SEHN’s Strategic Engagement with Grassroots Groups
This month we want to share with you how we at SEHN are bringing our work to grassroots organizing.
Climate change is driving the law and policy of future generations and public health issues, and was an inevitable outgrowth of SEHN’s work on the precautionary principle and the law of future generations. More and more we learn that risk factors — whether from climate change or breast cancer — are not experienced in isolation. As Science Director, Ted Schettler, points out in his recent piece on breast cancer, risks “co-occur and interact in complex ways, creating system conditions…when we attempt to take this complexity apart for purposes of research or decision-making, we often miss the properties that emerge from the whole.”
SEHN takes this strategic approach: it engages communities, academics, and governments to protect and restore public and ecosystem health. You’ve heard earlier about the work we’ve been doing on pipelines. We engage in grassroots organizing with the assumption that if we can stop a multi-state pipeline in one jurisdiction, we can possibly stop the whole pipeline; and if we can stop one pipeline, we are more likely to shut down tar sands and fracking for gas and oil, which fuel unsustainable and unhealthy systems like our agricultural system.
We also recognize that communities need tools to understand and more effectively apply science and defend their communities where public officials and corporations will not. We have developed legal principles and community tools designed to stop climate change at its source–energy extraction. We draw the connections between women, breast cancer, and the environmental health field. We are participating in grassroots coalitions, bringing new strategies and analysis to support local efforts to stop noxious facilities of all sorts, to better protect public health and the environment.
Our goal is to change the rules of the game, so that communities have the tools they need to come together, to withdraw their consent to harmful projects, and to give their consent to the activities that give future generations a shot at inheriting a livable planet. The work is hard and at times emotional. SEHN has tools to offer for working within uncertainty, at the edges of the unknown, and from the assumption that no grassroots group should have to start from scratch.
P.S. None of this work would be possible without your support. Please consider donating to SEHN today!
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