Environmental Justice

Advocacy Update :: Just over a week to go! CCC legislative session update

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The short legislative session is in the home stretch, and we are continuing to push forward on our 2018 legislative agenda!


Education

Culturally specific early learning programs, including many offered by CCC’s members, have strong records of successful outcomes for children and families of color. Yet these programs are not currently eligible for state funding to invest in these effective programs. The Early Childhood Equity Fund (HB 4066), would establish a fund to invest in culturally specific early learning program.

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Latino Network has led a coalition of early childhood advocates to advance this bill. A number of CCC members have also been hard at work on this bill. Lee Po Cha from IRCO, Sadie Feibel from Latino Network, and Ashley Oakley from NAYA all testified at the hearing before the House Early Childhood and Families Supports Committee, along with CCC. At the hearing, committee members were visibly moved by their stories of the impact of culturally specific early learning programs on children and families. The bill passed out of committee unanimously and has seen widespread support and is now before the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education.

Despite the urgent need for this resource, legislators missed an opportunity to provide children and families of color with these critical programs by failing to pass HB 4066. We will be back next session to ensure that we are meeting the early learning needs for all of Oregon's young children.


Strengthening Families

Families are at the heart of our communities, and ensuring that children are not unnecessarily removed from their homes, and that families have a path to restoration is critical to keeping our families strong. Currently, children of color are removed from their homes by child welfare services at far higher rates.  Representative Tawna Sanchez has taken action by introducing a bill that would prevent unlawful removals and give families a path to reunite with rehabilitated parents.

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In its initial form, HB 4009 would have required judicial authorization before a child would be removed, meaning that kids would remain in their homes so long as they were safe. The original bill’s provision to create a path for restoring families remains in the bill and has moved forward. Dani Ledezma, CCC’s Interim Executive Director, testified on the need for this bill. It was amended in the House Judiciary Committee so that it only includes an opportunity for families to be restored when parents who no longer have parental rights are prepared to successfully parent their children. While we are very disappointed that the removal provision was eliminated from the bill, CCC is dedicated to continuing this conversation to ensure families have the support and resources to thrive. The amended version of HB 4009 passed. We applaud Representative Tawna Sanchez’s leadership in sponsoring this critical bill.


Environmental Justice

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Maggie Tallmadge, CCC’s Environmental Justice Manager, testified about the need for environmental justice to be centered in Clean Energy Jobs legislation. We continue to advocate for action on climate through policies that meaningfully benefit most impacted communities. The final form of the bill remains under discussion. Representative Diego Hernandez has been a key champion for environmental justice and his leadership has been critical to incorporating climate justice into the policy. 

Clean Energy Jobs did not pass this session, although the Legislature took some important steps toward developing a program for legislation during the 2019 session. CCC and its members will continue to push for environmental justice to be even more central to climate policy.


The impact of legalized housing discrimination continues today, as families of color face barriers to home ownership and are the hardest hit by rising rental housing costs and displacement.
— Jenny Lee, Advocacy Director, Quoted in the Mail Tribune

Housing and Health

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Other CCC priority items include HB 4134, which would streamline the process for removing racially restrictive covenants. This bill has passed out of both the House and the Senate and will go to the Governor’s desk. A bill to increase the document recording fee to fund affordable housing, emergency rent assistance, and homeownership (HB 4007) passed. A bill establishing a task force to address racial disparities in homeownership (HB 4010, with Representative Mark Meek as a co-chief sponsor) passed unanimously out of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. Maxine Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of PCRI, testified about the urgency of addressing the homeownership gap and PCRI’s work on Pathway 1000. CCC also testified about the need for a maternal mortality and morbidity review committee (HB 4133). Representative Janelle Bynum, a co-chief sponsor of the bill, gave powerful testimony about the dramatic racial disparities in maternal mortality rates, and CCC testified emphasizing that implicit bias in health care and the impact of chronic stress. HB 4133 passed.

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We are heartened to see the leadership of legislators of color addressing the most pressing issues in our communities. The current Legislature is the most diverse ever, and this representation is resulting in bills that address some of the most pressing issues faced by communities of color. We look forward to a more equitable Oregon thanks to their leadership, and the dedicated advocates working for racial equity in our state legislature as we move toward the end of the 2018 legislative session. All of our priorities for housing and health passed this session!


Coalition of Communities of Color Legislative Action Day Recap

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The collective power of communities of color was out in full force on February 8 for the Coalition of Communities of Color's 2018 Legislative Action Day! For our 6th annual lobby day, more than 60 attendees met with 40 legislators to talk about CCC's 2018 legislative agenda and solutions for the most pressing issues impacting our communities. The session may be short, but our attendees covered a lot of ground, sharing their stories and advocating for issues from the creation of an Early Childhood Equity Fund to affordable housing to climate justice. We were honored to have Representative Teresa Alonso Leon, Representative Diego Hernandez, and the Governor's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion join us in the morning to share their vision for racial equity in government and inspire future political leaders.

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If you haven't seen photos of CCC advocates in action yet, check them out here. And many of our CCC members also held legislative action days this session—check out photos from the Urban League, NAYA Family Center, and APANO. IRCO will be holding their legislative action day this Friday.

Thank you to everyone who joined us, and if you missed CCC's Legislative Action Day this year, we hope that you'll be able to attend next year. The legislative session ends on March 9, so stay tuned for our recap of the session in our March Equity Lens newsletter.

 

CCC Member Announcement: A Night of Poetry & Conversation

CCC Member, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), invites you to join us for an evening of powerful poetry by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a Marshallese poet and climate justice activist, followed by a conversation with Jo Ann Hardesty, President of the NAACP Portland Chapter. 

Light refreshments will be provided. Childcare is available upon request, at least one week in advance of the event. For more information, please email Khanh Pham at khanh@apano.org. 

Co-sponsored by: COFA Alliance National Network, Coalition of Communities of Color, Oregon Environmental Council, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, and Renew Oregon


Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner is a Marshallese writer. Her writing highlights the traumas of colonialism, racism, forced migration, the legacy of American nuclear testing, and the impending threats of climate change. Bearing witness at the front lines of various activist movements inspires her work and has propelled her poetry onto international stages. She has performed her poetry in front of audiences ranging from elementary school students to most recently over a hundred world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit, where she performed a poem to her daughter, "Dear Matafele Peinam". Currently she lives and works in the Marshall Islands, where she teaches Pacific Studies courses at the College of the Marshall Islands. She is also Co-Director of the youth environmentalist non-profit Jo-Jikum, which empowers youth to work towards solutions on environmental issues threatening their home island.  For more information, visit her website: https://kathyjetnilkijiner.com/

April 2016 Equity Lens :: REDEFINE Update

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Vision

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.


Projects

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.


Advocacy Efforts

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 ToxicsCRAG Law Center, Neighbors for Clean Air, Oregon Environmental CouncilOPAL 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 maggie@coalitioncommunitiescolor.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!