ECO-Action has been working with community groups since 1989 on issues of environmental health and quality of life. However, ECO-Action and their partners understand that these problems are intertwined with larger political and economic inequalities. ECO-Action addressed this by teaching people to find solutions to their specific challenges through education, skill development, community organizing, and action.
Since its beginnings, the organization has assisted more than 140 community groups in initiatives as varied as stopping the siting of hazardous waste in residential areas, mapping racially disparate toxic siting patterns, holding rallies and other organized forms of protest, and advocating for more transparent negotiating processes in environmental protection agencies.
ECO-Action makes long term investments in communities through actions focused on capacity building. By listening, providing guidance, and helping a community’s vision of the future come to fruition, ECO-Action strengthens local leadership that begets more local leadership. Train the Trainer is a program taught across the state of Georgia that does just that.
This organization also serves as a powerful networking tool. While ECO-Action may not always have the resources to help a community, they are able to connect groups and spark conversation. This has helped many community groups get in touch with scientists, engineers, public health experts, doctors, and lawyers. These partnerships are also helpful in that they assist communities in building coalitions and coordinating campaigns, another significant portion of ECO-Action’s work.
Finally, ECO-Action works specifically with young people interested in advancing leadership for change. The Youth Environmental Leadership and Learning Initiative trains environmental advocates/ambassadors to promote environmental protection in their communities.
ECO-Action has worked in partnerships with many groups to identify problems with surface water contamination, combined sewage overflows, and untreated storm water runoff. For example, ECO-Action worked with community members in the Proctor Creek Basin to form the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council. This organization was a necessary development as three low-lying residential neighborhoods were experiencing frequent combined sewage flooding and sewage backups. These would be followed by health problems associated with exposure to storm water and wastewater. The Proctor Creek Stewardship Council is huge step for residents to empower themselves to address environmental health injustices arising from water pollution.
Born out of the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, The Green Infrastructure Initiative is another project ECO-Action has facilitated. This program works to reduce flooding and improve water quality in Proctor Creek while revitalizing adjacent low-income neighborhoods. The project had an added element of educating over 400 Atlanta University faculty and staff to increase student awareness of green infrastructure. Students engaged with green infrastructure principles and water quality issues specific to Proctor Creek through both classes and service learning projects.
One of their current projects, in partnership with the Dirty Truth Campaign, convened the South Atlanta for the Environment (SAFE) Coalition to identify environmental problems in 24 different Atlanta neighborhoods. The issues include soil and surface water contamination, childhood lead poisoning, toxics, air pollution, and hazardous waste materials.
Communities of Color
Policy Development and Advocacy
Research and Technical Assistance