212431 Use of EPA Collaborative Problem-Solving Model to Obtain Environmental Justice in North Carolina

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sacoby Wilson, MS, PhD , Institute for Families in Society, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
The West End Revitalization Association (WERA), a community-based organization (CBO) in Mebane, North Carolina, was awarded a Collaborative Problem-Solving (CPS) grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Justice (EPA OEJ) in 2005. WERA used this funding to establish a collaborative-problem solving partnership that used principles of consensus building, dispute resolution, and resource mobilization to address noncompliance with environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, and Solid Waste Disposal Act by local, state and federal authorities. WERA's board and staff organized nine working groups with specific areas of expertise on topics including environmental health, research, planning, environmental regulations, and community development and revitalization that would facilitate research, identify lack of basic amenities, and encourage funding for corrective action and participation in progress reporting workshops. WERA's CPS “Right to Basic Amenities” project produced a framework for (1) grassroots management and ownership of a collaborative problem-solving process; (2) bringing stakeholders together with diverse and conflicting viewpoints; (3) implementation of an innovative community-owned and managed (COMR) research model; and (4) leveraging millions of dollars to fund installation of first-time municipal water/sewer services, street paving, and relocation of the 119-bypass to advance environmental health solutions.

In this presentation, we will describe the collaborative problem-solving model, discuss WERA's collaborative problem-solving partnership, detail WERA's use of Memorandum of Agreements (MOAs) to establish and manage relationships with workgroup partners, and the lessons learned and best practices from the collaborative problem-solving process.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the components of EPA's Collaborative Problem-Solving Model 2. Explain how to establish a collaborative problem-solving partnership 3. Identify best practices and lessons learned associated with WERA's use of the collaborative-problem solving process.

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Collaboration

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an environmental health scientist with over ten years of experience in environmental justice, health disparities, community-driven research, and built environment issues. I have worked with WERA on its community-driven efforts and helped with WERA's collaborative problem solving partnership.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.