What happened at the Brownfields 97 Caucus?
The first Environmental Justice/Community Caucus meeting was held at
the national Brownfields 97 Conference in Kansas City, MO. This was a
unique opportunity for community based organizations to meet each other
and discuss brownfields revitalization efforts in their communities
Approximately 50 to 60 community participants attended the caucus.
During our first meeting, participants briefly introduced themselves and
mentioned some the important issues that each organization were working
on. Some of the common issues mentioned were:
· Shifting the paradigm of "developer driven" to "community driven"
· Promoting Community Involvement
· Make information available about funding resources
· Employment opportunities in environmental remediation
· Involve the youth in revitalization process
Besides talking about common issues at the conference, some emerging
trends in the Brownfields area were discussed as well.
· Dis-investment and red-lining of core city communities
· Factoring human health affects in determining acceptable cleanup
· Developing strategies against gentrification and relocation of low
income and people of color
· Address issues relating to "small site" vs. "large site" redevelopment
Another trend discussed at the Caucus meeting were ways of developing a
model for collaboration at Brownfields sites. Many regional working
groups have been formed across the US. For example the San Francisco
Bay Area, Boston, and the State of Minnesota. These models have
provided alliances between community and environmental organizations.
One participant suggested the "communiversity" concept, which would tap
into university resources to assist communities. Tapping into the
national service programs such as AmeriCorp would be another way to
utilize existing resources.
Another simple but challenging suggestion is to have community groups
and city official develop partnerships prior to the planning and
implementations stages of a revitalization project. These partnerships
would would bridge some of the gaps in communication between the
community and key other stakeholders in the revitalization proccess. If
there could be some type of memorandum of understanding expressing the
community needs and issues it could a foundation for collaborative
Two things were established at the Kansas City meeting. 1) Issues were
categorized to form a national agenda for all the community groups who
attended. 2) There was an agreement to continue communications between
Caucus members for the purpose of providing assistance to organizations
who requested it.
This debrief is only my opinion of what happened at the EJ/Caucus
Meeting. If there are any additional comments about what happened at
the Caucus please feel free to e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where do we go after Kansas City?
We are hoping to utilize the Brownfields Internet Newsgroup as a
vehicle for getting the word out to local communities about national
issues. People have the opportunity provide input into the national
Caucus agenda through the Internet. Eventually we hope to provide a
newsletter for individuals who don't have access to the Internet.
If you don't represent an environmental justice or other community
constituency, but know of people who do, let them know about our caucus.
People interested in joining the Caucus would need to provide the
and send the information to
Career/ Pro, San Francisco Urban Institute
425 Market St.
San Francisco, CA 94105