Tom's of Maine Incubator: Meet Aliyah Collins, Environmental Justice Advocate

By Sher Warkentin Thinking Sustainably

March 27, 2023

The people most impacted by climate change are often the ones most likely to be left out of the conversation when finding solutions. But with the Incubator program, Tom's of Maine is taking action to change that.

The Tom's of Maine Incubator was created to elevate and support the next generation of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) climate leaders and empower them to make a positive impact. As part of this program, Tom's of Maine is providing five BIPOC environmental leaders with mentorship and funding to support their efforts to protect our planet.

Meet Environmental Justice Advocate Aliyah Collins

One of the five leaders chosen for the 2022 Tom's of Maine Incubator is environmental justice advocate Aliyah Collins, who has worked with communities in Nashville, Chicago, and Boston connecting environmental justice to spiritual care. We sat down with Aliyah to learn more about her work.

Aliyah sitting on stone steps, smiling.

Aliyah, tell us a little about who you are, where you're from, and what led to your interest in environmental justice.

I'm currently a master's student at Harvard Divinity School. I'll be graduating in May 2023. As an undergrad, I attended Fisk University, a historically Black university in Nashville, Tennessee. During my time at Fisk, my passion for climate justice grew when I witnessed how a devastating tornado disproportionately affected Black residents in the community. Since then, I've been helping communities across the country, using spiritual care as a tool for environmental justice.

How does spiritual care help BIPOC communities impacted by climate change?

Climate trauma is a type of anxiety brought on by repeatedly experiencing or witnessing life-altering climatic changes—for example, a whole community being wiped away by a hurricane. As a climate trauma healer, I utilize spirituality to help address these mental health challenges.

Research has shown that BIPOC communities are experiencing climate change at a faster rate than other communities. How can we engage these communities about climate change?

BIPOC communities are often more vulnerable to severe and catastrophic weather and climate conditions. Engaging young members of these communities through organizations and places of higher learning, like historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), is an excellent way to raise awareness and hopefully inspire a new generation of young Black environmental activists.

The idea of tackling climate change can feel overwhelming. What small steps can we take to help make a difference?

Raising awareness is critical to making real change. It can be as simple as spreading the word on social media. In the future, I plan to expand my own social media presence to help share the work I'm doing and educate people about why it matters. Knowledge is the first step, which can lead to making small changes to enact real progress both as individuals and as a larger community.

Looking ahead, can you share any special projects or exciting initiatives you have coming up?

I plan to continue building on my current foundation to raise awareness about environmental justice across HBCU campuses. I'm especially eager to build a partnership with Spelman College, one of the nation's most prolific, Black-female led HBCUs. Beyond that, I'm excited to expand my network and collaborate further with others involved in environmental justice.

Stepping into a Brighter Future

The Tom's of Maine Incubator is a program designed to propel the next generation of BIPOC leaders driving environmental solutions. The program provides funding, mentorship, amplification, and support to young changemakers, helping them Do Good. For Real. Learn more about the Incubator initiative and the other 2022 Tom's of Maine Incubator leaders.

Team up with Tom's of Maine and stay up to date with Aliyah's work by following the Eco Healing Project. You can also check out her story on AfroTech alongside fellow Incubator Wawa Gatheru.

Image Source: Aliyah Collins

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 young environmental justice advocates like Aliyah Collins so those most impacted by climate change can have a voice.