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 THANK YOU! CCCEJN_2017RootsOfResistanceConference-14

As Co-chair of the Unity Council, I Rosenda Mataka would like to thank everyone who attended or contributed to the Roots Of Resistance bi-annual conference.  The amount of time dedicated to the conference by our Director Nayamin Martinez and staff was appreciated by all of us who attended.  The venue of the Multi-Cultural Center in Merced was perfect.  The center was decorated for the “Dia de Los Muertos”.  La Catrina was exhibited at the entrance to welcome all the attendees & beautiful local artwork plastered the walls.

The conference MC, Lourdes Medina was a natural and familiar voice.  Her ability to make us feel comfortable with unfamiliar faces was a blessing.  Our guest speaker was Special Assistant Attorney General, Arsenio Mataka.  His topic “Environmental Justice Inside Out” was an inspiring story of growing up in the environmental justice community of the Central Valley. He then adapted those experiences to help communities of color within a government framework.  His message was “Our Lives, Our Stories, Our Voices, that is what moves people.

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The panel “Roots of Resistance through the lens of Youth” was led by Gustavo Aguirre Jr.  Thanks to Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, CHAPS-Berkeley/Stanford Children’s Health and Air Pollution Study and Greenfield Walking Group for their youthful energizing participation.  They were represented by young adults who spoke passionately with messages of involvement and hope.

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A children’s skit on the environment was taught by Director of Contraluz Teatral, Guadalupe Beltran. The skit was a reminder to us that justice work needs to begin early in life.

The conference ended in the traditional circle of unity with everyone holding hands singing “De Colores”.  Special thanks to Lupe Martinez and Gustavo Aguirre Sr. for leading with their voices. They continue to make that tradition all the more beautiful. See you all in two years with new victories and stories to share!

 

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SAVE THE DATE!  

Grassroots! With Central California Environmental Justice Network
‘ROOTS OF RESISTANCE’ Conference

Through interactive workshops and discussions led by local non-profits and community leaders learn about Environmental Justice and how you can make a change!

Saturday, October 21, 2017
9:00 am to 4 pm
Merced Multicultural Arts Center
645 W Main St. Merced CA 95430

FREE Family Event with Food & fun activities for adults & kids

For more information please call:
Nayamin Martinez 559-907-2047 or Gustavo Aguirre Jr.559-907-2140

Save the Date. Roots of Resistance Conference. October 21

Meet our new Community Organizer: Cesar G. Aguirre.

CCEJN wants to welcome our new organizer, Cesar G. Aguirre. Cesar started with us on April 2017 and will take lead on our work in South Kern & other county regions, below he gives some info about why he wanted to work with us and his experience in the first month on the job with CCEJN:

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Cesar A. during public comment for CARB P.M 2.5 plan (Fresno)

” I had volunteered with CCEJN a few times before and was familiar with the staff. The mission and goals of CCEJN were aligned with my personal values and I was looking forward to work with like-minded individuals.  CCEJN does a lot of work in the community and I have had experience working in the target communities.  I used to work with Community for a Better Arvin and got my first experience working with communities there.  Now that I work with CCEJN the reach is further, I have traveled out of my hometown of Bakersfield very often this last month.

I have participated in a series of engagements with community members and representatives. These activities range from canvassing in communities to gathering testimonies, to speaking in front of the California Air Resource Board and presenting the testimonies in both Fresno and Sacramento.  A big part has also been getting to know the allies and partners we work with. There have been lots of new names and faces but I soon hope to be well acquainted with all of them.

I have very much enjoyed my first month and I hope to stay this active and engaged in the community to make a tangible difference. ”

Cesar with a month has already been active, here are some of the activities he has been a part of:

On May 20th our new community organizer, Cesar Aguirre, Was invited to be  co- master of ceremonies for the event. His work is centered around oil and gas operations so he was a good fit for the “Oil money oil” rally. he explains his first hand experience below:

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Cesar G. Aguirre co-hosting a rally in Sacramento, CA on Oil & Gas issues in CA. 

“The rally was an exciting new frontier for me, I had never been a MC for any event! it was an exciting step in the first month of the job. I felt comfortable addressing the crowd because I saw familiar faces in the crowd from my years as a volunteer and also from the short time working with CCEJN. Community based organizations from all over came to share their stories of struggle and victory in the fight against  oil and gas in California. I shared testimonies and information from Kern to let our partners and allies at the rally know about what we work on.

Kern has Over 70 percent of the oil production of California, I was excited to represent Kern for CCEJN in Sacramento and listen to everyone else who had been or is in the struggle to get oil money out. Some of the speakers were native Americans who also participated in the DAPL protests at standing rock. A resident of Richmond also came to echo the victory of keeping chevron out of their local politics, despite an over 3-million-dollar dump to skew local politics in their favor.  Introducing speakers and being inspired by the speeches of others was fun, but the march was more fun!

               During the march I found the crowd to be lacking a little energy. So, I started shouting over the bullhorns to get the energy up in the crowd. Eventually I was given a bull horn and placed at the front of the march to lead the chants! I was not alone in keeping the crowd yelling, my enthusiasm was as infectious as I hoped and chant leaders emerged all over the march making the crowd one big unified siren of environmental justice. This was especially important because the loud crowd passed the democratic convention as it was in session and in front of the governor mansion!”

We at CCEJN wish to continue this great work and hope to continue collaborating in future EJ efforts.

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CCEJN is now Hiring a Community Organizer in Kern Co. Apply Today.

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT

The Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN), a fiscally sponsor project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE); is accepting applications from motivated individuals to fill a Community Organizer Position for Kern County.

CCEJN seeks to preserve the natural resources of the San Joaquin Valley by working towards minimizing or eliminating environmental degradation within our communities.  Rural communities in California’s Central Valley suffer a disproportionate amount of negative health, social, and economic impacts due to disproportionate environmental degradation. CCEJN upholds the principles of environmental justice through direct action, movement building, advocacy, and resident engagement in all of its efforts. CCEJN is looking for candidates who share our organizational values and are interested in working in the field of Environmental & Social Justice Issues in Kern County.

Job Description

The Community Organizer position is a temporary, part-time position that is responsible for providing community education and outreach in low-income communities of color in Kern County. Specific areas of responsibility include working closely with residents in Arvin, Shafter and other Kern County communities as needed, offering bilingual education on basic environmental literacy and fracking issues; engagement of residents in relevant project work; community meeting coordination; and offering support for residents that want to engage in collection of targeted samples and pollution logs of oil and gas related emissions. The selected candidate will also help to educate residents on how to identify fracking and other extreme oil production methods violations and how to report it to the IVAN Kern Reporting Network. The Community Organizer will report directly to CCEJN Kern County Coordinator and will work closely with CCEJN’s director and other community partners.

This is a non-exempt temporary part-time position. It is expected that this person will work approximately 20 hours per week over a 10-month period, with the possibility of extending the number of hours per week and the number of months of work based on funding availability.

Major Responsibilities

  • Work with CCEJN staff to develop and distribute bilingual environmental literacy materials and specific materials on fracking
  • Conduct community outreach to educate residents about environmental hazards affecting their communities
  • Organize and facilitate community meetings to educate community members about environmental hazards, how to report them; and offer trainings on fracking and other extreme methods of oil extraction
  • Engage Kern County residents in advocacy campaigns at the county and state level that aim to create stronger regulations against fracking practices
  • Organize and facilitate trainings on the collection of targeted samples and pollution logs of oil and gas related emissions
  • Identify and recruit a cohort of community members willing to participate in the collection of targeted samples and pollution logs of oil and gas related emissions
  • Provide technical support and maintain constant communication with participants in the data collection cohort
  • Complete written progress reports documenting project tasks including but not limited to entering data into spreadsheets; keeping updated files of all project activities;

General Responsibilities

  • Attend and help coordinate IVAN Kern monthly task force meetings
  • Attend meetings on behalf of CCEJN or tend to other duties related to the organization as assigned
  • Collaborate with other organizations in Kern County and across the state to advance environmental justice issues affecting Kern County residents
  • Other duties as assigned by the Kern County Coordinator or CCEJN’s Director

Required Qualifications

  • Community organizing experience
  • Strong communication skills both oral and written
  • Bilingual English and Spanish. Ability to do basic translations and to provide interpretation during meetings
  • Ability to work well with diverse groups
  • Must work with limited supervision—create sound work style and be able to develop his/her own schedule in order to complete project tasks
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office products
  • Strong commitment to environmental justice and the mission of CCEJN
  • Ability and willingness to travel within Kern County and other parts of California and to have a flexible schedule as needed
  • Current driver’s license and fully-insured personal vehicle

 Preferred Qualifications

  • Completed courses in an accredited college or university on Environmental Science, Social or Health Sciences
  • Experience doing advocacy work

Starting Date: Open until filled

Compensation: $16/hourly

How to Apply:

Interested candidates must send an e-mail that includes a cover letter and resume to Nayamin.Martinez@outlook.com with “CCEJN Kern Community Organizer” as the subject line.  For more information about the position please contact Nayamin Martinez at 559-351-6398.

Smoking Polluters: Visible Emissions and Citizen Science in the Valley

Guest Blogger: Rodrigo Alatriste-Diaz (Tulare County) – PHD Grad-Student at Cornell Univ.

This blog post describes an ongoing project between CCEJN and U.S. EPA to engage San Joaquin Valley (the Valley) community members in citizen science.  As part of this project, a cohort of seven community members was convened to participate in CA-EPA Air Resource Board’s (ARB) 100 Series Course–Visible Emissions Evaluation (VEE). This course is typically limited to regulatory agencies and industry personnel. Our participation in this training and in citizen science is part of an ongoing process to increase community involvement. Below we explain citizen science, its importance, and share our recent experience in completing VEE training and certification. Observations and recommendations are made to make the certification process more accessible and ultimately democratize environmental protection.

Citizen Science for Who?

Citizen science is a method to increase public input in environmental protection and management by way of education, data collection, and dialogue. This goal is achieved by community learning and public involvement in the environmental protection process.

Citizen science, as an EPA initiative, has been found to lead to the following: input into the environmental protection process, involvement in the outdoors, advocate and researcher collaboration, environmental science education, and the local creation of data and experts.

However, citizen science is also a limited form of civic engagement. Volunteering is a luxury that some people can’t afford; citizen science volunteers must find the disposable time and resource to participate[1].  Another major obstacle is the scientific literacy required to engage in citizen science. Again, volunteers must donate their time to educate themselves and become literate and understand bureaucratic processes and their respective agencies. In the end, volunteers must unquestionably accept science as a language to engage and influence technical decisions and processes.

Making Citizen Science in the San Joaquin Valley:

Despite the challenges noted above, citizen science has the potential to make environmental protection more democratic in the Valley.  Among other environmental health concerns in the valley, air quality is very low and contributes to high rates of asthma and cardiovascular disease. Sources of pollution in the Valley vary from mobile emissions like cars and trucks to stationary sources like agriculture, dairy, and oil processing.  According to the American Lung Association, four Valley metropolitan areas are ranked as the most polluted cities across three types of pollution in the United States (see chart below). Of the nine California Air Districts, the San Joaquin district is the largest by land size. Thus, an important place for a citizen science project.

With this goal in mind, the CCEJN cohort completed the VEE course during the month of October. To become a certified visible emissions evaluator three steps are required: 1) complete an online course that takes 10-14 hours to complete, 2) a half-day classroom lecture, 3) and a field exam.

The online course-is well organized and includes visualizations and some interactive learning. In order to complete the online course reliable internet access is needed for long periods of time. The course is divide into seven sub-sections; each section is followed by a short exam.  The entire online module is well structured and very helpful to an air quality novice. However, at times the online course can be overtly detailed and highly technical. For example, learning equations used to read a psychrometer table or learning a specific volatile organic compounds (VOC) substance like formaldehyde.

At the end of each section a PDF version of all on-line material is made available for printing. If printed material is made available before online instruction, students will be able to read and review materials off-line and at their leisure.  Supplemental learning materials like flash cards or visual materials like the Visible Emissions Evaluations Handbook (see picture below) are good teaching materials.  Materials like these can help a variety of learners such as visual learners and limited English language learners.

After completing the online course, our cohort drove to Monterey to participated in a half-day course. The instructor for this course was very knowledgeable and engaging. He shared that the certification rate has steadily increased to its current rate of 80% and in-class instruction was reduced from five days to one.  The course was very relaxed, and focused primarily on the logistics and strategies for passing the field exam.

The field exam is the highpoint and the final part of the certification. Students meet at a park or public location to observe stationary emissions released from an ARB trailer and determine opacity of emissions (see picture above). During the exam, students are required to visually determine opacity on a twenty point-scale of twenty-five white and twenty-five black plumes. In order to certify your total answers can deviate no more than 7.4 points.  The visual exam is challenging and requires a lot of concentration. From our cohort 3 out of 5 people certified (60% passed).

Final Remarks and Recommendations

VEE is a powerful tool.  A visual emission observation with proper documentation from a VEE certified community member can result in a violation against a polluting facility. In fact, a VEE can trump air monitoring data from instruments generated within that polluting facility.

However, to make use of VEE and democratize environmental protection the fundamentals of this course and certification need to be shifted away from industry and compliance agency expertise to a wider community. Below, are some recommendations to make VEE training more accessible to community members. The urgent need for environmental protection and regulation of air pollution in the Valley are compelling reasons why individuals and organizations are, and will continue to be, committed to citizen science in the Valley.

Recommendations:

  • Train local community experts to increase general knowledge of environmental regulations and compliance standards.
  • Increase access to technical education for volunteer monitoring programs to provide specialized knowledge of specific mediums (air, water, etc.) to increase accuracy of reporting and more dialogue with compliance agencies.
  • Tailor learning materials to various kinds of learners (visual learners, English language learners, etc.) and use of informal education models or popular education to increase accessibility to material.
  • Use a train the trainer model, such as the use of health promotoras, to disseminate regulation and compliance information to the general public and to help with transcription of technical information.
  • Determine demand and need for VEE training and examination in counties with the lowest air quality–Fresno and Tulare County (VEE training and VEE exam are currently not available in these counties).
  • Supplement community monitoring projects with training and access to publicly available information (i.e. location of violation, location of facility, and incidence of violations). For example, according to ARB’s 2016 case settlement data the majority of violations appear to come from mobile sources. Thus, monitoring projects can use data to focus on a specific sector or super polluters[2].

 

[1] Pfeffer, M. J. and L. P. Wagenet (2007). Volunteer Environmental Monitoring, Knowledge Creation and Citizen-Scientist Interaction. Sage Handbook of Environment and Society Los Angeles ; London, SAGE.

 

[2] Mary, B. C., et al. (2016). “Linking ‘toxic outliers’ to environmental justice communities.” Environmental Research Letters 11(1): 015004.

 

Thank you for your support!

Dear CCEJN Supporters,

We want to take this opportunity to wish you all a successful 2017 and to express our sincere gratitude to those who have sent their donations through our GoFundMe page and by mail. Thank you to Catherine Garoupa, Rachel Gelman, Al Arredondo, Destiny Rodriguez, Jerry Yoshitomi and Laura Rodriguez for their generous donations.

Our campaign will continue until January 17, 2017, and we ask you to help us reach our $5000 goal by making a modest contribution and by sharing this post with other friends who care about improving the environment in the San Joaquin Valley. You can mail your donation to our Fresno office (4991 E McKinley Ave. Ste. 109 Fresno CA 93727) or you can donate in the following link:
https://www.gofundme.com/ccejn2017conference

 

In solidarity,
Nayamin Martinez and Gustavo Aguirre Jr.
CCEJN Staff

Help us bring back in 2017 the “Roots of Resistance” conference!

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Dear Supporters of Environmental Justice in Central California:

As you take well-deserved time off to gather with your loved ones to celebrate the holidays, the Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN) thank you for being a strong ally in promoting environmental justice.

For generations, communities of color have been burdened by poverty and unhealthy environments, but thanks to you and other committed individuals, CCEJN continues bringing together diverse communities and groups through the two resident reporting networks: Fresno Environmental Reporting Network (FERN) in Fresno and Kern Environmental Reporting Network (KEEN) in Kern. These networks allowed us to learn from each other, work together and to break down silos.

FERN AND KEEN are vivid testimony of this. Bringing together regulatory agencies, community groups, and residents, have resulted in concrete improvements in people’s lives. ‘The Arvin Pipeline Leak’ forced the evacuation of over fifty people. After the leak, affected families and concerned community members were trained by CCEJN staff to sample the air they were breathing and facilitated community meetings with regulatory agencies (including representatives from the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources and Cal-EPA) and advocated for stringent regulations. This collaborative effort went from a community based report in the KEEN platform to a state-wide policy bill (AB1071 Salas) that ensures DOGGR has the capacity to protect individuals and communities living near oil and gas pipelines.

To continue our networking conversations, we’re hosting our bi-annual conference “Roots of Resistance” in 2017. Together, we’ll share our expertise and explore sustainable solutions for a safer environment. We must raise $ 5,000 to make this conference possible, can you help us reach our goal? Any amount will put us closer to this goal. To donate, please go to: https://www.gofundme.com/ccejn2017conference

Sincerely,
Rosenda Mataka
Unity Council Chair