MN Environmental Justice Program Participates in America’s Great Outdoors Program

Sierra Club MN Environmental Justice Organizer Karen Monahan was invited to the White House this week for President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative. Karen had participated in a Listening Session hosted by AGO last fall, bringing a much-needed social justice perspective to the environmental preservation work proposed by the Administration. The America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) program was established in April of 2010 by President Obama to develop, in partnership with the American people, a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda; and held 51 listening sessions nationwide as part of its public input process.

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Minnesota’s Inner City Outings program

Last August the Sierra Club’s Minneapolis Environmental Justice Program was asked by US EPA to participate in the Listening Session in Minneapolis. The AGO listening session was attended by over 650 people with comments focused on environmental justice (connections between race, class, poverty and environmental issues); impacts of pollution on public health, water quality and clean air; expanding inner city outings for youth and getting kids outdoors in general; community gardens and food security/sustainability; transit and access to public lands for urban constituents. Minnesota State Representative Keith Ellison, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson were in attendance. Minnesota Public Radio covered the event, you can learn more about it online here.

With the input from groups like our Minnesota Environmental Justice program, the AGO released a final report with its suggestions on a grassroots approach to empowering the American people to protect our land and waters. The Sierra Club North Star Chapter has been working on these isses locally as well, here are some programs in Minnesota that currently address these issues:
•    MN Inner City Outings
•    Transit to Green Space

About the MN EJ Program

The Minnesota Environmental Justice Program works in collaboration with impacted communities to ensure all people a healthy environment – where they live, learn, work, play and pray.

2011 Priorities

  1. Strengthen a statewide roundtable of environmental justice advocates to share information and resources, identify opportunities to collaborate and maximize our power through unified voice with key decision-makers as appropriate.
  2. Work with the Minneapolis NAACP and others to support strengthening EPA health standards that protect clean air and our health and other environmental justice priorities.

Learn more about the work we do and how to get involved on our webpage!

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