The Path to Sustainable Communities Starts Here!

By Camilla Warren

My first Brownfields Conference was Boston, 2004 – a chilly, wet event where my eyes were opened to the possibilities for revitalizing all brownfields: urban, rural, industrial, railyard – you name it! These sites were becoming coffee shops, farmers’ markets, community gardens, welcome centers, boutique manufacturers, indoor putt-putt courses, and on and on. Anything is possible!

But how? With what? The 2013 Brownfields Conference is one great way you and your community  can learn how to get started, keep momentum, and achieve sustainable communities.

Many classes are for those just beginning to learn about Brownfields, including sessions with small and rural communities in mind. There are also sessions for communities working to address environmental justice concerns, including job development, public health findings and improvements in Brownfields communities, and community engagement. Every session has application to environmental justice issues.

Community workday in West Atlanta

Because cleaning up Brownfields is integral to addressing pollution and poverty in low-income and minority communities, an EJ Caucus Event is planned for Wednesday evening, May 15 at the Omni Hotel. Important topics will be discussed such as EJ policy, revitalization and jobs, economic development, EJ and public health, brownfields, and sustainability. There will also be local “community champions” who will share their experiences and experts in these fields will be serving as facilitators!

Targeted Brownfields Site Assessment at University Avenue in Atlanta

You can also participate in educational sessions that show the journey communities take when revitalizing their neighborhoods. You will see how communities converted their assets into down payments on revitalization: empty theatres in Birmingham, vacant storefronts in Columbia, and land next to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta were all utilized to enhance and improve local economies and create urban greenspace. The sessions will include great local speakers who remade their communities and want to share their advice and successes to help you learn more about what you can do in your neighborhoods!

Please consider joining us at the 2013 Brownfields Conference and begin your journey!

About the author: Camilla Warren is the EPA Region 4 Revitalization Project Manager and 2013 Brownfields Conference Local Coordinator.  Camilla has over 27 years of combined project and management experience in various types of contaminated properties, including Nonpoint Source, Hazardous Waste, Federal Facilities, Brownfields, and National Priorities List sites. She currently provides revitalization support to other EPA Brownfields project managers and communities throughout the southeastern states, and has designed a number of nationally known Brownfields successes.