WERA Right to Basic Amenities Collaborative Institute

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
West End Revitalization Association - WERA
City & State:
North Carolina
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Improve quality of life and economic viability for low-income minority communities denied basic amenities: 1) civic engagement, 2) address racial inequities, 3) stop planned 119-bypass from destroying West End / White Level communities, 4) leadership training, 5) monitor and reduce environmental hazards, 6) install first-time safe water and sewer services, 7) funding for social equity and environmental justice, and 8) environmental health literacy and community-based problem solving.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Since 1994, Microsoft’s Word, Excel, Power-Point, and Publisher has been primary tools for producing documents, giant posters, digital images, and writing articles that support WERA’s activism involving racial inequities and health barriers that are identified as social justice, environmental justice, and related health disparities: a) 2009 - Environmental justice training for: AmeriCorps* VISTA volunteer members, N.C. Environmental Justice Network Board and members, Elon University Academy for low-income and minority high school students who have not had a person from their families graduate from college, Orange County- N.C. Human Relations Commission members and community supporters, other community-based environmental justice and social justice groups;b) Dec. 2008 and May 2009 - Invited to Washington , DC by the Obama-Biden Transition Team and Administration to provide environmental justice “priorities, recommendations, and policy concerns” regarding denial of basic amenities (safe drinking water, sewer collection, and clean air) to low-income minority communities and Native American territories, soil contamination from using human waste sludge for food crops fertilizer, agric-business animal waste, and related air pollution for the new administrations’ effort for the stimulus plans for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.c) Oct. 2008 - Office of Environmental Justice of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presented the WERA one of 12 national Environmental Justice Achievement Awards for facilitating first-time sewer installation for over 90 households while disconnecting fail backyard septic systems, paving dirt streets, and storm-water management improvements for low-income minority residents: a) facilitating block grant and local grant matches of millions of dollars for installation safe drinking water and first-time sewer collection service for over 100 low-income and minority homes in Alamance County and Mebane, NC; b) getting dirt road paved; c) three years of community-lead progress reporting workshops on environmental hazards assessment/reduction/removal; d) implement the DREAM-Network and Career Pipeline to increase environmental literacy and encourage impacted African American youth to seek college education that will support career focused on improving quality of life by reducing health risks that led to reduction of health disparities in low-income and minority populations; and e) development of framework for the “WERA Right to Basic Amenities Collaborative Institute” focus on training and certifying the leadership of other community-based organization on environmental justice planning, strategies, and implementation of solutions in N.C. and through the southern United States; d) Oct. /Nov. 2008 - Co-presenters on “Co-Beneficiaries: Community and University Partnerships” of at the Second Annual Luncheon for the Institute for Families in Society at University of South Carolina, Columbia. The two year project is funded by the National Institute of Health / National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to support funding equity and parity in management for community-based environmental justice organizations; and provided environmental justice strategy best practices for “goods movement” related to planned expansion of the ports impacting low-income minority house and property for North Charleston, S.C. community, university, public health, and local government officials. e) 2008 – Community-based environmental justice training for staff members of the Environmental Justice section of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air Quality and Planning Standards at Research Triangle Park, NC and on-site tour at Alamance County and Orange County hazards locations; f) 2008 – Panelist/Resource Model of Best Practices and Lessons Learned for the U.S. EPA Collaborative Problem-Solving Agreement: Environment Justice in America Conference the Howard University’s School of Law, Washington, D.C.; g) 2008 – Presentation in the Environmental Justice Policy and Integration at the American Public Health Association (APHA) 136-Annual Conference in San Diego, CA; previous APHA presentation of giant posters, workshops, and panel on WERA environmental justice research and health disparities solutions were presented at APHA conferences in Washington, DC 2004 and Philadelphia, PA in 2005; h) 2007 – Present – Selected to provide new policy recommendations a “Community Perspective Member” of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (input in three workgroups – a) Goods Movement, b) Environmental Environmental Health Justice – Strategic Environmental Assessment Tool, and b) State Environmental Justice Cooperative Agreement program. This involves conference calls and face-to-face meetings in Washington, DC, Arlington, VA, Baltimore, MD, Houston, TX, and Atlanta, GA; i) 2004 to 2008: Workshops / panels on WERA community-driven research, monitor training and data results in partnership with graduate students and faculty at UNC- Chapel Hill’s School of Public Health, City and Regional Planning Department, Carolina Environmental Program, and Duke University’s Environmental Management Graduate Program; including several presentations the annual Minority Health Conference at the UNC-Chapel Hill; j) 1998-1999: Wrote one of the nation’s first U.S. Department of Justice administrative complaints that combined Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act with the 1994 Environmental Justice Executive Order-12898. In 1999, the N.C. Department of Transportation’s 119-bypass corridor was placed on moratorium by the Federal Highway Administration until mitigation and corrective actions were implemented. NCDOT’s first public hearing on the 119-bypass “Draft of the Environmental Impact Statement” was just held on January 15, 2008. The proposed 119-bypass through West End, White Level, and the watershed would result in great risks to the air quality and drinking water supply for residents in Mebane and Graham due to carbon dioxide and particulate matter from thousands of cars and diesel trucks moving freight that will make it much more difficult to comply with the Clean Air Act and watershed protection under Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act. k) 1997-present: grants for over $500,000 funded by the NC Rural Economic Development Center, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation-Winston Salem, NC, Environmental Support Center- Washington, DC, Next Generation of African American Philanthropists-Research Triangle Park, N. C. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, Fund for Southern Communities-Marietta, GA, Office of Environmental Justice at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and National Institute Health / National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Submission Category
Transformations to Maximize Impact