On Thursday, January 28th, a panel consisting of professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds helped elevate environmental justice and social equity issues through a meaningful lunch and learn for participants of the Young Planners Group of the San Diego Section of the American Planning Association (SDAPA YPG). Held at the Environmental Health Coalition in National City, the speakers discussed how planning and other related fields can promote diversity, inclusion, and social justice in communities. Each individual in the six-person panel also shared their own personal and professional experiences working with communities and on projects that encouraged equitable development and/or helped foster environmental and social change.

Key planning topics that were discussed during the event included:

  • Exploration of the foundations of environmental and social justice and their applicability to challenges related to policy and planning.
  • Examples of innovative development projects that promote sustainability, affordability, and smart growth in overburdened communities.
  • Opportunities for how one can get involved in community engagement that promotes equal participation of all affected communities in the decision-making and planning processes.

As emerging professionals in urban planning, attendees of the event learned a lot about the applicability of increasing consciousness and addressing environmental and social injustices in our practice. The event also exemplified one of the main goals of the SDAPA YPG, which is to create an engaging forum of story-telling by seasoned professionals to further assists up-and-coming planners in their on-going professional development.

Thank you to everyone who attended and special thanks to our speakers for their words of wisdom: Monique López (Environmental Health Coalition), Carolina Martinez (Environmental Health Coalition), Zaheen Chowdhury (Trestle Development), Diego Velasco (M.W. Steele Group), and Hugo Salgado (County of San Diego). Also thank you to the Environmental Health Coalition for hosting the event.