City Heights and National City are diverse, low income communities in the San Diego/Tijuana region of Southern California, with residents that include refugees and immigrants from over 60 countries. It is a region that is facing the impacts of climate change, including wildfires, heat waves, and water issues, and in some communities, air pollution and higher asthma rates.

The Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) works in the region to address environmental justice issues, and partnered with La Maestra Community Health Centers on a Creating a Climate for Health pilot project funded by the Public Health Institute. EHC built upon its “deep energy education” model to train La Maestra clinic staff and Promotores about the connections between climate change and health. EHC provided materials to help Promotores and staff communicate with patients about the connections, and it laid the groundwork to link both clinic personnel and patients/community members to opportunities to influence and advocate for San Diego’s Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Plan (CMAP). You can read more about this partnership on our brochure here

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EHC one pager 44 2The EHC “deep education” approach starts by working from the concerns immediately relevant to community members, and showing how their actions make a difference for their families while also making a difference for the planet. In the case of energy, for example, Promotores showed families how they could save money by reducing their energy usage, teaching them to track kilowatts, turn lights off and change out light bulbs. Families saw immediate savings, while also knowing they were reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause “calentamiento global” [global warming]. “We put it like this to the communities we work with,” said EHC Campaign Director Leticia Ayala, “Do we want to do something? Or do we want to do nothing?”