Rio Grande Community Development Corp.
South Valley Partners for Environmental Justice
Lauro D. Silva
The South Valley of Albuquerque is traditionally Hispanic, low-income, primarily Spanish-speaking and rural area. The Valley is home to 33 of 35 EPA permitted environmental toxicant release sites as well as two superfund sites and an extensive network of leaking underground storage sites, abandoned landfills, the metro sewage treatment facility, and extensive residential septic systems. Over the past four years, the South Valley Partners in Environmental Justice have worked to identify environmental health problems of concern, to build the community's capacity to address those problems, and to develop strong working relationships inclusive of residents, community organizations, policy and decision-makers, regulators, and health-care providers. As a result of those efforts, land-use decisions and urban sprawl have been identified as the overriding issues identified as key to improving environmental injustice and improving the health of the community. This project, which builds upon the successes of a previous EJ project, hypothesizes that community-based participatory methods can be used to develop an inclusive, participatory process for land-use decision-making that will lead to urban development incorporating Smart Growth Principles, thereby resulting in healthier, sustainable communities while incorporating the historical communities' land, water, and cultural traits. For all specific aims community is used inclusively to incorporate all stakeholders, including but not limited to residents of the South Valley of Bernalillo County, planners, regulators, developers, businesses, community organizations, and faith-based organizations. This model is being developed through the following specific aims:
- To research the development of community-based participatory model that integrates the community in land-use planning and decision-making;
- To develop a public media campaign for involving and informing all stakeholders and communities to participate in the initial stages of land-use planning and decision making;
- To develop an inclusive, community-based land-use decision-making process to incorporate into the current planning and policy processes that will assess and prioritize the relationship of environmental health and quality of life issues associated with land-use decisions;
- Use community profiles developed in the past grant to develop a user-friendly geospatial database identifying hazardous waste sites, permitted release sites, existing environmental monitoring data, and demographic data on socioeconomic and other risk factors; and
- Ensure continuity of the process by working with community partners to identify, train, and develop community leadership utilizing the promotora model.
The project will be evaluated by using a comprehensive community-based participatory methodology conducted throughout all phases of the project. The results of this project will provide a readily adaptable model for development of an inclusive process supporting sustainable growth of healthy and viable communities.
Bernalillo County, Office of Environmental Health
Johnnye L. Lewis
Universtiy of New Mexico
Community Environmental Health Program