There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to environmentalism, especially when the impacts of climate change and pollution fall disproportionately on communities of color. Just environmental action means that every community, but especially communities on the frontlines, need to be engaged and mobilized to find effective and equitable solutions. To that end, Front and Centered launched a vital way to listen to and advocate for our communities—this summer, we kicked off listening sessions on pollution, climate change, the Puget Sound, and solar energy, across the state.
Our listening sessions engaged with groups who are especially vulnerable to the devastation of climate and environmental burdens, including communities of color, low-income households, immigrants, refugees, and linguistically isolated groups. We created the opportunity for local, community-based organizations and our coalition members to host sessions from Vancouver, WA to Bellingham, Grays Harbor to Yakima, and across the Puget Sound region. Each organization we worked with received support for hosting listening sessions in their communities, including a facilitator’s guide, meeting materials, and food, interpreters, and childcare if needed. The two-hour listening sessions let community members speak for themselves on the pressing issues, and helped us better understand community concerns around pollution, climate change, water, and more.
As we move forward in our climate work, the findings from these listening sessions will shape Front and Centered’s collective approach to advocating for a healthy Puget Sound, equitable solar energy deployment, and the disproportionate impacts of climate change. By better understanding the specific needs of frontline communities, we hope to empower resilient movements for equitable climate action and we’ll be able to develop an environmental justice map of Washington State. We’re excited to report back on our findings soon—stay tuned!
Many thanks to the Asian Pacific Cultural Center (Korean elders in Tacoma); Chaplains on the Harbor (homeless, incarcerated and, indigenous in Grays Harbor); Community to Community Development, (farmworkers in Whatcom County); Entre Hermanos (Latinos in Seattle); Mother Africa, (North African and Arab Women in Kent); NAACP Snohomish (in Everett); The Latino Community (Latino Youth in central Washington); OneAmerica (Vancouver); Na’ah Illahee Fund, (indigenous people in Olympic Peninsula and Yakama Nation with participants from southern and eastern Washington) for hosting listening sessions.