Laying the Groundwork for Environmental Justice Literacy: Learners to Leaders Curriculum
These are some of the definitions of environmental justice offered by Groundwork Green Team youth from across our network who’ve been testing Learners to Leaders, Groundwork USA’s new environmental justice literacy curriculum. The curriculum aims to teach youth (and adults) about the history of environmental justice, how to organize in their own communities, and how to research and find information about environmental issues that are affecting their homes and neighborhoods.
Loosely speaking, “environmental justice” describes a movement at the intersection of the American civil rights and environmental movements that became enshrined in federal law in 1994 when President Clinton issued Executive Order 12898, directing federal agencies “to identify and address the disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their actions on minority and low-income populations…” This action led to the founding of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. But the origins of the movement, and the work to achieve environmental justice, are “rooted in the power and mobilization of people on the ground,” in the words of one of the movement’s respected leaders and scholars, Vernice Miller Travis. Today, it is still communities working and organizing on the ground that carry the banner of environmental justice.