The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police has finally created a sea change in our country to support black lives. This is beginning to take tangible forms such as efforts to defund police departments, the creation of task forces looking into reparations for slavery, and interrogating how our nation’s prison industrial complex contributes to racial injustice. We are also seeing residents encourage their city councils, county and state governments, and the federal government to reprioritize black lives and black communities. At ClimatePlan, this change is also being felt at an organizational and network level. ClimatePlan’s Evolution ClimatePlan was formed in 2007 by 11 nonprofit organizations—American Farmland Trust, California Center for Regional Leadership, California League of Conservation Voters, Center for Clean Air Policy, Greenbelt Alliance, the Local Government Commission, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pacific Forest Trust, Planning and Conservation League, Sierra Club, and TransForm—with a seed grant from the San Francisco Foundation. Equity was a part of ClimatePlan’s creation--one of its guiding principles was, “Advance Solutions that Increase Social Equity and Environmental Justice.” As a learning network of over 50 organizations, ClimatePlan worked hard to ensure that regional plans and statewide policies led to more equitable outcomes. While there was a clear focus on equitable policy and outcomes, there was not as much attention to advancing racial justice. Now, in 2019, ClimatePlan is a black-led network, with the majority of staff being women of color. It is clear that the issues that ClimatePlan works on - housing, land use, and transportation - are inextricably linked to the need to center equity and ensure those who are most impacted--black and brown lives--are front and center in decision-making. In the past 2 to 3 years, ClimatePlan has deepened its commitment to equity with the adoption of shared agreements, the promotion of the Investment without Displacement platform as it relates to housing justice in California, and the commitment to centering and amplifying community voices in everything ClimatePlan does.read more“We gotta stop looking for the easy answers and instead join the hard work. Please and thank you. Be good to yourselves. This is a marathon that no one wants to run. #BlackLivesMatter #GeorgeFloyd.” -- Alicia Garza, Co Founder, Black Lives Matter In late April-- which now seems like such a long time ago--my colleague Christopher shared how we conducted listening sessions across the state to better understand priorities at the local and regional level, and allow that work to shape our statewide priorities and actions. At that time, we were in the midst of a global pandemic, the coronavirus. Now, as the New York Times said, we are living in a pandemic within a pandemic. For black people--as an organizer in the article says--the question is “Am I going to let a disease kill me or am I going to let the system--the police?” The weight of this question is immense. I can attest how easy it is to slip into hopelessness and despair. Will anything ever change? It’s 2020, and I’m talking to my son about George Floyd, fielding his fear and tears. I’m explaining why we are joining virtual town halls and protests in the streets. It hits him hard, especially because a black man who lives down the street from us was recently arrested for “dancing in the street.” It’s 1992, my dad sat me down and explained why people were protesting in Watts. Rodney King is where my life long fear of police officers begins. My parents took my sister and I to see Spike Lee’s Malcom X on opening night because my dad wanted us to see the power that we as the black community could harness. It’s 1963, my grandmother talked to my dad about Meager Evers, why the work he was doing was so important that he risked his own life. My dad still remembers the day that Martin Luther King was assassinated--his entire school was shut down that day as his teachers openly wept.read more
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