was one of our most popular stickers at our Earth Fest display on April 16. A photo of our table of trifold presentations, buttons, stickers, postcards and videos was featured prominently in the story “Earth Fest returns to Oxford” by Bob Ratterman in the April 24 issue of the Oxford Press—thank you Bob! In that story, OCPJ’s Board President Barbara Ann Caruso was quoted as saying, “Environmental issues are interconnected with justice.” Barb pointed out that challenges to environmental integrity adversely affect disadvantaged people and people of color. New EPA guidelines recognize this, and use maps showing heat islands where inequities in access to healthy environments are highlighted. US 27 north (College Corner Pike) in Oxford appears on every social vulnerability map—that’s where people of color and those who earn low incomes live. The City of Oxford will be planting 52 trees, purchased with a Tree Canopy Restoration Grant from the state of Ohio, in areas with a high Social Vulnerability Index (.5065 in the northwest quadrant of the City, along College Corner Pike, in comparison to .2962 in the rest of the City). Noted in our display, “Oxford has an established history of concern, care and maintenance of the urban forest, as evidenced by the community qualifying for the National Arbor Foundation’s Tree City USA status for 25 consecutive years.”
The situation in Oxford is not entirely positive. A popular postcard in our Earth Fest display emphasized the importance that OCPJ puts on systemic dynamics in understanding which members of our community are most challenged by the severe shortage of affordable housing in Oxford. Stressors related to existing in poverty, and associated mental health and addiction challenges, become clear when intersectional analyses of access to resources in the community, promoted by frameworks like Critical Race Theory, are adopted. At the second public input session for the “Oxford Tomorrow” comprehensive plan, held on April 18, there was no mention of the need to address the particular situations of people who live close to the Earth, camping out in honeysuckle thickets or along the railroad tracks in the Miami Mobile Home Park. Housing is a basic human right, and there is no justice as long as a significant percentage of the members of our community can only afford to park their bedroom (car) in a mother-in-law’s driveway, and use her bathroom and kitchen to meet basic subsistence needs. In February of 2021, friends of OCPJ contributed $14,000 to the Family Resource Center to help keep their cold shelter in operation for an additional month. On May 1, 2022, members of the OCPJ Board will participate in a public conversation, “Housing on a continuum”, which is being hosted by the Eradicating Systemic Poverty Committee of the Oxford Presbyterian Church—we will be promoting formation of an Oxford Homeless Network that works in coalition to support the good work that is being done currently, and to fill in the gaps where resources do not exist.
OCPJ is able to be a voice in the Community for peace and justice because of the financial support, and dedication of time and energy, by active members. We sent out a call for new members and renewals in early January of this year—we have yet to hear back from many of you. Please return your membership form and check to the Center for Peace and Justice, 16 S. Campus Ave, Oxford, OH. 45056, or go to our website, ocpjohio.org, where you will find the membership form and instructions about how to donate to support our work. The PayPal option is available. We need you to help determine the areas related to justice that OCPJ will pursue. And you need OCPJ to be that vocal voice for Peace and Justice in the community. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know about the injustices you see and experience, and how you would like to be involved.