“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” As Anne Frank mused in The Diary of a Young Girl, it's pretty empowering to know we can start making a change any moment we choose to do so. If you are inspired to get involved with environmental justice efforts, there are several local groups to choose from that help you take action and provide the resources to support you as an advocate right here in Contra Costa and other parts of the Bay Area. To get started, check out the list below.
West County Toxics Coalition
The West County Toxics Coalition (WCTC) is a nonprofit, multi-racial membership organization based in Richmond that sets out to empower low and moderate-income residents to take control of environmental issues that directly affect their quality of life. Since 1986, the organization has actively worked to develop and implement policies and programs that improve justice for local communities. The organization mainly focuses on West County, though activism covers various areas within Contra Costa. Visit their page to learn more.
Environmental Law and Justice Clinic
The Environmental Law and Justice Clinic (ELJC) is a constituent of the Golden Gate University School of Law. Since 1994, the Clinic has offered quality support to Bay Area environmental justice advocates that are having difficulties maneuvering the political environment in their efforts to make progress. To read up on their work and learn how they might be able to help you, please visit their website.
Communities for a Better Environment
Though Communities for a Better Environment’s (CBE) presence spans across California, the organization has been closely involved with justice issues in the the Bay Area, particularly in Richmond. The majority of these efforts focus on emissions in the city as well as other issues related to local refineries. CBE members have been influential at past City Council meetings and have contributed at other gatherings in support of progressive motions introduced by Council members. To read more and to see what other projects are going on in the Bay Area, check out their Northern California page.
The Delta Regional Group, Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter
The Sierra Club’s Delta Group consists of local volunteers that gather to discuss various environmental issues prevalent in the eastern portion of Contra Costa County, particularly from Bay Point to Discovery Bay. Main topics of focus include urban growth and land-use planning, transportation, toxics and solid waste, and air and water quality. Though the group is not specifically focused on organized activism, you might consider joining to keep up with current issues, influence decision-makers, and connect with others that also want to take action to improve environmental conditions for marginalized communities in the area. If you are interesting in becoming a part of this group, visit their page for more information. Meetings are held in Bay Point and are led by fellow volunteers.
The Bay Area Environmental Health Collaborative (BAEHC) has helped bring justice to many people all over the Bay Area. The WCTC (described above) is one of several organizations that make up this wonderful collaborative. Visit their website here.
If you are still yearning to learn more about environmental justice, Contra Costa Health Services has compiled an informative booklet on environmental justice. Click here for the online PDF.
Did we miss an amazing organization? Drop a comment below!
We need to re-frame the words climate change to "climate/environmental justice", since it is the people with the least power that will be most affected. The right has gotten very good at reframing issues to make them more emotionally based. We need to learn from them and be smarter. If the right really cares about people, they should be held accountable. It's not just about jobs. It's about human beings and survival, health, and justice.
Also check out the amazing work being done by Bay Localize!