A Healthy, Prosperous, and Prepared Burke County: Leadership in Partnership


Greetings Burke County Residents and Allies!

Georgia WAND and Partnership for Southern Equity held an exciting two-day conference, “A Healthy, Prosperous, and Prepared Burke County: Leadership in Partnership,” at Cornerstone Church in Waynesboro, Georgia, on Friday, November 30, and Saturday, December 1, 2018. The event was filled with blessings, deep connection, education, and forward motion. For those who were unable to attend the event, Georgia WAND staff has put together the following online resource. Thank you for checking it out! Below are the resources in this post:

  1. An overview article about the event by Janie Hill Scott, event co-organizer
  2. Conference notes from both days, including the agenda, speakers’ names, and key takeaways
  3. PHOTOS from the event so you can see how we forged dialogue!
  4. Enjoy reading the post, and if you have any questions or would like to get involved, please contact Janie Hill Scott, Grassroots Organizer, Georgia WAND, at Janie@GeorgiaWAND.org or call (706) 871-4275.


Leadership in Partnership Event In Burke County A Success!
By Janie Hill-Scott
(From Georgia WAND’s 12/7/2018 Newsletter, edited)

Georgia WAND and Partnership for Southern Equity hosted a two-day conference  “A Healthy, Prosperous, and Prepared Burke County: Leadership in Partnership.” This conference was the first of its kind: a two-day event featuring speakers, workshops, emergency preparedness information, and a health fair. The conference was an opportunity to bring together Burke County residents to share information and experiences with one other across our many differences, such as age, race, gender, history in the community, and field of work. Additionally, the conference was a time for Georgia WAND to explain our nuclear harm reduction definition and seek input about our programming from Burke County residents. On both days, all attendees were invited to participate in a “Where Are You From” exercise to really get to know each other on a more personal, rather than professional, level to connect across land, time, food, and family.

Day one focused on energy democracy and climate resilience. As a Georgia WAND staff member and local Burke county resident, I spoke about climate change and its effects on Burke County. Partnership for Southern Equity’s staff members Dwayne Patterson and Chandra Farley spoke on Energy Equity, unequal energy burdens, and how the Public Service Commission is related to these issues, among other topics. Georgia WAND Executive Director, Lindsay Harper, spoke on our past and upcoming We Count! Civic Engagement Program activities in Burke County; Georgia Senate Bills 355 and 393 related to financing costs for Plant Vogtle’s expansion; the the Radionuclide Education Monitoring and Outreach Project (REMOP); and how to engage with Georgia WAND in the community.

To further explain what is going on in Burke County from an environmental perspective, the conference featured speakers, such as Reverend Charles Utley from Concerned Citizen of Shell Bluff, a chapter of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. He shared information about their work to educate residents about an iodine pill program and other resources in the community. Megan Winzeler from the Savannah River Ecology Lab (SREL), which oversees the REMOP program, gave an update on the progress of REMOP and the present activities going on in Burke County. All of the vendors and partners gave updates on their services that are available to Burke County residents as well.

A panel discussion with Jalessah Jackson from SisterSong Reproductive Justice Women of Color Collective, Dwayne Patterson from Partnership for Southern Equity, and Executive Director Lindsay Harper explored the intersections of race, gender, climate, health, and geography.

Dr. Mildred McClain from Savannah, founder of Harambee House and current PSE staff member, gave a presentation on Emergency Preparedness especially tailored to issues in Burke County. Reverend Kate Mosley from Georgia Interfaith Power and Light and the Georgia Water Coalition discussed coal ash sites in Georgia and why and how the coal coal ash issue affects Burke County.  All participants were invited to attend Capital Conservation Day on February 20, 2019.

Txlips band members Gabby Logan and Dara Carter also came to support Burke County, the Leadership in Partnership event, and Georgia WAND! Dara performed beautiful songs about peace and a brighter future. The Txlips have supported Georgia WAND and believe the band’s mission and our organizational mission complement each other.

Day two was centered on bringing together statewide stakeholders with local leadership in the community. Lori Johnson of the Yamasi People, an indigenous coastal people, shared her thoughts on how the light and energy in human beings should be invested in rather than nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. Representatives of Paul L. Dunbar Elementary School and the Neighborhood Planning Unit-V (NPU-V) community in downtown Atlanta, Michelle Walker and Euleen Josiah Tanner, shared stories of both the challenges and opportunities in local Atlanta communities and the impact of extra Plant Vogtle construction fees tagged onto their students’ families’ and schools’ energy bills.

Local founder of Building Responsible Individuals Developing Greater Examples (BRIDGE), Kenya Sullivan-Crumbley, spoke on what she has accomplished in the community over the past 10 years working to support Burke county families. Ya-Sin Shabazz of Hijra House in Mississippi was able to make connections between the concepts of energy efficiency and emergency preparedness, and the effectiveness of non-traditional relationships, such as his work with the Vietnamese communities in the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.

Facilitating the most valuable portion of the two day Leadership in Partnership conference was Project South’s La’Die Mansfield and Annie Raphael, who led what’s called a People’s Movement Assembly or PMA. The PMA exercise is a way of organizing using basic tools to help focus the wants of the community and is (ideally) informed by all members of the community (each voice having equal weight) to plans of action around the issues, centering the question: “What do you need?”

Georgia WAND and our partners are learning as a collective so that we can best serve the Burke County community. The Leadership in Partnership platform allowed an open format, within our intersectional analysis, to have a conversation that included many different voices and stakeholders in the area. There are plans to consolidate the information, to build in partnership, and hone our strategy and focus. Georgia WAND would like to thank Pastor Darius A. & First Lady Tanya Roberson and Cornerstone Christian Center Church for their instrumental partnership in making this event a success! We would also like to thank Natalie Herrington for providing childcare services and Semiyah Smith for her event photography.

For more information on the event “A Healthy, Prosperous, and Prepared Burke County: Leadership in Partnership,” send an email to Janie Hill-Scott, Burke County Community Organizer at Janie@GeorgiaWAND.org.

For more detailed information, please see detailed notes and agenda below the Georgia WAND organizational description:

Georgia WAND educates the public and opinion leaders about the need to end systemic violence and to invest our tax dollars in human and environmental needs. We are an independent, community-driven, grassroots, woman-led 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. Our 25-year goals are to 1) mitigate or reverse nuclear and environmental harms in Georgia, and 2) build economic, political, and cultural power in front-line communities. We have three programs, described briefly here: Our We Count! Program uses a comprehensive definition of civic engagement to educate and mobilize voters, hold elected officials accountable, and develop community leaders. Our Nuclear Harm Reduction Program watchdogs nuclear sites and conducts education, community organizing, and feedback loops in communities downwind and downstream from nuclear weapons and nuclear energy facilities. And our Sustainable and Equitable Community Development Program works to advance participatory public policy-making and community-managed economic resources, such as allocation of our tax dollars.

Georgia WAND’s strategies ensure that people who are directly affected by the issues we address are speaking for themselves. We provide education, training, leadership development, and opportunities for participatory decision-making and collective learning in order to facilitate residents leading and taking the reins of action, advocacy, and project implementation for themselves. We focus on building next-generation leadership. We recruit women, youth, and allies from congregations and provide skills-building and learning opportunities. Through civic engagement, grassroots organizing, workshops, trainings, meetings with elected officials, and the act of coming together in shared dialogue, we build trust, invest in our own power, and begin generational healing from violence in all its forms. Neighborhood residents document first-hand knowledge of concerns in their communities, such as inequitable development, violence, environmental hazards, climate and water issues, industrial pollutants in their communities, and more. We build partnerships across communities through robust coalition work.

Currently Georgia WAND is focusing on the following projects: co-developing a sustainable and equitable jobs policy platform that centers Plant Vogtle workers; a Burke County public health campaign; environmental radiological monitoring and education project with Savannah River Ecology Lab; registering people to vote in communities disproportionately affected by environmental hazards, lack of political representation, lack of public resources, and systemic violence; researching the effects of climate change and the nuclear industry on southeastern communities; and more.

“A Healthy, Prosperous, and Prepared Burke County: Leadership in Partnership”

Notes from Day One: Friday, November 30, 2018

OPEN

  • Prayer – Natalie Herrington
  • Recognitions – preachers, elected officials, veterans
  • Welcome Janie Hill-Scott – Georgia WAND Burke County Community Organizer & Lindsay Harper – Georgia WAND Executive Director
    • Introduction of Georgia WAND, organization staff, event intentions –
      • Georgia WAND has been in Burke County community for over 15 years. Our work is participatory because the community knows best what they need
      • A healthy Burke County leads to a healthy Georgia
      • Georgia WAND supports women’s and community leadership, and is based in understanding how structural racism, excessive military spending, climate change, and the need for energy equity impact our communities
    • Community agreements/intentions for grounding our space –
      • If someone says something that offends you, assume they are speaking from good intentions. We encourage healthy dialogue around differences in thought, and disagreements are harbingers of change.  
      • Each of us are experts on our own lived experience.
      • Are there any community agreements that we would like to add? (opened it up to people in the space).
    • Definition of Nuclear Harm Reduction (NHR)
      • Georgia WAND defines NHR as mitigation or reduction where both the benefits and the burdens of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons are equitably distributed; and where communities most directly affected are centered in creating solutions and being leaders.
      • Georgia WAND’s visions of NHR are the following:
        • Long-term economic stability in the community
        • Healthy, green jobs that pay a robust wage
        • Improved quality of water, land, and air
        • Community members, companies, and government agencies work together for accountability
        • Communication of upcoming toxic emissions
        • No use of or build up of mass weapons for against humanity
        • Acknowledgement that nuclear facilities are built in low-income, rural, and often communities of color  
    • Grounding Annie Laura Howard Stephens, Burke County community elder
      • “We are here because the Earth belongs to the Lord and we have as humans destroyed the land. Cancer does not discriminate based on race, religion, gender, class and neither do weapons, power, and contamination. On the sixth-day god made man but the woman was made because the man couldn’t be alone. God gave his only begotten son. This destruction is out of man’s hands, we have to turn to God to save us all and call on Jesus and pray the word of God.”

PROGRAM

WHERE DO WE STAND? Energy Democracy/Climate Resilience – What does this look like in Burke?

  • Janie discussed Climate Change and Burke County’s vulnerability from her perspective as a resident.
    • She defined weather as what happens every day, and climate as what happens every year at the same time. She explained that we are seeing that the winters are colder, the summers are hotter, and that there are more hurricanes and more floods. Climate change is connected to human activities and disproportionately affects indigenous, poor, and/or people of color.
  • Janie shared how climate change impacts Burke County in her experience:
    • Dirt roads often wash out
    • People might not have flood insurance
    • It is often too hot to work outside
    • Many people may not be able to afford to rebuild their homes after a flood, especially if there were one every year.
    • In regards to energy equity, people in Burke often pay higher power bills.
    • There is a rural-urban gap in Atlanta and Burke and residents don’t fully understand how their communities are connected
    • We know fires are worse in California than they have been in the past and there were two nuclear facilities that got burned by fires this year .
  • Chandra Farley – Director of Just Energy at the Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE) shared about energy equity, Georgia’s energy burden, and how residents can make impact on their energy bills
    • Why should energy be “just”? There should be a fair distribution of production, energy, and contamination Race is the number one indicator of where you will find contamination. The highest rates of poor health and asthma are disproportionately in communities of color
    • Economic stability is a positive byproduct of “just” energy
      How we do our work at Partnership for Southern Equity?We use just energy as a frame for coalition building around issue circles; growth, opportunity, energy. Each circle is comprised of the “experts” including grassroots, faith leaders, community leaders, and organizations centering people and policies around planning and energy.
    • We believe that organizers are individuals in their own communities. We focus on leadership development and engage with information exchange as opposed to traditional “education,” and focus on preconditions to inequity.  
    • They’ll be working to hold the Public Service Commission (PSC) accountable.
      • The PSC determines how much you pay for electricity, natural gas and telecommunications
        Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) is set to begin in Georgia where advocates and energy experts will look at the existing plan and set new rates for the next three years. There will be a hearing in April 2019 and a few months to review the IRP and then make public comments. PSE will formally intervene in the IRP process.

  • Janie Hill-Scott & Lindsay Harper presented more information about the Public Service Commission, Senate Bill 355, the Georgia WAND WeCount! Civic engagement program, and the #MyVoiceMatters campaign
    • The #MyVoiceMatters campaign serves to begin communicating to people that too many of their voices are missing from our civic process and how critical every person’s voice is in order for communities to thrive.  We put out a call for volunteers for people who are interested in working with Georgia WAND as we continue to expand our We Count! Civic Engagement Program efforts into the CSRA
    • There were two bills in the GA Legislature this year:
      • Senate Bill (SB) 355, which would have amended the Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act to sunset so that it would limit the charges people saw on their bills and would to be applied to any future nuclear projects Georgia Power might propose.
      • SB 355 did pass but will only be applied to future projects and will not limit changes customers are paying now.
      • SB 393 would have allowed public and state charter schools to opt out of having to pay for the construction of Plant Vogtle (they are now paying through the Nuclear Cost Recovery fee on their Georgia Power bills). The bill did move move forward during the 2018 Legislative Session, however it did not make it to the Senate floor for a vote before Crossover Day
        • Dunbar Elementary in the Neighborhood Planning Unit – V community in Atlanta (on the edge of which is where Georgia WAND’s office is located) is an example of a school and community burdened by the extra Plant Vogtle construction costs added to their Georgia Power bills.
    • Every year Georgia WAND goes to the Georgia capital and to Washington, D.C. to educate elected officials, agency leaders, and Capitol Hill staffers about what is going on in Georgia in regards to our tax dollars being invested in harmful activity for many communities in our state.
      • Community members going to Washington, DC with the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) during D.C. Days helped to negotiate the Radionuclide Education Monitoring and Outreach Project (REMOP) that people may have heard of in the past year or so.  
      • We also, along with the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC) attend Capital Conservation Day to educate lawmakers and advocate for Georgia’s waterways.

WHAT’S GOING ON NOW? Environmental and Health Education Activities around Burke

  • Rev. Charles UtleyConcerned Citizen of Shell Bluff shared information about their work to educate residents about an iodine pill program and other resources in the community
  • Janie Hill Scott – Georgia WAND talked about Nuclear Harm Reduction (NHR) and discussed the Georgia WAND public health survey and Community Leadership Circle / health committee
  • Megan Winzeler – Savannah River Ecology Lab (SREL) SREL was established as a third party research facility since the Savannah River Site (SRS) was constructed. SREL does environment monitoring and testing each year regarding the Savannah River Site (SRS).
    • Since Burke County citizens asked for it, SREL started the Radionuclide Education Monitoring and Outreach Project (REMOP) in Burke County, which tries to provide background information on the science for the sample collections. The lab wants  the community to be able to understand how samples are taken and how numbers come out of those samples
  • Becky Rafter – Development Lead  immediate past executive director of Georgia WAND, added that Georgia WAND created an assessment of the 11 radiological air monitoring stations in Burke that existed from 1973 to 2002, and tracked the highest levels of pollution. Georgia WAND found that higher levels of tritium were in the air near Plant Vogtle. Tritium can harm fetuses and female-identified fetus’ reproductive systems that can be harmed before birth.
  • Victoria Hines – Georgia Power
    • Shared information about programs that provide energy support for people who have an annual household income (before taxes) that is below 60 percent of the State Median Income. They offer bill payment assistance, energy crisis assistance, and weatherization and energy-related home repairs. The program is two years old and there is one year left for the program. It is a resource for low-income folk to manage their power bills and usage.
  • Lynette Samuels – East Georgia Cancer Center 
    • Shared that the East Georgia Cancer Center is headquartered in Athens, GA but her office is in Augusta, GA. They help to cover uninsured or under-insured mammograms and other medical exams. They will also help walk people through the process if someone has been diagnosed with cancer.
  • LaShanda Green – Medical Associates Plus
    • Shared that Medical Associates Plus is the first and largest federally qualified center in Augusta. There are six locations and a mobile unit. They help with primary care, women’s health, pharmacy medicines, behavioral treatment, pediatrics, infectious disease, and more and cannot turn anyone away (by utilizing a sliding scale).
  • Kimberly Woods – WellCare of Georgia
    • Shared that WellCare of Georgia helps residents learn about high-quality health plans and finding one that is right for them and their families. WellCare of Georgia works with Georgia Families®. They help kids, pregnant women and families who have Medicaid. They give residents all of their Medicaid benefits and more! Things like, Monthly over-the-counter items, Access to a 24-hour Nurse Help Line, and the Healthy Rewards Program.

LUNCH DISCUSSION: HOW ARE THESE ISSUES RELATED? Intersections of race, gender, climate, health, and geography

  • Jalessah Jackson – Georgia Coordinator of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective
    • Jalessah shared her reproductive justice (RJ) story of how at 19 years old being pregnant as a young black woman was difficult. She now has a six-year-old daughter.
    • A brief history of Reproductive Justice (RJ):
      • 1994 coined term in Chicago by women of color. They realized they were all singing the same song so they got together to form four principles of Reproductive Justice
      • The right to have a child
      • The right to not have a child and options to end a pregnancy
      • The ability to parent their children without state violence and live in safe communities
      • The right to have bodily autonomy
    • A brief history of SisterSong
      • Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia are the systems that we analyze, situated in Human Rights framework. They work at a center of economic and environmental justice.
      • They provide RJ trainings with organizations and healthcare providers by providing an intersectional analysis, considerations of power, naming and dismantling white supremacy, and connecting individual stories to systems of oppression with a larger story.
    • How are EJ (environmental justice) and RJ (reproductive justice) connected?
      • The right to be able to parent kids in healthy communities, with clean water, and having access to healthy food
  • Dwayne Patterson – VP of Strategy and Engagement for Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE)
    • Shared that growth, opportunity, health, and energy are the focus of PSE.
    • Health is also a growing part of PSE and people can expect more work around health equity from PSE in the near future.
  • Lindsay Harper – Executive Director, Georgia WAND
    • Shared that women, people with compromised immune systems, the elderly, and children are most susceptible to climate change, heavy metals, and radiation.
    • She spoke about gun violence and domestic violence that are problems in Burke. These are environmental issues because they make recovery from climate change difficult.
    • She also shared information about the potential of plutonium pit production to begin production at the Savannah River Site and the need to work with community on solutions to mitigate the health and environmental impacts if pit production were to launch at SRS.
  • Janie Hill-Scott – Community Organizer, Georgia WAND
    • What happens when construction for plant Vogtle ends and the jobs end? We need stable, non-transient jobs. Jobs are connected to community and health. Georgia WAND is supporting a Community Leadership Council (CLC) and the first committee we are forming in the Public Health Committee. Please share with us your health concerns (you can be anonymous is you prefer). Another example is that we need restoration of the fish advisories. Historically, people have long been fishing here and the advisories are now phased out but should not be.

WHAT WE KNOW AND WHAT WE DON’T KNOW Climate, Environment, and the Community

  • Lindsay Harper – Georgia WAND
    • Georgia is particularly vulnerable. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Georgia is the 2nd most apocalyptic state in the nation
  • Dr. Mildred McClain – Partnership for Southern Equity
    • We need to be in the practice of being ready to respond, to do something when it comes to emergency preparedness
    • You need a family plan:
      • Transportation – how will you get out what and what routes will you use?
      • Communication – how will we contact the family? Someone outside of the area needs to know that plan in case you are out of supplies or you can’t get out
      • Personal protective equipment and supplies
    • PSE offers a four-hour community first response class
      • Emergency Preparedness exercise – Dr. McClain conducted an interactive exercise where people were given a handout with 25 empty slots, each representing items we thought essential to our emergency kit. We were all given 5 minutes to walk around tables that had index cards, each listing an item you might need and to add to your list. It was difficult to do in such a short amount of time. Deciding what to put in your emergency kit is something you should take time to think about, plan for, and have in place. This is not something you should be scrambling for once an emergency has already happened.
  • Rev. Kate Mosely – Coal Ash Team, Georgia Water Coalition
    • As Executive Director of Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, she partners with the Georgia Water Coalition on the coal ash committee
    • Coal ash is left over from coal power plants that were in operation some time ago. What’s left over is known as coal combustion residuals and is toxic sludge that exists in ponds. The coal ash ponds are unlined and are open air next to waterways. It needs to be in lined ponds or landfills away from waterways.
    • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not identify these ponds as hazardous waste. There are multiple sites in Georgia where the sludge is transported by train and transported from out of state into Georgia. Banks, Taylor, Charlton, Meriwether, Chatham, and Cherokee counties have tons of coal ash waste.
    • How does this impact Burke? Please visit www.southeastcoalash.org to learn more and to see coal ash locations. The Earth Justice report states that each of Georgia’s ten plants has unsafe levels of toxic chemicals and pollutants
      • South Carolina’s Urquhart Coal Power Plant
      • At SRS, several coal ash ponds in Area D have recently been remediated. Area D is directly across the Savannah River from Hancock Landing.
    • Strategies of the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC) include legislative resolutions at the local level that protect our water from coal ash and push to increase tipping fees for coal ash in municipal landfills
  • Join Georgia WAND and the GWC on February 20, 2019 for Capitol Conservation Day at the Georgia Capitol.

“A Healthy, Prosperous, and Prepared Burke County: Leadership in Partnership”

Notes from Day Two: Saturday, December 1, 2018

OPEN

  • Prayer – Annie Laura Howard Stephens
  • Recognitions – preachers, elected officials, veterans
  • Welcome Janie Hill-Scott – Georgia WAND Burke County Community Organizer & Lindsay Harper – Georgia WAND Executive Director
    • Introduction of Georgia WAND, organization staff, event intentions –
      • Georgia WAND looks toward supporting women and understanding how racism and military spending impact our communities
      • Georgia WAND has been in Burke County community for over 15 years, and our work is participatory because the community knows what they need best
      • A healthy Burke County leads to a healthy Georgia
    • Community agreements/intentions for grounding our space –
      • When you speak, please remind everyone of your name so we can get to know one another and build community.
      • If someone says something that offends you, assume they are speaking from good intentions.  We encourage healthy dialogue around differences in thought, and disagreements are harbingers of change.  
      • We each are experts on our own lived experience.
      • Are there any community agreements that we would like to add? (open it up to people in the space).
    • Definition of Nuclear Harm Reduction
      • Georgia WAND defines NHR as mitigation or reduction where both the benefits and the burdens of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons are equitably distributed; and where communities most directly affected are centered in creating solutions and being leaders.
      • Georgia WAND’s visions of NHR are the following:
        • Long-term economic stability in the community
        • Healthy, green jobs that pay a robust wage
        • Improved quality of water, land, and air
        • Community members, companies, and government agencies work together for accountability
        • Communication of upcoming toxic emissions
        • No use of or build up of mass weapons for against humanity
        • Acknowledgement that nuclear facilities are built in low-income, rural, and often communities of color
  • Grounding – Marguerite Gaines, community leader – talked about how this is our time

PROGRAM

OTHER LOCAL STAKEHOLDERS – Downwind & Downstream Communities and Neighborhood Planning Unit – V (NPU-V)

  • Lori Johnston – Yamasi People Representative
    • Yamasi Tribe in Central Georgia are a Coastal people that moved inland, took care of environment, had stable communities.
    • Union of Concerned Scientists said there is no safe level of radiation. Many Yamasi die early.
    • The Colonial government installed military stuff by water. Every hundred miles, Vogtle Hatch, Columbia, SC, it’s an ongoing military endeavor.
    • What do people need – participatory government – that’s what we do.  What do people need – is the question. Everyone gets to talk, even prisoners, and children. We have so many gifts to give, skills talents and greatness from humans and plants. Our [herbs and] plants are weaker because of pollutions. That creates weaker medicines! Nuclear medicine cannot replace, we shouldn’t need it. Working with neighbors to build values. Honesty, respecting creation.
    • Maybe we can build network of government with values similar to indigenous values. Building relationships on honesty and honor, and respect for that piece of our creator that goes in to every child through old age. That pure love and light that comes out of each person. Let’s grow and cultivate that. That is the energy that can propel us forward.
  • Michelle Walker – Community and Parent Engagement Coordinator – Dunbar Elementary (video)
  • Euleen Josiah Tanner – NPU-V Resident and Dunbar Elementary Parent (video)

LUNCH DISCUSSION: EXAMPLES OF SUCCESS – Successful Community & Cross Issue Partnerships

  • Kenya Crumbly – Building Responsible Individuals Developing Great Examples (B.R.I.D.G.E.)
    • Go to Capitol every year and kids get to meet legislators. Team-building through community symposiums. Bringing people from the outside in (for young people and adults) to build social skills and self-bettering. Annual mock-funeral to fight gun violence, law enforcement and morticians come with hearse and casket, funeral procession through town and end up at church to do mock funeral. Plant Tours – EZ-go, RPM (Textron) at risk kids go to school and work in same place. Get chance to become employees. Help about 15 families with 8,9,10 kids! Georgia WAND sponsored last year.  Line workers are 85% of sponsors. Helping those who are working and struggling. People who make too much money to qualify for assistance.
  • Annie Laura Howard Stephens – (Waynesboro) Shell Bluff Community Elder
    • She spoke about how Georgia WAND and she came together. And how you have to love yourself before you can love someone else. When she spoke up at a Nuclear Regulatory Commission meeting over a decade ago, a still small voice said, “speak now or forever hold your peace.” And she shared how nurses talked about bodies being so racked with cancer that when they began operating, they had to sew them right back up again. She shared the Malachi and Esther story. And how Indigenous people, Indians said not to dig up uranium and not to build over at the river. Black men said don’t build on that land because of fault line and quicksand! When Dr. McClain sang, Annie Laura talked about how in the 1968 movement a spirit come into room when she sang. Nuclear weapons, nuclear waste, nuclear power – knows no color. And it’s all about humanity and God’s creation. Georgia WAND can’t do everything, we may lead but everyone must do their part. If a pilot passes out, somebody better call Jesus.
  • Yasin Shabazz – Hijra House
    • Discussed multi-ethnic community partnerships in the Gulf South. Ya-Sin was born out of Islamic faith tradition. Part of a coalition of groups and collaborative, Hijra House operates in Gulf Coast regional collaborative, and two organizational partners are Vietnamese.

PREPARE YOURSELF TODAY – Emergency Preparedness and Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency Training

  • Yasin Shabazz – Hijra House
    • Efficiency is not normally looked at in an emergency context. There are places where there were natural and man-made disasters. In Biloxi, MS, they had both (Katrina and the BP Oil spill), tore up the economy along the coast. There were beaches/maritime, shrimping, etc.), but now gambling/gaming.
      • He suggests being proactive – “What can I do to make sure it doesn’t happen (man made); and if it happens, how can I mitigate the harm?”
      • Energy efficiency/emergency preparedness: Renewable solar, wind, water – natural clean, provides as much power – will prevent disasters to happen – not nuclear out or coal. They will destroy their own people. We must advocate to no longer use it.
      • How can we make sure people aren’t affected for 50 years – energy efficiency – If I insulate the house, my bill will change to about 5-10c per sq/ft – reduce prices!
      • Southern Company (AL, FL, GA, MS) runs a larger system, they go to D.C., so we must also. We must make public comments, go to D.C. and state capitals. We can organize differently. Regional representation – Energy Efficiency on regional level.
      • Also lessen toxins, same repairs for energy efficiency and preparing houses to be able to shelter in place for 72 hours are the same or very similar! Save money and maybe save a life. And jobs!
      • Even if the whole country becomes solarized, it could still be done in an inequitable way where the least of these end up paying for it. Do we have to pay for our own place under the sun? Next wars will be about water.

SMALL GROUP BREAKOUT SESSIONS & CONFERENCE CLOSE-OUT

  • La’Die Mansfield – Southern Regional Organizer, Project South
    • She talked about the People’s Movement Assembly (PMA) tool.  We already have tools and knowledge, we plan our strategy. How to address an issue we all agree on, and whoever is in the room is an expert (experience) not to take away anyone’s education, but experience and knowledge is also valuable. When representatives come they have as much voice as anyone and nothing more. Numbers don’t represent people but knowledge.
    • Normally you need at least four hours to a weekend to do a PMA. Visuals are important. When your own natural resources are made unusable – what does that do to the psyche? Working towards collective governance – we are going to make decisions about our lives that the government won’t do.
    • Consciousness (most important), vision, strategy
    • She talked about the Montgomery Bus boycott – which was about more seats in segregated system. Was only supposed to last 24 hours – but they saw they could make it larger. They met and decided that it could be larger – what if we shut down the system to be integrated. There was so much buy-in from black folks – the vision could be larger – now a different strategy. It was the consciousness the strategy changes because the vision changed. People won’t be excited about consciousness but about vision.

Both days included the following themes:

Gender identity – Georgia WAND works to honor and respect how people identify themselves.  Janie commented that throughout the conference attendees could expect that they would hear various people refer to their pronouns. Pronouns allow us to specify how we want to be referred to. It is your choice to use pronouns if you wish. If you encounter anyone who does use pronouns, we asked that people please respect other’s chosen pronouns. When she introduced herself, she used the she/her/hers pronouns.

Zero-waste – Georgia WAND is working towards being an organization that promotes the usage or practices and materials that leave zero-waste behind so as not to further burden communities and the planet with polluting practices.

Daily Opening Exercise – To open each day, attendees participated in an exercise called “Where are you from” to bring people’s whole-selves, more than just professions, into the room including family names, traditions, sayings, the land people are connected to, and more.

For more information on the event, our collaborative partners, and for any additional information, please contact Janie@GeorgiaWAND.org. For more pictures from both days, please visit the following links Day One and Day Two.