Tom's of Maine Incubator: Meet Alexia Leclercq, Environmental Justice Advocate
By Ashley Ess
May 12, 2023
Tom's of Maine recognizes that solutions to climate change and environmental injustice come from people from many walks of life—including those who are often overlooked. This is why Tom's of Maine created the Incubator program. The initiative provides funding, support, and mentorship to Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) climate leaders to amplify their voices and bring attention to their much-needed solutions.
Meet Environmental Justice Advocate Alexia Leclercq
One of the 2022 Tom's of Maine Incubators is 22-year-old Alexia Leclercq, co-founder of the Colorado River Conservancy and Start:Empowerment and leader of dozens of environmental justice campaigns. Winner of several prestigious environmental and educational justice awards, Alexia is an accomplished interdisciplinary scholar and grassroots organizer. We spoke with Alexia to learn more about their work.
Alexia, tell us a little about who you are, where you're from, and your work in environmental justice.
I'm an environmental justice organizer from Austin, Texas, and currently a graduate student at Harvard. As an organizer, I've worked with communities to push for legislation on issues ranging from clean and affordable water to cumulative pollution impact on communities of color to aggregate mining regulation and more. I also co-founded the Colorado River Conservancy under PODER and Start:Empowerment, a BIPOC-led nonprofit committed to climate education and environmental justice. We're committed to providing high-quality social-environmental justice education and programming, skills-based training, and grassroots organizing support to youth and communities of color.
What led you to become an environmental justice advocate?
I was drawn to this work because of my cultural background, which taught me that we're connected to each other and to Mother Earth and should always work toward the collective good. Growing up in France, Taiwan, and Singapore, I saw the disparities in access to clean water and experienced numerous hurricanes and air pollution, including acid rain. When my family moved to Texas, I saw how communities of color were being poisoned by the petrochemical industry. Through PODER, I learned about environmental racism and systems of oppression. This motivated me to organize for social and environmental justice.
Tell us about your advocacy for clean and affordable water.
One focus of my activism has been on protecting water sources. In Austin, the Colorado River is sadly being polluted by aggregate mining operations and toxic dumping, mostly in predominantly Black and brown communities. Many people don't have access to clean and affordable water because of water privatization, a growing issue.
I'm currently working with PODER to pass legislation at the federal level to allow local governments to use eminent domain power and funding from the State Revolving Water Fund to buy out private water companies if they aren't providing adequate water. We're also hoping to bring clean and affordable water to 12,000 residents in Hornsby Bend this year.
Can you expand on your work with Start:Empowerment?
My co-founder, Kier, and I created Start:Empowerment because we didn't see environmental justice reflected in our education. Since 2019, we've worked with a dozen schools to implement environmental justice curriculum and programs. Most notably, our award-winning curriculum has reached over 3,700 students and has been recognized by the NYC Department of Education!
We've also created a Climate Justice Community School, which has hosted more than 63 public events and workshops alongside local organizers, scholars, political prisoners, Indigenous elders, and BIPOC youth, helping over 4,500 individuals deepen their knowledge. Lastly, we center action via organizing in all our work.
Our youth organizers have led advocacy campaigns on issues ranging from drinking water policy in Texas to fighting the North Brooklyn Pipeline to creating local gardens for food justice and mutual aid collectives.
You've already started working on a number of special projects this year. Can you tell us more about some of your favorites?
I'm working on building a leftist climate movement through the next iteration of Start:Empowerment's political education and youth organizing program. The climate movement is a movement for survival, and we need to establish local collectives that can build resiliency, challenge the petrochemical industry, respond to climate disasters, and provide sustainable mutual aid and healing programs. I'm excited to be working with some incredible partners and activists to launch the "Survival Bloc Movement" soon!
Driving Much-Needed Solutions to Climate Issues
The Tom's of Maine Incubator is designed to propel the next generation of BIPOC leaders innovating environmental solutions. The program provides funding, mentorship, amplification, and support to young changemakers, helping them Do Good. For Real. Find out more about the Tom's of Maine Incubator and the other 2022 leaders.
Team up with Tom's of Maine and stand with Alexia by seeing how you can get involved with the Colorado River Conservancy and Start:Empowerment. Learn more about Alexia by visiting their website and follow them on Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date with their important work
Image Source: Alexia Leclercq
The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.
Why It’s Good
The Tom's of Maine Incubator is helping to amplify the work of environmental justice advocates like Alexia Leclercq to support real solutions to real problems.