What does community power mean to you? How do we ensure our fight for clean transportation is equitable and inclusive? How can we use research and film to get people to care about environmental justice?
These are just a few of the many topics discussed at our virtual Climate Week NYC session Getting From Point A to Point Clean: The Community Movements Powering The Clean Transportation Revolution.
As part of our Community Power Clean Transportation series campaign, this event featured experts in the fields of research, grassroots organizing, policy, and film including Hana Creger (The Greenlining Institute), Laura Kate Bender (American Lung Association), Pita Juarez (Chispa and League of Conservation Voters), Sonia Szczesna (Tri-State Transportation Campaign), and Dr. Yingling Fan (University of Minnesota). We also screened segments of our Community Power film series including a full screening of Community Power New Jersey: Our Streets.
Here are four takeaways from our discussion:
- Clean transportation includes innovative and equitable options that urge us to reconsider the space we give to vehicles and efficiency vs planetary and public health. We can’t rely on one or few solutions, we need multimodal options to meet the needs of everyone including adults with children, older adults,people with disabilities, economically disenfranchised individuals, and many more. Clean Transportation is also not just about the modes of transportation themselves, but how infrastructure can support these modes (sidewalks, roads, trails, streetlights, trees and shade, benches, safety etc.)
- Infrastructure development will make our clean transportation goals possible, but it often comes with the threat of gentrification, resulting in low income communities being displaced out of cities and into remote, car dependent areas with limited access to fresh food, healthcare, community, etc. This movement must be equitable, accessible, and guided by the most impacted and historically neglected communities.
- Research and storytelling are two sides of the same tool needed to ignite the clean transportation revolution. Making research approachable to not just policy makers, but community members who hold power to shape their living conditions, and sharing inclusive stories that validate and connect with our experiences and emotions are exactly what we need to inspire the activation of community power.
- Community power exists in the trust we have in ourselves and with each other. It is the connections and collaborations we make to inspire change. Perhaps, most importantly, it is the reclamation of power by the people and for the people working to eliminate the disparities and injustices of our past and present to generate an equitable future for people and the planet.