Environmental Committee Ramped Up

Gardena resident Mark Henderson

Gardena resident Mark Henderson would like to help his city begin cleaning up the 72 contaminated land sites that exist within its boundaries.

Barbara Holland, with the Labor/Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles, is passionate about cleaning up air pollution and creating more mass transit options for Angelenos.

Both Holland and Henderson attended the first Empowerment Congress Environmental Committee’s recent meeting to join forces with other residents and organizations committed to environmental causes and looking to spur change.

“I would like to know how I can help my city deal with this issue,” said Henderson, referring to the industrially polluted sites that dot Gardena. “I am looking for strategies and resources.”

“I want to know how we can push back on our carbon footprint,” added Holland.

Indeed, the Empowerment Congress, established 22 years ago by then-Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, is an organization that helps connect community groups and individuals with their local elected officials so that changes can occur.

From air pollution to soil contamination to sustainable living, environmental issues are of big concern to Los Angeles County residents. The EC’s Environmental Committee members hope to harness their collective ideas and energy to support plans for more edible gardens and trees planted in vacant lots, to push for more public transportation, to address the issue of lead poisoning as well as recruit young people into an environmental justice movement.

Thelmy Perez of the L.A. Human Right to Housing Collective

“I love this notion of putting our minds together and working on policy solutions for a cleaner L.A.,” said Thelmy Perez, of the L.A. Human Right to Housing Collective, an organization that seeks to increase affordable housing units in Los Angeles.

Scott Chan, chair of the environmental committee, hopes to see residents use the Environmental Committee and the Environmental Service Center at the Second District office in Expo Park as a place to receive information, network and create action plans.

“I am a big fan of “educate, engage and empower,” which is the motto of the Empowerment Congress,” said Chan, who is also program director for the Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance. “My hope is that this is used as a space for the community so that we follow that model. I want us to do good work around environmental issues in the Second District.”