The Coalition of Communities of Color (CCC) seeks a new member of its team to lead REDEFINE, our Environmental & Climate Justice Program. The program supports policies that advance environmental, climate, and energy justice and provide economic and social benefit to communities of color.
End of Year Wrap Up
The Coalition of Communities of Color (CCC) and our members continue to work with communities of color, tribal governments, environmental, public health and labor partners across the state to develop a strong front and climate justice policies focused on real greenhouse gas emissions, jobs, and equity. These policies must support a cohesive racial justice agenda for the State of Oregon and the City of Portland.
To achieve our agenda, REDEFINE, the CCC's Initiative for Climate and Environmental Justice, has worked collaboratively with partners to build capacity in member organizations as well as provided education and engagement opportunities focused on environmental and climate justice.
The development of a curriculum workgroup and series of cross-cultural workshops has helped communities of color better understand public policy and to develop their personal narratives as a tool for their climate justice advocacy.
Our first climate justice workshop focused on: 1) understanding the root causes and impacts of climate change on a personal, local and global level, 2) identifying solutions, and 3) connecting attendees to opportunities to take action. Our second workshop for organizations and communities of color will be held on Wednesday, December 21, at 5:30 pm (REGISTER HERE) and will be focused on how 2017 climate justice policies (e.g. capping pollution/investing in communities, housing, and transportation) can support a larger racial justice agenda and respond to community needs. Upon completion of our two-part workshop series on climate justice, we will adapt these for other organizations of color. In 2017 we will build on this foundation through a series on green infrastructure funded by the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District. Please contact Maggie@communitiesofcolor.org to host or attend a workshop.
Finally, we continue to seek resources from local and national funders to support communities of color to act and lead on environmental and climate justice solutions. Meyer Memorial Trust (MMT) recently awarded grants to CCC members – Africa House, Portland African American Leadership Forum (PAALF) and VOZ Workers’ Rights Education Project through MMT’s Healthy Environment Portfolio. The grants will support capacity building, strategic planning, and curriculum development around environmental and climate justice.
The Coalition of Communities of Color (CCC) and our partners envision connected, balanced, healthy and thriving communities framed thRough:
- Principles of Environmental Justice
- Relational Worldview Model
- Multiplicative Benefits and Sustainability Redefined
- Seventh Generation Perspective
- Social Cohesion
Members of the CCC have established this shared vision to guide our work in Redefine: The CCC’s Initiative for Climate and Environmental Justice.
We believe any environmental or climate initiative must lead with racial and economic equity, prevent harm, provide benefit, and ensure inclusive and accountable decision making. Keep reading to learn more about how we apply these principles. To see the 2016 Redefine Principles, please click here.
Tyee Khunamokwst: “Leading Together”: Cross Cultural Climate Justice Leaders—In December 2015, the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), the CCC, and OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon were awarded a grant from the Kresge Foundation to implement Tyee Khunamokwst: “Leading Together”: Cross Cultural Climate Justice Leaders. Tyee Khunamokwst is our three-year climate resilience plan for the Portland metro region that articulates how communities of color can shape public processes related to climate resilience. We prioritized cross cultural climate action capacity, housing justice, transportation justice, green infrastructure and disaster resilience. Additionally, our collaborative is working with national grantees to make the case of anti-displacement as a pillar of climate resilience. To see the full and abbreviated version of the plan, please click here.
Again, members of the CCC jumped full force into 2016 short session, securing victories with Minimum Wage, Inclusionary Zoning, Coal to Clean, and more. The CCC also pushed for three main bills with partners at Renew Oregon and Living Cully related to our climate and environmental justice work. To see detailed information on the CCC's 2016 Legislative Priorities, please click here.
Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan—With its passage, Oregon became the first state in the nation to phase coal out of its energy grid. The legislation also doubles our use of renewables by 2040, creates a community solar program with a 10% low-income subscription target, and incentivizes additional electric vehicle infrastructure. Over the long run, given the high cost of coal infrastructure and maintenance, switching to renewables will reduce energy costs for ratepayers. Community solar allows residential and small commercial customers of Pacific Power and PGE to participate in the ownership of off-site solar projects which would be credited against their electricity bill. It also directs the PUC to ensure that at least 10% of the overall community solar program capacity be provided to low and moderate income customers.
Cully Park—Verde is transforming a 25-acre brownfield in Portland’s largest and most diverse neighborhood (Cully) into a public park. This new community asset provides opportunities for healthy eating and active living, educates youth, creates jobs and sets a template for community development of environmental infrastructure.
Healthy Climate Bill—The CCC supports a carbon pricing bill that ensures Oregon meets its statutory climate pollution reduction goals and holds major polluters accountable. Equitable climate policy means historically underserved communities are involved in decision making, are not harmed by climate change and policy solutions, and see revenues reinvested in ways that reduce disparities and create direct benefits and opportunities in our communities.
Check out Greenlining Institute’s report to see how California has reinvested carbon pricing revenue to address the priorities of low-income communities and communities of color.
And on everyone’s mind? Air toxics in Portland. Cadmium and arsenic associated with glass manufacturing were detected first around Bullseye Glass (SE) and Uroboros Glass (NE). As people of color and people with low-incomes, we have known for decades the burden of air pollution, toxics and particulate matter on our communities in Portland and globally. While no community should experience these risks, why have two “hot spots” of metals in certain neighborhoods finally drawn attention to air quality, yet the disproportionately higher risk in our communities of color and low-income communities due to diesel exhaust and other toxics have not? We are working with our partners at Beyond Toxics, CRAG Law Center, Neighbors for Clean Air, Oregon Environmental Council, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, and others to ensure more than spot treatment. The State of Oregon must be accountable to the health of our communities. Contact the CCC, OPAL Oregon Environmental Justice, and Neighbors for Clean Air for upcoming workshops, resources, and advocacy opportunities.
How You Can Help
Where else can you lend your voice, experience and expertise? Through 2016 and 2017, we are poised to continue our fight in the legislature to:
- ensure polluters pay for the harm they cause to our communities and environment;
- provide equitable funding and representation for our communities;
- regulate diesel and air toxics that compromise our health; and
- expand use of clean energy technology to reduce environmental and financial inequities.
Do you have a story to tell related to the health of your community? Contact Maggie Tallmadge, Environmental Justice Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The CCC will also develop a series of workshops on climate and environmental justice including concepts, root causes, solutions, and advocacy opportunities. Reach out and stay tuned for more details!
Saturday, August 29th will mark ten years since Hurricane Katrina. Its devastation highlights painful histories and issues of racial injustice and inequity in this country—policies, planning and investment that are not entirely unique to New Orleans.
Katrina also shone a bright light on segregation, disparities in physical and economic mobility, as well as inequitable emergency response and climate policies. And, it showed us how a natural disaster can increase gentrification and displacement.
We know that climate change makes things worse for low-income communities of color, that it exacerbates existing inequities and reinforces systemic racism. In the case of New Orleans, not only were low-income communities of color the hardest hit, but inequitable planning and investment dramatically changed the demographics of the City. Both African Americans and Whites left New Orleans, but many fewer African Americans had the resources to return. There are nearly 100,000 fewer African Americans in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina—an exodus of 8%. The share of whites, on the other hand, increased from 26.6% to 31%. Not only has this exodus clearly contributed to family and community instability, but also has had impacts on the City’s cultural diversity, political representation, and economic opportunities.
Portland’s communities, too, experiencing clear disparities in economic wealth and public investment, are susceptible to impacts of climate change including droughts, floods, and forest fires. Slower but real emergencies—lack of affordable housing, poor access to healthy or culturally significant foods, or increased exposure to dangerous air quality and toxins—will only accelerate with climate inaction and business and planning as usual.
It is vital we push for change now, because of climate change, because more powerful storms are predicted, and because the painful effects of Katrina are still alive. We must act on climate, push for equitable investment, and design policies and planning around those most impacted—low-income communities of color.
 Shrinath, N., Mack V. & Plyer A. (2014). Who Lives in New Orleans and Metro Parishes Now? Data Center Research? Louisiana: The Data Center. http://www.datacenterresearch.org/data-resources/who-lives-in-new-orleans-now/