Bailey College of the Environment hosts environmental justice event

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Written by Rose Chen ’26

On Saturday, November 11, the Bailey College of the Environment (COE) hosted “Mobilizing Power: Building Community for Environmental Justice.” This event brings together individuals to exchange knowledge, build relationships and skills for community organizing, and collaborate on action for environmental justice. environmental justice.

COE Food Security, Environmental Justice, and Sustainability Project Coordinator Marana Rogers Barsen and Hannah Huang ’25 with a small group of student leaders and faculty from Sunrise Wesleyan and the Environmental Solidarity Network (ESN) I planned this event. The COE and Office of Sustainability will be joined by community leaders from Save the Sound, Sustainable CT, and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP).

“We wanted participants to feel supported among many people who share the same passion for environmental justice,” said Rogers-Bassen. “Judging by their reactions at the end of the day, many said they felt inspired, motivated, empowered and hopeful. People felt they could do more towards environmental justice in the state. Ta.”

The day included two workshop sessions, as well as a panel discussion and group discussion with three community leaders. Workshop topics included community protection programs, food recovery, community transportation organizing, fundraising, and using art to incite resistance.

Panelist Sarah Huang, director of CT DEEP’s Office of Environmental Justice, talked about how the department focuses on ensuring that individuals, regardless of race, age, or gender, are not left behind in the nation and the national process. I talked about Iruka. Fight against environmental changes.

“Our agencies and offices are really trying to engage our members. [environmental justice] “We want to engage local communities and environmental organizations and try to listen to what people are experiencing on the ground,” Huang said. “We make sure that’s reflected in the way our programs are run, the way our institutions are run, and our state government.”

Joseph Dickerson, DEEP’s senior advisor for outdoor equity, echoed Huang’s emphasis on creating safe spaces within the environmental justice community.

“We know this is a time when the world is on fire,” Dickerson said. “We know that many attitudes and opinions and heartfelt and meaningful aspirations are being crushed in many places…We believe that environmental injustice should not exist. We are here as a joint family because we recognize how influential the environmental justice movement can be in creating the world we all want to live in together. , we must actively talk to each other and work together in unity.”

Rogers-Bersen and Huang hope this event will help bring Wesleyan University and the surrounding area closer together through discussion. In her presentation, Ashley Stewart, Community Engagement Manager at the Connecticut Green Bank, talked about concrete steps individuals and organizations can take to address how climate change is impacting groups across the country. We also discussed key points for action.

“We have focused within our community on how we can create jobs for our community and make our community more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” Stewart said. “For us, that’s what it’s all about, because the most vulnerable people have already been feeling the effects of climate for years. So we want to make that a priority.”

Participants emphasized the need for infrastructure and policies that reflect people’s needs. Kimberly Stoner, advocacy director for the Northeastern Connecticut Organic Farming Association, cites the power that can be gained when youth activists come together to petition for clean, stable government-protected rights. , citing Held v. State of Montana. climate. The 2020 lawsuit sought to declare a right to a stable climate system under the Montana Constitution and force the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Stoner is currently working to gather signatures for a similar bill in the Connecticut state legislature. “We hope the intergenerational and cross-sector connections fostered through this event will strengthen environmental justice organizing across the state,” said Rogers Barsen.

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