District of Colombia, USA

Local Civil Society Organizations working on Environmental Justice issues in the District of Colombia. 

1. Beet Street Gardens

Works with longstanding grassroots organizations to engage residents in community garden projects. Their goal is to educate communities on sustainable food systems and environmental health while bridging social divides. Beet Street Gardens focuses are bringing isolated residents into their program, including homeless and drug abusing community members, to create a local support system invested in the local environment.


2. Casey Trees

This organization works toward action-oriented EJ, facilitating community plantings and care for urban trees. They provide classes and workshops on the importance of urban forestry and skills for sustaining public environmental health. Casey Trees is actively involved in local advocacy, including testifying at public hearings, facilitating public comment submissions, and organizing other forms of public participation. Their website provides resources on relevant legislation and public participation handbooks. They plant more than 3000 trees in all eight wards annually and is currently working on a campaign to ensure the 7th and 8th wards are included in a city-wide Ginkgo tree project.


3. Chesapeake Education, Arts, and Research Society

Focused on public health for communities within the Chesapeake watershed. CHEARS produces research and art that seeks to engage the community in stewardship and discourse.


4. Children’s Environmental Health


Children’s Environmental Health was part of an EPA EJ working group to address high rates of particulate pollution exposure in the 7th and 8th wards. They worked on research and distribution of information regarding healthy homes, schools, and child care, in relation to environmental pollution. It is not clear whether the CEH is still functioning, however, they worked in conjunction with the Children’s Environmental Health Network (national), suggesting that the opportunity for coalition support on such topics may be easily leveraged.


5. Coalition for Smarter Growth

This organization is interesting because they are a coalition of partners across MD/DC/VA, working to mitigate air pollution through the development of effective high-capacity public transportation systems. They recently merged with Washington Regional Network for Livable Communities (WRN) to take on an added portfolio of urban planning issues. They provide focused and understandable information to communities (via their website) on each of their initiatives, as well as instructions on how to participate.


6. DC Appleseed

DC Appleseed works with law firms and other professionals to advocate for clean up of the Anacostia River, as well as for improved monitoring and public reporting of lead levels in drinking water. Collaboration between government officials and community stakeholders has allowed the organization to influence legislative objectives and build support for policy changes.


7. DC Environmental Network

DC Environmental Network’s current priority is accumulating the funding/resources necessary to address the toxic pollution of the Anacostia River and contaminated land areas adjacent to the 7th and 8th wards, following the relocation of funding by the District. DCEN members meet monthly to address long-term environmental issues relevant to the city. They hold community briefings on relevant legislation and organize for common goals.



8. Healthy Affordable Food for All (HAFA)

HAFA works to ensure that affordable and well-supplied grocery stores are permanently available in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the District. They also work with local minority urban farmers/beekeepers to organize and educate regarding the link between food justice and social justice.


9. Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Represents clients in Landlord Tenant cases in DC. They do not specify EJ cases; however tenants experiencing “deplorable housing conditions” are likely impacted by such issues – at least – occasionally.


10. Neighborhood Legal Services Program

Offers free civil legal services to low-income DC residents. Their site does not specify environmental justice projects; however, they work on ensuring access to “safe and affordable shelter” in the 7th and 8th wards, so their work likely indirectly involves EJ cases. Their website provides indices of public resources, as well as fact sheets, guidebooks, and interactive tools for community members.