fostersrefillery LOCAL SPOTLIGHT
Right before wrapping up our interview with Jane Lotubai, she interjected how strongly she feels that the word “environmentalism” needs reimagining. She wants to be a part of a new brand of environmentalism that prioritizes social and environmental justice and includes and empowers all people– especially those most vulnerable.
Jane and her family fled to Nairobi, Kenya, as refugees from South Sudan in 1991. In 2003, Jane’s mother, seeking better opportunities and a safer upbringing for her children, immigrated to the United States. Jane and her family moved from state to state before settling in Utah. She became accustomed to being the new kid and the only black person in the classroom or neighborhood. The Lotubias landed in Salt Lake City because Utah, unbeknownst to many, is home to a large and thriving Sudanese community with over 65 ethinc groups represented. Every year leaders within the community organize meet-ups and parties, and provide a strong safety net for one another.
Jane’s driving passion is fashion. Every facet of the creative process, from modeling, to behind-the-scenes runway design, enthralls and inspires her. She does, however, avoid fast fashion, and instead advocates for well made and long lasting garments. Since a young age, her mom has embedded a deep thriftiness in her and her siblings. Her household reuses and repurposes everything from containers to clothes. When clothes get too worn to wear, Jane will often design outfits and her mom, who is an expert seamstress, will sew (or teach Jane how to sew) her vision into reality.
The Black Lives Matter movement is important to Jane, and she participated in several of the recent protests– even if that meant going alone. Environmentalism and social justice should not be happening independently of each other. But when she thinks of the word “environmentalism” she thinks of white-washed marketing and privilege. She said “I’m still trying to feel comfortable and safe walking down the street, and I don’t think people understand what a privilege it is to have the time and energy to advocate for the environment.”