Valley Improvement Projects

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 among the worst areas in the state  drinking water, pesticides, particulate matter, 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 the San Joaquin Valley. This panel will explore how these issues affect public health especially in disadvantaged communities.

  • Panelist 1: Nayamin Martinez, Executive Director, Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN)
  • Panelist 2: Veronica Tovar, Environmental Justice Program Manager, Catholic Charities in Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties
  • Moderator: Edgar Garibay, Community Relations Manager, Tuolumne River Trust

10:45-11:15am – Q&A

11:15-11:20am – Break

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

Summary: Rents are up in Stanislaus County, and 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, Stanislaus County

12:05-12:35pm – Q&A

12:35-1:30pm – 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

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

Summary: Obviously, the issues of immigration and police conduct, including ICE-police collaboration, have been in the headlines all across the country in recent years. Due to the unique history and culture of California and the San Joaquin Valley migrants, refugees, and communities of color in general have always made Stanislaus their home and demographics are changing over time along with the rest of the country. 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:



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