We began conversations with the EPA and the VT Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in 2017, asking how we could include community groups in crafting an Environmental Justice policy.
The University of Vermont (UVM) joined the coalition in the fall of 2018, while our legal core (Vermont Law School, VLS) did a policy analysis of other states.
Our Research Core (UVM) started identifying under-served communities in May of 2019. Their maps of environmental benefits / burdens helped us figured out where to site our panels. Our Community Core (Community Action Works, CAW, and Center for Whole Communities, CWC) held initial conversations with community members to support UVM’s research.
In the fall of 2019, we began transcribing our qualitative data from surveys, interviews, and listening sessions. We held our first community conversation in Rutland on July 30th of the same year.
By February 2020, we had two community conversations, one in Rutland and another in Newport. We hoped to complete four more by the end of August 2020, to be help in the Burlington Old North End, Bennington, Enosburg, and Rockingham, however our plans shifted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
We then planned to publish a draft report with policy recommendations for the DEC, using findings from our research, community, and policy cores. We wanted to finish a draft of the report and send it to our stakeholders for review by September 2020.
By November of 2020 we hoped to convene 3-5 stakeholders on panels to talk about the policy options outlined in our report. Based on their thoughts, we would draft EJ policy recommendations for the upcoming legislative session.
REJOICE planned to complete our research by January 2021, then look forward to more EJ projects in the coming year. But COVID-19 has changed how we organize, how we connect, and how we navigate the world.