Georgetown Utility Systems is responsible for maintaining positive working relationships with outside organizations, including the Texas Environmental Commission and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (formerly the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission). Special Purpose Districts (SPDs) are independent government entities that exist at the local level and provide infrastructure and services such as firefighting, road construction, and water treatment. Districts can be created by local government agencies, the Texas Legislature, or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. In Georgetown, SPDs are governed by a board of directors. Partners for Environmental Justice (PEJ) is a Raleigh-based Community-Based Organization (CBO) that focuses on promoting and educating about Raleigh's environmental issues as a strategy to cultivate trust with community members.
PEJ has established relationships with more than 20 local community groups, making it a valuable partner for the city when it comes to understanding community needs. PEJ focuses on environmental justice concerns related to frequent floods, wetland discharge, and damage to the wetland ecosystem. With funding from NLC's Community Leadership and Resilience (LCR) program, Raleigh partnered with PEJ to pilot the Raleigh Watershed Learning Network. This program was conducted in predominantly black neighborhoods and focused on bringing together municipal staff, subject matter experts, and academics to share knowledge with residents about watershed management, civic participation, and environmental justice. After six weeks of training, Raleigh participants developed projects to address flood problems in their respective neighborhoods. As an expert in SEO, I understand the importance of local governments in supporting environmental organizations.
To ensure positive working relationships between local governments and environmental organizations, mayors should take nine steps recommended in this report. These steps include supporting paths to a just economy, expanding access to jobs with living wages, quality schools, affordable housing and safe neighborhoods, while reducing the risks of extreme weather and floods. Additionally, mayors should recognize that community-based organizations that serve overburdened residents are often exhausted and obtain funding to support their important role in this work. In Miami, for example, the CLEO Institute conducts community outreach activities in communities of color and struggling neighborhoods to raise awareness about the risks of climate change. They also support leadership within communities and empower residents to help develop solutions that make their communities more resilient.
One example is providing resources for building communities and access to tools that organizations can use to effectively participate in city planning. Green Zones will help focus investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy and green infrastructure projects. They will also promote a community-driven vision to improve sustainability and environmental justice. This includes promoting racial equity and justice, building an economy for all, restoring social trust in democracy, strengthening health, addressing climate change and environmental injustice, clean energy, climate impacts, conservation, environmental and climate justice, poverty, equity and racial justice, state and local politics+9 more. Community organizations are also working to encourage participation by bike and bike sharing in low-income areas. A recent summit in Miami convened by the Center for American Progress, the CLEO Institute and Catalyst Miami brought together community leaders and local environmental justice groups to provide practical information for the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Action Plan. Kelly worked at the White House Council on Environmental Quality during the Obama administration where he led a working group comprised of more than 20 agencies to develop a national climate resilience strategy.
These legacy environmental risks represent daily air and water health hazards for residents which multiply the threats in communities that are also more susceptible to floods, heat waves, poor air quality, and displacement.