Philadelphia’s Community Health Act Will Address Environmental Injustice
Any plans to address climate change and shift our economy to clean energy must consider the impacts that burning fossil fuels and production of other industrial pollutants have had on the health and well-being of Philadelphians. Policies must redress this environmental injustice. The March meeting of PA IPL’s Philadelphia Chapter addresses this topic. Our guest, Andres Celin, Outreach Director for City Councilmember Helen Gym, discusses the proposed Community Health Act and the impact it could have addressing pollution and health threats in urban communities.
Andres Celin Bio:
Andres Celin has spent a decade working in education, youth development, social services, and community organizing in the Latino community in North Philadelphia. He is currently the Outreach Director for City Councilmember Helen Gym and is a Certified Trauma-informed Trainer/Practitioner with Lakeside Global Institute. Prior to his current role, Andres was the Lead Organizer at Youth United for Change, where he worked to develop the political leadership of young people in Kensington. He has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Haverford College, and a Master in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.
Community Health Act Description:
Councilmember Gym has introduced legislation aimed at redressing the environmental injustices suffered by Black and Brown communities historically overburdened by pollution. The Community Health Act would require the identification and mapping of ‘environmental justice communities’ based on past, present, and future pollution, environmental stressors, health vulnerabilities, and demographic factors. Any permits for industrial use in or near these communities would require the City to conduct a “cumulative impact assessment” that looks at the actual impact of pollution in context before granting an approval — and empower the City to require mitigating steps to prevent harm.
The Philadelphia chapter of PA IPL is very active. Chapter volunteers plan workshops, services, and work in coalition with many other groups bringing faith voices to climate justice and clean energy transition efforts, and they bring climate justice voices to faith work. Their monthly meetings are on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00 PM, and are open to everyone. Particular meetings may focus either on planning or on a particular program.