In this political moment, the words of Black feminist Audre Lorde ring truer than ever: “there is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not live single-issue lives.” Here in the Bay Area, communities of color are fighting multiple fronts as COVID-19, police violence, toxic and radioactive pollution, climate change, and gentrification threaten people’s health, homes and communities.
This summer, the National Lawyers’ Guild – SF is starting an exciting collaboration with local grassroots organization Greenaction for Health & Environmental Justice challenging the proposed India Basin Mixed Use Development project in Bayview Hunters Point. For years, Greenaction and the Bayview Hunters Point Mothers and Fathers Committee have campaigned against the project as it would contribute to gentrification that would lead to displacement of low income and people of color residents and small family-owned businesses while adding significant and unhealthy air pollution on top of the existing poor air quality in the neighborhood. BVHP already suffers from high rates of asthma and cancer and is one of the communities in California most at risk from pollution. Despite this and the city’s own Environmental Impact Report detailing the project’s significant, harmful, and unavoidable impacts on air quality, the SF Board of Supervisors approved the development. The city has also excluded residents from meaningful civic engagement by failing to translate notices and key documents, in violation of their civil rights, and is working on new policy to make it easier to fast-track big development approvals. NLGSF is sponsoring Zsea Bowmani, the recipient of this year’s NLG Leonard I. Weinglass Memorial Fellowship, to work with Greenaction to force the City to greatly reduce the size of the India Basin Development project or stop it all together. As part of his fellowship, Zsea will draft a letter to the Board of Supervisors and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission to reconsider their approval in light of the current situation, given the renewed nationwide conversation on racial justice, findings that Black and brown communities are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and the fact that air pollution exacerbates COVID-19 infections and deaths. He will also submit a Public Record Act request to investigate the project’s status and any mitigation plans. Zsea will also conduct webinars and training for NLGSF chapter members on the India Basin Development and other environmental justice activism in the Bay Area with the goal of launching a new Environmental Justice Work Group within NLGSF.
If you are interested in learning more or developing the Environmental Justice Work Group, please contact Zsea directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about Greenaction at www.greenaction.org