Enviornmental Justice Town Hall Experience

Project Coordinator, Odera Igwe, attended the Environmental Justice Town Hall meeting in Philly and below are the main takeaways from her experience

National Environmental Justice Town Hall

On November 2nd, 2019 I attended the APHA Environmental Justice Town Hall in Philadelphia PA. This town hall was an opportunity for Environmental Justice leaders all around the country to come together and discuss the Environmental Justice (EJ) issues they have encountered in their communities. The main objective of this town hall was to improve the understanding of cumulative impacts that communities face and identify the ways in which the APHA and other organizations can engage with EJ communities to address cumulative impacts locally and nationally.

As someone who has limited knowledge about cumulative impacts and the policies surrounding them, this conference helped me understand exactly what EJ communities encounter and the laws that enforce their oppression. The town hall discussion was moderated by a panel of intellectuals knowledgeable about cumulative impacts in their community. I enjoyed the initial introduction to cumulative impacts the presentation style helped define the issues and paint a holistic picture of the problem.

During this Town Hall, the main topic of discussion focused on the issue of cumulative impacts and focuses on developing ways to address multiple sources of pollution in environmental justice communities. What stood out to me during this conference were the different facets of environmental justice being represented (racial, political, scientific, etc.) Something mentioned about the science side of environmental justice was the lack of accurate racial representation. The issue is that white people rule the science realm and can make judgments, decisions, and standards without checking their bias.

This, of course, is not just limited to science, or Environmental justice but you can also see this in the healthcare system for example. This goes into another issue that was discussed at the conference which is victim-blaming. For example, healthcare professionals could look at the physical health of members of an EJ community and blame it on diet without assessing cumulative impacts such as the community’s water source, if they’re near a production plant, the economic wealth of the community, and so on. Too often, we have seen outside people blame marginalized communities for their own misfortune without taking into account the systemic oppressions wreaking havoc on their neighborhoods. Overall, Environmental Justice communities that endure the outcomes of cumulative impacts are drastically underrepresented. There needs to be cumulative solutions in order to combat cumulative impacts.

multiple hazards and impacts

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