Green and Just Economic Development
Eliminating poverty at the root
The campaign for Green and Just Economic Development (GJED) works with grassroots groups in the San Joaquin Valley to eliminate the roots of poverty by establishing community/economic development programs that embrace principles of social, economic, and environmental justice. Building on the legacy of CRPE's successful Power to the People campaign, GJED assists communities in implementing their visions for local economies that respect the dignity of workers, provide environmental stewardship, and address systemic inequalities for rural communities of color.
The Valley counties of Kern, Kings, and Fresno rank last in the nation on income, education, and health outcomes, and in 2005, the Congressional Research Service designated the San Joaquin Valley as the nation's poorest region, outpacing Greater Appalachia for extreme poverty, poor health, and wealth inequality. With poverty rates hovering at 21–30 percent and unemployment rates that vary from 27-60 percent, Valley communities are forced to subsidize the Valley's dirty and dangerous industrial agricultural economy by paying the social costs of industrial pollution. At the same time, these same Valley communities lack access to basic infrastructure (water, sewage, roads), affordable and healthy food, safe and reliable jobs, and health and human services.
In 2009, CRPE's Organizing Department developed and delivered a groundbreaking leadership development campaign, Power to the People, which trained nearly 100 environmental justice leaders across the southern San Joaquin Valley. In each impacted community, these leaders engaged in a yearlong visioning process to articulate their vision for a safe, sustainable, and socially just local economy. Building upon Power to the People's success, the campaign for Green and Just Economic Development partners with those same community leaders and organizations to implement their vision.
METHOD. The campaign for Green and Just Economic Development places power back in the hands of community members to build sustainable, just economies and to transform their neighborhoods. It accomplishes its goals through interlocking strategies:
FEATURED STORY. SHAFTER, CA is a small town of 17,000 in Kern County, about 18 miles northwest of Bakersfield. Despite the heavy presence of agriculture in Shafter much of the community--29% of whom live below the poverty line--does not have access to healthy, fresh and organic produce. This motivated the community to spend two years gathering resources, building their skills and readying four acres for their own community garden. On April 6, 2013 the Committee for a Better Shafter and CRPE broke ground on the Shafter Community Garden. This is the second community garden established as a part of GJED--the first is in Arvin and two more are being developed in Greensfield and Wasco.
Watch the video to see what community driven, sustainable agriculture looks like in action and what it means to the residents.
1012 Jefferson Street, Delano, CA 93215