Black Belt going green

Published 6:47 pm Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Judge Marvin Wiggins and state Rep. Yusuf Salaam want to help create a grassroots effort to turn the Black Belt green by answering the call of President Barack Obama to seek alternative energy sources.

But there’s more because to become green, which also means successful, adults must invest in the future — children.

Wiggins, Salaam and others plan to reveal the work needed in a meeting Sunday at 6 p.m. at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, 410 Martin Luther King St.

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Wiggins and Salaam came out of the Selma-Dallas County Think Tank. They want to establish an umbrella faith-based, non-governmental organization from the spiritual arm of the think tank. The two want to join people of all faiths in this effort.

“The initial purpose is to formulate a strategy to help work with the county, city and state in recruitment of green manufacturing,” Salaam explained.

For instance, the Obama Administration has promoted the concept of green energy. If these plans materialize, manufacturers will be needed to make solar panels or turbines for windmills, the representative said.

It’s not unthinkable. After all, Dixie Pellets in Selma ships wood pellets made by compressing sawdust and other wood waste into dense, high-combustion fuel sources. Pollution regulations in Europe to prevent global climate change have seen people and industries on that continent use nearly eight million tons of wood pellets a year to run their factories and power plants or heat houses in neighborhoods.

“It all fits together,” Salaam said.

The ministry part of this program is to get people out of their churches and involved to serve the community, Wiggins added. This means putting aside differences of race, class, religion and other things and joining together.

But there’s another component. The future of Selma and the Black Belt depends on people in the region promoting education excellence in the school system, Salaam said. This promotion of excellence is the reason Salaam and Wiggins approached Knox Elementary to work with them and establish a model.

Central to the assistance of Knox is the participation of the Links organization. Penny Williams, a member of Links, said the program is O.B.A.M.A. or Opportunity Builders through Affirmation, Motivation and Acclamation Dream-keeper Society.

“Our objectives are to establish Knox Elementary School as an exemplary institution of learning through collaboration with faith-based and civic organizations,” Williams said, “to provide mentorship and support to parents in order to help them instill into their children the principles and qualities that will enable them to attain their dreams and be competitive in a a global society and to restore parental and community involvement in the education of our children.”

The initiative has several targeted areas of focus that include health and nutrition, sciences, arts and technology, occupational exploration, educational experiences, agriculture and culinary arts and parental and community focus.

Wiggins and Salaam want to see many people at Brown Chapel, and not just the officials. “They (elected officials) deal with things from the top; we’ll deal with things from the bottom up. We’ll do this in a harmonious way,” Salaam said.