See What I See

September 14, 2012

Sometimes I joke that a funder affinity group like HEFN is the perfect placement opportunity for the federal witness protection program.  Our work is largely behind-the-scenes, less prominent than foundations, and very abstract compared to the advocacy and research our members support.  My daughter once asked what I do all day, besides talking on the phone.

HEFN’s work may not be very visible, but the view from where I sit is incredible.  One of the most addictive parts of this job, at the crossroads of funding for an entire field, is the constant opportunity to learn from so many funders and their hundreds of grantees.  I regularly wish more people could see what we see and learn at HEFN.

We learn from scientists’ careful research about how profoundly people and wildlife are affected by our environments.  We learn from communities’ compelling experiences what unhealthy environments mean, particularly for the most vulnerable, like children and seniors, and the most exposed, like workers, communities of color, and the poor.

We see power:  the power of grant decisions, of passionate leadership, of polluters, of the voices of families who understand their health is being impacted by environmental hazards. We learn from millions of dollars of investment and years of effort in movement-building:  change is hard, and change is happening.  We see diverse communities uniting and collectively shifting policies and markets to prevent disease, reduce inequities, and protect ecosystems.

We learn by watching how health funders, environmental funders, justice- and community-focused funders each approach environmental health and environmental justice work.  We see how much more insight and impact is possible when diverse partners pool resources, share information, think critically, and learn from successes and mistakes.

In that spirit, I am delighted to kick off HEFN’s new blog, Giving InSight.  This is a forum to share more of what we see:  interesting developments, lessons observed, and perspectives emerging from environmental health and environmental justice philanthropy.  We hope it sparks your own critical thinking about what more you – and we – can do to promote environmental health and environmental justice.

From our Blog

Blog posted on January 13, 2014
An updated look at trends and data in environmental health and environmental justice philanthropy from the Environmental Grantmakers Association.

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