Deep South Center for Environmental Justice
In Action Post Katrina
Temporary Office – Post-Katrina
The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) like many other programs at colleges and universities in New Orleans, Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, while physically destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, recognize an even greater need for their services. It is imperative that our current programs are continued, but it is also necessary that we shift our major attention to the destruction caused by this devastating hurricane. The DSCEJ has set up a temporary office at 440 N. Foster Drive in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Much of our work at the center in coming months will focus on the research, policy, and community outreach and assistance and education needs of the displaced minority population of New Orleans. There are critical issues of health and environmental restoration that must be monitored for fairness as it relates to standards of clean up for re-settlement. Additionally, in the area of jobs and economic development, the center will engage in job training and placement related to environmental clean-up. Our focus will be on training displaced citizens of New Orleans and job placement for those citizens who have already been trained through our Minority Worker Training and Brownfields Minority Training Program funded by NIEHS.
It is imperative that we seize every opportunity to make contact with the now dispersed New Orleans African American community. An upcoming event that will facilitate access to large numbers of New Orleanians across social and economic class is the Bayou Classic. Held every year for the past 28 years attracts over 100,000 African Americans from Louisiana. This is the event of the year for Louisiana residents and although it is a football game, it is a football game between the two HBCUs, Grambling and Southern University, the attachment to these and the event cross all social and economic lines. For this reason, the project will roll-out its outreach initiative at this event.
The project will facilitate a visioning process for the shaping of the “new” New Orleans that includes race and class. We will attempt to bring stakeholders to the table, with special emphasis on the poor, health, and the environment. Moreover, it is imperative that the grassroots are solidly at the table during the planning process.
Project Approach -- Katrina Survivor Project (Bring Back New Orleans)
The immediate task of the Center will be to provide a space for dialogue between community leaders who are concerned about how the “new” New Orleans will be shaped by race and class. Of most concern is the potential for permanent displacement and permanent removal of poor and working class African Americans who have called New Orleans home for centuries. Also, at stake is the loss of a culture that is deeply rooted in the African American community and has been preserved and practiced by the grassroots. First and foremost is the goal of returning residents who wish to return and the monitoring of all aspects of government and commerce that may hinder that effort.
Post Katrina Objectives
1. Facilitate the re-empowerment of the citizenry of New Orleans to govern themselves and participate in the design for rebuilding the city of New Orleans;
2. Facilitate the flow of information and promote a dialogue among the citizenry to ensure participation in some of the critical areas of rebuilding that include clean-up standards and health.
3. Identify, train, and mobilize minority workers and minority firms to participate in the clean-up and re-building of New Orleans;
4. Facilitate linkages between impacted community residents, health professionals, educators, scientific researchers, small and minority businesses, and government officials to address environmental and health disparities and other issues related to re-entry, re-population, and housing re-construction in New Orleans;
5. Monitor land use, insurance and lender redlining, clean-up standards, and clean-up process in New Orleans to ensure health and environmental justice.