The EHJLT program’s aim is to introduce WE ACT members and high school youth leaders to Environmental Justice, Environmental Health, Community Organizing, and Campaign work at large. After completing the training, participants of the EHJLT program will be equipped with appropriate knowledge and tools needed to organize campaigns or projects for WE ACT and/or the broader Environmental/Social Justice movement on their own.
The EHJLT program is scheduled to kick-off at the end of February and conclude in mid-April of 2015. The EHJLT will take place on two Saturdays (Feb. 28 and Apr. 1) and on Wednesday evenings in between. The curricula incorporates inquiry and place-based approaches to understanding Environmental Injustices in New York City with a focus on Northern Manhattan.
Each participant of the EHJLT program receives an EHJLT manual. The manual highlights EJ issues in Northern Manhattan, EJ terminology, definitions, laws/policies, history of EJ and WE ACT, tips/resources, basic organizing and advocacy techniques. The EHJLT program and manual is separated into 8 modules listed below. This year’s training concludes on Earth Day and includes an introductory session on advocacy and political education as well as a graduation ceremony.
NOTE: Members who commit to participate in the EHJLT program are REQUIRED to participate in at least 80% of the Training Program (Sessions 1 + 2 are mandatory attendance and at least 4 sessions from Sessions #2-7).
Module 1: Introduction to Environmental Justice and WE ACT
This module will go in-depth and highlight the importance of environmental justice issues and WE ACT’s prominent role on tackling environmental injustices throughout Northern Manhattan. Furthermore, participants who attend this module’s workshops will become knowledgeable about the indicators that make up a healthy community, WE ACT’s theory of change, Environmental Justice terminology, rules and regulations, and case studies of exposure in other communities of color facing similar issues.
Module 2: Foundations of Organizing
This module will help contextualize campaign work within the landscape of building power within our communities and building the broader movement. Educators and participants who attend workshops in this training will be able to identify the components of an effective campaign strategy.
Module 3: Clean Air and Climate Justice
This module highlights the importance of clean air. Participants who attend this module’s workshops will have a better understanding of the health effects and dangers of air pollution that affects communities of color. This module provides information on the elimination of ambient air pollutants from transportation, housing, and other facilities. Participants will be able to identify key pollutants and recognize the contributors of Climate Change as well – they will also learn about mitigation and adaptation strategies.
Module 4: Affordable, Equitable Transit
This module will exhibit how affordable, equitable transit is critical to communities of color. Communities must have access by residents to affordable, safe, clean, and reliable forms of public and alternative transportation regardless of age and ability. We will discuss and define different terminology and most importantly what changes are taking place to ensure affordability. Participants will be able to hear from guest speakers and/or WE ACT staff who work directly on addressing this issue.
Module 5: Healthy Indoor Environments
This module will highlight the importance of reducing exposure to indoor pollutants, pests, and wastes in residences, workplaces and schools. Key components that will be discussed throughout this module will be an introduction to healthy indoor environments, asthma-free spaces, and how communities of color are being hit hard, and the importance of safe drinking water. Throughout this module participants will engage in practical activities to help further their knowledge and understanding of each lesson.
Module 6: Toxic Free Products
This module will go in-depth on a topic that many don’t consider when it comes to health. Industries must provide access and promote the use of safe consumer products that do not contain chemicals at levels harmful to human health. This module is very important being that many people do not consider these things when shopping. This module will get participants to think twice about the products they buy and the ingredients in these products. Participants will be able to learn about harmful products and get a chance to create their own products from simple ingredients found at home.
Module 7: Food Justice
This module emphasizes the importance of food justice and good food in schools. According to the non-profit Just Foods, Food Justice is communities exercising their right to grow, sell, and eat healthy food. Healthy food is fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally-appropriate, and grown locally with care for the well-being of the land, workers, and animals. People practicing food justice leads to a strong local food system, self-reliant communities, and a healthy environment. Schools and stores within the community should provide safe, fresh, and nutritious meals that are 1) prepared in quality environments 2) are supported by kids and parents and 3) contribute to the reduction of childhood obesity, as well as instill healthy eating behaviors at an early age. After this module, participants will understand where healthy food options exist in their community and how to approach schools to provide healthier food options.
Module 8: Sustainable and Equitable Land Use
This module will clearly define and explain the significance of equitable and sustainable land use by providing definitions, examples, and key contact persons involved in different processes. Moreover, participants will be given an introduction to WE ACT campaigns and projects in land use development. Guest speakers and WE ACT staff working on said projects will help lead presentations and facilitate discussion.
Module 9: Advocacy in Action
This module will introduce policies that WE ACT supports at the local, state, and federal level. This module will also provide context around different social justice movements taking place and WE ACT’s role in either advancing an environmental agenda through or acting as an ally in support of said platforms. The goal of this module is for training participants to sign on to existing working groups, learn about mini grants that they can apply for, and take on other leadership opportunities at WE ACT.