August 2022 Newsletter

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SWEA News & Updates

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Message from

Our Founder & Executive Director

Happy Summer South Ward Family!

Remember to stay hydrated and seek cool locations to avoid the heat. 

There are so many environmental updates and a wealth of information to share. Let us start with our South Ward victories: No Amazon Secret Hub at the Newark Airport, Newark residents packed the NJDEP Hearing of the Environmental Justice Law at NJIT, Dayton Street residents are making their voices heard on the Lionsgate development and Clinton Hill residents are holding developers accountable to the needs of the community. This is what democracy looks like, power to the people!

As we continue to make transformational changes in the South Ward that center equity through health, economic, social and environmental justice, we will create a healthy, vibrant and thriving South Ward. Let us continue to evolve the mighty South Ward on how we think about sharing power in our decision-making processes. Lastly, we must respect all the voices of our community and “lift as we climb”.

In Solidarity,

Kim Gaddy, Executive Director 

Upcoming Events

  • SWEA is hosting its annual truck counting event on August 24th & 25th! For anyone interested in signing up for the event, more information can be found here
  • SWEA Monthly Zoom (every 3rd Saturday of the month @3pm)
  • THIS Saturday 8/20 
  • NAACP Monthly Zoom (every 2nd Monday of the month @7pm) 

          Sonny William Gaddy Jr. Second Book Scholarship 2022 Recipient 

"An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, only fools despise wisdom and instruction."

 Michael adds to this quote - so don’t be a fool, let God guide your life and the outcome will surprise you.

Michael Marotta graduated from NorthStar Academy Washington Park High School in Newark, NJ with a final weighted G.P.A. of 4.36.

During his time at NorthStar, Michael served as a Senior Leader, Advisory Leader, and Peer Mentor. He participated in basketball, choir and performed in numerous school plays and musical productions.

Michael was inducted into the International Thespian Society and National Honor Society and received several certificates and awards for his academic and community accomplishments such as organizing a Christmas food drive and donating over 450 pounds of goods to the Hillside Food Bank.

Michael served seven years as a New Jersey Orator and received several accolades of excellence including being one of the youngest people in the U.S. to receive a certificate of Congressional Honors for his dedication to public speaking. He takes pride in this moment because he was awarded by the late Congressman, John Lewis along with the late Congressman, Donald Payne, Sr. 

Michael has also taken part in the Asa Philip Randolph Institute convention promoting equality for African Americans in the workplace and advocating for social justice. As for college plans, Michael will be attending Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He plans to study and major in Theater and Political Science with aspirations of becoming an Actor and Politician.

Newark's First Green Fair

South Ward Environmental Alliance staff, Asada Rashidi and Haneef Campbell joined the City of Newark Office of Sustainability and the Newark Green Team as well as other organizations for Newark's First Green Fair at River Day. Unlike anything ever seen before, Saturday, August 6th residents came to the Ironbound section to make magic happen by the riverfront. From the Eco-friendly juicers and delicious smoothies, all the way to the compost demonstrations. We came together to support our community to make this an inspirational event.

National Night Out

South Ward Environmental Alliance Staff, Asada Rashidi and Haneef Campbell joined United Parks as One National Night Out with a few other community organizations at Mildred Helms Park on Tuesday, August 2nd. It was a very fun-filled and joyous event for all, starting from the music to the various games and interactive masterpieces put to display for the eyes of our community. National night out with the South Ward of Newark is no event to miss! 

California Dreaming: SWEA Staff Retreat

The South Ward Environmental Alliance (SWEA) embarked on a 7-day trip to Long Beach, California for an environmental justice youth convention. During the trip, staff members met with Angelo Logan, director of the Moving Forward Network (MFN) and co-founder of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ). Logan provided an overview of his work within the environmental justice movement by reflecting on childhood experiences of witnessing the mistreatment of minorities in overburdened communities. He affirmed that industries “use race to make money off the oppression of the poor.” 

To combat such environmental injustices, Logan revealed “organizing efforts should bridge intergenerational gaps and involve the community.” He placed an emphasis on oral history and dialogues through storytelling and study groups as ways to engage the community. Logan affirmed that the most important keys to strategically organizing are relevance, usage of time and joy factor.” He reminded SWEA to address the community using the correlation between profit and policy and the role race plays in the development of polluting facilities. 

SWEA also had the opportunity to meet with Taylor Thomas, Co-Executive Director of EYCEJ for a tour of ports, parks and community spaces overburdened by pollution. SWEA saw the LA Port, which is the largest in the nation and the Long Beach port, which is the only port in the nation to be 100% electrified. During the tour, Thomas disclosed that communities consisting mostly of people of color bear the brunt of poor air quality, underfunded parks and overall unsafe livable conditions. Both ports are in close proximity to frontline communities burdened with crime, overcrowding and limited resources. Despite this bitter reality, Thomas enlightened SWEA about EYCEJ community victories, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. EYCEJ opened their facilities to provide meals, masks and medical supplies for individuals to help with basic living essentials. 

SWEA staff are glad to have met Logan and Thomas of EYCEJ. We are encouraged to continue collaborating around policy changes needed to liberate us all. Power to the people!

Amazon Victory Party

Amazon Victory Party: Held July 18, 2022

Amazon and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey secret plans to build a $432M air cargo facility at Newark Liberty International Airport were defeated by Newark and Elizabeth residents. SWEA alongside other community organizations such as Clean Water Action, the Main Street Alliance, Make the Road New Jersey, Ironbound Community Corporation, Weequahic Park Association, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters canvassed communities, informed and empowered residents to hold Amazon and The Port Authority accountable. “This victory signals that if Amazon wants to continue growing in New Jersey, it’s going to have to do it on our terms,” said Sara Cullinane, director of Make the Road New Jersey, an advocacy group that had questioned the deal. To celebrate their efforts, Make the Road New Jersey hosted a victory party on July 18, 2022, at The Weequahic Park Community Center on 92 Thomas Carmichael Drive in Newark, NJ.

Presentation to Climate Justice Youth Ambassadors

Images taken by Frankie Walls

Newark's Office of Sustainability invited Asada Rashidi to speak to the Climate Justice Youth Ambassadors about the air quality in Newark and provide them with a real-time hands-on activity that allowed them to understand the impacts air quality has on the health of residents and why it’s so vital to engage the next generation of environmental advocates. Additionally, Asada and Yaritza discussed the Stop Dumping on Newark campaign to stop Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) from building a new fracked gas power plant in the already overburdened Ironbound community, an issue that would impact their wellbeing and health in Newark. 

In addition, Kim Gaddy, Executive Director, South Ward Environmental Alliance participated in the Environmental Justice tour of the South and East Wards for the Climate Justice Ambassadors. She highlighted how the Dayton street neighborhood is surrounded by industry, railroads, highways, a superfund site, brownfields and the largest metal recycling facility in the world. She encouraged the students to take a survey of their neighborhoods to determine what polluting facilities exist and seek to change the situation. Gaddy concluded, by requesting the youth to take ownership of their neighborhood and demand a seat at the table and meaningful participation in the discussions regarding development and siting of unwanted facilities in their community.

Staff Highlight: Haneef Campbell

My goal is to be able to help kids that do not have a way and bring them into greatness. One day we will not be able to look to our elders for everything, the youth is where we plant our seed. Now it is time for me to be the gardener that helps these flowers bloom!”

Haneef Campbell is a 2022 graduate of Arts High School and the newest member of SWEA. As the second oldest of five siblings and a resident of Newark, he has experienced firsthand how important it is to advocate for the youth. Haneef’s passion to fight for environmental justice stems from his younger siblings' experiences with asthma and how his immediate surroundings played a significant role in their health complications. 

Haneef’s role in the organization as the Youth Organizer is to cultivate, recruit and engage South Ward youth to become the next generation of environmental justice advocates. This council of 5-7 youth leaders will work collaboratively to create an environmental justice action plan for a thriving and sustainable South Ward community. SWEA’s Youth Council will plan and organize workshops, trainings and community meetings to educate the youth. They will also establish community outreach networks and clubs within schools to build urban sustainability Green Teams of students.  


Connect with Haneef Campbell

Contact Number:(862) 900-1226 

Contact Email:

Youth Council Sign up form:

Sonny William Gaddy, Jr. College Basket Recipients

Pictured above are the first recipients of the Sonny William Gaddy Jr. college preparation baskets. (From left to right; Michael Marotta, Ka-Niesa Anderson Blackshear & Zaire Johnson)

Let's Celebrate the Class of 2022!

Congratulations to graduates of the class of 2022! Starting college is a big step, show us how you and your family are preparing! Email your photos to Asada Rashidi with the subject Back to School for a chance to be featured in our next newsletter!

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