Nothing brings about change faster than when local communities get involved and organize to improve the conditions in their cities, towns, and neighborhoods. Over the years, I have travelled to communities across the country, where the impacts of pollution and public health problems are all too real. On each of these visits, I have been struck by what a difference it makes when residents are involved in the environmental decision-making and have a voice in designing a vision for the future in the places they call home.
Community engagement is a key tenant of environmental justice and why it is so important that we have a place to share our stories, or successes, and our expertise. It is our hope that this blog will support the online community of advocates working for environmental justice and create a space where we can highlight the positive activities happening in communities to reduce environmental and health disparities. Organizations, businesses and citizens throughout America are trying a wide range of approaches to advance environmental justice. We want to capture these good ideas and connect them to others across the country.
Additionally, many government agencies offer resources for overburdened communities, but it can seem daunting to locate them all. And, since EPA’s Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, promoted environmental justice as one of her top priorities, there has been important progress at EPA and other federal agencies to address environmental justice concerns and expand the benefits of government programs in low-income and minority communities. Environmental Justice in Action! will also serve as a space where we can share information about the resources, tools, and programs available to help achieve healthy and sustainable communities.
My goal for this blog is to make this a resource for you and to provide an opportunity for everyone to join the conversation on environmentalism. So, it is important that we hear from you! Let us know what types of information would be most useful and interesting to you.What do you want to learn more about? Please post your thoughts and comments here and on future posts to help us better design this blog to meet your needs. While the government can provide support and assist in building capacity in communities, putting environmental justice into action takes you!
About the author: Mustafa Ali currently serves as the Associate Director of Communications for EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. He has been a national speaker, trainer and facilitator on social justice issues for the past 20 years and focused on the issue of environmental justice for the past 19 years.