To highlight how community-based organizations can build community power and influence policy in powerful ways, Kresge’s three Climate Change, Health and Equity partners are working together to address climate injustice and promote health and wellness. We discussed the challenges, lessons learned, successes and best practices of organizations working to promote equity in society.at the University of Maryland Symposium on environmental justice and health disparities.
In the third article of our three-part series, Livewell Springfield Coalition at the Massachusetts Western Institute of Public Health. Be sure to check out the other articles in the series. Environmental Health Coalition When Coalition of Communities of Color.
power to attract people
The LiveWell Springfield Coalition recognizes the importance of connecting communities to address issues such as asthma, chronic disease, access to food, housing and homelessness, extreme heat and weather disasters that affect residents of western Massachusetts. I believe there is.
“One of our great strengths is our ability to bring people together,” said Samantha Hamilton, Senior Manager of Community Engagement at Livewell Springfield at the Western Massachusetts Institute of Public Health.
Hamilton said LiveWell established a Resident Advisory Board to provide residents with a hands-on experience.
“We share power,” said Hamilton. “Every resident of the council has a stakeholder or partner who matches their voice. and we didn’t want their voices to be lost, and that balance allowed them to collectively have a voice on issues that were relevant to them, and also to have a voice in our process. can be challenged.”
What LiveWell has done is also lift the people working on its campaign projects. Whether it’s his role as an advocate for healthy eating in schools or speaking about climate justice on stage at his jazz festival, Hamilton is able to bring people from communities of color into the conversation. Emphasize how important it is.
“I want people to know that they can participate. The people doing this look just like you and are making time for the things that matter to them,” Hamilton said.
Another part of the work is getting residents to dive into specific policies and explain who and what is involved in the process as well as explain it to their neighbors.
Hamilton noted that LiveWell is gaining strong traction on two policy goals, despite political tensions. It is the adoption of Community Choice Energy by the City of Springfield, Massachusetts and the requirement for the city to apply a Race and Health Equity Impact Assessment.On new developments, budgets and policies to identify the health impacts of proposed urban projects and policies
LiveWell also works with communities as well as community-based organizations and institutions interested in making a difference.
Together with Health Care Without Harm and local partners, LiveWell organized an extreme heat tabletop exercise and developed Partnerships for Climate Resilience: A Practical Guide to Community-Based Disaster Planning for Health Care. bottom.
Tabletop exercises brought together local government officials, health workers, residents and community organizations to understand the impact of extreme weather days and recovery efforts.
Hamilton said extreme heat tabletops had been done before, but what was unique about this project was that it was the first time a community-based organization was integrated into the exercise. That’s it.
“The tabletop exercise is a template with step-by-step instructions for engaging with community partners and conducting community climate resilience exercises. brings to the table people who don’t talk about climate and extremely hot days, and could be a starting point to consider how we can approach it,” said Hamilton. Said.
In addition to a guide to help hospitals better integrate community priorities into climate change disaster planning, two provisions of the landmark climate bill signed by the Massachusetts Governor in August 2022 include tabletop exercises. It contained recommendations presented by community members at .
The law includes broad policies targeting renewable energy, transportation and fossil fuels, making it the first state in some cities and towns to ban fossil fuel infrastructure in new and major construction projects. contains a clause that allows
The articles included in the climate bill are:
- In combination with Community Cooling Centers in Environmental Justice Communities, create pathways for energy storage, such as battery backup, so that diesel generators, which add health impacts, do not have to run at these facilities even in the event of a power outage. .When
- Expanding eligibility for participation in the Massachusetts Center for Clean Energy equity program to include community-based organizations addressing climate resilience and extreme heat issues.
Additionally, the final bill includes hospitals and medical facilities that are within the scope of energy storage research. This could lay the groundwork for medical facilities to use battery storage to ensure facilities can operate during extreme weather events without relying on polluting diesel generators. .
To download the guide, here.
Want to learn more?View this and other sessions of the symposium here.