Posted on September 8, 2015
California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), a Tongan perspective
By Sina Uipi
Attending CEJA was my second visit to the state capitol and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was excited to learn more about environmental justice. I appreciate the fact that the majority of folks who attended were people of color and all the programming was organized from the workshops to legislative visits. I could tell that they put in a lot of effort to make sure it was community based, and that we moved together from beginning to end. It reminded of what we’re building for F.A.B., and it’s also a very Tongan way of doing things. Everyone has a role to play for the betterment of the community as a whole, and every step is intentional.
There is a lot of great work going on in California on environmental justice, and I’m glad I had an opportunity to learn about it and be apart of the responsibility to address issues around air quality, access to healthy food and safe parks, climate change, and the list goes on. The environmental movement has been apart of Tongan identity for many, many years, and it is why we’re working hard to educate our young F.A.B. leaders about the significance of the environment, what it means, and the relationship we have with it and vice versa. One of my highlights of the trip was meeting other Tongan leaders from Sacramento who are doing amazing work with youth. It’s ironic how rare we find each other in these spaces, yet we understand how integral the environment has been in shaping our history and culture. I look forward to building relationships with this community and what role F.A.B. will play in the bigger picture.