What exactly does Literacy for Environmental Justice mean? And what can LEJ do for you?
Literacy for Environmental Justice (or LEJ: it's pronounced "ledge") has been part of Bayview Hunters Point since 1998. When it first started, LEJ focused on community activism, like fighting a proposed third PG&E power plant in BVHP and giving community members a say in what would happen to the old Naval Shipyard, a toxic Superfund site. And LEJ won both those fights!
Since then, LEJ has grown, and the young people of Bayview Hunters Point have been an important part of that growth. LEJ employs up to fifty youth a year, training them in aspects of environmental justice. That's what the "literacy" part of LEJ means: learning.
So what's environmental justice? LEJ defines it as the right of all people to have equal access to their basic needs. This includes:
At LEJ, we see these things as basic human rights. That's environmental justice.
- Safe energy
- Healthy food
- Clean air and water
- Open, safe, non-toxic communities
- Equal educational and employment opportunities
What can LEJ do for you? Youth interns at LEJ get paid to improve their community. Some current LEJ youth projects include:
Working on these projects gives youth the skills they'll need in college or on a job. Some of the things youth get at LEJ include:
Helping restore wetlands in Candlestick Park by collecting native plant seeds and growing plants such as native grasses and shrubs.
Learning how to assess the community's exposure to environmental toxins. These findings will be presented to the Naval Shipyard's Restoration Advisory Board.
- Getting trained in public policy, meeting politicians, and advocating for things like buffer zones to protect schools and childcare centers from industrial pollution.
Recruiting stores to be part of LEJ's Good Neighbor program, which gets local merchants to sell more fresh produce and less junk food, alcohol, and tobacco.
LEJ youth alumni have gone to Cornell University, UC Davis, Fisk University, San Jose State, and UC Berkeley, among many other excellent schools. To learn more about the youth that are currently involved with LEJ, as well as some of the alumni, visit our Meet The LEJ Youth page.
- Access to computers
- Access to skills development workshops on topics such as public speaking and job training skills
- Resume building and portfolio development
- Free admission to conferences and events (including concerts)
- Leadership training
- References for college applications
- Networking and friendship
- Knowledge about healthy eating and nutrition
- Access to internships and jobs at other organizations
- Empowerment -- knowing what goes on in your community
- Fun! LEJ youth go on hiking trips, camping trips, food tastings, holiday parties, and Warriors games
LEJ is not the average place to work. While we do get paid for what we do, most everyone here wants to make a difference in the world by helping others and the environment. We know that you CAN make a living doing what you love, with cool people that you can respect.
Ready to get involved? Information on how to apply can be found on our Hook Up With LEJ page.