Providing more access to land for farming in our cities will help accelerate urban agriculture and support low-income, people of color, immigrant, and New American farmers in search of land on which to grow.
With life expected to slowly return to some semblance of normal by the summer, we must continue to find ways to promote public health and the economy. But we also must protect the public’s right to access open space along the city’s waterfront.
Ensuring a just economic recovery from the pandemic means not following a business-as-usual model. Instead, we must prioritize people’s health, provide direct relief to families and individuals, and invest in the future of our communities.
COVID-19 has had a profound impact on Vermonters. But, if we move forward in the right way, we can build a resilient future for Vermont. Here are the three priority areas that we must work on to create the future we want.
I grew up in communities that needed environmental justice the most. I also lived in neighborhoods that already had the resources and ability to make change. Still, I didn’t understand the difference or know what the environmental world called the movement until later in life. I could only connect the dots when I had more access to education and a framework for understanding the issue.
“Three years ago this month, state energy officials totally disregarded—as ‘disruptive’—the attempts of Spanish-speaking residents to participate in a critical decision that will affect their community for decades,” said Amy Laura Cahn, Senior Attorney and Interim Director for Healthy Communities and Environmental Justice at Conservation Law Foundation, “Since that time, the EFSB has consistently failed to live up to its language access obligations under federal law. In yet another insult to this community, residents with limited access to technology will be further marginalized by a remote hearing.”
The presidential election result is a welcome relief – especially amid the ongoing stresses of an unrelenting pandemic, hobbling economic hardship, and an overdue racial reckoning. We all deserve to take a moment and celebrate that. But even as we see the core values of our democracy vindicated after relentless voter suppression efforts, now is not the time to grow complacent.
Low-income, immigrant, and communities of color experience more environmental burdens than whiter, wealthier neighborhoods. Having strong environmental justice legislation would make a significant difference in these neighborhoods, in part by simply ensuring residents have a voice in what happens in their own communities.
The Green New Deal may be stalled on the federal level, but it’s always been local governments that move the needle on progress and have immediate, concrete impacts on our lives. Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu’s proposal – Planning for a Green New Deal & Just Recovery – is a great example of local action in the face of federal inertia, and offers an ambitious vision for Boston’s future.
“We should never have to wonder if the water coming out of our taps is safe,” said Jen Duggan, Director of CLF Vermont. “The federal government has utterly failed to protect us from these toxic forever chemicals, so it is up to Vermont to take action. Vermonters must make their voices heard and tell regulators to put standards in place that get all of these chemicals out of our water once and for all.”