What is environmental racism? What constitutes environmental “justice” for all? The discussions of these and other questions with the fabulous teens at the Presbyterian Youth Triennium last week were lively, stimulating, and meaningful.
More than 85 young people made their way to this workshop on the Friday morning of Triennium, even as they had other workshop choices, outdoor recreation, exhibit hall activities and even the option to sleep in or use the free time as they wished. Even more impressive was the fact that almost all of these young people stayed, grabbing every inch of floor space, in a room that couldn’t seat more than 30! We had a full crowd and an even fuller conversation!
One teen mentioned his own community’s problem with a landfill. Another spoke of her experience of meeting Peruvian teens and hearing about the hunger and environmental problems there. Still a third mentioned Native American lands and the environmental justice issues they knew of there, including the Keystone pipeline and other fossil fuel issues on those lands. Others debated how much good our personal consumer choices would do, how much new “solutions” might work, and why it mattered as people of faith.
This experience gave me much hope and excitement in a time of grave environmental distress. The commitment, thoughtfulness, and energy of the young people in the room was inspiring and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have met them!
Small groups discussed five case studies (La Oroya, Peru; Flint, Michigan; Warren County, North Carolina; general urban environmental injustice; general rural environmental injustice). We also watched an “environmental racism” introductory video (click here to view), and also had this video (that we ran out of time for- but still recommend). Our powerpoint (in pdf) is here: EJ for PYT Go group pdf version.
If you’d like other resources on environmental justice, contact PHP/Environmental Ministries and we’d love to be in conversation with you.