Environmental Summit to Empower Residents Feb. 23

February 15, 2013 /

The view from Lawson Dump. Photo: IVAN DELGADO/Coachella Unincorporated

FATIMA RAMIREZ/Coachella Unincorporated


THERMAL, Calif. — Eastern Coachella Valley residents will soon have the opportunity to learn more and receive information empowering them to take on the environmental issues affecting them daily.

The Inaugural Environmental Health Leadership Summit — taking place at Desert Mirage High School on February 23, 2013 – is geared toward providing residents with the tools they need to improve their environmental health.

According to Eduardo Guevara, associate director of Promotores Comunitarios del Desierto and an event organizer, “The summit is not only about the Salton Sea, it is also about residents closing the breach with the government agencies, so in the near future, they can be part of not only the discussion but the decision-making process.”

In addition to the Salton Sea, topics on the agenda include water quality, dumping, drainage, and the health effects arising from each of these.

The summit runs from 7:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., with a light breakfast and light lunch provided. Admission is free, but attendees must register in advance.

The summit will ensure that the public is well aware of the issues and gains the knowledge to report environmental problems.

“Another goal of the summit is that people get to know the agencies and the representatives they need to go to when they have problems. Directing your problem to the right agency or group not only saves time and energy, but also prevents the morale from going down when you avoid the unnecessary repeats of the same story until you get to the right people,” said Guevara.

This summit is also dedicated to acknowledging youth and ensuring that, as part of the community, they help pave the road for future implementation of similar events.

F.I.R.M.E, Esperanza Youth and Family Center, Desert Mirage High School’s Green Academy, CET, and Líderes por un Mecca Limpio, which are all almost entirely youth-based, are playing active roles in the summit. Coachella Unincorporated will also be participating on a panel.

“There is a term in environmental justice: cumulative impact,” Guevara stated. “This summit is the cumulative impact of several trips, discussions, victories and community engagement efforts all over the valley. It is also important because (the event) has no precedent.”

Scheduled speakers include Enrique Manzanilla, director of Environmental Protection Agency’s Southwest Pacific Region; Jose Bravo, executive director of the Just Transition Alliance; Simon Silva, an artist whose paintings depict field workers; Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-36); and County Supervisor John J. Benoit.

Organizers hope these speakers, along with many others, will help raise awareness of the environmental problems facing the Eastern Coachella Valley and lead to possible solutions.

“People hopefully take home the notion that agencies are staffed with normal people that breathe our same (polluted) air and drink our same water,” said Guevara. “They also need to know that there are agencies out there that can help them, and will help them if they point them to a specific problem backing their concerns and claims with hard, specific data, and even proposing solutions.”

The Inaugural Environmental Health Leadership Summit is being organized by Promotores Comunitarios in partnership with IQ Air and Coachella Valley Unified School District’s ASES Program.

For more information and to register to attend, please visit:


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