Perspectives on Progress in Local Environmental Justice

How do BIPOC communities approach strategic communication and power-building to achieve environmental justice in Connecticut? Two champions fighting to dissolve systemic injustices at the intersection of race and the environment through grassroots advocacy  and public policy engaged in conversation with Yale Law and Environmental Studies Professor Gerald Torres on September 17th, 2021.

Sharon Lewis, Executive Director of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, and Justin Farmer, 5th District Representative to the Hamden, CT City Council, described their campaigns fighting for environmental justice locally and statewide. Sharon outlined the coalition’s strategies for engaging other groups to persuade and educate politicians to make informed choices, expose and create awareness around inequities in the distribution of pollution in the state, and fight for those living on the front line of pollution. Justin followed with a focus on local initiatives including the push to ban styrofoam and plastic bags.  He emphasized the importance of crafting “wedge” issues, and connecting to existing power structures. Both spoke to their struggles with balancing compromise with the government with staying true to the goals of the movement. Professor Torres of the Yale Law School and the Yale School of the Environment, and Director, Yale Center for Environmental Justice, moderated the conversation, focusing on successes and how issues strategically engage audiences at different levels from the local to the multi-state.

This event was hosted by the Yale Center for Environmental Communication and co-sponsored with the Yale Center for Environmental Justice.