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Faces of the Grassroots: Environmental Justice Video Contest

2010 March 5

I believe all people have a right to live in a clean and healthy environment. This principle, also called environmental justice, means that along with “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” every American has a right to a healthy environment in which to live, learn, work and play.

Unfortunately, many communities across the nation, particularly low-income, minority, and tribal populations, live in unhealthy conditions because they are located near factories, ports, agricultural land, or are exposed to chemicals in the home. The understanding that environmental and public health impacts affect some communities more than others is what started the Environmental Justice movement in the 1990s. And, children in these communities are more vulnerable to environmental conditions than adults.

My interest in environmental justice began growing up in Houghton, a former mining town in the poor, rural, northern most part of Michigan. The mining industry there began in the 1890s and once was home to the largest copper milling operation in North America. But, long after the mining operations and jobs ceased, the heavy metals and chemicals from the mines persisted and some lands were designated as Brownfields and Superfund sites. The lakes and streams my friends and I played in as children could have been polluted with toxins we know are harmful to children, and my story is not unique.

Fortunately, many cleanup activities are underway or have been completed since I left home and my vision of a nation of clean, healthy communities is closer than ever. Communities, where people can live without the threat of environmental factors causing asthma and respiratory diseases, where everyone has the opportunity to work and earn a living wage in a job that supports a green economy, and where children can play and attend schools located in safe, healthy places that encourage learning. Luckily, I work for an EPA that shares that vision. In fact, environmental justice has become one of Administrator Lisa Jackson’s highest priorities.

I just shared my story of the environmental concerns where I grew up and my hope for a better tomorrow, now it’s your turn. Share your environmental justice stories by submitting either a 30 or 60 second public service message or a longer 3 to 5 minute informational video that captures the faces of the grassroots, the environmental justice stories that matter to you, the solutions that have made your community a better place to live, or tell us your vision of a sustainable, healthy future. The Faces of the Grassroots contest is your chance to put to video the realities you have experienced, the very stories that drive us at EPA to work harder. We can’t develop lasting solutions without you. Join the conversation!

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About the Author: Christine Guitar works in EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and focuses on outreach and community involvement.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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5 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    March 5, 2010

    Your story makes me cries, what I see that my people, here, lived and suffered. many problem are rise: babies not milks, children not school, teenagers with drugs and alcohols, youngmen unemployee, trafficgirls, parents conflict, corruptions, elites conflict, etc. I believe our problems are not solving forever, without miracle. I am not willing to US or the others countries. I stay and cries with my people here forever. But I am proud to read your post and, right, your story is true. Your “communities” are models for the people of developing countries. Good luck !!!!!

  2. Al Bannet permalink
    March 7, 2010

    “Environmental Justice” is treated as a social question when it should be considered a question ecological balance. Who is doing justice to the planetary biosphere that supports 7 billion people and counting and is expected to go on safely absorbing their growing tons of waste and garbage forever? Those people are driven by their instinctive impulse to grow, but if they don’t start thinking very soon they will die from pollution-related diseases in continental and global pandemics. The question is: How many people can the Earth safely support?

  3. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    March 7, 2010

    We are going to be voting on a major water bond in the November statewide election here in California. It calls for two canals, a tunnel, and several large new dams. But dams are the most expensive and most inefficient means of handling water and there are major environmental issues with the canals. This comes at a time when large dams on rivers across the country are being taken down and the rivers made wild again. One major argument of the opposition to the water bond is the environmental justice issue. Communities with the most polluted water supplies in the state are those in poor and working class mostly minority areas and Native Americans living on Tribal lands. The bond measure has little or no money to address these issues. Another problem the bond issue does not look at is the diverting of clean water from the pooer areas of the state and moving it to higher income areas along the beach or in the foothills. Developers built high income housing along the coastline and in the foothills and told water agencies to lay lines from clean water sources to these developments so the developments would not be stranded. The result has been to create water quality inequity that should be but (in the bond measure) is not being addressed. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  4. jonsmit permalink
    March 8, 2010

    what a nice Topic, And your title is also too cute.Such as I really like it, And hope that It may be liked by everyone.

  5. Shedeep permalink
    March 8, 2010

    our story makes me cries

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