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Environmental Justice and the Passage of the Great American Outdoors Act

As we all wrestle with how we are participating in the current racial justice conversation, there is one important reality that must be stated: Environmental justice is racial justice. In fact, in a 2018 Greenspace interview with Dr. Robert Bullard, Lauren Reid shares why race is always the most significant factor behind injustice of any kind. The centerpiece of the interview emphasizes the long fight for the environmental movement to embrace this well-established truth. Even more, Dr. Bullard gives a specific example of this argument by referencing the Clean Air Act. He says, It’s not Black air or Hispanic air—it’s AIR.

As you have seen over the last several weeks, CVSC is engaging more in the environmental justice movement through our programming and priorities, and we are committed to being engaged for as long as it takes.

Cooked: Survival by Zip Code Screening and Conversation with Senator Marlon Kimpson and Mayor Steve Benjamin
With South Carolina experiencing some of its hottest weeks of this summer and while we grapple and respond to COVID-19 with social distancing guidelines, one question should be answered: How are poor communities coping?

The short film, Cooked: Survival by Zip Code, takes viewers into the city of Chicago in July 1995, when over 700 people – mostly elderly and poor – lost their lives during one of the city’s most extreme and hottest summers on record. The film captures the inequities that exist in how government – federal, state, and local – prepare and respond to natural and man-made disasters.

Followed by a conversation with South Carolina Senator Marlon Kimpson and Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, join us on Thursday, July 30th at 5 PM, as we watch this short film and present solutions to some of the environmental injustices that exist in our state. Click here to register.

The Great American Outdoors Act Passed the U.S. House!
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Great American Outdoors Act with a resounding bipartisan vote of 310-107! Since it already passed the Senate, it’s now headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law. This historic bill will fully and permanently fund our nation’s most successful conservation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and will address the backlog of critical maintenance and repair of our national parks and public lands infrastructure.

Please join us in thanking Congressman Joe Cunningham, Joe Wilson, Jeff Duncan, and James Clyburn and Senators Scott and Graham for their support of the Great American Outdoors Act.

This is a huge win for conservation, particularly in South Carolina where the tourism and outdoor recreation industries rely on the protection of open spaces. And, our communities also depend on nature now more than ever for clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, and open spaces to get outside and de-stress during these trying times. With full funding of LWCF, we have an opportunity to provide access to nature for more communities across South Carolina to ensure that every South Carolinian is able to enjoy nature’s benefits.

Where Do We Go from Here? 
This is a question that many of us are struggling to answer. As the pandemic pushes us to see how our nation’s vulnerable and marginalized communities are disproportionately shouldering many of the environmental and health burdens most, we are almost forced to answer this difficult question. I, for one, always tell people to keep talking; but, we must not stop there. We have to make sure the conversations are moving towards actually doing something because the cliche is correct: “Actions speak louder than words.” If we truly want to mitigate the unjust environmental practices, we are going to need to be courageous, bold, and uncomfortable. This is going to take more than a few; it’s going to take all of us.

Thank you for all that you do. We are grateful that you have the audacity to act and be of goodwill to ALL.

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