Our Mission, History, & Principles

Our Mission:

The Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island (EJLRI) is a non-profit organization working within an alliance of individuals to promote environmental justice in Rhode Island through advocacy, education, networking, organizing, and research.  Our mission is to promote safe and healthy environments for ALL by building power, leadership and action in the communities most affected by environmental burdens. EJLRI envisions a Rhode Island where we all have a healthy place to live, work, and play regardless of race, ethnicity, or income.

Our History:

Environmental burdens, as well as environmental benefits, are not shared equally by all members of society, leading to a disproportionate negative impact on low-income communities and communities of color.  The Environmental Justice (EJ) movement recognizes how health, environmental quality, and social justice are all connected.

EJ has its roots in the Civil Rights movement, and many people regard the campaign to stop the siting of a PCB landfill in a predominately African-American community in Warren County, North Carolina in 1982 as the official beginning of the national Environmental Justice movement. Here was a clear case of race being used as a determining factor for the siting of a hazardous facility.

In December of 2007, the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island was officially formed to address the numerous environmental justice issues that currently face the residents of Providence. Many people who are involved now were part of a campaign to stop the siting of a public school on contaminated land on Adelaide Avenue in south Providence.  Gradually this and other issues brought people and community organizations together to search for a solution, and they formed the Providence Environmental Justice Forum, holding its first statewide conference in November of 2007.  Over the next year, volunteers for the EJ League secured funding, hired staff, found an office, and began the process to become an official non-profit organization.  Staff organizers began conducting community outreach to build the base of the EJ League in November 2008.

Our Principles:

We believe that environmental justice will be achieved when:

  • All people have access to the information that will enable them to participate fully in making decisions that affect their environment
  • All people are treated fairly and provided the opportunity for meaningful involvement with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies
  • All people have equal and fair access to a safe, healthy, and sustainable environment at home, at work, at school, and in public places
  • No group of people, including any racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic group or vulnerable population such as children, the elderly or the disabled suffers from a disproportionate share of negative environmental risks or burdens.
  • No group of people suffer from displacement and gentrification as a result of environmental remediation efforts.
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