By Keith Griffin
During the day, Wildaliz Bermudez is an energy policy research analyst for the City of Hartford. But after work she breaks out her green thumb as co-founder and co-chair of the City of Hartford’s Green Action Team. It is a group of volunteer employees who promote environmental stewardship in the workplace and the community.
“With the alarming asthma rates and environmental contamination that inner-cities like Hartford face on a daily basis, the issue of environmental justice has to be placed at the forefront of our political, economic and health conversations,” Bermudez says.
The Green Action Team is co-planning an Earth Day event for the Capitol City. The event will be a recycling inspired fashion show at Hartford City Hall titled “Trashion-Fashion Show.” The fashion show provides an opportunity for local designers to showcase their beautiful works of art, made from recycled materials- repurposed into cool and wearable designs. This year marks the first time ever the show will be held in Hartford City Hall through the collaboration of the City of Hartford’s Employee Green Action Team and designer Amy Merli.
“I credit my first introduction to caring for the environment thanks to the best teacher I had growing up, my mother Carmen Bermudez. It is because of her vision and dedication in making beautiful art from recycled materials, that inspired me to look at the environment through a different more mindful lens. It is this same paradigm that continues to bring me great joy as I help to prepare final logistics for the upcoming recycling fashion show,” she said.
Bermudez has always loved the outdoors. “Being able to travel to Puerto Rico every summer to visit relatives showed me the vastness of ecosystems. For example, staying with my Abuelita Julia, in the small town of Yabucoa, during the summers allowed me to see what raising chickens, and goats was like. Harvesting beans, picking up fresh fruit right out of the trees, and watching horses ride down the street side by side with cars, opened up a new world that juxtaposed with city living.”
A graduate of Trinity with a bachelors in international studies and human rights, Bermudez headed to the Centro de Estudios Avanzados, a masters and doctoral program in Caribbean history. She said, “The more I learned about Puerto Rico’s history, the more I realized the history was intrinsically linked to the environmental justice movement because the island has been raped of its resources. I decided to study environmental science to help the island, and to help communities in the US. After thinking about what I learned at Trinity, I realized this kind of environmental pillage was going on everywhere.”
To her green spaces in urban settings are important because “Trees and green spaces allow space for people to play and interact, and it allows a space for people to de-stress. When people look at green and trees, it is soothing. We are hard wired to take in natural beauty. Because urban spaces have so many buildings, we need to have areas where people can connect with nature and with each other.”
The “Fashion-Trashion” Show will be held in Hartford City Hall, on April 19 at 3 p.m. (sneak preview) and April 20 at 6 p.m. (the actual Fashion Show). More information is available at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at: (860) 378-9966.
By Keith Griffin