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Prog Community Health Partnersh. 2007 Winter;1(4):327-37. doi: 10.1353/cpr.2007.0036.

Use of EPA collaborative problem-solving model to obtain environmental justice in North Carolina.

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University of Michigan School of Public Health, USA.



The West End Revitalization Association (WERA), a community-based organization (CBO) in Mebane, North Carolina, was awarded a Collaborative Problem-Solving (CPS) grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Justice (EPA OEJ).


The purpose of this paper is to highlight WERA's efforts to bring stakeholders in three low-income African-American communities where environmental hazards created public health risks together for collaboration rather than litigation.


WERA's board and staff organized nine working groups with specific areas of expertise that would facilitate research, identify lack of basic amenities, and encourage funding for corrective action and participation in progress reporting workshops. WERA used consensus building, dispute resolution, and resource mobilization as part of the CPS model to address noncompliance with environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, and Solid Waste Disposal Act.


WERA's CPS "Right to Basic Amenities" project produced a framework for (1) grassroots management and ownership of a collaborative problem-solving process; (2) bringing stakeholders together with diverse and conflicting viewpoints; (3) implementation of an innovative community-owned and managed (COMR) research model; and (4) leveraging millions of dollars to fund installation of first-time municipal water/sewer services, street paving, and relocation of the 119-bypass to advance environmental health solutions.


The structure and successes of WERA's Right to Basic Amenities project have been discussed at demonstration and training sessions to help others replicate the model in comparable low-income communities of color in North Carolina and across the United States.

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