Categories: The Parish Column

Support Local Efforts for Environmental and Racial Justice

by Carolyn Peirce, Eco-Action Team

Just imagine! A new urban farm with chickens and a pollinator garden in DC so that community members can exercise their right to grow, sell, and eat healthy food at all times. Or 500 acres of land, cleared of trash and invasive vines and made into a restored park with hiking trails and training for residents for future green jobs.

Regular readers of Crossroads have learned about our 2021 Eco-Action Pledge focusing on Racial and Environmental Justice to help lighten the pollution and climate change impacts that disproportionately impact vulnerable communities. Bishop Curry calls it “part of living as the Jesus Movement. It’s a promise to protect and renew this good Earth and all who call it home.”

Our Eco-Action Team is asking you to make your pledge for your own actions and, this year, to make a financial contribution to help support three local organizations working for environmental and racial justice: Ward 8 Woods Conservancy, The Well at Oxon Run, and DC Greens.

Ward 8 Woods Conservancy is a grassroots nonprofit organization that works to rejuvenate and enhance the beauty, ecological health, and public enjoyment of the more than 500 acres of forest in the Ward 8 section of Washington, DC for the benefit of all.  They engage residents as paid staff and as volunteers to restore the woodland ecology, build trails, and promote healthy and sustainable living.

Begun in 2011, it mobilized 2,000+ volunteers to remove upwards of 100,000 pounds of trash and to cut invasive vines from hundreds of trees. And it grew! By 2018, and with funding from the DC Department of Energy and the Environment and the DC Office of Planning, Ward 8 Woods launched the Park Stewards program, which provides year-round, part-time employment to Ward 8 residents who face barriers to employment. They act as caretakers for the forest by removing trash and invasive species, and sharing the message with local residents. Ward 8 Woods regularly provides Park Stewards training in skills relevant to their work that will equip them for future green jobs. They envision a future in which all Washingtonians enjoy clean air, clean water, and connection to the natural world in safe, well-maintained public lands.

The Well at Oxon Run is a new urban farm and community wellness space in Washington, DC’s Ward 8. The one-acre site will be home to seasonal crop production, a pick-your-own flower garden, a farm stand, an orchard with chickens, a greenhouse, herb and pollinator gardens, and a large youth garden with outdoor classroom and memory forest honoring victims of gun violence.

Three nonprofit organizations—DC Greens, The Green Scheme, and Friends of Oxon Run—teamed up with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation and the DC Department of Energy and Environment to bring The Well to fruition.

DC Greens uses the levers of food education, food access, and food policy to advance food justice in the nation’s capital. They do this by:

  • Focusing on transformational changes at the systems-level
  • Building bridges between government, private sector, communities and non-profits
  • Developing advocacy channels to amplify marginalized voices
  • Curating best practices and leveraging existing infrastructure
  • Responding to community needs
  • Providing thought leadership

To advance food justice is to recognize and address the structural inequalities in our food system. The work of creating a just food system shifts power and knowledge to community members so that they can exercise their right to grow, sell, and eat healthy food at all times.  They believe that healthy food is fresh, nutritious, affordable and culturally appropriate.  It is grown and distributed with care for the well-being of people, animals and the environment. People practicing food justice leads to an equitable local food system, self-reliant communities, and a healthy environment.

Make an online donation here (suggested amount $100) – choose “Eco Action Lenten Donation” in the pull-down menu. Or you can send a check to St. Johns Norwood, 6701 Wisconsin Ave, Chevy Chase MD 20815, with “Eco Action Lenten Donation” in the memo line.