Thursday, July 28, 2011

A great definition of Environmental Justice

Guy Williams, our CEO/President, and I went on a field trip with Jessica Yorko (Lansing City Councilmember and Ingham County Environmental Justice Coordinator) and Sandy Svoboda (Metro Times writer) yesterday to do an environmental justice mini-tour and to visit our green jobs training program over at the Wayne County Community College Eastern campus.

I was amazed and happy about a few things:

1. Metro Times is writing a cover story about the NIEHS-EPA joint Environmental Justice conference that's coming to Detroit at the end of August (registration is free and open to the public)

2. Ingham County has an Environmental Justice Coordinator through the Health Department. WOW. The fact that Ingham County placed enough priority on environmental justice to fund such a position is awesome. (hint hint, Detroit)

Anyway, Ms. Yorko sent a followup email of thanks, and has at the bottom a great definition of environmental justice. Great because it's a positive vision of what's desired:

"Environmental justice is equitable access to environmental benefits and protections across different race, income and other forms of difference."

"Environmental justice is the right to a safe, healthy, productive, and sustainable environment, where "environment" is considered in its totality to include the ecological, physical, social, political, aesthetic, and economic environment. Environmental justice addresses the disproportionate environmental risks borne by low-income communities and communities of color resulting from poor housing stock, poor nutrition, lack of access to healthcare, unemployment, underemployment, and employment in the most hazardous jobs." - National Association of County and City Health Officials

I may start adding this to my email signature as well, to spread understanding of this totally sensible (everyone gets it once you explain it) but rather young movement.

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