Published on March 3rd, 2014 | by GrowWNYAdmin


Meeting Recap: Environmental Justice Working Group [2/18/14]


WNYEA_PodiumIn November of 2013, the Western New York Environmental Alliance (WNYEA) presented its 2014 Action Agenda. The agenda contains 10 planks from 7 of the Alliance’s Working and Process Groups, all dealing with environmental issues impacting the Western New York Region. To learn more about the Action Agenda items of the WNYEA and their progress, get involved in the Alliance through theWorking/Process Group Meetings, signing up for a listserv, or visiting the WNYEA section on GrowWNY. Or continue reading to learn about the latest Environmental Justice Working Group meeting.

On Tuesday, February 18, 2014, the Environmental Justice Working Group held a meeting. The key focuses of this meeting were:

  • Updates on Advocacy Planks
  • Update on WNYEA Strategic Framework
  • Pathway between CAC/EJAG collaboration

Advocacy Planks

Clean Air gave an update on what’s happening on the West Side, where part of the current focus is the expanding truck plaza for the Peace Bridge. Currently the group is waiting to hear back from the civil rights complaint they have filed – due to the poor job of outreach with languages into the West Side community regarding the plaza.

Clean Air is also seeking more support from elected officials both in this matter and in conjunction with a solutions meeting. A solutions meeting will cultivate ideas from the community about combating the pollution problem in their neighborhood. This will work to mitigate the proposed expansion project as well as encourage community development and investment. A solutions meeting will also be a good outlet to display solutions from the Clean Air Coalition and its members have proposed, to elected officials that are what the community want. This also demonstrates that there are quantitative goals already established.

In addition to many other things, Clean Air hopes to see community assets like benches, air solutions (such as green buffers) and closer food markets. These things include the ideas of the original plank; incorporating people with currently limited access to decision as well as true investment in the community.

WNYEA Strategic Framework:

Recently, the Alliance Board of Directors met to discuss the Alliance’s mission, vision, values and strategic goals in a planning retreat. The product of this meeting was a strategic framework that the Alliance Board Members are working to share through the working and process groups. The group reviewed the strategic framework and agreed to take it back to their respective organizations. An aspect of the strategic framework that the Environmental Justice working group is especially excited about is its position incorporating more policy advocacy than was previously included. This is something that helps move forward ideas that many of the WNYEA member organizations hope to make progress with.

Collaboration between the CAC and EJAG:

Recently, the Clean Air Coalition and the Environmental Justice ACTION Group have been formulating ways the two groups could collaborate. In its brainstorming stages, the groups are working on four base ideas: a shared vision, capacity building, as well as community engagement and joint advocacy. Some of the larger ideas within this growing framework are a narrative between the organizations’ self-interest, an environmental scan, as well as a timescale to place benchmarks of observable and softly quantifiable ways of evaluating their work together. Other exciting ideas include possible joint training with organizations like the Racial Justice institute and leadership training within the communities that make up Clean Air Coalition and Environmental Justice Action Group. There are countless ideas for community engagement and as this partnership moves forward there will be many more exciting stories to come.

As always don’t stop with just this blog. Come to the next Environmental Justice Group meeting to learn more about the plans for 2014! The next meeting is planned for March 13th at 2:30pm at the Clean Air Coalition’s offices. To stay up-to-date on meeting times and locations, join the group’s listserv.

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