The theme for the Virtual 2020 Annual Meeting of both ECRI and it's sister organization, the 501(c)(3) Environmental Council of Rhode Island's Education Fund, was "Building Resilient & Equitable Communities After COVID-19".
We were joined by three eminent Rhode Island practitioners of building social capital and community infrastructure to discuss what steps we can take to create more resilient, equitable, and stronger communities. Panelists were:
- Marcela Betancur, Director of the RI Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University
- Amelia Rose, Executive Director of Groundwork RI
- Jim Vincent, President of the NAACP Providence Branch
The program was moderated by Joanna Detz publisher of ecoRI News. The COVID-19 crisis has exposed and worsened deep inequities that have long persisted in society. For example, here in Rhode Island, communities of color have been particularly hard hit by the virus. This is, in part, due to environmental racism that puts communities of color in harm's way. South Providence, an environmental justice community has long been home to the ninth highest asthma rate in the country. Residents here live next door to polluting fossil-fuel infrastructure, heavy industry, hospitals and brownfield sites that foul the air. The health effects of simply breathing have put individuals that live in this zip code at higher risk of complications from novel coronavirus.
When the pandemic is behind us, what can be done to heal some of the environmental and economic injustices that have underpinned society for so long in order for Rhode Island to emerge more resilient and more racially just? How can we be better prepared to meet the challenge of the climate crisis so that those most at risk do not suffer the most?
Note: The panel discussion begins at 9:25 of the video.