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4 June, 2021

Activists use new digital tactics to fight environmental racism

icon environmental racism,pollution,Relational Organizing
Fight environmental racism that destroys forests to produce pallets that create pollution and cause flooding.

Forests destroyed to make wood pellets for corporate profits. Black communities devastated by the pollution and flooding it causes. That's environmental racism.

Community activists struggle to be heard against corporate lobbyists and slick marketing consultants pushing the destruction of forests. But, activists cannot make big political donations, hire expensive marketing consultants nor lobbyists. How can activists raise public awareness to stop corporations plundering community resources and polluting the environment?

New Alpha Community Development Corporation (CDC), is a non-profit in Florence, South Carolina led by Reverend Leo Woodberry is innovating with free apps to fight environmental racism. This is their high tech David and Goliath story.

Wood pellet industry

The fuel pellet industry is a polluter and destroyer of nature. "Some 500 ecologists, conservationists and others strongly disagree recently wrote to heads of state including President Biden urging them to reject wood burning as a tool for fighting climate change."

"Pellet mills, which can emit volatile organic compounds and other hazardous air pollutants, are 50 percent more likely to be located near “environmental justice-designated” communities, defined as counties with above-average poverty levels and a population that’s at least 25 percent nonwhite, according to an analysis by the Dogwood Alliance, an environmental nonprofit based in Asheville." - NYT

Environmental racism

Richie Harding, a pastor in Northampton County, said he was incensed that Enviva had plopped its mill amid established neighborhoods. “Northampton County has a lot of land,” he said. “Why would you put it in the backyard of these people? ”Pellet mills, which can emit volatile organic compounds and other hazardous air pollutants, are 50 percent more likely to be located near “environmental justice-designated” communities, defined as counties with above-average poverty levels and a population that’s at least 25 percent nonwhite." - NYT

Enviva is a wood pellet manufacturer whose CEO is paid $1,130,000 every year. It spent $430,000 in 2020 on political lobbying.

Fight environmental racism behind wood pellet plants that cut forests, cause pollutions and flood Black communities.

Share this video: https://youtu.be/54uxpZs2djk

Grassroots digital innovation

Social media helps shape public opinion. Community groups need to build public support through social media, but how does a small group tell its story in an engaging way? How can they collect and share the facts about their issue and the call to action? How can they amplify their message and get visibility for it without paid advertising?

Anthony Hall manages digital organizing at New Alpha CDC and uses free apps to raise awareness and mobilize supporters:
Lumen5 - create videos using their royalty free, professionally made videos and soundtracks
Wakelet - create collections of data for sharing on social media
VoteForce - relational organizing and amplifying messages through supporters

Make it visual

Make your message visual to grab people's attention and engage them. Short videos with captions are proven to work and more likely to be shared. This video from New Alpha CD is just 33 seconds long. Anthony created it with the free Lumen5 which provides royalty-free, professionally made videos and sound tracks. It uses captions as most viewers watch videos with the sound off. A call to action directs viewers link to New Alpha Community Development Corporation (CDC) for more information.

Keep it simple

New Alpha CDC had collected a large number of documents, images and maps from resources including the Dogwood Alliance, Politico and the New York Times. How could these resources be packaged, updated and shared online? Anthony chose to create a Wakelet collection with the information collected. Wakelet is a free app to assemble documents, links, images and cartoons into a single link that can be shared on social media or embedded in a web page. Wakelet collections are evergreen and can be updated with new content when needed!

Fight the environmental racism from wood pellet plants that cause pollution.

Share this Wakelet: https://wke.lt/w/s/dpnWIQ
Embed this Wakelet: < iframe class="wakeletEmbed" width="100%" height="760px" src="https://embed.wakelet.com/wakes/v7w0vmYlFqQeCMzC6qdnq/grid" style="border: none" allow="autoplay">

Have supporters amplify your message

Corporate marketers can pay for advertising to get their message heard while grassroots groups struggle for funding and talent. It's an uneven playing field. But, grassroots groups have an asset that money cannot buy - the support of people in their community. How can their collective contacts be harnessed to spread the word and organize?

Anthony used the free VoteForce app and relational organizing to amplify his message his message about the downside of wood pellets. He created messages which asked supporters to share links to the video and Wakelet collection with the facts that he had created. Supporters have the VoteForce app on their phones and are alerted when there is a new message. They can share messages with their friends through their phonebook and also post them to their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Anthony Hall with New Alpha CDC fights environmental racism with digital organizing
Amplify your message to fight environmental racism using relational organizing and VoteForce

New Alpha CDC

New Alpha CDC, The Whitney M. Slater Foundation, and Kingdom Living Temple work with coalitions of other climate justice organizations. They work to bridge the gaps wherever water, air, or land or healthcare quality issues impact the health of people in our communities. Anthony Hall leads digital programs at New Alpha CDC and applies free apps to fight environmental racism.

Lumen5 - create videos using their royalty free, professionally made videos and soundtracks
Wakelet - create collections of data for sharing on social media
VoteForce - relational organizing and amplifying messages through supporters

Takeaway: Grassroots groups taking on corporations is truly David vs Goliath. Today, they need good software not stones to win.

Deepak
DemLabs

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