Environmental Justice Gathering to Be Held at WSU in March

PULLMAN, Wash. — Environmental justice will be the topic of discussion at
meetings set for the Washington State University campus March 10-12.

Sponsors of the “Environmental Justice 2000: Building Coalitions for
Environmental and Economic Justice in the Northwest” gathering are inviting
groups and individuals from throughout the region to discuss common issues
and to explore how they can work together more effectively.

The environmental justice movement is based on the belief that environmental
problems have their most damaging impacts on people of color and the poor.

“The movement reflects an effort to redefine the agenda of the traditional
environmental movement by including the voices of those who have typically
been silenced,” according to Noel Sturgeon, chair of the WSU Women’s
Studies Program, one of the meeting sponsors.

Among the topics to be discussed at the conference are tribal sovereignty,
pesticides and other toxic substances, nuclear power, farm worker rights, and
approaches to healthy and sustainable agricultural communities.

“This free public gathering is for tribal members, farm workers, independent
farmers, community activists, students, teachers, lawyers, policy-makers, and
others interested in social and environmental justice issues.” said Susan Lewis
of WSU’s Center for Environmental Education.

Featured speakers for the conference will be Dolores Huerta, co-founder and
secretary-treasurer of the United Farm Workers of America; Richard Moore,
coordinator of the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice
and past chair of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council to the
Environmental Protection Agency; and Yalonda Sindé, director of the
Community Coalition for Environmental Justice in Seattle.

“The focus of this meeting is coalition-building, so we are offering plenty of
opportunities for people to talk and to collaborate,” said T.V. Reed, director of
WSU’s American Studies Program. “The ultimate goal is to lay the groundwork
for an environmental justice network for the Pacific Northwest. We hope to
encourage discussions that will build bridges connecting urban and rural
groups, tribes and farm workers, and the many others who are working in the
field of environmental justice.”

Sindé emphasized the pressing need for such a gathering. “The time is now for
environmental and economic justice activists to come together. We need to
create a unified environmental and economic justice movement in the
Northwest,” she said.

WSU students have played a major role in organizing the gathering. Jamie
Willey, a graduate student in environmental science/regional planning, became
interested in the gathering because it provided links between education and
activism. “As students, we have much to learn from the featured speakers and
from the representatives of the Northwest’s environmental justice
organizations who will be attending,” she said. “In the classroom, we learn
from books; this event will allow us to become involved in hands-on

Sponsors of the conference include the Community Coalition for
Environmental Justice; the Center for Environmental Education, the Women’s
Studies Program, and the American Studies Program, all at WSU; and the Race
and Ethnic Studies Institute at Texas A&M University. A conference Web site
is located at .

For more information or to register for the conference, call 509/335-5957.