Organizing for Environmental Justice

Teams from Beyond Toxics and the NAACP Eugene/Springfield came together in 2018 to start the process of organizing an Environmental Justice Pathways (EJP) Summit. The agenda we had prepared was jam packed with amazing speakers from throughout the state of Oregon and abroad. 

As the April start date approached, our Environmental Justice Pathways team faced the tough decision of postponing the Summit to April 2021. The decision to do so was disappointing and, although it took the wind out of our sails, we knew that we could not rest in our pursuit of environmental injustice. Right now, it’s more important than ever to work towards sustainable solutions using an equity lens. We cannot move forward without bringing the issues and concerns of frontline and vulnerable communities front and center.

That is why we launched our EJP webinar series in April. Conversations around environmental justice need to continue. To keep our membership and allies engaged and to gain increased support for the Environmental Justice movement, we have begun to hold monthly webinars highlighting the topics we had planned to address at the Environmental Justice Pathways Summit. 

You can join us for our next webinar, The Right to a Healthy Workplace on September 16th at 12 pm to learn about the intersection of labor, mobility-and-ability and race. Our featured speakers include Susan Sygall, CEO & Executive Director of Mobility International and Martha Sonato, Legislative Director of PCUN, Oregon’s farm workers union. 

We started this webinar series in the spring with a plenary panel discussion on the Historical Intersections of Race, Economy, and Environment in Oregon. Experts in Oregon’s social and racial history were invited to discuss how past injustices impact Oregon’s current environmental policy and what we must do to confront a pattern of injustice in our state.

Pradnya Garud, Beyond Toxics co-President, appeared as one of the panelists for “Unjust Care” webinar

 

During the second month of quarantine, our team wanted to meet people where they’re at. We focused on a topic that was relevant, and that’s how the topic of Unjust Care and Pandemics came to be. The panel featured diverse perspectives and expertise, including representatives from the public health sector, and leaders in the environmental, racial, and civil rights movement. 

Still frame from Naily Nevarez’s video, “Homero Gomez Gonzalez”

 

The Environmental Justice Pathways Summit had aimed to bring in a variety of voices. We had planned to host a number of youth artists who had submitted their work for our EJP Youth Art Contest. For our 3rd webinar, we invited the contest winners to display and perform their submissions as part of our webinar series. Younger generations have been leading the way in addressing past injustices and working towards solutions using a variety of artistic platforms. Webinar participants were able to enjoy two videos and poems that painted vivid pictures of why the environment matters to younger Oregonians, and why we need to take action now.

Our 4th and most recent webinar, The Right to Clean Air featured social, environmental, and racial justice organization leaders throughout Oregon. Our panelists spoke on the impact of air pollution on communities of color throughout the state, and what the future health and well-being of frontline communities might look like if we fail to take immediate and effective action. 

Our past webinars have sparked such important and necessary discussions. Many folks have let us know that these webinars have been helpful in building their capacity to delve deeper into these issues.

“It’s great to see the turnout you are getting for the virtual gatherings. I’ve been sharing the first plenary with a board that I sit on. We are making it part of our year of learning to watch and discuss it as a board.” ~ M.R.

We’re thrilled that our upcoming webinars will feature speakers on the topics of Water Justice, Timber Culture and Race, and Traditional Ecological Knowledge. Sign up to receive our e-alerts for up-to-date registration information.

These conversations are more important now than ever. As COVID-19 has made us take a step away from what we consider “normal day-to-day”, it’s clear that achieving environmental, racial, social, and climate justice for all is going to play an important part in how we adapt to deal with a post COVID-19 world. We hope you can join us for these vitally important conversations that aim to bring us together to address environmental injustices and find pathways to a more environmentally just Oregon.

~ Haley Case-Scott, Climate Justice Grassroots Organizer and Environmental Justice Pathways Webinar Coordinator

P.S., Join us for our next webinar on September 16th at 12 pm, “The Right to a Healthy Workplace.”