In the first Green Lines Series interview for GoGreen Portland we had the chance to connect with Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, Director of Community Affairs, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, a passionate voice for transforming our pollution-based way of life to one that prioritizes our planet and its people for over 15 years.
Raised between Brooklyn and rural Upstate NY, Ibrahim appreciated environment and sustainability at an early age. His father, a devout Muslim, taught 5-year-old Ibrahim that the “Earth is a mosque,” that every inch of the planet is sacred and to be protected. Ibrahim retells this moving story in his Amazon Environmental Bestseller, “Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet,” a one-of-a-kind expose of the positive contributions of people of faith to the environmental and environmental justice movements. Completely committed to making his birth city into a global leader of environmental policy and practice, Ibrahim has been in several civil service roles since 2001. He advised former Mayor Michael Bloomberg on PlaNYC — the City’s sustainability blueprint and he currently directs Community Affairs at the NYC Department of Environmental Protection. Ibrahim’s head is all policy; his heart is all organizing. He merges the two consistently, bringing marginalized communities into City Hall conversations. Ibrahim can be heard on WNYC and WBAI and seen on Al Jazeera, AriseTV, and ABC News.
GoGreen Conference: Tell us about yourself – what is your background and how did you get to where you are today as a leader in sustainability, equity, and social change?
Ibrahim Abdul-Matin: I got where I am today because I could pursue my interests in race and class dynamics, the excesses of consumption, how we treat the planet and how we collectively made decisions without having to worry about paying back college debt. I had a full football scholarship. When I graduated I gravitated towards work that was fulfilling and not just what I needed to do to pay the bills.
GoGreen: Your father taught you that the “Earth is a mosque” and the planet should be treated as a sacred and protected space. How has this statement influenced both your professional career, but also your personal habits and practices?
IAM: My father was quoting the Hadith – or a saying of the Prophet Muhammad who, in my humble opinion, was a freedom fighter and an environmentalist. I try to stay as anchored to those reminders in both my professional and personal life as possible.
GoGreen: What have been the biggest obstacles facing sustainable practices and making them a habit for the city of NY? How have these obstacles been faced and over come?
IAM: We have a lot of work to do. We think we are the greatest at everything in NYC. I think our biggest obstacle is living up to that but i also think that we make progress everyday.
Find out more about Ibrahim Abdul-Matin on his personal website.
Event Details: The eighth annual GoGreen Portland, will take place Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at the White Stag Building. Tickets are available at portland.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 503-226-2377. Save 30% on tickets with promotional code GREENLINESERIES.