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Planning Healthy and Just Communities for All

In the Age of Global Warming

A Toolkit

Breakthrough Communities Learning Action Project

Earth House Center

5275 Miles Avenue  —  Oakland, CA 94618

Telephone: (510) 652-2425

www.BreakthroughCommunities.info

A Project of the Tides Foundation

Funded by the California Endowment

The San Francisco Foundation

The San Diego Community Foundation

 


 

Welcome to the
PLANNING HEALTHY AND JUST COMMUNITIES FOR ALL
Toolkit. 

This toolkit has been developed to help communities in California new equitable and planning strategies as the state seeks to reduce its CO2 emissions, reduce overreliance on automobiles.  The toolkit draws on insights developed by community based organizations as they seek to respond to new opportunities created by state legislation, SB375 and Health in All Policies (HiAP) Executive Order Executive Order S-04 – 10.

The toolkit features the following elements:

  • An approach to land use and transportation planning incorporating community based strategies to promote healthy communities, social and health equity.  It is  designed for use by NGOs, social justice advocates and health professionals.
  • A big picture perspective that links understanding of climate change, land use and transportation policy, with health outcomes;
  • A quick review of ways that land use and transportation policies have contributed to health inequities in the past;
  • An explanation of why future land use  and transportation planning in the Age of Global Warming must include measures to improve social and health equity;
  • An introduction of new statewide planning tools (SB375 and HiAP) to plan healthy communities;
  • Presentation of land use and transportation strategies (six big wins) developed by community based groups to overcome racial segregation and concentrated poverty; and,
  • New land use and transportation strategies to promote access to nutritious foods, active living public safety, and reduction of community violence.

Breakthrough Communities would like to acknowledge all the organizations and individuals whose work has been the inspiration for this toolkit

 


 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Overview

1.  Waking Up
to Connections Between Global Warming, the Built Environment and Public Health

2.  Saying No

To Racial, Economic and Health Inequities

Caused by Transportation and Land Use

3. Getting Grounded

Pursuing Justice the Age of Global Warming

4.  Exploring New Horizons

California’s Sustainable Communities & Climate Protection Act (SB 375)

5.  Saying Yes

To Healthy and Just Communities for All

Appendix A: Glossary Of Terms Used

Appendix B:  Resources

 


 

 

OVERVIEW

Summary:

Historically, California’s land use and transportation policies have contributed to racial, economic, and health inequities, negatively affecting communities of color[1] and vulnerable populations throughout the state.  However, in response to the threat and reality of global warming, recent legislation is restructuring transportation and land use throughout the state.

In 2006, the California State Legislature passed and Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. This law was designed to set targets and early actions for reducing of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the state by the year 2020.  Following AB 32, the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (SB 375) became effective January 1, 2009. SB375 requires the creation of regional plans under the guidance of California’s 18 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to reduce emissions from vehicle use throughout the state. These agencies must create “Sustainable Community Strategies” (SCS), integrated land use and transportation plans and to meet proposed reduction targets by 2020 and 2035.  On February 2010,  Governor Schwarzenegger created Executive Order S-04- 10, California’s Health in All Policies Task Force enabling State agencies to advance a healthier and more sustainable California, including inter departmental collaboration of statewide land use and transportation policies.

These new initiatives are creating new opportunities to plan healthy communities, an opening to begin addressing long-standing health inequities caused by the built environment in California. Communities of color, and their social justice allies are engaging in the formal processes established by the Metropolitan Planning Organizations to implement the legislation.  They are gaining access seats at the table, learning about the approaches being advanced by professional planners, city and city and suburban governments.  But they are bargaining hard for solutions that can deliver real benefits to their communities.  And they are bringing to the task a brand of bottom up innovation born of decades of struggle on the streets of their own neighborhoods.

 

Purpose of the Toolkit: 

This Toolkit, mounted on the web and regularly updated, is intended as a guide to track social equity, healthy communities and health equity in the SB375 process. It seeks to support collaboration between community organizers, transportation and land use planners, and community health professionals seeking to address the challenges of health inequity in California in the coming age of global warming. The Toolkit is for autonomous organizations grounded in communities that are currently marginalized.  But it visualizes a time when such communities are not marginalized, and is intended build supportive relationships with progressive elected officials, transportation and land use professionals, who, increasingly, will be drawn from these emerging communities of color. In this toolkit, we call attention to our growing awareness of the connection between the phenomenon of global warming, our everyday environments and the challenges of public health.

Compass for Planning Healthy and Just Communities:

The Breakthrough Communities Compass for Planning Healthy and Just Communities, used in this Toolkit, is a guide for understanding how grassroots organizations can meet the challenge of creating better world for future generations of all of California. It is intended to serve as a resource to strengthen collaboration between community organizers, transportation and land use planners, and community health professionals to achieve health equity outcomes through land use and transportation policies and practices. The Compass offers a way for people to organize their thinking and action in response to this landmark opportunity.

The Compass for Planning Healthy and Just Communities is an idea that emerged from a ten-year investigation of social justice advocates and communities of color seeking to link equity outcomes, sustainability practices to progressive policies and strategies in America’s metropolitan regions. From this investigation, documented in our book, Breakthrough Communities, Sustainability on the Next American Metropolis, we saw that the work of the most effective organizations unfolded in roughly five stages.

In the first stage, we observed communities waking up to connections between other communities, similarly or differently situated, the issues they faced, and emerging dynamics in the larger world around them. In the second stage, they found compelling ways to say no to outrageous circumstances that threatened their survival.  In the third stage they discovered they had to get grounded in a fundamentally new reality.  They had to ask themselves, “Who are “we” as a community?  What is happening to our place in the world?  What are the larger forces shaping the world we live in? In the fourth stage, armed and confident, with a new understanding of the answers to these questions, effective social justice advocates reached out to explore new horizons, world views different from their own, new technologies, new understandings of their own roles in the larger community.

In this Toolkit, we draw lessons from our experience working with social justice and sustainability advocates across the country to support a new challenge we face in California:  Planning Healthy and Just Communities for All in the Coming Age of Global Warming.   Individuals engaged in the community planning processes have within themselves many resources for understanding the needs of communities, altering the community’s concept of what is possible and what is worth doing.  These resources are not necessarily visible to the staffs of state, regional or local agencies.  An important part of a bottom up planning process is creating an atmosphere where each participant in the process can make his or her unique contribution to the whole.  This Toolkit and the Workshop process is intended to create that atmosphere

Planning practices to support engagement of marginalized communities are different from processes that begin with dominant assumptions about power and inclusiveness.  The challenge of planning in this context is not only how to come up with the right land use or transportation plan but also how to support the long-term empowerment of communities, their authentic leadership and organization.  The Compass for Planning Healthy and Just Communities should be understood as part of a larger arsenal of community organizing strategies.

In the early stages of planning for the Workshop, Breakthrough Communities collaborates with a sponsoring organization or steering committee to determine what the goals of the process are, and what outcomes are necessary for the sponsoring organization and Workshop participants.  The final Workshop agenda is shaped by this assessment.  A sample agenda is included in the Toolkit Appendix.

In the development of this Toolkit, Gamaliel of California was statewide our organizing partner for three regional Workshops.  Each workshop was co-sponsored by a local group –Justice Organizing Boundaries (JOB) in San Diego, the North County Organizing Project in Sonoma, and the Coalition for Regional Equity in Sacramento. Each Workshop was different, and we learned a great deal from this process.

 


 

How the Toolkit is organized:

The Toolkit is organized in five sections, each corresponding to a stage represented in the Compass.  Each section has a brief 250 to 500-word discussion, introduced by a goal statement for the section.  This is followed by paragraphs lifting up and developing one to three key ideas.  Each major idea is linked on the web to a longer essay or resource in which the idea is developed.  This essay may be something that we have written, or it may draw from relevant documents prepared by others.  The section ends with one to three questions for discussion. The questions are intended to elicit responses drawing on the background and experiences of the participants, building their capacity to work together towards transformative action.

The toolkit is intended to support a public Workshop of 20 to 50 people, which may be completed in four hours, or covering more detail, extend to two days.  However, the highlights of the toolkit and Workshop, with the accompanying multimedia elements can be presented in other formats.   For example, an abbreviated form of the material including a twenty-minute PowerPoint lecture and a forty-minute discussion with a larger group can be completed in an hour.  Alternatively, the lecture and PowerPoint for each section of the toolkit can be presented in about ten minutes.  Allowing for a twenty-minute discussion, this format would require half an hour for each section.   A series of five separate Workshops, all the material included in the Workshop can be conducted over a period of several weeks.  The five sections of the Toolkit are as follows:

1.  Waking Up to Connections between Global Warming, Transportation, Land Use, and Healthy Communities.   Historically, California’s land use and transportation policies have contributed to racial, economic, and health inequities, negatively affecting communities of color and vulnerable populations throughout the state.  However, in response to the threat and reality of global warming, recent legislation is restructuring transportation and land use throughout the state.  Communities of color and their social justice allies are engaging in the formal processes established by the Metropolitan Planning Organizations to implement the legislation.  This section of the Toolkit and Workshop quickly reviews the basics of SB375, discusses how social justice activists are engaged in the process to deliver real benefits to communities.  The Workshop focuses on ways that NGOs and other organizations can participate in the process.

2.  Saying No to Racial, Economic and Health Inequities in California’s Transportation and Land Use System. The health inequities we experience in California today are in part a legacy of transportation and land decisions made over the past two generations.  This Workshop explores how over reliance on the single occupancy automobile helped to create suburban sprawl and inner city disinvestment helped to promote metropolitan apartheid in California, with its geography of health disparities between the white middle class on one side, and communities of color and the poor on the other.  We discuss the ways the world wide movement for health equity is bringing about a revolution in the way we move about in our cities, recovering public streets through walking, riding bicycles, and public transportation.

3.  Getting Grounded: Pursuing Justice in the Age Global Warming.  Global warming is real.  It is bad for people — especially the poor in the United States and around the world. We must act now to prepare for a time of radical change.   Our response to the threat and reality of global warming is also a remarkable opportunity to create a healthy and just society.  This section of the Workshop and Toolkit focuses on the human side of the coming post carbon world, what it means for race, class, gender, intergenerational engagement and relationships between people and the natural world. In this section we begin building a foundation for resilience and health equity as these ideas and practices apply to transportation and land use in the coming generation.

4.  Exploring New Horizons: California’s Sustainable Communities & Climate

Protection Act (SB 375).  Engaging in regional land use and transportation politics represents a new horizon for social and health equity. Communities of color, working families and their social justice allies throughout California are engaging in the formal processes established by the Metropolitan Planning Organizations to implement this landmark legislation.  A second and important new horizon covered in this section of the toolkit is the Executive Order S-04- 10, California’s Health in All Policies Task Force enabling State agencies to advance a healthier and more sustainable California, including inter departmental collaboration of statewide land use and transportation policies.

Social justice advocates are gaining access seats at the table, learning about these new approaches for change being advanced by professional planners, city and city and suburban governments.  This section of the Workshop and Toolkit offers an assessment of the statewide process, where it is going and what you can do to insure that the process is fair, that it meets the goals of Green House Gas reduction, and delivers on the promise of social and health equity.

5.  Saying Yes To Healthy and Just Communities For All.  Social justice advocates and communities of color are building a political base and bargaining hard for solutions in the SB375 process that can deliver real benefits to their communities.  And they are bringing to the to the task a brand of bottom up innovation born of decades of struggle on the streets of their own neighborhoods.  Finally, some of these new approaches are already being implemented in communities across California shifting the dialogue about land use and transportation in places throughout the State.  In this section of the Toolkit and Workshop, you learn about and contribute to social justice strategies that are emerging and how you can join in to develop a strategy for your own community to engage in this historic process.