Fenceline Neighbors Network 2012 Meeting

By Anna Hrybyk, LABB Program Manager

June 1st 2012

Baton Rouge Area Foundation

Every other year, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade calls together all of the fenceline neighbors we work with across the state to develop a common agenda for the coming year.  This agenda then informs our programs going forward.  This year, LABB was seeking participation and feedback on our FY2013 organizational budget so we also invited a few “support” partners as well.  Here is the final list of participants:

Mr. Sidney Paray, Standard Heights, Baton Rouge

Ms. Seabell Thomas & Ms. Sonyja Thomas, Community Empowerment for Change, Baton Rouge

Ms. Rosemary Jones & Ms. Lila Horton, Alsen St. Irmalee Community Enterprises, Alsen

Ms. Velma White, Ms. Luberta Daugherty, Ms. Roneika Johnson, Mr. RJ Bowman and Ms. Ronesha Johnson of Residents for Air Neutralization, Shreveport

Ms. Albertha Hasten & Mr. Stanley Vidal, Louisiana Environmental Justice Coalition of Communities, White Castle

Malcolm Suber, Hidden History Tours, LLC

Earthea Nance, University of New Orleans

Ethan Ellestad, Foundation For Louisiana

+11 staff and volunteers from the Louisiana Bucket Brigade

Mr. Malcolm Suber kicked off the meeting with the history of environmental racism and justice in Louisiana.  He asked the group what we wanted the environmental justice movement to look like in 2018.  Here are some of the responses:

We have a seat at the table

Reconciliation

Youth engaged

Unity

Civil Rights Coalition

Then he asked how will we get there?  And the group responded:

Network and education

Engage young capitalists

Have our own candidates

Multi-generational

Sustainability

Clear goals and message

Install precautionary principle into capitalism

Have scientists and economists in the street too

Accountability for all politicians

This set the tone for a very productive meeting.  Next we revisited some of the legislative priorities that the FNN developed in 2010 including:

Penalties from pollution fines go to impacted communities

Input on zoning

Meaningful penalties

State relocation act

No schools near hazardous facilities

Mandatory buffer zones

Take back tax exemption for oil and gas industry

Raise the fees per ton of pollution under the Clean Air Act

Improve emergency response in fenceline communities

We discussed the steps we will need to take in order to even develop a bill to shop in the legislature.  We discussed individuals and groups that can help and specific subjects that we should discuss with contacts.

After a delicious lunch provided by the incredible Seabell Thomas of Silver Moon Catering, we headed into the participatory budgeting sessions of the meeting.

LABB is in the process of developing our organizational budget for fiscal year 2013.  This year we wanted community feedback on the budget and specifically what parts of our programs needed more or less funding.  This feedback will help us evaluate our spending and prioritize activities that are relevant and important to fenceline communities.  Together we reviewed LABB’s organizational budgets since 2008 and handed out draft budgets for each program in the organization.  We asked participants for feedback on all the activities under each program.

The program activities that attracted the most feedback were:

Refinery Efficiency Initiative:

FUND MORE

  • Map and compare data of refinery proximity to schools and health data, air samples, and odor logs.
  • Train communities to test their air, document odors and accidents coming from the plants.

FUND LESS

  • FNN and other experts review data and add content to report.
  • Dialogue with LDEQ
  • Educate local policy makers on the issues faced by the FNN

 

Istrouma Health Partnership:

FUND MORE

  • Train local youth and community participants to log odors, health systems, and conduct air, water and soil samples
  • Compile available secondary data on health risks (hospital emissions data)

FUND LESS

  • Share collected information with IHP task force and residents through 2 Town Hall meetings using innovative media presentations
  • Plan for involvement of segments of community not represented

Environmental Justice Corps:

FUND MORE

  • Identify community members of fenceline neighborhoods who are interested in mentoring fellows
  • Recruit through FNN to seek students who are currently working with them during community trainings/meetings

FUND LESS

  • Conduct a series of EJ career development forums on each campus

Residents for Air Neutralization:

FUND MORE

  • 5 youth leaders trained in LABBs 9 week Environmental Justice Corps curriculum

FUND LESS

  • Work with technical partner to create Air Toxics Regulations database to compare ambient air standards, health standards, health screening levels, etc across states and countries
  • Public Records Requests to LDEQ for refinery “upset” reports every quarter
  • LABB and RAN work with EPA Region VI and HQ to tailor inspections to community concerns.

It is interesting to note that anywhere LDEQ was mentioned, community members did not want us to waste money or time there.

We also asked participants to write down any other ideas for activities that they did not see listed on the wall.  The ideas generated in this session are extremely helpful in helping us to see what directions each program needs to be heading.  Here is what participants wrote:

Refinery Efficiency Initiative Other Ideas:

– Advertise refinery database

– Expand REI to include chemical plants

Istrouma Health Partnership Other Ideas:

– More money

– More public communication listening

– For communities not represented and team building activities, they should be areas that build the capacity of Istrouma instead of LABB doing these activities

– Art to action/cultural exhibitions designed to gain media attention for historic neighborhoods

Residents for Air Neutralization Other Ideas:

– More money

– More public election network

– Training less than 5 EJ Corps per year and spreading this to 5 EJ Corps from diverse FNNs

Environmental Justice Corps Other Ideas:

– Network with grass roots group in the region to state

– EJ Corps needs to be HAZWOPER trained so they can take more chemical samples/measurements.

In the last session of the meeting we announced that LABB will leave $25,000 unrestricted in our FY 2013 budget for community groups to apply for.  We developed a proposal process, proposal criteria and a voting process.  The deadline for proposals from community groups is July 20th.  We will come back together to vote on the winning proposals the week of August 6th.  If any interested community groups would like to apply, please contact anna@labucketbrigade.org .

We hope this is just the beginning of a very fruitful and successful year for all of our partners fighting for environmental justice in Louisiana.

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