’s being done here to combat some very scary realities that, as a county, we’ve had to face,” Monroe explains, such as the Klamath Dam, deforestation, green-washing, and fish kills. “There is so much that’s happening in this county that people need to pay attention to, specifically as it connects to people of color’s voices and how we can navigate these issues and come out with real solutions by looking to our Indigenous populations for leadership on accessing the wisdom of Traditional Ecological Knowledge that spans tens of thousands of years.”

All four episodes of Sowing Seeds are available on YouTube and through Monroe and Sarley’s nonprofit, Pathways of Purpose, which provides asset-based, STEAM educational and vocational programs. Monroe hopes to release further episodes with topics exploring food sovereignty, aquaculture in Humboldt County, and Traditional Ecological Knowledge. 

Photo of Aerin Monroe.
Aerin Monroe (picture above) produced, co-created and hosted the docu-series, Sowing Seeds. Photo courtesy of Aerin Monroe.

An episode of Sowing Seeds will also be screened at KBLA Talk 1580’s Black History Month Luncheon Honoring Black Climate Champions on Thursday, Feb. 29, in West Hollywood. Monroe will be honored at the event, which highlights those whose trailblazing work centers the climate conversation around Black lives. 

Monroe encourages audiences to find ways to work together and support communities most affected by climate change.

“People talk about reparations as an African American issue, and people talk about land back as a Native American issue, and we see that the environmental movement in America is often seen as something separate from either,” he says.

Racial and climate justice are inseparable, he explains. “So much of the inequities that we experience as a people are interlinked. Culturally, we’re different, but we have so many similarities.”

“This climate crisis has to have communities of color, people from the LGBTQIA+ community, people with disabilities, and people at the intersection of multiple identities, at the forefront of finding solutions to the problems we face as a nation. We have to foster ways to create pathways of leadership for them, for us,” Monroe says.