Valley Improvement Projects (VIP)

Advocating for Social and Environmental Justice in Stanislaus County and the Central Valley

VIP Presents the Stanislaus County Social & Environmental Justice Forum – June 22nd!

SJ-EJ Forum-Flyer

Valley Improvement Projects is proud to present the 1st Annual Stanislaus County Social and Environmental Justice Forum


9-9:30am – Check-in, light breakfast provided

9:30-10am – Welcome and Ice-Breaker

10-10:45am – Panel 1: Environmental Justice in Air, Water, and Land Use

Summary: Substantial portions of Stanislaus County are in the highest percentile for drinking water, pesticides, PM2.5, as well as rates of asthma. The county was given an F rating for air quality from the American Lung Association and we were recently paid a visit by the Governor to highlight the need for cleaning up drinking water, especially in disadvantaged communities in Stanislaus County. In fact 1 million Californians don’t have access to clean drinking water, 350,000 in the San Joaquin Valley. This panel will explore how these issues affect public health especially in disadvantaged communities.

Panelist 1: Cesar Aguirre, Community Organizer, Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN)
Panelist 2: Veronica Tovar, Environmental Justice Program Manager, Catholic Charities in Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties
Panelist 3: Edgar Garibay, Community Relations Manager, Tuolumne River Trust
Moderator: Thomas Helme, Project Director, Valley Improvement Projects

10:45-11:15am – Q&A

11:15-11:20am – Break

11:20am-12:05pm – Panel 2: Affordable Housing and Homelessness

Summary: Rent in Stanislaus County has gone up 66% since 2011 and has risen an average of $371 since 2014. We lack sufficient affordable housing to meet market demand, either for middle income or low-income individuals, both locally and across the state. Moreover, many units are below habitability standards, and homelessness only seems to be growing. This panel will discuss the state of housing and homelessness locally, opportunities for progress as well as impediments.

Panelist 1: Christina Kenney, Program Director, Turning Point Community Programs
Panelist 2: Tom Collishaw, President/CEO, Self Help Enterprises
Panelist 3: Aurora Thome, Attorney, California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA)
Moderator: Joseph Homer, Social Worker

12:05-12:35pm – Q&A

12:35-1:35pm – Lunch/Guest Speaker: Arsenio Mataka, Stanislaus County native, former Assistant Secretary for Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs at the California Environmental Protection Agency, currently Environmental Advisor to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra

1:35-2:30pm – Panel 3: Immigration, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice

Summary: Obviously, the issues of mass incarceration, police conduct, and immigration, including ICE-police collaboration, have been in the headlines all across the country in recent years. From the Black Lives Matter movement to the federal “First Step Act” which looks to decrease the country’s prison population, from CA’s recent movement towards abolishing cash bail to reforming police use of force standards, issues involving police and prisons have gained mainstream attention in the last 5 years. At the same time, California is also currently home to 11 million immigrants (more than any other state), the SJ Valley’s abundant agricultural industry and other factors has meant migrants have historically made the region their home. This panel will discuss the current and evolving relationship between these communities and immigration and law enforcement officials as well as explore alternatives to our trend of mass incarceration.

Panelist 1: Honorable Richard Vlavianos, Judge, Superior Court of San Joaquin County
Panelist 2: Luis Magaña, Immigrant/Farmworker Rights Advocate, Organizacion de Trabajadores Agricolas de California
Panelist 3: Raquel Ortega, Organizer, ACLU-NorCal
Moderator: John X. Mataka, Community Advocate, Grayson Neighborhood Council and Valley Improvement Projects

2:30-3:10pm – Q&A

3:10-3:30pm – Next Steps/Closing Activity

6pm – After Party Networking and Socializing: location TBA

Spanish interpretation will be available.

Link to facebook event:


One comment on “VIP Presents the Stanislaus County Social & Environmental Justice Forum – June 22nd!

  1. Catherine Doo
    June 24, 2019

    Do you have video of the June 22 event. I was unable to attend but would like to view the discussions

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