The forum brought together stakeholders around environmental health issues, particularly concerns about air pollution’s impacts on health and the epidemic of childhood obesity. Through a series of short presentations, a foundation was set to help attendees understand:
- The public health dilemma of incompatible land use decisions
- How we can achieve physical activity and other health benefits from building transit-oriented development (TOD) while also considering near roadway air pollution
- The need for considering public health as we develop community gardens, urban parks, more walkable streets and new bicycle lanes.
Presenters and their topics included:
Welcoming comments: Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Director of the NIEHS
What We Mean by the “Collision of Best Intentions: Andrea Hricko, Director of the Community Outreach and Engagement Program of the SCEHSC and Professor of Preventive Medicine at USC
Why Different Perspectives are Colliding: Maria Cabildo, co-founder and president of East LA Community Corporation, L.A. Planning Commission
Near Roadway Air Pollution, Asthma and Obesity: Challenges for Urban Planning: Rob McConnell, Deputy Director of the SCEHSC, Director of the SC-CEHC and Professor of Preventive Medicine at USC
Introduction to Case Studies from the Community: Kafi D. Blumenfield, president emeritus of the Liberty Hill Foundation and member of the Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks Commission
No Mitigations or Solutions are Perfect; Here are Some Approaches: Doug Houston, Assistant Professor of Planning, Policy & Design at the School for Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine
As primary organizers of the event, Andrea Hricko and Carla Truax of the SCEHSC & SC-CEHC invited 16 CBOs to participate in a Poster Session that showcased the work that each group is doing around environmental health issues in the greater Los Angeles area. Midway through the event’s schedule, all participants were invited to view the posters which further engaged attendees and presenters in dialogue around these issues.
The following southern California organizations participated in the poster session:
Advocates4 Clean Air – El Marino
Asian Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance
Coalition for a Safe Environment
East LA Community Corporation
East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice
Environmental Health Coalition
Esperanza Community Housing Corporation
From Lot to Spot
Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust
Social Justice Learning Institute
Strategic Actions for a Just Economy
T.R.U.S.T South LA
Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, Occidental College
The concluding portion of the event was the open microphone session, during which all attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions, give perspective and feedback and set the stage for continued dialogue, interaction and collaboration around environmental health, smart growth and urban planning issues. Serving as moderator, Jean Armbruster, Director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health’s “PLACE Program” (Policies for Livable Active Communities and Environments), briefly summarized the presentations provided and guided participants into the open microphone session. It proved to be a time for attendees to ask questions, provide thoughtful ideas (e.g., why not reduce the number of cars on certain streets near schools than worry about school set-backs?) – and it promised further engagement around the environmental health issues being highlighted throughout the event.
The Community Forum sponsors thank The California Wellness Foundation and The Kresge Foundation for additional funding.
Also see this summary article that includes the Community Forum: on the NIEHS Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers annual meeting, hosted by the University of Southern California (USC) April 7-9 in Los Angeles.