By Jonathon Lubrano, VCPC graduate research fellow
On April 23, William & Mary law students from the Virginia Coastal Policy Center (VCPC), Student Environmental and Animal Law Society, and Black Law Student Association joined the Southeast CARE Coalition for a second year to “Plant the Change” in the Southeast Community of Newport News, VA.
“This event is part of our ongoing commitment to the environmental future and health of the city of Newport News,” says Elizabeth Andrews, co-director of the VCPC. The Southeast Community is considered vulnerable to recurrent flooding and sea level rise because of its location and socioeconomic composition.
The Arbor Day celebration began with a tree planting ceremony at John Marshall Elementary School, followed by at gathering at Newsome House, an African American cultural and history museum where attendees learned about the rich culture and history of the Southeast Community.
During the ceremony, three trees were planted in honor of those who have helped the Southeast Community. The first tree was dedicated to Erica Holloman, leader of the Southeast CARE Coalition and the first African American woman to earn her doctorate degree from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. The second tree was dedicated to George Gaynor, who sponsored an addition to John Marshall Elementary. The third tree was for the College of William & Mary and its various organizations that have worked to improve the lives of Southeast Community residents.
The trees will compliment the newly planted garden at John Marshall Elementary. They symbolize a collaborative effort to rejuvenate the Southeast Community of Newport News.
“When students of William & Mary share their time, knowledge, and heart with the residents of the Southeast Community, a community facing serious socio-economic and environmental challenges, they live the rule of citizen lawyering,” says Roy Hoagland, co-director of the VCPC. “With leadership from former and current students like Joe Carroll and Emily Gabor, student investment in this event reflects the best of the law school.”
An extension partner of Virginia Sea Grant, VCPC at William & Mary Law School provides policy and legal analysis to its partners on coastal resource and community issues in its mission to educate and train the future lawyers and leaders of tomorrow.