EnviroForum: My Takeaway

Updated: Apr 7

by Kira Spanks


Dr. Yomi at June 2014 Environmental Forum

On June 7th, community members and stakeholders from Metro Atlanta gathered at Georgia State University Petit Science Center to underscore the importance of environmental justice and the need for environmental justice policy for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. Environmental Community Action Inc. (ECO-Action), Atlanta was one of the organizers, along with, GeorgiaWAND, Georgia State University School of Public Health, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Together, we met, networked and learned the importance of environmental justice, and how every resident can get involved, make their voices heard, and create a community of change.


Dr. Fatima Shaffi, Matthew Tejada, Frank Bove, Dr. Yomi at Environmental Justice Forum - June 2014

Dr. Fatima Shaffi, Matthew Tejada, Dianne Valentine, Frank Bove, Dr. Yomi at Environmental Justice Forum – June 2014


A step to eradicating environmental injustice is to network with similar minded individuals to come together and make a change that not only resonates in Atlanta, but hopefully throughout the southeast and the rest of the country. A single voice can be easily ignored, but together we are a force to be reckoned with, because working together, sharing our strengths, and working through experience, we cannot be ignored.


N'ataki Osborne Jelks, WAWA presenter at Environmental Justice Forum - June 2014

N’ataki Osborne Jelks, WAWA presenter at Environmental Justice Forum – June 2014


We had the opportunity to hear from a lot of local groups including Green Law, a firm that is focused on environmental law and justice. The presentation from Melanie Pearson of Emory University’s HERCULES project focused on how both genetics and the cumulative effect of lifetime environmental exposures can influence our health. We also heard from the Fulton County’s Environmental Planner, Monica Robinson, who provided insight to what Fulton County is working towards regarding justice and infrastructure rehabilitation. These are just a few of the morning speakers. During the working lunch we heard from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Director of Environmental Justice, Matthew Tejada, and the Honorable Harold Mitchell who spoke about the ReGenesis program in South Carolina.


Harold Mitchell, ReGenesis at Environmental Justice Forum - June 2014

Harold Mitchell, ReGenesis at Environmental Justice Forum – June 2014


After the presentations we broke into three groups: land, air and water. Each group discussed the current issues related to that topic and we formulated solutions to the concerns. As a group, we also worked together to discuss how best to communicate with others in the group and promised to meet again and continue working on the problems specific to that area. After we had our small groups, all three groups gathered together in the auditorium and we shared all of our solutions for metro Atlanta and beyond.


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