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Power to Thrive: The Intersection of Health, Environment and Equity, December 5 The City Project

We invite you to join us at the Waterville Opera House in Maine on Monday, December 5 at 6:30pm for a free public talk with civil rights leader Cesar De La Vega and health researcher Ming Kuo, joined in conversation with Maine-based leaders about why the connection of health, environment and equity matters.

Power to Thrive:

The Intersection of Health, Environment and Equity

December 5, 2016

6:30 – 8:30 PM

Waterville Opera House, Maine

Hosted by the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation

Register Now

Cesar De La Vega is the Juanita Tate Social Justice Fellow at The City Project in Los Angeles, California. The City Project believes that all people should have access to healthy, livable communities. They work with diverse allies to ensure equal access to (1) healthy green land use through planning by and for the community; (2) climate justice; (3) physical education and schools of hope as centers of their communities; (4) health equity and wellness; and (5) economic vitality for all, including jobs and avoiding displacement as communities become greener and more desirable.

The City Project serves on the Committee on Community Based Solutions to Promote Health Equity in the United States.

“Stay strong, be strong” Mayan people to Standing Rock Sioux #NoDAPL #StandingRock

Mayan delegates from Guatemala stand in solidarity with Sioux and other indigenous people at Standing Rock to protect Mother Earth and her children.

Mayans and other Guatemalan people endured genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes against their lands, and displacement for decades at the hands of US backed military regimes. According to reports by the Catholic Church and the United Nations, 200,000 Guatemalan people were killed or disappeared, most of them Mayan, with countless more kidnapped and entire communities displaced.

Guatemalan human rights and environmental activist Jeremy Barrios, age 22, was shot and killed November 12.

Guatemalan people including Mayans are innocent victims of “despicable” non-consensual human medical experiments by the US. The US infected the people with syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases and left them untreated and uncompensated to the present day.

Stand with Standing Rock.
Stand with Standing Rock GreenLatinos The City Project #NoDAPL #StandingRock

Guatemala at Standing Rock cross roads

Please support equal justice, democracy and livability for all The City Project #GivingTuesday!

The City Project invites you to partner with us on Giving Tuesday, a day of global philanthropy!

Some of our work with our diverse allies in 2016 includes standing with Standing Rock, health equity in all policies with the National Academy of Sciences, park funding for all, strengthening equal opportunity at the federal and state levels, coastal justice in California, physical education in public schools, restorative justice for Guatemalan victims of non-consensual medical experiments with the Catholic Church, and joining the boards of NEEF (National Environmental Education Foundation), NRPA (National Recreation & Parks Association), and GreenLatinos.

We mourn the loss of our heroes Tom Hayden and Jack Greenberg and are inspired to carry on the struggle.

The number one result Googling “environmental justice parks” is The City Project’s column with NRPA.

The Word Cloud analyzes every word on our web site. Our words reflect our values, and our actions speak even louder!

Word Cloud

Your gift of $25, $50, $100, $250, or more, is the fuel that drives our work. We invite you to make a gift online so that together, we can help create a more just world for all.

Thank you and we wish you peaceful and joyous holidays!

Standing Rock Water Protector Legal Collective Files Suit for Excessive Force against Peaceful Protesters NLG #NoDAPL #StandingRock

GreenLatinos Stand with Standing Rock Sioux and Native Americans

November 28, 2016

Tasha Moro, NLG Communications Director: | 212-679-5100, ext. 15
Attorney Rachel Lederman | 415-350-6496
Attorney Brandy Toelupe, | 720-876-8300

CANNON BALL, ND —Today, the Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC-formerly Red Owl), an initiative of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), filed suit in US District Court against Morton County, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirschmeier, and other law enforcement agencies for using excessive force against peaceful Water Protectors on the night of November 20, 2016.

The class action suit, filed on behalf of persons who were injured on the night of November 20 and early morning of November 21, seeks an immediate injunction preventing the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement from using impact munitions such as rubber bullets and lead-filled “beanbags,” water cannons and hoses, explosive teargas grenades and other chemical agents against protesters.

Beginning on the evening of November 20, officers from the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and assisting agencies confronted peaceful Water Protectors at a bridge near the Standing Rock protest camp and within the boundaries of Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires, or Great Sioux Nation) treaty lands. Without giving any warnings or opportunity to disperse, officers fired on them with highly dangerous munitions, chemical agents, a water cannon and hoses in freezing weather. More than 200 Water Protectors were injured.

“The Morton County Sheriff’s office not only violates the constitutional rights of peaceful protesters, but their actions highlight the long history of abuse against Indigenous peoples,” said Brandy Toelupe, WPLC lawyer. “From the beginning, governments have used their latest technologies to take land and resources from Native nations and oppress Indigenous peoples. Sheriff Kirchmeier’s actions make it clear that nothing has changed,” she added.

The complaint describes the excessive force with which the eight class representatives were met while peacefully protesting. Four are Native, including two members of the Lakota nation. Jade Kalikolehuaokakalani Wool had two grenades blow up near her head, knocking her down, burning her face and sending shrapnel into it, and causing her to be hospitalized. Crystal Wilson was shot with a water cannon, tear gassed and shot with a munition. David Demo was filming police when, without warning, they shot him with a water cannon and then in the hand with a munition. He was hospitalized with broken bones and was told he would need reconstructive surgery. Gary Dullknife III saw a Water Protector knocked to the ground by a water cannon. As police sprayed her on the ground, he tried to move her away. He was shot in the chest, stomach and leg by impact munitions. Mariah Marie Bruce was peacefully protesting when police sprayed her with water cannons. She was then hit in the genitals with a grenade, and was hospitalized. Frank Finan was taking pictures when he was shot in the abdomen and knocked to the ground by a rubber bullet. Israel Hoagland–Lynn tried to help two people who had been shot with water cannons and rubber bullets and was shot in the back of his head by an impact munition. He lost consciousness, was hospitalized, and needed 17 staples for a head wound. Noah Michael Treanor, while praying, was shot by the water hoses or cannon. Once on the ground, he was shot in the head by an impact munition. Bleeding badly, he was hospitalized.

“The civil rights violations that night were deliberate and punitive,” said Rachel Lederman, WPLC lawyer. “The Morton County Sheriff’s Department’s illegal use of force against the Water Protectors has been escalating. It is only a matter of luck that no one has been killed. This must stop.”

Those concerned are urged to call local and federal agencies below to demand (1) immediate end to construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, (2) the immediate cessation and a full investigation into law enforcement abuses, (3) dropping felony charges against water protectors from the October 27 police raid, and (4) permitting the Water Protectors to stay at their current encampment until the DAPL’s application to drill under Lake Oahe and the Missouri River is permanently denied.

• White House: 202-456-1414 or sign the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s White House petition
• White House Situation Room, 202-456-9431
• North Dakota Governor’s Office: 701-328-2200
• Morton County Sheriff’s Office: 701-667-3330
• Morton County State’s Attorney’s Office: 701-667-3330
• Army Corps of Engineers-Bismarck 701-255-0015

The Water Protector Legal Collective is the National Lawyers Guild legal support team for those engaged in resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. It maintains a 24/7 presence on-site at the Oceti Sakowin camp near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

Related Documents:
Temporary Restraining Order Motion
Temporary Restraining Order Memo
Class Action Complaint

Donations to legal support efforts may be made to:

• Water Protector Legal Collective: or for tax-deductible contributions.
• Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund:

For updates, visit, and follow the WPLC at and Twitter @WaterProtectUs


Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II with GreenLatino leaders. L to R Chairman Achambault, Raul García, Andrea Delgado, Mark Magaña, Brent Wilkes, Aura Vasquez, Robert García, Rudy Arredondo.

Guatemalan human rights, environmental activist killed Jeremy Barrios

Jeremy Barrios did not receive a prestigious US mainstream enviro prize and his death receives little attention here.


The murder of 22-year-old Jeremy Barrios, a young environmentalist in Guatemala, has increased concerns over the threats that [human rights and] environmentalist defenders endure and the failure of the state to provide protection to organisations under threat.

Barrios was shot and killed in Guatemala city on November 12. His murder is in many ways a dark symbol for Guatemala, a country in the top ten most vulnerable countries to climate change, where the average age of the population is, precisely, 22 and where at least ten environmental activists – most of them indigenous – were murdered in 2015.

Barrios worked for CALAS, an organization for legal, environmental and social action. He was committed to social justice from a young age. He was the spokesperson of a public high school, where he constantly advocated for better public education.

This is not the first time that CALAS has been target of threats. In fact, one of Barrios’ seniors and a member of the center, Yuri Melini, has been target of numerous death threats through the years, and was once shot in an attempt to silence him. Yuri Melini is known inside and outside Guatemala as a human rights and indigenous rights defender. CALAS’ director, Rafael Maldonado has also been also target of death threats through social media. . . .

In a recent report, Amnesty International Americas Director Erika Guevara-Rosas, explained how hard is the struggle for the environment in the Central American region: “Defending human rights is one of the most dangerous professions in Latin America but daring to protect vital natural resources takes these risky jobs to a whole new, potentially lethal level.”

Guatemala is one of the countries championing action against climate change. Guatemala is actively encouraging Canada, and its Prime Minister, to react to the widespread violence against human rights defenders opposing environmental damage by Canadian companies, as explained by the Network of Solidarity with the people in Guatemala (NISGUA):

The Justice and Corporate Accountability Project’s report, The ‘Canada Brand’: Violence and Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America, was released on October 24, 2016 and looked at incidents of violence and criminalization in connection with twenty-eight Canadian companies in thirteen countries in Latin America from 2000 to 2015. It found that at least 44 people have been killed during this time, 30 of which were targeted killings, while more than 400 people were injured, not including work-related injuries. They also found that over 700 people were legally persecuted during this period, including arrests and detentions, for their work in defense of their territories, livelihoods, health and environment.

As the country struggles for accountability on the crimes of the past [and present] and engages in processes against impunity, it is expected that, with the support of the International Community, that Guatemala can also safeguard the leaders and human rights defenders for the sake of its own future.

— Renata Avila Global Voices

Support Restorative Justice for the Guatemalan People and Hold US Accountable for Human Rights Crimes through Non-consensual Medical Experiments.

Photo Candles burning on the steps of the church of Santo Tomás in Chichicastenango. The 400-year-old Church of Santo Tomás is built on top of a pre-Columbian Mayan temple. The steps originally leading to the temple remain venerated. Each of the 18 steps represents a month of the Maya calendar year. Maya priests use the church for rituals, burning incense and candles, and even sacrificing chickens for the gods. CC BY NC SA The City Project / Robert García.

Fidel Castro Descansa en Paz Todos Somos Americanos

Triunfo de la Profecia Jesus Lara Sotelo 2012

Restore full relations with Cuba

“Triunfo de la Profecia,” Jesus Lara Sotelo 2012, Museo de la Revolución


The Acjachemen Native American Victory and the End of the Toll Road. Stand with Standing Rock.

The Acjachemen Victory L.A. Times Editorial 2008

The L.A. Times Editorial Board reports on “The End of the Orange County Toll Road,” November 23, 2016:

There are few development fights in California that have been as prolonged or contentious as the plan to build the Foothill South toll road across southern Orange County. No wonder: The proposed extension of State Route 241 would have plowed a six-lane superhighway from Rancho Santa Margarita through the middle of a private nature preserve, across an ancient Native American village and through San Onofre State Beach, taking out a popular campground and threatening the world-famous Trestles surf break.

It’s hard to imagine how planners for the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which builds and operates Orange County’s toll road system, could have devised a more environmentally damaging route. The opposition was so vehement, and the toll road agency so committed to the project, that it seemed the fight would never end.

But it did earlier this month. The agency announced that it would never build the controversial route, ensuring the permanent protection of San Onofre State Beach and other sensitive environmental and cultural resources in the area. The deal was part of a settlement to end several lawsuits filed by the California attorney general and a coalition of environmental groups that sought to block the project.

The settlement calls for the toll road agency to rescind its 2006 approval of the controversial 16-mile route that would have connected the Foothill tollway to Interstate 5 south of San Clemente. That route was considered dead in 2008, after the California Coastal Commission rejected the road and the Bush administration — no ally of environmentalists — rejected the agency’s appeal, noting that there were other reasonable routes the toll road could take.

The agency will also revoke its 2013 approval of the proposed 5½-mile toll road extension to the outskirts of San Juan Capistrano, which officials said was a standalone project but environmentalists feared was a backdoor attempt to resurrect the route through San Onofre.

The settlement allows the toll road agency to move forward with environmental studies on other routes to connect the Foothill toll road to Interstate 5, and the environmental groups pledged not to oppose any extension project that avoids the parkland, habitat and cultural sites protected through the agreement. That was a priority for transportation planners who are looking for ways to help alleviate congestion on a notoriously packed section of I-5. Construction of a new freeway should not be a slam dunk for other reasons, such as the risk of opening more areas to urban sprawl, and the new environmental study should seriously consider ways to reduce congestion, including more transit and rail projects.

But for now, let’s be thankful that there will not be a toll road built through a state park, and that even the most unwavering opponents can sometimes put aside their strident positions and forge a path toward progress.

(Link to Panhe added to Editorial.)

The Acjachemen victory offers lessons to stand with our Native American sisters and brothers at Standing Rock.


L to R Acjachemen leaders Louie Robles Sr., Louie Robles Jr., Rebecca Robles, and Alfred Cruz with Robert García of The City Project (center) celebrate after the Coastal Commission decision to save Panhe and San Onofre and stop the toll road, 2008.

Commissioner Mary Shallenberger explicitly ruled that protecting Native American rights and the sacred site of Panhe is reason enough to deny certification of the toll road. The Commissioner cited the “rather grim” history of discrimination by the
government of California against Native Americans.
The Commissioner concluded:
“This is a rather grim research paper . . . because it does have the history, some of the history, of how we, the government of California, have treated . . . Native Americans. That is background to where we are today.” “[J]ust because the project’s proponents
say that their project will adequately protect sacred sites, when the Native Americans, whose sites they are, say it will not, this
project is inconsistent with the Coastal Act.” “We cannot define for them what is reasonable to protect their sacred sites.”
The Commissioner emphasized the significance of sacred sites including Panhe in Native American culture:

“[There is] a huge disconnect in understanding between the Native American culture, and the – what would I call it? – the rest of the culture of California. . . . [W]hat I learned and came to respect is that for the Native Americans, quite often, their sacred sites are different. They are absolutely tied to, and integral to a specific place on the earth. Churches, synagogues, and I believe mosques can be moved. They can be moved, and they can be reblessed, or whatever that particular religion calls for, and the worship can go on in a different building in a different place. With the Native Americans, that is often not the case.”

Statement by Commissioner Mary Shallenberger, Reporter’s Transcript of Coastal Commission Proceedings on Panhe and San Onofre, Feb. 6, 2008, at 401, 402-03 (on file with The City Project).


Get Set To Spread The Word on Health Equity! National Academies Webinar Dec 1 – 1 pm ET


Get Set To Spread The Word on Health Equity!

The Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine invites you to attend an informational, pre-release stakeholder webinar for the consensus study of the Committee on Community Based Solutions to Promote Health Equity in the United States, which will be released this winter.

This brief webinar is intended as a heads-up for individuals and groups interested in helping disseminate the report once it is released. Stakeholders will receive a brief recap of the committee’s charge and the study process, information on the new Culture of Health Program at the National Academy of Medicine, and details about communications and dissemination strategies and tools to use at the report’s release.

Please note that report content, such as recommendations, will not be discussed at this pre-release webinar; the objective is to help equip you to promote this work to your networks.

Pre-release stakeholder webinar: Community-Based Solutions to Promote Health Equity
Date: Thursday, December 1
Time: 1:00pm ET/ 10:00am PT
Click Here to Register
Join the conversation with #PromoteHealthEquity

Questions should be directed to Anna Martin awmartin at

Help us share the spread the word!
Tweet this:
12/1 webinar on #NASEM study to #PromoteHealthEquity—sign up and receive study updates:
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Learn more about #NASEM #PromoteHealthEquity study–12/1 webinar info session:
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On December 1, attend an informational, pre-release stakeholder webinar for the #NASEM consensus study of the Committee on Community Based Solutions to Promote Health Equity in the United States:


Committee on Community Based Solutions to Promote Health Equity in the United States

  • James Weinstein, Chair
  • Hortensia Amaro
  • Elizabeth Baca
  • Bruce Calonge
  • Bechara Choucair
  • Alison Cuellar
  • Robert Dugger
  • Chandra Ford
  • Robert Garcia
  • Helene Gayle
  • Andrew Grant-Thomas
  • Carol Keehan
  • Christopher Lyons
  • Kent McGuire
  • Julie Morita
  • Patricia (Tia) Powell
  • Lisbeth Schorr
  • Nick Tilsen
  • William Wyman

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
Copyright © 2016 National Academy of Sciences, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
500 Fifth Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

As of March 2016, the Health and Medicine Division continues the consensus studies and convening activities previously undertaken by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Visit us at

Jeff Sessions’ Civil Rights Record NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

The City Project stands with our sisters and brothers at LDF until justice runs down like water

Statement of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill on the Nomination of Jeff Sessions to Be Attorney General

“Jeff Sessions has a decades-long record – from his early days as a prosecutor to his present role as a Senator – of opposing civil rights and equality. It is unimaginable that he could be entrusted to serve as the chief law enforcement officer for this nation’s civil rights laws. This is yet another signal from the incoming administration that it is not only prepared to turn its back on equality, it is actively working to continue to sow division and undo decades of progress.”

Fact Sheet: What You Need to Know About Sen. Jeff Sessions’ Civil Rights Record.

Let justice flow like a mighty river.

African American Museum 2016

People Celebrate Park Funding and Equal Access L.A. County Measure A NRPA

People Celebrate Park Funding and Equal Access L.A. County Measure A

by Robert García and Cesar De La Vega | Posted on November 16, 2016

People across Los Angeles County are celebrating the recent passage of Measure A, the Safe, Clean Neighborhood Parks and Beaches Protection Measure of 2016. Measure A is expected to generate approximately $94 million per year for local parks, beaches and green space areas, replacing previous voter-approved park funds that were running out.

Measure A prioritizes funding for the communities with the greatest needs pursuant to the countywide needs assessment. Communities of color and low-income communities disproportionately have the greatest needs for more parks, more park facilities and improved park conditions. This is demonstrated by demographic analyses and mapping by The City Project with GreenInfo Network, coupled with the May 2016 Los Angeles Countywide Comprehensive Parks & Recreation Needs Assessment, conducted by the County Department of Parks and Recreation.


Families from Anahuak Youth Sports Association Northeast Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains celebrate the National Park Service Centennial. Photo NCPA.

We all must work together to ensure the funding is actually invested in the areas with the greatest needs. Planning by and for the community, standards and data based on the Needs Assessment, and making data publicly available through annual audits as funds are actually invested, are needed to measure equity and progress, allow for midcourse corrections, and hold officials accountable. This will help ensure compliance with civil rights and environmental justice laws, and equal access to parks and recreation for all.

The City Project and GreenInfo Network mapped and analyzed the Needs Assessment with data based on race, color, national origin and income. People of color disproportionately have the highest park needs, as shown in the bar chart on the map below. The greater the park needs, the higher the percentage of people of color. Areas of Very High Need are 86 percent people of color compared to areas of Very Low Need, which are 51 percent people of color. The darkest color shows “Very High” park needs. The hash marks identify more people of color than the county average.


The Needs Assessment generally does not show very high need areas at the beach in the map above. That does not mean there is no need to reach the beach. Transit to Trails, President Obama’s Every Kid in a Park, and similar transit and educational programs are needed to take people who live in very high need areas on fun, educational and healthy trips to beaches, parks, rivers, mountains and deserts. Virtually every agency that has considered it supports transit to park programs such as Transit to Trails and Every Kid In a Park.

Education and interpretation materials about the people and places are needed to give the people a sense of belonging — the people belong in the parks, and the parks belong to the people. Transportation programs alone are not enough.

Lessons from prior funding for parks and recreation demonstrate the need for planning, standards, data analyses and community engagement. These lessons from prior park bond measures under California’s Proposition 84 and Assembly Bill 31 apply to Measure A.

Funds were not invested fairly under the County’s prior park measures — Prop A which voters passed in 1992, and Baby A in 1996. County supervisorial District 3 on the west side received more than twice as much funding per person ($164 per person) compared to District 1 on the east side ($70 per person), according to the available data. District 3 is disproportionately non-Hispanic white and has more park space, compared to District 1. According to a county official, District 3 received three times as much as District 1. That’s backwards, and that’s not fair.

As demographics change, parks need to change to meet the needs of the people. California’s Latino population, for example, is projected to grow from 38 percent in 2010 to 45 percent in 2040. Millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, constituted 29 percent of California’s population in 2010 and represent the largest generation in history. In 2010, 46 percent of millennials were Latino and 51 percent of 12-years-olds were Latino. People of color and low-income people are consistently the biggest supporters of park and resource bonds in California. They vote, and they need to receive their fair share.

The City Project looks forward to working together with the County, the people of Los Angeles, and other community-based organizations advocating for equal access to parks to ensure that all of our residents have access to healthy, livable communities.

Robert García is an NRPA Board Member and Founding Director and Counsel of The City Project.

Cesar De La Vega is the Juanita Tate Social Justice Fellow and a graduate of Stanford Law School ’13 at The City Project.

Reprinted from NRPA (National Recreation and Parks Association) Open Space blog.