Building Policy Capacity through Community-led and Centered Learning
This summer, Just Solutions Collective launched phase 1 of the Environmental Justice Community and Policy Landscape Project to better understand the interests and needs of BIPOC leaders. This project aligns with our purpose to broaden and deepen the understanding of equitable and effective policies and projects to build the capacity of BIPOC-Frontline communities to replicate, scale, and build support for justice-centered solutions. We know that frontline communities not only face the multitude of challenges associated with environmental injustice, climate change, and systemic inequity, but they are also at the forefront of creating solutions to these issues that meet the needs of their communities. As a result, we hope to further support their work by providing support and connection to EJ-centered policy creation mechanisms. To do this, we are meeting with multiple community-based organizations across the country to learn more about what types of resources they need in order to implement and execute effective EJ-focused policy.
We have also heard from legislators and policymakers that they would like to better understand environmental justice policy frameworks, core tenants, models, and priorities. In order to move EJ-centered policy forward, it is essential that policymakers not only understand what it means to uplift EJ principles but also elevate the voices and ideas of those who are most impacted. We are conducting 1:1 interviews with city, county, state, and federal policymakers and their staff in a variety of sectors who are committed to advancing environmental justice policy and working more intentionally with the communities they serve. We are also interested in exploring opportunities to foster networking and relationship-building amongst policymakers and between community-based organizations and the policymakers that serve them.
Khanh Pham, Senior Strategist at Just Solutions Collective and Oregon State Representative, says:
"Coalition-building is key in legislative work. As a legislator, my Environmental Justice policy agenda can only be successful if I am educating and building strong relationships with my colleagues. Most folks don't realize how little legislators get paid and how few staff they are able to hire to support their work. Addressing this gap--in both EJ knowledge, policy analysis, and staff capacity--would make a big difference in being able to pass more EJ laws and build more power for the EJ movement long-term."
This project will begin with interviews with community groups and policymakers and their staffers to understand their needs in this space and what tools and resources will be most beneficial in moving EJ policy forward. We hope to encourage more cross-country connections between policymakers in order to continue advancing environmental justice-centered policy and interventions. In a time where conversations around environmental justice are taking a national stage, it is essential that we continue to follow the lead of communities and leaders who have already been creating the solutions for a just and equitable future.
If you or someone you know would like to be interviewed as a policymaker or staffer for this project, please utilize this form to submit your interest.
If you work with a community group and would like to be interviewed, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be connected.