What is new at CCEJN?

In this second half of 2016, we are excited to share what is new at Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN). First, we have a new coordinator! Nayamin Martinez joined our team on May 2nd. Born and raised in Mexico, Nayamin moved to California in 2000 and since then she has worked with various nonprofit organizations (i.e. Binational Center for the Development of the Oaxacan Indigenous Communities; Alliance for California Traditional Arts) organizing immigrant communities and advocating for their wellbeing. Nayamin has coordinated projects in Fresno, Madera and Tulare counties that provided health education, access to health and social services, and opportunities for civic engagement and leadership development. Let’s learn what motivated Nayamin to join CCEJN and what has been her experience in these first two months.

Nayamin in YosemiteWhile I was born in Mexico City, I spent most of my life in the State of Mexico, in a small town two hours from Mexico City. Pollution wasn’t a concern for me until I lived in Mexico City when I was going to college. I thought I had overcome this problem when I married and moved to Fresno, California. After all, Fresno is a small city, right? I would never imagine that air pollution was as bad as it is! Having lived here for 16 years, having a son with asthma and a family that suffers from bad allergies, I have learned the hard way that air pollution is something that affect us all in the San Joaquin Valley. For over a decade, I have worked closely with farm workers who are constantly exposed to pesticides and I have witnessed firsthand the living and working conditions of low income communities of color and the environmental hazards that surround them (i.e. substandard housing; lack of clean drinking water; proximity of pollution sources such as waste management facilities and freeways, to mention just a few).

In my previous jobs, I had the opportunity to educate community members on ways to improve their health by increasing their knowledge on prevention measures, but most importantly I helped them develop the skills to become advocates for healthier communities. I joined CCEJN because I am convinced that I could continue this journey of educating, empowering and organizing community members to fight for environmental justice.

In these two months at CCEJN I had the opportunity to meet and work with a variety of stakeholders. From the government representatives who participate in our monthly meetings and help us address the reports that come in through our environmental reporting networks (FERN and KEEN), to community residents of Fresno and Lanare who are dealing with illegal dumping issues and lack of clean water. In July 9-10, I participated in a Barnraising training organized by PublicLab, where activists from all over the country met for a weekend to discuss environmental problems and best practices to address them. I had my first experience with balloon mapping; participated in a power analysis of the different entities that are involved in regulating landfills and other waste management sites; and joined a discussion of best ways to engage youth and children in environmental discussions.

I have learned a lot and I know there is still much more to learn. I am excited with this opportunity and I look forward to working with all our EJ partners!

In solidarity, Nayamin

Last but not least, we have a new home in Fresno! Since May CCEJN is sharing offices with the Central California Asthma Collaborative (CCAC). We are located near the Fresno airport, come and visit us at: 4991 E. McKinley Ave. Ste. 109.