July 10, 2012

Voices From the Frontlines: A Look at the Frontline Fellows Program

In October 2011 The Energy Action Coalition Environmental Justice Collective launched the Frontline Fellows Program. The program brings together youth and young adult change-makers from communities across the United States and Canada. The fellows are actively working in their communities and on campus to address issues related to climate change, environmental justice and sustainability. Since October, the EJ Collective has hosted two trainings, supported 30 fellows and financed travel for youth delegates to attend the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development also known as the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

Member organizations of the Energy Action Coalition Environmental Justice Coalition include Chester Green (a Program of the Energy Justice Network), Environmental Justice Climate Change Initiative, Indigenous Environmental Network, REDOIL, and the Southwest Workers Union. Frontline Fellows work directly for one of the previously mentioned organizations to support base building, research, social media and event planning. During the program fellows gain useful organizing skills while learning about policy and current events related to climate change, sustainability, Environmental Justice and social change.

May 31-June 4, 2012- EJCC partnered with the Energy Action Coalition to host the second Frontline Fellows training in Washington, DC. The training brought together 15 diverse fellows from the United States and First Nations of Canada. The four day training covered a broad array of topics including media coverage of Climate Change to Toxic Chemical Policy Reform.

On Monday June 4, 2012 fellows closed the training by attending a invite only meeting with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and members of the Inter-Agency Working Group on Environmental Justice. The intimate meeting gave fellows the opportunity to ask questions and to offer information detailing grievances from their communities who are living in the shadows of industrial pollution, displacement and climate change.

Several members of the second fellowship class were able travel to Rio De Janeiro for the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. While in Rio, fellows met with representatives from the United States Department of State, networked with other environmental activists from around the world and hosted official Rio+20 side events.

EJCC fellows, Payton Wilkins and Brittani Flowers presented on a panel titled: Preparing for Change: Migration, Black America and the Green Economy. The side event was hosted by the Deep South Center For Environmental Justice at Dillard University, The Barbara Jordan Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University and the Environmental Justice Climate Change Initiative. The panel also featured Michele Roberts, Campaign and Policy Coordinator for Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, Tony C. Anderson, Founding Director of Let’s Retrofit a Million and noted Author and Scholar of Environmental Justice, Dr. Robert D. Bullard. Dr. Bullard currently serves as the Dean of the Barbara Jordan Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University.

This summer fellows will work in their communities and/or with university faculty to support initiatives and campaigns related to environmental and climate justice. They will be tweeting, filming and researching to keep everyone in the know of what Environmental Justice looks like for front and fencelines communities of North America. To learn more and follow their stories please visit Wearepowershift.org and EJCC.org.

All Photos Courtesy of Ben Powless except last photo captioned, Preparing for Change Panel Presenters. That photo is courtesy of Nalui Mahin.

Cross-posted from EJCC.org