Mustafa Santiago Ali will be the keynote speaker at the seventh annual Dallas County Community College District Sustainability Summit on Nov. 3. Photo courtesy of Mustafa Santiago Ali.

Oct. 20, 2017

North Texans can hear a fresh voice in the environmental movement when an activist from the Hip Hop Caucus shares his take on environmental justice in Dallas next week. 

Mustafa Santiago Ali will be the keynote speaker at the seventh annual Dallas County Community College District Sustainability Summit at Cedar Valley College on Nov. 3. His presentation entited “Moving Vulnerable Communities From Surviving to Thriving” will kick off the free all-day event at 8:30 a.m.

Ali resigned from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in March after serving more than 20 years in senior positions. Now he’s the senior vice president of climate, environmental justice and community revitalization at the Hip Hop Caucus, a nonprofit that draws on the Hip Hop community to promote political activism.

“Our theme was resilience and social justice and he is tailor made for that,” said Georgeann Moss, cochair of DCCCD’s sustainability team. “Dr. Maria Boccalandro met him at a conference and was so impressed with his presentation that she asked him to speak at the summit.”

Interview with Mustafa Santiago Ali

Mustafa Santiago Ali explains why he resigned from the EPA this year during an interview at the People's Climate March in April.

Ali, a former instructor at West Virginia University and Stanford University in Washington, will be speaking about the impacts of recent events such as hurricanes Harvey and Irma and how we can rebuild those communities they affected, he told Natural Awakenings DFW

“How do we make sure that we’re thinking about the economics and creating jobs to move forward with renewables, housing and transportation-related issues?” said Ali. “These are things that move our most vulnerable communities from surviving to thriving.”

He said one of the pressing issues of our time is fossil fuel pollution. However, the Appalachia native advocates for an inclusive approach that recognizes the challenges of workers in the fossil fuel industry as they face this cultural shift.

“I come from coal country, so it’s important to honor the hard work that miners did over the years and give them additional opportunities to find employment with wages similar or better than what they currently have. That also translates to those who work in the oil fields. We have to make sure we’re honoring that culture, and then moving forward in a way that’s beneficial to those workers and their families.”

In addition to Ali’s keynote speech, the event will feature hour long Breakout sessions on single topics and Synergy sessions that run two hours, featuring two or three presenters talking on similar topics. Topics covered include alternative transportation, healthy living, environmental justice, economic vitality and urban farming and gardening.There will also be workshops where attendees will get hands on learning, including an outdoor dance workshop. See full schedule.

Moss said they’re expecting to draw around 400 event goers, including students, employees, as well as local residents and professionals from outside the school.

Dallas County Community College District Sustainability Summit

About: All-day event featuring keynote speaker Mustafa Santiago Ali from the Hip Hop Caucus, breakout sessions, workshops and green exhibits. This year's keynote theme is Sustainable Cities/Resilience/Environmental Justice. 

Cost: Free. Those who register by Oct. 30 get a free lunch.

When: Nov. 3, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Exhibits open at 8 a.m. Lunch is scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. Afternoon roundtable discussions will be held from 3 to 4 p.m.

Where: Cedar Valley College, 3030 N. Dallas Ave., Lancaster


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