Meet the Angeles Chapter Environmental Justice Committee

  • Posted on 2 July 2020
  • By Yvonne Watson, Chair of the Angeles Chapter Environmental Justice Committee
A lot of people have been wondering why the Sierra Club is supporting social justice issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement.  I’ve read social media posts criticizing the Club for straying away from its core values and mission.  But is this a fair statement to make? 
If you are familiar with the Sierra Club you’ve probably heard the words “Explore, enjoy and protect the planet” but these words are part of a larger Purpose statement.
In full, The Sierra Club's purpose is: 
To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources; and to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.
So what exactly does it mean to “educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment?”  
This is where Environmental Justice fits in.
Dr. Robert Bullard, the Father of the Environmental Justice Movement, says:
America is segregated and so is pollution. Race and class still matter and map closely with pollution, unequal protection, and vulnerability.  Today, zip code is still the most potent predictor of an individual’s health and well-being.
Individuals who physically live on the “wrong side of the tracks” are subjected to elevated environmental health threats and more than their fair share of preventable diseases. Still, too many people and communities have the “wrong complexion for protection.” Reducing environmental, health, economic, and racial disparities is a major priority of the Environmental Justice Movement.
 -- Dr. Robert Bullard – The Father of Environmental Justice
The Sierra Club Angeles Chapter Environmental Justice Committee was created to address these issues related to the quality of our shared, human environment.  
Our mission: To expose the linkages between environmental quality and social justice, to promote dialogue, increased understanding, and appropriate action, so that disproportionately affected communities will find justice and experience a healthy and sustainable future.
Our committee works on issues related to air, soil, and water pollution affecting communities of color within the Angeles Chapter.  We hold California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) workshops on how to write effective public comments on development projects.  Our members attend and participate in meetings of numerous regulatory agencies, neighborhood councils, city councils, and the LA County Board of Supervisors.  
We are currently working on a housing campaign to push for policies and programs that address the shelter needs of the homeless, provide relief for renters and fixed-income residents. And yes, we also participate in social justice actions related to fighting systemic racism, immigrant rights, and others.  This includes working alongside our allies in the Black Lives Matter Movement, Environmental Justice, and others.
There is so much more to do and so little time to get it done.
This is why we are seeking new members who can:
Respond rapidly to activist alerts, submit written comments or provide verbal testimony on various projects, attend meetings and report back to the committee, conduct research and compilation of data, and contribute as graphic designers, bloggers/vloggers, and general social media specialists.
We are also seeking a Committee Secretary to take minutes of our meetings.
Please consider joining the Environmental Justice Committee and work with us as we work towards a more just and equitable future for all.
NEXT EJ COM MEETING:  Saturday, July 11, 2020, via Zoom – contact chair for login information.
Please contact the Chair for information on how to participate in this virtual meeting.
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I am BRAND new to Sierra Club and to this committee but would be happy to attempt to take notes. I used to do a lot of that in my former job as an exec asst. Let me know if you’d like me to take a crack at it. My fear is not being familiar with everyone’s names and the acronyms for things, but like I said, I’m willing to give it a try!

How can we possibly see social/environmental justice not inextricably connected? I might just have to join the committee!

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