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Projects Updates for Environmental Justice Plan

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  1. Resilience iCAP Team September 2022 Meeting

    The Resilience iCAP Team had its first online meeting of the year on Friday, September 9th from 2:00 - 3:00 PM. The team reviewed the Resilience Charge Letter, talked about ground rules of the team, reviewed seven Resilience iCAP objectives, and shared updates on each objective. Meeting minutes and ground rules documents are attached. 

  2. Environmental Justice in the Local Communities - Meeting with Bob Flider

    Stacy Gloss, Morgan White, and Meredith Moore met with Bob Flider on 6-2-22 to discuss next steps in working with the community to develop an Environmental Justice plan (Resilience and Equity plan). The meeting notes are attached. 

  3. National Environmental Justice Community Engagement Call: May 17, 2022

    National Environmental Justice Community Engagement Call: May 17, 2022

     

    EPA invites Environmental Justice (EJ) advocates to participate in the next National Environmental Justice Community Engagement Call taking place on May 17, 2022 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time). These calls are free and open to the public.

     

    Registration Link:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/epa-natl-environmental-justice-community-engagement-call-may-17-2022-registration-325114615567

     

    Agenda:

     

     

    The purpose of these calls is to inform the community and other stakeholders about EPA's EJ work and enhance opportunities to maintain an open dialogue with EJ advocates.

     

    Please email Motilall.Christina@epa.gov by May 13, 2022 to request reasonable accommodation for a disability or interpreter services in a language other than English, so that you can participate in the call and/or to request a translation of any of the event documents into a language other than English.

     

    For more information about the National Environmental Justice Community Engagement Calls, please email Robinson.Victoria@epa.gov or Motilall.Christina@epa.gov.

     

    Recordings and meeting materials for all calls are posted here: https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/national-environmental-justice-community-engagement-calls.

     

    For up-to-date information about Environmental Justice funding opportunities, events, and webinars, subscribe to EPA's Environmental Justice listserv by sending a blank email to: join-epa-ej@lists.epa.gov. Follow us on Twitter: @EPAEnvJustice

     

    Para recibir información actualizada sobre oportunidades de financiamiento de Justicia Ambiental, eventos y seminarios web, suscríbase al listserve de Justicia Ambiental de la EPA enviando un mensaje en blanco de correo electrónico a: join-epa-ej@lists.epa.gov. Síganos en Twitter: @EPAEnvJustice.

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  4. All are invited to attend EPA National Environmental Justice Community Engagement Call 5/17/22

    National Environmental Justice Community Engagement Call: May 17, 2022

    EPA invites Environmental Justice (EJ) advocates to participate in the next National Environmental Justice Community Engagement Call taking place on May 17, 2022 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time). These calls are free and open to the public.

    Registration Link:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/epa-natl-environmental-justice-community-engagement-call-may-17-2022-registration-325114615567

    Agenda:

    The purpose of these calls is to inform the community and other stakeholders about EPA's EJ work and enhance opportunities to maintain an open dialogue with EJ advocates.

    Please email Motilall.Christina@epa.gov by May 13, 2022 to request reasonable accommodation for a disability or interpreter services in a language other than English, so that you can participate in the call and/or to request a translation of any of the event documents into a language other than English.

    For more information about the National Environmental Justice Community Engagement Calls, please email Robinson.Victoria@epa.gov or Motilall.Christina@epa.gov.

    Recordings and meeting materials for all calls are posted here: https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/national-environmental-justice-community-engagement-calls.

  5. Weekly Resiliency Team Meeting

    Present: Meredith Moore, Morgan White, and Stacy Gloss

    Gloss reported on the following:

    • Green Infrastructure Mapping: Lisa Merrifield met with Illinois EPA and partners at the end of March to discuss the mapping project. Meetings will be held with NCSA soon about feasibility and next steps.
    • Gloss notified Lisa Merrifield that she is available to help with Biodiversity Plan
    • DFA advising on-going. Their upcoming presentation is April 27 on E-waste in Siebel Center for Design
    • Final report from Ann Witmer's capstone course is expected: A student consulting team is developing a report on renewable energy technologies that can be adopted through a campus local-offset program
    • Gloss and Moore will present  to GEEB on April 26 on environmental justice

    Discussed:

    • SSC semesterly reporting requirement for NGICP training is due July 1; Gloss will email campus NGICP participants.
    • Sustainability Clinic recommendation meeting next steps;
    • Working to understand Extension's role in environmental concerns / environmental justice.  White, Gloss, and Moore will work to meet with Shibu Kar as an introduction between the Resilience Team and Extension on iCAP resilience goals, environmental justice planning, and support for programs like a sustainability clinic

    Tasks (Gloss):

    • Help with agenda for next resilience team meeting & update the gantt chart for meeting resilience goals
    • Attend next Land & Water team meeting if available (related to potential campus master plan for rainwater management & relationship to/with community coordinated rainwater master plan)
    • Attend the iWG meeting as resilience team rep for Environmental Justice iCAP recommendation

     

  6. Student Partner Meeting for EJ Plan

    Student Meeting: Design for America Team Meeting  10/1/2021

    Present: Pooja Tetali, Ananya Barman, Kosh Raghavarapu, Anisha Narain, Meredith Moore, Eric Greene, Stacy Gloss

    About DFA:

    Design for America is national nonprofit and a campus RSO that meets on Sundays to talk about Design Thinking principals. This is one DFA Team out of 5 Teams part of the RSO.  There are 30-ish people w/ a 6 person exec board locally. Exec board helps keep track and teaches design thinking. Interviewing skills. Ideation.  One project was: Racism Un-taught, working with professor to interview RSOs about a standard/playbook/rule book to minimize racism within RSOs. Another was working with Illinois Department of Health App for breastfeeding people. Projects vary between technical and research.

    This team meets once a week. They are happy to meet once a week or every 2 weeks. They have a couple hours to respond to emails and put together documents, so a few hours a week each. DFA projects typically last 1 year, academic year through May.

    The topics they are interested in are environmental racism, campus/community relations, campus/university effect/impact on communities, environmental science, collection action & collaboration. Two members worked on transportation system mapping in US previously and had been connected to iCAP goals / campus transportation goals.

    Potential Project Opportunities:

    Initial Research for Environmental Justice Planning.

    The initial research will help to inform the planning that goes into developing an Environmental Justice Plan. The project will eventually lead to a road map or planning document to guide the campus EJP.

    1. Funding for EJPlans and Implementation
    2. What Universities have Environmental Justice Plans?
    3. What community EJP’s exist that would be a resource or model for a campus-lead EJP?
    4. What Universities initiated Environmental Justice Plans in or for their communities? What are or were the barriers and opportunities for collaboration with their communities?

    Green Infrastructure Mapping:

    1. Green infrastructure mapping as part of the Green Infrastructure Resilience Goal

    Tasks:

    Schedule a follow-up meeting and communicate via email between meetings. Students will need to select the project they are interested in and report how they feel they can best contribute to the project(s).

  7. EJ Plan Summer 2021 Summary

    Throughout the summer of 2021, I (Kimmy Chuang, iSEE intern, supervised by Meredith Moore) accomplished the following tasks to further the Environmental Justice Plan. Relevant documents documents attached. 

     

    1. Compile contact information for focus groups

    Number and type of contacts were organized into the following:

      1. Champaign Neighborhood Associations (16)
      2. Urbana Neighborhood Associations (8)
      3. Community Groups (10)
      4. Government Organizations (13)
      5. Social Justice Groups (8)
      6. Relevant UIUC Advisory Groups/Personnel (12)

     

    Contacts were primarily found through Internet searches. Many of the groups were identified as relevant during Environmental Justice Committee meetings. Where possible or necessary, I’ve included notes and additional links. 

     

    2. Research other EJ plans to draft focus group questions

    I drafted possible questions for focus group interviews through what I learned from the following EJ or similar Climate Justice Plans:

     

    City of Providence’s Climate Justice Plan

    • First, trained frontline community members in energy democracy through workshops by working with One Square World (equity and sustainability process consultancy). Then, conducted interviews of frontline community members along with citywide survey (survey results here)
    • Favorite takeaway: Must fundamentally change the way policies are created and prioritize historically excluded communities. “Zip codes shouldn’t determine your health or economic outcomes.”

     

    Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO)

    • Also hired consultant to conduct interviews and outreach
    • One of their goals was “Base Building” where they have a local base of families, school/community/youth/labor/business leaders as well as strengthening coalitions with other EJ groups in the region
    • Warren Lavey has worked with Kimberly Wasserman (LVEJO Director of Organizing)

     

    National City Health and Environmental Justice Element (San Diego County, CA)

    • First jurisdiction in California to adopt an EJ element and nationally recognized
    • Contains useful definitions of “healthy food supply” and “universal design”
    • Similar format to iCAP, ends every objective with “why is this important”
    • San Diego county is currently conducting outreach for their county-wide EJ plan with an online survey that can be found here

     

    3. Compile contact information of other municipalities with EJ plans

    For the plans I reviewed above, I collected contact information for each municipality into a spreadsheet. The EJ Committee suggested that we reach out to other municipalities that had successfully written EJ plans to inform our process. 

     

    4. Review local engagement efforts to identify salient local environmental issues

    Meredith and I’s original goal for the focus groups was to identify 4-5 of the most salient environmental issues in our community that our plan should address.These are issues that have been identified multiple times during EJ Committee discussions or through my research:

    1. Flooding (especially in the Garden Hills neighborhood)
    2. Toxic waste clean-up (mainly in the 5th and Hill neighborhood)
    3. Mahomet Aquifer contamination from Clinton landfill (allowing PCBs/toxic waste disposal)
    4. Heating/cooling centers (climate change preparedness)

     

    Through my research, I identified four local public engagement efforts that could be relevant for our EJ plan:

    Champaign County Community Health Plan 2021-2023

    • Champaign Public Health Department conducted 4 assessments, 2 of the following contained engagement with residents
      • Survey 634 community residents about strengths and weaknesses of the community – identified mental health, child abuse, gun violence, and infectious disease as top health concerns
      • 25 community leaders from different agencies brainstormed about major threats/opportunities that they perceived with various issues and filled out a survey. Some issues include climate change, Mahomet Aquifer threatened by Clinton landfill, toxic waste disposal, drought
    • Appendix includes all surveys used
    • Useful maps showcasing racial diversity and other important demographics

     

    Storm Water Management Plan

    • Identified their own EJ areas
    • Contains survey about storm-water specific issues

     

    Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District

    • Currently soliciting feedback through customer survey here
    • May be useful for phrasing questions about environmental services

     

    Urbana Comprehensive Plan

    • Ongoing engagement survey for Urbana’s new Comprehensive Plan, suggested for EJ by Scott Tess

     

     

    Here are ideas from the iCAP as it was listed in the Appendix “Acknowledgements for future considerations” that may be relevant for EJ:

      1. Reduce pollution in Boneyard Creek
      2. Identify places of heavy erosion, such as channel buffers and farms
      3. Implement curbside food and lawn waste pickup program for UC community to decrease per-household garbage volume
      4. Reduce mowing by 10% by 2022 to increase natural areas

     

    5. Start conversations with other community members about EJ

    Other than the Resilience iCAP Team and the EJ Committee, Meredith and I met with the following community members about EJ: 

     

    Gabe Lewis (Planner at CCRPC)

    • Reached out through email and made him aware of EJ Plan efforts

    Jessica Lehmkuhl, James Corbin II (Sustainability Advisory Commission)

    • Met over Zoom, SAC is open to collaboration and want to be a part of our plan

    Cassie Carroll 

    Met over Zoom about Cassie’s expertise in interviews/focus groups. The following are notes from our discussion:

    • Suggested for us to reach out to Dr. Robin Jarrett (rjarrett@illinois.edu) at UIC who has experience in Human Dimensions to develop training for interviewer and more
    • Told us that charettes (multi-day interviews/workshops) had been conducted in Washington Street Basin (possible follow-up item for us)
    • Start with organizations we’re friendly with who have a broach reach and start base building
    • Need to clarify how we will follow up with people after interviews and how much they want to be involved 
    • We should get buy-in from groups so they can actively participate in what we’re working on
    • Possibly incentivize focus group participation through offering lunch etc.
    • Recommended having person from community to lead focus groups, but they will need training
    • They had 7 people actively working at her job where they worked with Ameren to understand how people could be more connected to energy-efficiency jobs

     

     

    Moving Forward…

    In this section, I will summarize what I had hoped to accomplish this summer, why we weren’t able to do so, and questions to consider as the EJ Plan moves forward.

     

    Initially, I had planned to conduct focus groups this summer and analyze the results. However, after discussions with Meredith and the EJ Committee, we decided to delay the focus groups until we had more thorough knowledge about the best way to conduct them. The following are questions we have in mind, but aren’t sure how to proceed. 

     

    1. Scope of the EJ Plan

    1. What is the geographic range of the EJ plan? 
    2. The iCAP cites the urbanized areas of Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy. But since EJ goals may be different from the iCAP goals, how do we define which areas will be included/excluded in the EJ Plan? 

     

    2. Vulnerability Assessments

    1. Geography students working for Meredith in Spring 2021 submitted a report that used available data but did not identify specific EJ areas. 
    2. EJSCREEN, Solar for All, the previous Storm Water EJ Areas, and the Champaign GIS consortium can all be used. EJSCREEN may be sufficient for identifying vulnerable communities. All data and maps gathered can be found here.

     

    3. Possible funding

    1. I researched groups in Illinois that have received Environmental Justice Grants from the EPA. There weren’t very many, but it may be helpful to reach out in the future
      1. Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO) “Chicago Healthy Homes Inspection Collaborative” (2016)
      2. Legal Council for Health Justice “Building Community Capacity to Address Lead Poisoning: Creating a Blueprint for “kNOw LEAD” App Development” (2019)
      3. Center for Neighborhood Technology “Helping the Chatham Neighborhood of Chicago Become Rain Ready” (2015)

     

    4. Ownership of the EJ Committee

    1. Everybody on the committee is very passionate, but since they are all volunteering their time and have other commitments, it is sometimes difficult to determine ownership on initiatives. 

    This update is also attached as a report and was sent to Stacy Gloss, a member of the Resilience iCAP Team, who will be leading the EJ efforts this Fall. 

  8. Feedback requested: EJ Focus Groups

    Kimmy Chuang sent the following email to the Environmental Justice Committee, requesting feedback on conducting focus group interviews. The draft questions and contact group documents are attached.

    =================================

    Hello EJ Committee,

    Meredith and I have compiled a draft list of interview questions for small focus groups and we’d like to hear your input. A large number of questions are adapted from the Providence RI Climate Justice Plan -- which you can read here -- as well as other local surveys I’ve researched. 

    As mentioned during our last meeting, if you could please (1) approve each question (2) suggest any edits and (3) rank them in terms of priority. The full set of standard questions will be asked to the focus group. On the second page, you’ll find some other questions that we’ve been considering but aren’t sure whether to include as part of this list or only ask if time permits. If you think there is a question missing, please leave a comment. The draft questions can be found here on Box and are attached.

    As we’re finalizing these questions, Meredith and I were also thinking of starting to reach out to the people we’d like to interview. We propose hosting five focus groups for each of the constituency groups: Neighborhood Associations, Community Organizations, Government, Social Justice Groups, and Relevant UIUC Advisory Groups/Personnel. We plan to ask for one representative from each entity to attend the focus group interview (see contact list attached).

    We’re thinking of sending a Zoom invite for 12-2pm, but do you all think there would be a better time to convene the focus groups? For example, if usually people involved in Social Justice Groups or Neighborhood Associations work during the day, would it make more sense to host their focus group later from 4-6pm? With the interviewee’s consent, we will record these meetings. 

    We would love your participation in the interview process as well. We propose two or three of us per focus group interview, though are open to your thoughts. Our suggested dates for the interviews, based on our schedules, are: 

    Monday, July 26

    Tuesday, July 27 (afternoon only)

    Wednesday, July 28 

    Thursday, July 29

    Friday, July 30

    Please send me and Meredith your feedback on our draft list or interview questions and your thoughts on how/when we should convene these focus groups. We request your feedback on the interview questions by next Wednesday, July 14. We would like to contact the groups and send out the Zoom invitations as soon as possible; please send us your availability/thoughts on participating in the interviews by Monday at the latest. 

  9. Recent Environmental Justice Projects

    The following list was provided by Warren Lavey and includes a detailed description about recent Environmental Justice projects:

    • Project for: Stop EtO (community environmental organization in Lake County, Illinois)
      • Environmental injustice: air pollution from industrial activities affecting low-income, minority communities
      • Status: ongoing
      • Students involved: 4 (law and medicine)
    •  
    • Project for: Forest Preserve District of Champaign County
      • Environmental injustice: lower access to and use of parks and other resources by low-income, minority communities
      • Status: ongoing
      • Students involved: 1 (undergrad in integrative biology)
    •  
    • Project for: Asociación Petón do Lobo (community environmental organization in Spain)
      • Environmental injustice: waste from taconite mining operations threatening small, low-income farmers; national and regional governments denied residents access to environmental information and participation in licensing proceedings
      • Status: ongoing
      • Students involved: 7 (law)
    • Project for: Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (community environmental organization in Chicago)
      • Environmental injustice: proposed expansion of a truck terminal near an elementary school for low-income, minority students
      • Status: completed (buffer with trees planted)
      • Students involved: 2 (undergrads in public health and computer science)
    •  
    • Project for: Friends of Riverfront Park (community organization in Peoria)
      • Environmental injustice: proposed conversion to develop luxury apartments of 20+ acres of a city park that was financed by the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund and borders on affordable housing
      • Status: completed (park conserved)
      • Students involved: 2 (law)
    •  
    • Project for: NAACP of Sandbranch, Texas
      • Environmental injustice: lack of adequate water and sewage infrastructure for a town of low-income, minority residents
      • Status: completed (state and federal funding obtained)
      • Students involved: 2 (law)
    •  
    • Project for: Gullah/Geechee Nation (African-American group in coastal South Carolina and Georgia)
      • Environmental injustice: proposed highways disrupting cultural heritage sites for low-income, minority residents
      • Status: completed (highway construction not approved)
      • Students involved: 2 (law)
  10. Nexamp Offers Information Sessions on Community Solar

    The City of Urbana is now partnering with Nexamp to bring solar savings opportunities to the community. This program is available to low and moderate income residents, including renters who do not own local property. The program provides solar power, through the existing electrical distribution network using solar panels that are being installed at the closed Urbana landfill.

    Nexamp is holding two information sessions for Illinois residents to learn how they can enroll in a community solar program. These events will be held on:

    The flyer for these events can be found in the attached files below.

  11. Environmental Vulnerability Assessment Presentation

    Irene Lira-Andsager, Jason Webb, and Daniel Xu spent the spring 2021 semester researching local environmental vulnerability factors and conducted vulnerability assessments to be included in the Environmental Justice Plan. The recording of their presentation of findings is found here (download to view). 

  12. Resilience iCAP Team Meeting Minutes from 4-06-21

    The Resilience iCAP Team met on April 6th, 2021 to brainstorm ideas for public engagement for creating our first Environmental Justice Plan. Members identified important avenues for learning about local intutions on what are relevant barriers to equitable health and safety in our communities. Moving forward, the Biodiversity Plan and EJ Plan will look to possibly engage the Department of Urban Planning and other students who will work on focus group interviews over the summer. The meeting concluded with an overview of the current progress of all Resilience iCAP objectives and future steps.

    Meeting minutes and chat log are attached! 

  13. Environmental Justice Plan Brainstorming Meeting 4-1-21

    The Environmental Justice Plan working group met on 4-1-21 to brainstorm the next steps of the process. The next steps for the group are to review and provide feedback on the "public input form" draft (attached). This will then be circulated around various organizations within the campus and community to ensure that the appropriate questions are asked, in the right way, and involving the right people. The group will continue to review the resilience and environmental justice indicators to refine which indices we should focus on.

    The meeting recording is found here. 

  14. Resilience iCAP Team Meeting Minutes from 3-02-21

    The Resilience iCAP Team met on March 2nd, 2021 with Vision Zero representative Stacey DeLorenzo to discuss how can the team can help accomplish zero fatalities from transportation in our communities. Updates were given on the Environmental Justice and Urban Biodiversity Plans, as well our ongoing collaboration with the Education Team to develop a sustainable communities paid internship program. The team also brainstormed ideas for how to move forward with identifying major local sustainability issues.

    Meeting minutes, agenda, and chat log are attached!

     

  15. Data Sets - Environmental Vulnerability Assessments

     

    Below are data sets provided by Scott Tess and Lacey Rains Lowe to assist the student work on environmental vulnerability assessments in spring 2021. 

     

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