East Palo Alto Shows Up to Speak Up
East Palo Alto faces a quintessentially Bay Arean constellation of challenges: escalating housing prices and declining affordability; gentrification associated with the displacement of longtime residents by well-paid tech workers; and a rising bay encroaching upon the densely populated, low-lying city near the foot of the Dumbarton Bridge.
Throw in a proposed new mixed-use development abutting vital marshlands already vulnerable to flooding and the stakes get even higher, says Roxana Franco, programs manager for Nuestra Casa de East Palo Alto. That’s why the nearly 20-year-old nonprofit is now working closely with current and longtime residents, many of them lower-income people of color, to give local context to climate change and sea-level rise, disaster preparedness, and — perhaps most importantly — civic engagement.
Through a 12-week program called the Environmental Justice Parent Academy, Nuestra Casa (“Our House”) is leading in-depth discussions about these and related issues among cohorts of African American, Pacific Islander, Latinx, and youth residents of East Palo Alto. All 85 participants, 75 of whom are parents, receive a stipend for their time and are encouraged to continue their work outside of the group.
“We have facilitators that reflect the community, and they’re also community elders here in East Palo Alto,” Franco says. “We try to make it about building communities and empowering our participants to sit at city council meetings and speak up … We encourage them to show up to these meetings, and they feel more comfortable to be involved or at least show up.”
Other Recent Posts
After a car crash, Janet Byron switched to an e-bike. Now she is a bike evangelist — and the City of El Cerrito is listening
Scientist and coastal engineer Kris May shares her views on global versus Bay Area climate experiences in 2023, and the Fifth National Climate Assessment.
A new practical guide called Ecology for Health will help planners and designers enhance both biodiversity and human health in urban settings.
Bay Area schools, hospitals and other institutions are taking a close look at their food procurement practices to balance the needs of their communities and the environment. A new roadmap provides them with a values-based framework.
With climate change, forests across California seem doomed to retreat, but maybe not everywhere. In at least one coastal county, there’s hope of keeping valued woodlands healthy, provided past mistakes can be corrected, fast.
Churches are well -positioned to respond to the impacts of climate change and build climate resilience, especially in hard-to-reach communities or communities of color.
San Francisco’s new Environment Department director, Tyrone Jue, aims to help his city achieve net zero emissions by 2040.
Like Russian dolls, Bay Area preparations for sea level rise finally began fitting together this fall.
Conor Carroll, Chemistry Teacher, Skyline High School
Greenbelt Alliance worked with data and communities to identify 18 sites where social vulnerability, climate hazards and conservation priorities overlapped, then winnowed them down to five hot spots.