|Eidenier Pearce, environmental justice advocate, attends White House briefing session|
|July 12, 2011|
Emily Eidenier Pearce, doctoral student in health behavior and health education at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, participated in a White House Community Leaders Briefing Series session in Washington, D.C., on July 8. Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt recommended Eidenier Pearce for her public health advocacy and leadership in working with Chapel Hill's Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association.
The White House has opened its doors to selected community leaders from around the country on Fridays this summer between June 17 and Aug. 26. Attendance at the briefing session is a unique opportunity for grassroots leaders to hear directly from White House officials about the President's priorities and initiatives while the administration learns about issues of concern to the invited participants and their communities.
Eidenier Pearce, a native of nearby Hillsborough, N.C., worked for environmental justice in the Rogers-Eubanks neighborhood while a Master of Public Health student at UNC and continues her advocacy as a doctoral student. In 2009, she wrote a book, Rogers Road, which describes the rich history of the traditionally black neighborhood. The area has been at the center of a longstanding public debate because of the impact of a nearby landfill.
"My experience at the White House was a great one," Eidiener Pearce said, "as being with motivated, energetic people usually is. It was a call to public service and a call to reality regarding what the economic crisis has done to our country and what fiercely partisan politics has done to our ability to work with one another or even to find a common goal."
She shared her journal notes about the experience:
Many of my colleagues [at the briefing] told stories of layoffs and funding cuts that decreased their ability to provide necessary services. Others objected to the partisan nature of today's politics, particularly the disrespectful and nonconstructive language being used on both sides of the aisle that seems to keep anything from getting done. 'What can we who work at the local level learn from those with national experience about bridging differences of opinion and overcoming barriers to problem-solving in our communities?' I asked one of the leaders. She suggested finding one thing we can all agree on.
I still haven't thought of that one thing on which we all can agree, and it seems folks in Congress haven't yet either. I do think we all have reason to be hopeful. With a history of achieving revolution when the odds were against us, surviving the turmoil and confusion of new statehood, repairing our nation after a heartbreaking civil war, amending our laws to extend rights to those unfairly disenfranchised, and participating again and again, despite our disappointments and frustrations, as voters, as volunteers, and as contributing members of our society, I know we will in time discover together the things on which we all can agree. But to do that, we all have to participate.
Read more about Eidenier Pearce's book and efforts elsewhere on the School's website.
|Last updated July 13, 2011|