This Fall, Mapping for Environmental Justice is taking on new projects, new people, and new partners. As we expand the scope of our work, we continue to raise awareness and push for policy changes addressing environmental hazards and their disproportionate impacts on low-income communities and communities of color.
As part of this effort, our team welcomes three new research fellows including Margaret McCall (MPP/ERG 2021) to lead MEJ’s data and outreach team, Prakat Khati (MPP 2022) who is responsible for MEJ’s policy research and analysis, and Vanessa Ehrenpreis (MPP 2022), an expert in environmental policy and qualitative analysis.
MEJ is also joined by four UC Berkeley undergraduates as part of the Data Science Discovery Program. Azucena Castro, Grey Xu, Violet Walsh, and Varsha Madapoosi will all be working on new data projects under the supervision of continuing data fellow Zain Khan (MIDS 2021).
With new staff and a template from our work mapping environmental injustice in Colorado, MEJ is newly expanding its mapping efforts to New Mexico and Virginia. Our first step in doing this is to partner with state-based organizations already fighting for public access to environmental justice data, remediation of past environmental injustices, and protections against future harm.
In Virginia, MEJ is working with the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative (VEJC). Created in 2015, its four founding organizations (The Southeast CARE Coalition, Appalachian Voices, the Federal Policy Office of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and New Virginia Majority) saw the need for statewide coordination to support Virginia organizations addressing environmental justice issues. Since then, VEJC has grown to include 32 Virginia member organizations. Already, VEJC members have helped MEJ find data sources, connect with Virginia-based researchers, and guided our work with their first-hand expertise.
In New Mexico, MEJ is now among the many partner organizations of the Center for Civic Policy (CCP) working to amplify and empower the voices of New Mexicans who experience oppression. CCP is nationally recognized as an innovator in the civic engagement sector, and works in the areas of voter turnout and grassroots partnership and leadership.
By Violet Walsh and Kimia Pakdaman