Enhancing Traditional Environmental Community and Environmental Justice Community Collaboration
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Winning in the conservation movement is about recognizing mutuality in the destiny of the natural environment and the people who live in it, and how preventing harm to one prevents harm to the other. Working to achieve justice for people will result in conservation wins for the natural environment. Chandra T. Taylor focused her fellowship project on this principle.
As a senior attorney in the Chapel Hill, North Carolina office of Southern Environmental Law Center, Chandra maintains a passionate interest in conserving the natural environment and achieving environmental justice (EJ), which will be achieved “when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”
In her work at SELC, Chandra has enjoyed representing several strong traditional environmental groups including the Catawba and Yadkin Riverkeeper, the North Carolina Chapter of Sierra Club, the North Carolina Wildlife Federation and the North Carolina Coastal Federation, and she has also teamed with EJ groups like the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network and its membership to take on important work to preserve the Southeast’s beauty and to improve the health of those who live there.
As a TogetherGreen Fellow, Chandra aimed to provide a written guide and training on how to enhance collaboration and incorporation of EJ principles into the work of traditional environmentalists, with a target audience of impacted communities, attorneys (including environmental and civil rights attorneys), students and other traditional environmental groups. In addition, Chandra raised awareness of EJ issues, like PCB contamination in an African American community.
“I would like for this work to serve as a model for how traditional environmentalists can consistently work with impacted communities, to achieve the ends of natural resource preservation, environmental justice and public health protection,” offered Chandra. “This symbiosis will not only result in wins for impacted communities, it will also result in wins for the environmental community overall by having a larger base of support for conservation.”