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Making Communities of Color Part of Ore.'s Clean-Energy Future

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Friday, September 1, 2017   

PORTLAND, Ore. – A coalition of organizations of color called the Just Transition Alliance is working to fight for climate justice and holding an assembly this weekend.

Groups such as OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon - or APANO - and Rural Organization Project are joining forces to make sure communities of color are included in Oregon's transition to renewable energy.

Khanh Pham, the immigrant organizing program manager of APANO, says so far, progress toward a sustainable future has been seen mostly in wealthy neighborhoods.

"Unless there's a real commitment to centering justice - racial justice, social justice - then it ends up being kind of a green apartheid, where the folks with more power end up being able to take advantage of all the incentives and all the systems and structures that are built towards building a renewable economy," she laments.

The Oregon Just Transition Assembly is being held Friday through Monday in Portland. More than 200 members from organizations fighting for environmental justice will be at the assembly.

Tristan, who only goes by his first name, is one of the delegates from OPAL attending the assembly. He says the goal of the gathering is to get groups on the same page and raise up the voice of organizations of color fighting climate change, which are often the first communities to feel its effects.

"Not only are low-income communities and communities of color the most impacted, they're also the least addressed and the least listened to by policymakers and politicians with regards to what needs to be done to halt the effects of climate change," he says.

Along with curbing emissions and moving toward clean energy, Pham says green jobs are a big part of the future, and she doesn't want communities of color to be left behind on that front either.

"Anytime we build a new economy, there's going to be new opportunities available," she adds. "It's definitely an economic driver, and how do we make sure those opportunities and investments are spread to the communities that most need them?"


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