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Environment Matters Podcast

Environment Matters
EPA Region 3
Topic: Beyond Translation 2010
Size: 5679k
Time: 06:03

Date: April 23 , 2010

Bill Early (EPA’s Deputy Regional Administrator for the mid-Atlantic region): One of the things that former Administrator Lisa Jackson has said is that one of her priorities is expanding the conversation on environmentalism and environmental justice. That is designed to include unrepresented and underrepresented folks in environmental conversations.

Host Lena Kim: In his welcoming remarks at EPA’s Beyond Translation 2010 forum in Philadelphia, Deputy Regional Administrator Bill Early highlighted one of EPA’s top priorities. He went on to welcome Hispanic and Asian communities to the forum, and to ongoing discussions beyond.

Bill Early: We are inviting the Asian and Hispanic communities early on in the process so that we can have a dialogue with them as we go forward with planning a sustainable future.

[Opening music]

Lena Kim: Hi, I’m Lena Kim of EPA’s mid-Atlantic region, and welcome to Environment Matters, our series of podcasts. This year’s Beyond Translation forum, held in April at Philadelphia’s Temple University, brought together city and community leaders to share their experience and passion for sustainability goals and practices in an urban, multi-ethnic setting. Temple University’s Sandra McDade provided a useful definition of sustainability.

Sandra McDade (Director, Sustainability Office, Temple University): We use the UN definition of sustainability as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. And it means that the decisions we make today are not just for ourselves, but for our children and our children’s children.

Lena Kim: Jennifer Rodriguez, Director of the Asociacion Puertorriquenos en Marcha, told the forum audience about the local--even personal--meaning of sustainability, as well as an essential communications role of organizations such as hers.

Jennifer Rodriguez: When we say comprehensive and we say sustainable at APM, we not only talk about the environment—the physical environment—we really talk about families. Because ultimately in the neighborhoods and with all that we’re doing, none of it will be really sustainable unless the families in those communities are themselves sustainable. What we in community development do is translate policy and bring it to the neighborhoods so that it can actually be implemented and be successful.

Lena Kim: Keynote speaker Sandra Glenn, President of American Cities Foundation, raised important, threshold questions about environmental activism in a poor urban setting.

Sandra Glenn: How is it relevant for people living in the sixth largest city in the United States to be environmental activists? And what does it mean for you and me in a city where 25 percent of our residents are living in poverty—what does it mean for us to engage in environmental issues?

Lena Kim: Ms. Glenn also emphasized the importance of public health and the need for green, community-based jobs.

Sandra Glenn: I think by evidence of our being here today, we know it’s relevant. On the health front it’s very relevant. City residents, especially poor residents, are at a higher risk of harm from environmental hazards like lead poisoning and air pollution and water pollution and toxic wastes….Establishing green teams, a green collar workforce, with both part-time and transitional jobs, but also permanent jobs imbedded in the community.

Lena Kim: Representing Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter at the forum was Kristin Sullivan of his sustainability office. Kristin spoke about many citywide environmental goals, including engagement and outreach. She also emphasized the importance of environmental equity.

Kristin Sullivan: We’re struggling with ways to get our information out there, in different languages—which languages should we be utilizing to get information out? How should we approach that?....We want to deliver more equitable access to healthy neighborhoods. We want people to walk within a quarter mile and find green space. We want them to find local food; maybe it’s not organic, but it’s local.

Lena Kim: The forum included several specialized sessions exploring urban gardening and fresh produce; promoting more healthy neighborhoods; brownfield redevelopment to assist small business; and grants designed to make city living greener. During a panel discussion, Todd Baylson of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society was encouraged by a what he sees as a “new appetite” green urban redevelopment.

Todd Baylson: We believe that as part of that whole evolution there’s a new appetite, which is actually the most important thing—an appetite for change and for improvement. And we believe that whole sequence of events that the (east north Philadelphia) greening’s been instrumental in has led to interest in new types of transportation—bike lanes—pocket parks in different places in underutilized institutional properties…

Lena Kim: With us at the forum, from our headquarters in Washington, was Lina Younes, manager of EPA’s multilingual communications. Lina described why EPA is trying to go beyond translation in our outreach, and its inclusion in EPA’s top priorities.

Lina Younes: EPA has always made an effort to reach out to the Hispanic community and other communities that don’t speak English as their first language. The agency has had a multilingual presence on the Web for several years now—in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. And we know we have to go beyond the written word, just handing out leaflets. We really have to engage the community, and that’s what this forum is all about. These forums basically serve as a vehicle to expand the conversation on environmentalism, which is one of the key priorities of former Administrator Jackson.

Lena Kim: We asked Sun Yi, co-chair of our Beyond Translation efforts, what the “beyond” will look like—how the successful engagement during the forum will continue.

Sun-Yi: We hope to continue the dialogue started at the forum with the Asian and Hispanic communities in addressing the concerns identified. We would also like to help facilitate the interaction between the various stakeholders that participated in the forum. This initiative should become a model in the crucial effort to expand the conversation on environmentalism.

[Closing music]

Lena Kim: Thanks, Sun, and congratulations on organizing this year’s successful forum. For more information, please visit our website at www.epa.gov/region3/beyondtranslation.html. And thanks for joining us on Environment Matters.

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