Helping Environmental Justice Take Root 

In Manchester, New Hampshire, the burdens of pollution, climate change, and other environmental harms fall harder on lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color. These communities also are often left out of decisions that directly affect them. 

CLF in Action

To help shift this balance of power, CLF is working with Manchester residents to build a grassroots environmental justice movement of neighbors and community members. 

To facilitate this work, CLF’s dedicated community-level advocate works to build power with neighbors and identify the issues that worry them the most. Those include childhood lead poisoning, lack of tree cover, unsafe street design, and air pollution. A volunteer advisory group of residents and business owners has helped to prioritize the issues and create volunteer action teams to tackle them.

CLF’s ultimate goal is to foster expertise from the ground up and build momentum to sustain a community-level movement that will tackle shared challenges. As the environmental justice work in Manchester continues, CLF has expanded this effort to Nashua, New Hampshire.

What’s at Stake 

Toxics, pollution, the impacts of climate change, and other environmental burdens fall harder on low-income communities, communities of color, and those who speak limited English. At the same time that these communities bear an unfair share of environmental and public health burdens, they also have less access to environmental and public health benefits – like green spaces, transit, and healthy homes.

In southern New England, the environmental justice movement is well-established, with community-level groups pushing to shift the power dynamics that create these inequities. In northern New England, the same inequities exist, but no organized movement has emerged to unite those working to address them. 

That can leave communities locked out of critical conversations about the unfair share of burdens and the lack of access to benefits that affect their communities daily. To achieve meaningful change, communities must be able to identify their own challenges and have a say in the path forward to remedy them.

That’s why CLF’s environmental justice work in Manchester and Nashua isn’t just about addressing individual issues. It’s about bringing residents, workers, and partners together to foster community-level expertise and building local capacity to work for system change.