Turning the documentation of environmental health inequities into Environmental Justice curriculum
The year 2013 was a productive one for JHA. In addition to teaching health equity in a variety of settings, JHA has been documenting health inequities in order to influence decision makers. We are proud of two publications that we wrote in collaboration with the University of Washington School of Public Health and the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition. The first publication is Health Impact Assessment: Proposed Cleanup Plan for the Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site. In this document, we proposed recommendations to decision makers to mitigate unintended environmental and health consequences of the cleanup of the Superfund Site. The second is the Duwamish Valley Cumulative Health Impacts Analysis where we provided evidence to decision makers quantitatively showing that the Duwamish Valley has a disproportionate burden of environmental challenges relative to the rest of Seattle. Related to these two publications, JHA has shown up in the local news. In December, Linn Gould, JHA’s Executive Director was interviewed by KUOW’s Ashley Ahearn about pollution and health issues in Georgetown, South Seattle.
In January 2014, JHA was awarded a grant to develop a new Environmental Justice (EJ) curriculum for secondary school students through a Washington State Department of Ecology Public Participation Grant. The goal of the grant is to address Ecology’s Beyond Waste Plan (Washington’s statewide plan to reduce wastes and toxic substances) through an EJ lens. The new EJ curriculum will be piloted in two multi-cultural schools. We have already started developing new curriculum using the Cumulative Health Impacts Analysis and the Duwamish Waterway Superfund Health Impact Assessment as case studies. As part of the curriculum, students are required to implement an action project to assist in reducing pollution, improve health, and sustainability in a community with known environmental problems. We are actively exploring action project ideas in communities with disproportionate environmental impacts. If anyone has any ideas, please contact us. JHA plans to make the EJ curriculum available for free online.