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Sí Se Puede: Using Participatory Research to Promote Environmental Justice in a Latino Community in San Diego, California

  • Author(s): Minkler, Meredith
  • Garcia, Analilia P.
  • Williams, Joy
  • LoPresti, Tony
  • Lilly, Jane
  • et al.
Abstract

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) increasingly is seen as a potent tool for studying and addressing urban environmental health problems by linking place-based work with efforts to help effect policy-level change. This paper explores a successful CBPR and organizing effort, the Toxic Free Neighborhoods Campaign, in Old Town National City (OTNC), CA, United States, and its contributions to both local policy outcomes and changes in the broader policy environment, laying the groundwork for a Specific Plan to address a host of interlocking community concerns. After briefly describing the broader research of which the OTNC case study was a part, we provide background on the Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) partnership and the setting in which it took place, including the problems posed for residents in this light industrial/residential neighborhood. EHC’s strong in-house research, and its training and active engagement of promotoras de salud (lay health promoters) as co-researchers and policy change advocates, are described. We explore in particular the translation of research findings as part of a policy advocacy campaign, interweaving challenges faced and success factors and multi-level outcomes to which these efforts contributed. The EHC partnership's experience then is compared with that of other policy-focused CBPR efforts in urban environmental health, emphasizing common success factors and challenges faced, as these may assist other partnerships wishing to pursue CBPR in urban communities.

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