- UU Connection
This assembly will promote dialogue among Environmental Justice Leaders, and with people of faith and conscience in order to foster relationships, catalyze collaborative efforts, and increase civic engagement.
We would like to provide scholarships to community leaders, who are fighting to get their neighbors organized to protect health and safety on the frontlines of climate change in the state of Florida; where existing inequities in infrastructure investment and disaster response compound chronic environmental health challenges posed by proximity to traffic and industrial waste in low income communities of color. After last year’s Assembly, FL-iCAN! decided to return to Parramore this year, to provide tours during the Assembly, to take up climate equity, and to involve leaders from Florida Environmental Justice communities on the frontlines of Climate Change in the design of the 2019 Assembly.
UUJF and the other affiliates of FL-iCAN! value the participation of the EJ leaders in the design of the assembly. The EJ Leaders have completed a survey regarding what programming would be meaningful for them. Lawanna Gelzer, the community leader from Parramore who will be coordinating the tours, has been serving on the Steering Committee Circle this year, and participating in program design. Programming will include: story and best practice sharing, tours of the Parramore neighborhood, communication skill-building, and time for praise and celebration of what’s been accomplished.
Here are some of the environmental justice leaders we would like to provide scholarships so they can attend:
Eric Bason is a resident of Shorecrest, Miami, which sits on some of the lowest lying land in Miami. He participated as a community leader in a UUJF Rising Together project in 2017 that addressed tidal flooding, and the public health effects of climate change in his neighborhood. He is currently providing leadership for his community in the Florida Disaster Resilience Initiative to increase resilience and hurricane preparedness, and to advocate for infrastructure upgrades.
Lawanna Gelzer is the founder of the Community Empowerment Project in Parramore, Orlando, a historically black community surrounded by highways, with two Superfund sites that have released volatile organic compounds and petroleum by products into the environment. Orlando has also created an Economic Opportunity Zone that is also a Brownfield area. This provides incentives for remediation of the toxins, and requires redevelopment after remediation. The Brownfield policy has fueled aggressive gentrification and displacement, and provides no funding for residents to test for toxins on their property. Lawanna’s non-profit, The Community Empowerment Project, educates residents about the environmental toxins, has advocated for a community health disparities study, and opened dialogue with the city about moving the dumpster storage site away from homes, where residents complain of rodents.
Crystal Johnson is the founder of Community Forum Foundation, Inc., a non-profit in Dunbar, Ft. Myers that supports programs that help children and families living in underserved areas, and empowers the community through education and collective collaborations. In addition to their work on improving communication between parents and schools; promoting dialogue among the faith community, the police and the community; and promoting wellness, the Foundation is taking on hurricane preparedness to address the inequities in disaster response experienced after Hurricane Irma.
Janice Lucas is a civic leader in Panama City in Bay County, which is still in a critical phase of recovery from Hurricane Michael. In her position as After School Program Director of the LEAD Coalition of Bay County, Janice has seen the effects of Hurricane Michael on her community, and especially on families with children. She is currently working with a church to create a micro enterprise loan fund to offer startup business loans that have training or education as a requirement.
Kina Green-Phillips lives in South Bay, Florida, where she has started Her Queendom Ministry to teach girls and women about how to protect their health and the health of their families. A big part of that is learning the truth about the “black snow”: ash that falls from the sky when the sugar companies burn the fields. Kirin is providing leadership for her community in a Sierra Club effort to get Green Harvesting rather than sugar cane burning due to its effects on the health of residents and their quality of life.
Here is the portion of the Assembly Budget devoted to Scholarships for Environmental Justice Leaders:
Environmental Justice Expenses
|Van for Parramore Tours|
|Scholarships (EJ Community Guests: 8 Traveling Guests/Spokespersons + 17 Parramore residents)||25||$60||$1,500|
|Guest/Spokespersons||Quantity||Attendees||Tax & Surcharge||Unit Cost||Line Item Total||Category Total|
|Food not covered by Assembly fee||4||8||$1||$15||$480.90|
|Total EJ Expenses||$3,799|
01/18/2019These messages and lessons are critical to the survival of our communities.$50.00
01/11/2019A church member from Orlando supports grassroots community initiatives.$50.00