Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice: Movement Building for Sustainability

Since our beginnings in 1995, the Community Strategies program has accumulated a wealth of experience, institutional knowledge, and concrete tools and methods for advancing an environmental health and justice agenda. With a firm commitment to ensure that our research findings would be translated into actual changes in neighborhood environmental health, the CSSJ program has answered the call to help build capacity in our community partners, and help build a broader movement for environmental health and justice. As a result, we have developed a wide range of organizing, advocacy, and movement-building tools, as well as extensive experience on the supporting organizations, for building a broader movement to advance environmental health and justice.

With the September 2009 launch of our next three-year strategic plan, our program is committed to documenting and sharing the various tools and materials we have developed over the years that have helped build strong leaders, organizations, collaborations, and movements. Through this initiative we are also turning the spotlight of research inward, documenting and analyzing our own program experiences in research, advocacy, capacity-building, and coalition-building work. This self reflection will serve as the launching point for a more systematic analysis of the methods, approaches, and changing needs of the evolving movement for environmental health and justice in the U.S.

Our goal is to develop a “movement-building toolbox” which documents a wide range of leadership development, organizational capacity-building, and coalition-building tools and approaches that can contribute to building a stronger and more vibrant movement for environmental justice and sustainability. There are four general categories of such tools, methods, or approaches that our capacity-building and advocacy-support tools fall into:

1. Cultivating powerful leaders and organizations

  • Project planning, management, and evaluation
  • Organizing events and workshops
  • Strengthening organizing and advocacy
  • Shared leadership and organizational development tools

2. Developing powerful, principled alliances and coalitions

  • What makes a collaborative work
  • Developing principled relationships between policy intermediaries and grassroots organizations
  • Developing powerful and functional principles of collaboration
  • Blue-green-brown alliances: integrating community, environmental, and labor concerns into a powerful vision of sustainable economies

3. Strengthening the movement through research

  • How to do research
  • Case studies of successful participatory research projects by Pacific Institute
  • Research as a powerful organizing tool
  • Community mapping

4. Building a powerful movement for environmental health and justice

  • Community mapping: best practices and clinic development
  • From capacity-building to building a movement: best practices in increasing accountability, reducing overlap, and improving cohesiveness of capacity-building efforts
  • Applying the principles of reforming the port trucking industry (independent contractors do not have sufficient accountability to the community) to the environmental health and justice movement
  • Resolving the tension between the technocracy of environmental policies and membership-based organizing