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 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.
One more time for those in the back: Why we need an Equity Advisory Committee at California Transportation Commission
For those that don’t know me, I am a black woman who has spent the last 10 years fighting for transportation justice. For me, this work is about making sure that low-income communities and communities of color have the same access to their surroundings. Their fight for better jobs, increased government accountability, better access to healthcare, and more equitable education outcomes for their children are all valid and necessary. My role is to make sure these communities have a way to get these rights. I chose to advocate for transportation justice because low-income communities and communities of color-- like my own community in South Sacramento--deserve to have access to the safest, healthiest, most affordable transportation option.
Right now, it feels silly to write a blog explaining (yet again) why we need to create an equity advisory committee to inform the California Transportation Commission’s (CTC) decision making. If the current protests in the country do not scream that we need to change our institutions to be more equitable, I doubt this blog will. But alas, here we are. From where I stand, an Equity Advisory Committee (EAC) at the CTC is the least of the asks from low-income communities and communities of color but it is a step, a good first step.Read more
Hi ClimatePlan partners, allies, and friends,
Amy shared her blog post, Dear White folks, we need to talk about racism, on Friday. If you missed her email or you haven't read the blog post, please take 5 minutes today to read it. It is very powerful.
As a black woman with two black sons, I am exhausted, I am angry, and I am afraid. I've been alternating between rage, despair, and hopelessness. I am angry that black bodies continue to be killed and dehumanized--and that we, the United States of America, still have not had a real conversation about how systematic racism and oppression is built within the very fabric of our nation. I grieve the loss of people that look like me and that could be me. I live in fear--for my life, my sons' lives, my nephews, and my family. I know that George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Nia Wilson, Sandra Bland, Oscar Grant could have been me. And that is the terror I have to live under every day.Read more
A note from Chanell Fletcher, Executive Director of ClimatePlan: I want to thank Amy for being brave enough to write this letter and publish it on our website. I know it may provoke a lot of responses and conversations, which is good. We, as a network of environment, conservation, smart growth, equity, public health, housing, and transportation organizations, need to have a conversation about what it means and looks like to advance health, sustainability, equity, and a just future. We can’t push for the Governor to implement policies such as SB 743 if we’re not also speaking out on the need for tenant protections during COVID-19. And if we mean what we say about equity, we cannot stay silent on the issues that matter most. Thank you Amy again for your words and your call to action.
Dear fellow White folks,
This is difficult for me to write.
I’m sure by now, you’ve seen the news coverage that George Floyd, a black man, has been murdered at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. In the same week, Christian Cooper, also a black man, was falsely accused--while bird watching--of harassing Amy Cooper, a white woman, in New York City’s Central Park. And not even a month ago, we also saw the murder of another black man, Ahmaud Arbery, in Georgia at the hands of white supremacists. Christian was enjoying bird watching. Ahmaud was going for a run. The list of Black men and women murdered by police officers and white supremacists grows daily.
All of the aforementioned incidents occurred in public spaces: parks, open spaces, along a sidewalk, in neighborhoods. Places where networks like ClimatePlan are working to create, shape and strengthen policies and initiatives that bring about “equitable and sustainable communities.” As a recent CNN article pointed out, there's one epidemic we may never find a vaccine for: fear of black men in public spaces.Read more