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Climate CoP Session Notes: A Just Transition


This session introduces the second foundational focus: Ensuring a just transition by engaging residents in creating supportive climate resilient physical/built, economic, and ecological conditions.


Resilience Pause: Six-Second Breathing

Another self-administrable, simple resilience skill that involves breathing in deeply through your nose for four seconds, counting each second, and breathe out fully through your nose for six seconds, counting each second. Try to be mindful of your body’s state, noticing what is happening within your body, thoughts, and emotions without trying to change anything. Participants went into 10-minute breakout rooms to discuss their resilience pause experience and last week’s session.

Bob explained how a Just transition, involves a need to understand Intersectionality of multiple experiences and identities. Bob asked participants to consider their daily awareness (or lack of awareness) of aspects of their identities, privilege, and discrimination and how these aspects intersect. A just transition is based on three realities (the impacts of the climate crisis and related actions; related unjust impacts on BIPOC and low-income populations; and moral and ethical responsibilities) to ensure a just and equitable distribution of the consequences (positive and negative) of climate-related policy and actions.

A just transition means “leave no one behind” and emphasizes key elements like involving affected communities in planning, implementing, and evaluating solutions and capacity building programs. For the climate crisis, a just transition for vulnerable populations is needed in relation to local physical/built, economic, and local ecological conditions for a variety of physical and mental wellness reasons (see PowerPoint). Active engagement of residents in building just, equitable, safe, and healthy climate-resilient local conditions can lead to increased social connections and efficacy, greater protection from climate impacts, and residents feeling encouraged to “do their part to address the climate emergency”.

Seeing even small signs of progress can generate healthy hope for the future. Ensuring a just transition should be a standalone focus of RCCs as well as a central focus of the other four foundational areas. Making a just transition requires connecting and empowering everyone, especially BIPOC residents of frontline communities, in the creation and implementation of a vision, strategy, and action plan for building climate-related mental health resilience.

Jacqui Patterson (former Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program) is the Founder and Executive Director of the Chisholm Legacy Project.

The Chisholm Legacy Project (CLP) is a resource hub for Black frontline climate justice leadership. It was formed on July 1, 2021 in response to the demand Jacqui felt through her NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice work. This project is rooted in a just transition from an extractive economy (our relationship with Earth is based on goods, manufacturing, and disposability) into a living, regenerative economy, where democratic, cooperative decision-making and ecological and social wellbeing are central.

CLP’s work focuses on shifting economic and general control to communities as a way of encouraging community wellbeing and self-determination, the democratization of wealth, and the advancement of ecological restoration. The CLP works at the intersection of Black liberation, climate change, and climate justice to establish an economy rooted in justice and centered upon deep, mutually beneficial relationships between individuals, communities, and the Earth.

CLP’s mission is centered around: 1. Community building, 2. Frontline movement building, 3. Bending the arc of mainstream environmentalism towards equality and justice, and 4. Supporting Black femme wellbeing. CLP assists communities in moving from being “subjected” to socioecological harms to self-determination and power through strategizing assistance, technical assistance, education, and financial assistance, prompting the use of “radical imagination” and visioning work to help communities strategize how to attain their vision.

One community this project is working with is Sandbranch, TX, an unincorporated predominantly Black community that does not have running water, forcing residents to purchase or rely on donated water. This project seeks to meet residents where they are, focus on the community’s strengths and interests, and help develop connections between local leadership.

Violet Wulf-Saena is the Executive Director of Climate Resilient Communities (CRC).

Climate Resilient Communities is a community-based organization based in the SF Bay Area. CRC supports climate change resilience, unity, justice, and sustainability by empowering underrepresented communities to implement climate solutions. They currently serve East Palo Alto, Bel Haven of Menlo Park, and unincorporated North Fair Oaks (governed by San Mateo County), which are highly vulnerable to sea-level rising and heatwaves. CRC aims to help communities cope with climate change through empowerment, capacity-building, and sharing resources with community leaders.

CRC’s 3 core programs are Resilient adaptation (direct work with community leaders to prioritize adaptation strategies); Resilient homes (direct work with households and homeowners who need weatherization, home repairs, and access to related federal and state environmental initiatives); and Resilient education (work with community youth, leaders, and local organizations to prioritize education programs for all residents).

CRC serves frontline communities, communities of color, and communities facing disparities like poverty, pollution burden, and gentrification-related housing burden. CRC encourages language justice, cultural justice and resource sharing through relevant, inclusive programs, which address disparities in the presence of green spaces/tree canopies, emergency preparedness, and preventative actions. CRC’s Climate Change Community Teams were created to address misinformation and distrust in these cities by creating a shared space for community, leaders, youth, other CBOs, and residents to come together.

CRC projects have come to life by listening and engaging with the community, creating stronger partnerships, and offered greater capacity for communities to organize and learn:

  • The Vulnerability Adaptation Assessment brought community together through food and compensation to explore areas of need in their communities.

  • CRC developed a community climate change survey in 2019 and engaged youth to help deliver the surveys.

  • Population Training: Air Purifier Distribution Event recognized that their communities had the highest rate of pollution and conducted trainings and workshops on this issue.

  • Effective & Equitable Electrification: Tool to address the needs of families to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support home repairs via a clean energy home upgrade program (installing induction stoves, installing more insulating windows, etc.) based on need.


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