Oct 15, 2019 |

Kat Taylor, Jane Fonda and Khaliah Ali join board of The Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice


Written by Andrea Walker, AVP, Creative Media Evangelista

Beneficial State Bank’s co-founder and CEO, Kat Taylor, recently joined the board of The Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (CREEJ), headquartered in Montgomery, AL and serving rural communities throughout the United States. CREEJ believes that, climate change being a crisis of catastrophic proportions, it’s urgent to advance equitable, grassroots-led solutions in policy and technology innovation across the country. 

On Monday, October 7th, Kat joined fellow CREEJ board members, Jane Fonda, actress and activist, and Khaliah Ali, fashion designer and daughter of Muhammad Ali, on a tour of the domestic water, wastewater, soil and sewage issues that have plagued the most vulnerable residents of Lowndes County, Alabama for decades. Followed by a press conference about the expansion of CREEJ, the tour culminated in an intimate, in-depth discussion addressing research, policy, technological, and leadership development solutions to solve these issues facing rural communities. 

From left to right: Khaliah Ali, fashion designer and daughter of Muhammad Ali, Jane Fonda, activist and actress, Catherine Flowers, executive director at CREEJ, and Kat Taylor, co-founder and CEO Beneficial State Bank

From witnessing the ineffectiveness of straight piping, to the residual effects of having a septic system connected to a city’s inadequate sewage system, CREEJ board members, community-organizers Project South, and local advocates witnessed first-hand accounts of the injustices residents throughout rural America have suffered, many of which have perpetuated structural racism and economic inequity for generations.

CREEJ is led by Catherine Flowers, a Lowndes County native who experienced first-hand the adverse health effects beleaguering communities that are under-resourced and over-polluted. With a strong lens toward inclusive and equitable environmental justice, she started Alabama’s Center for Rural Enterprise (ACRE) in 2002 intending to eliminate the health, economic, and environmental disparities suffocating rural and marginalized communities which, recognizing the national reach of these crises, has now evolved into CREEJ. 

Over 70 percent of Lowndes County is African American, and 26 percent live in poverty, and in 2018, a third of residents reported sewage backing up in their homes or pooling in open areas.

From left to right: Bro Krift, executive editor of the Montgomery Advertiser, Jane Fonda, activist and actress, Catherine Flowers, executive director at CREEJ, and Kat Taylor, co-founder and CEO Beneficial State Bank

“These are injustices that we shouldn’t tolerate anywhere in the world. In addition to these residents having absolutely no right to clean air, clean soil, and clean water--which we take as a given in most places—you also see predatory financial contracts for mobile homes that substantially decrease in value once you drive off the lot,” shared Kat at the evening discussion open to the public at Alabama Shakespeare Festival.  “Seeing the inhabitable structures, the environmental injustice, and the structural racism when you go there in-person is not something you can ignore. CREEJ sees this an opportunity to elevate the problem-set, plus increase the solution-set, by networking all of these communities together.”

Learn more about CREEJ and how to get involved at https://www.creej.org/


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