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Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships

Guidelines for the Sierra Club's National Environmental Justice Grassroots Organizing Program


The Sierra Club Guidelines of Environmental Justice Grassroots Organizing ("Guidelines") is a working document adopted by the Sierra Club Environmental Justice Program Site Selection Committee (1999) to define an ethical code of conduct for the SC EJ Program Sites. This document is the culmination of years of conversations between people who live in impacted communities and Sierra Club volunteers and staff regarding how the Sierra Club can support these communities while promoting community self-empowerment. Subsequent experiences within the SC EJ Program have shown the Guidelines to be a successful and effective means of building relationships between Sierra Club volunteers, staff, and environmental justice community representatives.

The Sierra Club's relationship with the communities it assists will be governed by the following guidelines:

  1. We will hire grassroots organizers to serve as a bridge linking the Club to communities fighting for environmental justice; and we will encourage qualified applicants from these communities to apply for these positions.
  2. We will enter a community to provide grassroots organizing assistance only when invited to do so by the community.
  3. We will respect the right of the community to define its agenda to address its environmental problems. We will not be present to persuade the community to work on "our" issues, but rather provide support to the community as it seeks to define its own issues and lead its own campaign
  4. Our grassroots organizers will work to link activists from Sierra Club groups, chapters, and Regional Conservation Committees with the citizens of the community.
  5. We will work as a supporting partner with the community facing environmental injustice. This may mean providing training and support to meet the needs defined by the community.
  6. We will encourage the empowerment of the members of the community and will seek to nurture that empowerment.

  7. We will respect the comfort level of the community in responding to requests for tactical assistance. For example, in providing media assistance, we will strive to avoid even the appearance of making public relations capital out of the community's misfortune.
  8. We will seek to foster community self-reliance and will be prepared to leave the community at any time as requested.

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