Georgia WAND Education Fund, Inc. is an independent, grassroots, women-led organization that organizes front-line communities, especially people of color, women, and youth, to establish long-term solutions for social justice.
Two Main Problems We Address
In rural, southern communities like Burke County, GA, there is lack of resources to help identify problems and connections between radiological environmental contamination and public health so that people have the quantitative data to supplement their lived experiences so they can better advocate for the safety and quality of life of their communities.
Communities lack resources to help people advocate for themselves and their communities in order to (a) address inadequate political representation, (b) overhaul inequitable decision making processes, (c) overcome white supremacy, and (d) transform a culture that over-invests in violence and war into one of peace and sustainability.
1. To mitigate, reduce or reverse nuclear and environmental harms in Georgia communities
2. To build economic, political and cultural power in frontline communities
We are located in Georgia’s political epicenter, Atlanta, which has the largest concentration of progressive activists and voters in the southeast. We have staff members across the state in Burke County, Georgia, home to nuclear power Plant Vogtle and downwind and downstream from Savannah River Site nuclear weapons complex located across the Savannah River in Aiken, SC.
We have had many recent accomplishments that have brought us to expand upon our high impact, three-year strategic plan.
- We have grown our staff: We hired two part-time community organizers in Burke County, Natalie Herrington and Janie Hill Scott. We named our first Deputy Director, Lindsay Harper, who is the first woman of color to hold a director level position in the organization.
- Conducted research with Korean American Georgians about nuclear weapons, militarism, foreign policy between the U.S. and the Korean peninsula, racism and the U.S. media, and allotment of public resources distributed to various racial and ethnic communities. These surveys were conducted in partnership with Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) and were conducted in Korean. We also held a Telephone Town Hall translated into Korean in real time, in which over 600 people across the country took part. We wrote a report of our findings and shared it with Georgia’s Congressional Delegation.
- We are leading efforts in Partnership for Southern Equity’s Just Energy Circle for a coalition-wide sponsorship of a Just Transition jobs policy, a labor-centered Just Transition policy anchored in Burke County, GA.
- We helped launch of the Radiological Education Monitoring and Outreach Project (R.E.M.O.P.) with the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Lab (SREL). This three-year participatory, community-based program was brokered over the course of several years by Georgia WAND and residents of Shell Bluff, from 2014-2016. After industry delays, the program has finally started and will run through 2019 in Burke County, GA.
- As part of our work with Atlanta Jobs with Justice, we supported the creation of a candidate guide for Atlanta Mayor, City Council, and Board of Elections that resulted in including two questions about Environmental Justice and the need for a sustainable economy; this was part of our work with Jobs with Justice Atlanta
- Worked with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through their contractor, SKEO, to engage residents in Burke County in a Technical Assistance Needs Assessment (TANA), administered to the community through SKEO. The information gathered is being used to help inform the REMOP program.
- We provided internationally televised testimony to the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), special rapporteur on the right to water for women’s health and hygiene, linking nuclear weapons production to women’s and environmental health and water needs, with support from our coalition partner the USHRN Right to Water coalition.
- We released a groundbreaking report at the Georgia Public Service Commission the week before they made the decision to continue supporting the expansion of nuclear power Plant Vogtle, a decision that included solarization in Burke County, refunds for ratepayers, and new hard lines for the industry that will make it hard to fund the continued expansion. The report, Community Impacts at the Crossroads of Nuclear and Climate Injustices in the U.S. South is based in science and community experiences, and details the effects of the clash between climate change and the nuclear industries on southern communities.
- We’ve registered hundreds of people to vote and conducted Get Out the Vote (GOTV) with tens of thousands of local residents, namely in Burke County, Atlanta Neighborhood Planning Unit-V (NPU-V), and other metro Atlanta communities that are directly affected by a lack of public resources. Because we build long-term relationships with community members, we are able to tailor our education to their concerns.
- We disseminated voter pledge cards and voter postcards that include educational graphics about the high levels of Pentagon spending. For example, we integrated education about federal military spending into the main narrative of Partnership for Southern Equity’s first Just Energy Summit in 2016, a successful event held in NPU-V boasting over 150 attendees. We served on the summit’s planning committee, along with two staff members speaking on the Racial Justice and Energy Equity panel, presenting our argument linking the Black Lives Matter platform to high levels of Pentagon spending, nuclear weapons, and environmental degradation.
- We conducted a Burke County Energy Equity Forum on the eve of the GA PSC Plant Vogtle hearings, and completed a successful “My Voice Matters” campaign in which community members in Waynesboro, GA pledged to be involved in decisions about the Plant and SRS and other areas that affect their lives.
- We received the 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. Award from Ben Hill United Methodist Church; the 2016 Empowerment Award from the League of Women Voters of Georgia for our environmental justice work in December 2016; the 2017 Smith W. Bagley Advocacy Award from the Sapelo Foundation; and in September 2017, Georgia WAND Executive Director Becky Rafter was honored by Mark Ruffalo, the celebrity best known for his portrayal of “the Hulk,” and the Solutions Project for being one of five “Atlanta Real Life Superheroes for Clean Energy.” Becky’s superhero avatar is a “wonder woman fighting nuclear waste.” A video featuring avatars and descriptions of Becky and the other superheroes is being played as a trailer for all the movies in metro Atlanta’s main theaters in Fall/Winter 2017. Janie Hill Scott was selected for the 2017-2018 Leadership Burke County cohort. And Becky Rafter was selected as a participant in Rockwood’s Yearlong Leading from the Inside Out executive leadership cohort.