EQUITY & ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
Equity vs Equality
This excellent set of images will help students think about the difference between equity and equality.
Whiteboard animated drawings with clear examples, explanations, and images. This video uses three visual metaphors including seeing over a baseball fence, riding a bike, and buying shoes that fit.
This is a handy list of definitions developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
This website from Seattle University’s Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability, is an excellent first stop for answering the question “What is Environmental Justice?” Here is the basic definition: “Environmental justice is the right of all people and communities to equal environmental protection under the law and equal involvement in environmental decision-making processes. It is the right to live, work, and play in communities that are safe, healthy, and free of life-threatening conditions.” Be sure to check out the Environmental Justice Toolkit on this site as well.
This powerful, short video gives further explanation and examples of environmental justice. It is narrated by Anjali Waikar, staff attorney, with the National Resource Defense Council. Anjali explains that “environmental justice reflects the fundamental reality that vulnerable communities are all too often subject to the disproportionate burden of pollution and contamination.”
Delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit held in 1991 drafted and adopted these 17 Principles of Environmental Justice, which have served as a defining document for the environmental justice movement ever since they were first drafted.
Provides statistics for how race is the most significant predictor of a person living near contaminate air, water, or soil.
Examines how different races are impacted by just one air pollutant and its relationship to heart disease.
Climate Justice Alliance is a national coalition of frontline communities and organizations that address social, racial, economic, and environmental justice issues. Its bold and inspiring mission includes confronting governments and industries to stop making false promises and act on climate change.
Climate change is threatening the whole world, but communities of color and lower incomes are experiencing the effects at a disproportionate rate. Exposure to toxic pollutants also typically hits low-income communities and communities of color the hardest. Green America strives to expose these disparities.
This is a comprehensive and useful website from the Federal Office of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA defines “environmental justice” as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income concerning the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Learn about the ways the EPA is working towards this goal.
A living textbook in its own right, this page contains a variety of resources that explore environmental racism from a public health lens. By looking at environmental justice organizations, reports, news articles, and blog posts from across the United States, this comprehensive list of resources provides a great foundation for learning about different ways to get involved in the environmental justice movement.
Colonization, through genocide, land theft, and the imposition of private property, has dispossessed Indigenous and Black peoples of their homelands across the continents for generations.
Policy and Strategic Planning
This breakthrough report by the Front and Centered coalition, incudes an impact analysis based on two factors: (1) exposure to environmental risks, whether to local climate change impacts, Covid, or the related economic fallout, and (2) pre-existing vulnerabilities like healthcare access, existing health conditions, race and language discrimination, and lack of employment or savings. These conditions are the result of historic and persistent institutional racism and systemic inequity. The Report is intended to guide the work of the Front and Centered coalition.
From the website: “As always, our approach begins with outreach and discussions with people most impacted by the issues through grassroots organizations rooted in communities of color doing direct listening and organizing. We seek to transition away from an extractive, exploitative society to a future where our communities and the earth are healed and thriving, our people have dignified work and the building blocks of opportunity and prosperity, and our government values, respects, and represents us. We strive to make racial inequities on all issues a thing of the past, and to ensure that people of color and indigenous people are at the forefront of building equitable, democratic systems and policies that work for their communities.”
Movement Generation has produced an excellent zine! Offered in both English and Spanish, this Zine is a 32-page long training tool that outlines a framework for a fair shift to an economy that is ecologically sustainable, equitable, and just for all its members. It is full of visuals, stand-alone sections, and curriculum ideas.
This easy-to-digest database enables Seattle residents to quickly see actions that the city takes towards racial equity. Each action page covers what the city plans to deliver, how the city plans on meeting the desired outcomes, and whom to contact if you want to learn more about a particular action.
While many of us may think King County is an equitable place to live, King County's equity infographic reveals a different story. The infographic shows how many groups are being left behind. In areas such as education, employment, and income, not everyone is progressing equally. King County informs us of its plan to build equity and opportunity so everyone in our communities can thrive.
Inequities hurt everyone, not just people on the lower rungs of the social and economic ladder. For our region to continue to prosper, we need everyone to have a fair shot at success, regardless of where they started in life. In King County, where you live, how much you make, and the color of your skin are major predictors of your life experience and quality of life. King County's Strategic Plan for Equity and Social Justice is a blueprint that will guide action through pro-equity policies.
This report explains what the county has determined to be 14 identifying indicators to establish a baseline of equity. On page 5, the Equity Tree displays how each of the determinants is needed for a healthy and well-grown tree. On page 12, the visual metaphor of a “healthy stream” is used to show how equitable policies lead to an improved quality of life and healthy communities. The Preliminary Measure of Equity table on page 15 lists the 67 preliminary indicators of equity for the study, ranging from early childhood development to the health of the built environment.
This brilliant infographic uses an “unhealthy stream” as a visual metaphor, showing how issues upstream in society manifest in issues downstream at the individual level. The problems we see every day – houselessness, health problems, and unemployment, to name a few – are the results of inequitable systems, structures, and policies. Rather than focusing on reacting to the problems downstream, King County aims to be proactive and tackle the problems upstream to create a healthy and equitable flow.
A blueprint to advance racial equity in Seattle's environmental work. The Agenda lays out four key goal areas with recommended strategies in each area: (1) Healthy environments for all; (2) Jobs, local economies & youth pathways; (3) Equity in city environmental programs; (4) Environmental narrative & community leadership.
RSJI is the City’s commitment to eliminate racial disparities and achieve racial equity in Seattle. When RSJI began ten years ago, no U.S. city had ever undertaken an effort that focused explicitly on institutional racism. Since that time, Minneapolis, Madison WI, Portland OR, and King County, among others, have all established their own equity initiatives. Across the United States, local governments are acknowledging that race matters.
The HEAL Act, or SB 5141, passed in the summer of 2021. The environmental justice task force was directed to investigate ways to incorporate environmental justice into WA agency actions, and after collaborating with local institutions to develop projects like the WA Environmental Health Disparities Map. The task force helped to pass a bill that defines ‘environmental justice’ in state law, outlines how agencies should consider community needs and environmental justice (EJ) in their work, establishes a permanent EJ Council to work with these agencies and help create EJ legislation, and expands equitable community participation.
This compelling New York Times article details a new study revealing how policies of redlining in the 1930s have led to environmental health inequalities that persist today. Using California’s East Bay area as an example, the study showed how residents of the historically redlined neighborhoods – majority BIPOC in the 1930s and still majority BIPOC today – are exposed to air pollutants at significantly higher rates than other neighborhoods.
PolicyLink is a national research and action institute advancing racial and economic equity by “Lifting Up What Works.” As the nation moves toward becoming majority people of color, achieving equity—just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential—is the moral imperative, a potent antidote to inequality, and the superior growth model. Equity aims to equip everyone, especially those left behind, with the resources that allow them to contribute and prosper. It is a pragmatic approach to solve the nation's largest problems and sources of tension: economic inequality and racial exclusion.
This very helpful website provides detailed indicators that track how communities are doing on key measures of inclusive prosperity. The site defines an equitable community as one where all residents, regardless of their race, nativity, gender, or zip code, are fully able to participate in the community’s economic vitality, contribute to its readiness for the future, and connect to its assets and resources. Indicators track change over time, are comparable across geographies, and are disaggregated by race and other demographics as much as possible.
This is a breakthrough document developed by the US Water Alliance to enable water utilities of all sizes to improve their racial equity practices and outcomes both internally and externally. For too long, the water utility sector has been operating within systems in which race is a predictor of water access, affordability, quality, reliability, and resilience in the face of our increasingly disruptive and volatile climate. The tool kit is a guide for developing solutions to correct this situation.
The vision of the Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative is to eliminate racial inequity in the community. To do this requires ending individual racism, institutional racism and structural racism. The Racial Equity Toolkit lays out a process and a set of questions to guide the development, implementation and evaluation of policies, initiatives, programs, and budget issues to address the impacts on racial equity. See Also: City of Portland’s Racial Equity Toolkit
Community Development Strategies
ABCD (Asset-Based Community Development)
Working with universities and communities, this institute is at the center of a large and growing movement that considers local assets as the primary building blocks of sustainable community development. Building on the skills of local residents, the power of local associations, and the supportive functions of local institutions, asset-based community development draws upon existing community strengths to build stronger, more sustainable communities for the future. Use the ABCD Tool Kit for talking points and other resources.
The Green for All program focuses on campaigns that amplify the voices of low-income families and people of color, making sure that these communities are not forgotten as green economic opportunities increase.
This paper examines the segregation and redlining of Seattle’s neighborhoods throughout the early and mid-1900s. Featuring photos and newspaper clippings from the last century, the author explains how the city’s discriminatory policies and racist housing “covenants” created the inequities between Seattle communities that are still experienced today.
Solutions to overcoming the destructive legacy of “redlining”. The institute works with communities of color to build just economies that are cooperative, sustainable, participatory, fair, and healthy. They work with allied organizations to address community needs related to economic well-being, housing impacts, and climate impacts.
With a focus on increasing and sustaining Black homeownership, this coalition works to repair the economic gap between residents in King County and to ensure that all people can live with dignity in safe, affordable, and healthy homes with a plethora of community opportunities.
This list details 34 different organizations in the Seattle area that are doing work to improve the region’s food systems.
This organization provides critical support to students and community members in South Seattle through food access and education. Their work is grounded in community love, cultural pride, and self-celebration.
Equity within the Education System
The Underrepresentation Curriculum (URC) is a free, flexible curriculum for STEM instructors to teach about injustice and change the culture of STEM. Using tools such as data analysis, hypothesis creation, and investigation, students look critically at science through the lenses of equity and inclusion. By comparing the general population to similar data describing scientists, students can explore issues of social justice in STEM.
This website has tools to help teachers and students be a catalyst for racial justice through learning in identity, diversity, justice, and action. Designed to bring relevance, rigor, and social-emotional learning into the classroom, these lesson plans fit both the Common Core recommendations and the Learning for Justice Social Justice standards.
This two-page article explains what the school-to-prison pipeline is, examines which students are most impacted by it, and offers suggestions for disrupting or avoiding contributing to it.
PBS NewsHour’s Amna Nawaz interviews Prudence Carter, University of California, Berkeley sociology professor, on critical race theory. She points out that critical race theory is a legal framework designed by scholars in the 1980s to explain how structural and racial disparities persist in American society. Carter made the distinction between teaching critical race theory – a concept most often introduced to students at the graduate level – and taking a critical approach to teaching about race and racism in American history.
This great collection of maps shows the distribution of key demographics within King County: income, race/ethnicity, and languages spoken. The maps are intended to be used by county staff for community engagement, program planning, and equity analyses. The maps are also meant to help other jurisdictions and members of the community better understand the county’s population.
In response to community demand for transparency of race and social justice data, the city’s Race and Social Justice Initiative launched six new topic pages on Poverty, Racial Demographics, Food Insecurity, Health Disparities, Community Wealth, and Housing Affordability. Each topic page includes Information about the equity issue and its root causes, interactive data and dashboards, community stories, and links to community organizations that are already working on addressing the issue in Seattle.
An excellent, interactive mapping tool that compares communities across our state for environmental health disparities. Also provides new and rigorous insights into where public investments can be prioritized to buffer environmental health impacts on Washington's communities so that everyone can benefit from clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. The map shows pollution measures such as diesel emissions and ozone, as well as proximity to hazardous waste sites. In addition, it displays measures like poverty and cardiovascular disease.
This resource presents an overview of food access indicators for low-income and other census tracts using different measures of supermarket accessibility. Also, provides food access data for populations within census tracts. Data on food access can be downloaded for community planning or research purposes.
The Tree Equity Map displays your city or town's current Tree Equity Score and how it can be improved. In cities across America, trees have historically been planted along race and class lines. Ensuring equitable tree cover across every neighborhood can help address social inequities so that all people can thrive.
Data for King County Communities: An interactive set of charts, graphs, and a map showing data for communities across King County. A powerful tool for analyzing local issues, understanding our demographics, and learning about charts, graphs, and statistics.
In order to better meet the Federal Environmental Protection Agency’s responsibilities related to the protection of public health and the environment, EPA has developed a new environmental justice (EJ) mapping and screening tool called EJSCREEN. It is based on nationally consistent data and an approach that combines environmental and demographic indicators in maps and reports.
Sustainability Ambassadors has partnered with Mapseed to develop this interactive map based on a wide range of open-source GIS data layers. Zoom down to your neighborhood. Switch Base Maps and mix and match Map Layers to discover the story of your place. What’s the equity tree score in your neighborhood? Why is there a geographic correlation between poverty, people of color, and life expectancy? Click SWIPE to slide back and forth between any two layers to see what new stories are revealed to you. Click on LOVE to find a whole other world of maps we love. Be curious. Expand your geographic literacy.
Equity Advocacy Organizations
About this Collection: These amazing community organizations are already doing great work for the people of King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. Working in community centers, counseling services, schools, daycares, food banks, assisted living homes, and more, these groups serve as models of community care and support to create a just and equitable place for all. We offer a sampling here, but you can find the full list on our website under Organizations We Admire.
Front and Centered is a statewide coalition of organizations and groups rooted in communities of color and people with lower incomes; they are on the frontlines of economic and environmental change. Front and Centered builds and amplifies a more powerful movement by engaging and bringing leaders together, building capacity, and providing coordination and technical support.
Got Green organizes for environmental, racial, and economic justice as a South Seattle-based grassroots organization led by people of color and low-income people. They cultivate multi-generational community leaders to be central voices in the Green Movement in order to ensure that the benefits of the green movement and green economy reach low-income communities and communities of color.
Puget Sound Sage is an organization led by majority women of color that is accountable to and serves the interests of low-income people, communities of color as well as immigrants and refugees in the Puget Sound region. In particular, they focus on Seattle, South King County, and North Pierce County. They advocate for policy change at the local and regional levels, where they believe community voice can have the most impact.
Established in 2014, this Program supports restoration and revitalization of the Duwamish Valley neighborhoods of South Park, Georgetown, and surrounding areas. The program is a paid environmentally-based job skills program for teens and is equal parts environmental science, job skills training, stewardship, and outdoor hands-on community service.
Educates and empowers businesses and diverse communities to implement environmentally sustainable practices. With an international staff that speaks over a dozen languages, ECOSS delivers environmental education, resources and technical assistance in the areas of stormwater permit compliance, recycling and food waste, energy efficiency, Brownfields, Green Stormwater Infrastructure, and outreach to multicultural communities and businesses.
As an organization grounded in the Latino community, their mission is to build unity across all racial and economic sectors in order to organize, empower, and defend vulnerable and marginalized populations. They provide a unique blend of services and advocacy to better serve and raise awareness of the needs of the Chicano/Latino community.
LCF programs create a vibrant community through civic engagement, healthy families, arts and culture. They identify, share and advocate for what is working in the Latino community. LCF cultivates new leaders, supports cultural and community-based non-profit organizations, and improves the quality of life for all Washingtonians.