The Commons, a new community-based coalition, will provide a home for Environmental Justice (EJ) projects and work in Little Rock. The sponsoring organization is Village Commons, a local non-profit that has worked since 2008 to help people- especially those in underserved communities- secure healthy and sustainable futures. The Commons will provide opportunities for residents, groups, organizations and businesses to mobilize and leverage resources to share ownership of their communities. The Commons will create an inclusive space for people to gain knowledge, hope, and courage in their struggles to remove the cultural, political and economic barriers to environmental justice. Environmental Justice for Little Rock means that people understand and respond to the key factors that contribute to environmental health in rural, urban and suburban communities, such as quality air, water, food, and housing.
Building on the existing work of Village Commons and its partner organizations and institutions, The Commons will work with surrounding communities to identify needs and potential solutions for initiatives in the following areas:
- Healthy Foods programming will promote availability and access to chemical-free, local produce; develop infrastructure for urban food production and job training; incubate small family owned industries and food processing businesses; and educate about healthy eating.
- Healthy Homes programming will help ensure safe, affordable housing through weatherization, energy efficiency upgrades, eco-toxins assessments, and education.
- Healthy Families programming will focus on increasing physical activity among Little Rock residents, building more community parks, biking/walking trails, crosswalks; as well as education on health and wellness; and facilitating family support groups that provide Life Skills training for each family member.
- Healthy Communities programming will offer opportunities in community organizing and leadership development; facilitate public forums and civic engagement; train individuals in green job skills; support small and cooperative business development; guide young entrepreneurs; and educate about Fourche Creek watershed issues.