Continuing the Fight for Equitable Investment in South LA

For over a decade, the link between economic and environmental injustice has been a part of the fabric of SCOPE’s work– from the Green Jobs campaign in 2006 to the development of accessible pre-apprenticeship programs at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in 2011 to our current work on climate justice and transitioning out neighborhood oil drilling. Our work on these campaigns is grounded in the belief that our community members are the experts, the planners and the voice for the change they want to see in their neighborhoods. So when I think about how to build an intersectional movement for climate justice, I think of the poor and working families in my community who contest structural racism, pollution, and poverty everyday. I think of Deborah Bell-Holt who testified in Sacramento about the needs of low income communities of color in statewide climate programs. I think of Mary Warren who spoke to the City’s Health Commission on the impact of living next to an oil drill and our Street Action Teams who surveyed their neighbors about the environmental issues on their block. I think of our allies that work on varying issue areas and their respective community members who joined forces with us two years ago to envision what an equitable, environmentally resilient South LA could look like.

That vision turned into the South LA Transformative Climate Communities plan, a plan to bring green space, safe walking and bike paths, and community programming focused on environmental justice, mobility, and public health to the overly polluted, high-collision Slauson Corridor. Through this plan, we utilized our community principles for investment, guidelines developed by South LA residents to inform how investment must be done in our community and to ensure accountability from decision makers.  We put these principles into practice by addressing long-standing community needs, incorporating residents into decision-making, prioritizing community engagement at every stage of project development, and coupling investment with strong anti-displacement strategies so our plan can be transformative for the people who live in South LA now.

Our plan was not selected for funding this year but for us, it has never been about the deservedness of one community over another. We are hopeful for the change that this $35 million investment can spur in a Los Angeles community impacted by environmental racism and historic disinvestment.  At SCOPE, our plan for South LA requires investment to be community centered and community driven. We believe that race and equity must be at the forefront of our analysis, solutions, and vision. Our hope is that other organizations and agencies share that plan so programs like Transformative Climate Communities can be truly transformational for the communities that need it the most. Moving forward, our organization is already acting on the promise of 2018. SCOPE, now more than ever, is ready and equipped with the expertise, partnerships, and energy to continue the fight to realize our community’s vision for an environmentally just, economically equitable South LA.

Let’s continue to create a greener, safer, healthier South LA!

Gloria Walton