The R.E.J.O.I.C.E. Project

Rural Environmental Justice Opportunities Informed by Community Expertise

Covid-19 Virtual Community Conversations

Detailed summaries by community:

Introductions by topic:

Pivoting in response to the Covid-19 public health crisis, REJOICE continued to engage with communities to center justice and equity while identifying environmental justice opportunities in Vermont. From August to December 2020, we hosted 17 compensated focus groups with 77 participants across 7 affinity groups. We coordinated with and compensated community liaisons to co-design and co-facilitate these focus groups with us. Click through the database above to review the findings and recommendations relating to Disaster Resiliency, Environment, Health, Housing, Energy, Food Access, Transportation, Economy, Communications, and Equitable Access to resources and information, identified by some of Vermont’s most overburdened and underserved communities.

We encourage you to use these summaries as a reference and launching pad for systemic change. Agencies, organizations, and community members working to solve the issues identified here are welcome to add suggestions and solutions as comments on each page. These suggestions will be monitored and considered for inclusion in our recommendations.

The summaries above tell the stories of these conversations through their themes and in participants’ words. Below are other ways of seeing into the stories, concerns and ideas speakers shared. The first graph offers a way to see which topics were most important to participants, in terms of the time people spent talking about them, during different conversations.

“Heat map” (stacked histogram) of how conversations with groups of people from different frontline Vermont communities focused, by topic, August – December 2020. Questions are listed in the Methodology section, above. Here, percents matter less than patterns, and may add up to more than 100%, because issues overlap and connect. For example, someone talking about feeling unsafe at work during the pandemic might speak about information , equal access, health, and economic concerns in a single sentence.
This chart uses part of the same data shown above to “zoom in” on topics people in most groups spoke less about. It shows differences in how and whether people spoke about those topics.

What questions come up for you when you look at what mattered to the Vermonters we spoke with? When you read what they said? What about the things they didn’t focus on? What surprises you? What questions do you have about our work, about what Environmental Justice looks like in Vermont–and what it could look like?

This pandemic reminds us that communities bearing the biggest environmental burdens are the most at risk. COVID-19 is a virus, but unjust systems are the true disease. Read the reports above to review findings and recommendations developed through our community conversations and review additional resources below.

Coronavirus is not just a health crisis: It’s an environmental justice crisis

by Yvette Cabrera of the Mother Jones Climate Research Desk

Justice in the time of two crises: COVID and climate change

Read the English version here.

Scientist Sacoby Wilson on environmental injustices and COVID-19 resiliency.

Interview by Katherine Bagley of Yale 360

Multilingual COVID-19 Resources

From the website for New Americans in Vermont

Safety guidelines for getting back to work

From the Vermont Department of Labor

A People’s Response to COVID: For Vermont and Beyond

Justice-focused demands from grassroots organizations and community members across the state. Click the link to sign on!

Ten equity implications of the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak in the United States

The imperative for civil rights advocacy, monitoring, and enforcement from the NAACP

New data shows Covid-19 racial disparities in Vermont

by Grace Elletson of the VT Digger

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