For the past three decades, Jose Bravo has spent his life working to improve the health and lives of communities across the country and around the world, using every available tool of advocacy including door-to-door education, building diverse coalitions, corporate-focused consumer campaigns, negotiation, litigation and direct action. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Just Transition Alliance, and National Coordinator of the Campaign for Healthier Solutions.
I spoke with Jose in August. During our conversation, we discussed the work of the Campaign for Healthier Solutions to compel Dollar stores to eliminate the use of toxic chemicals in their products and provide customers with healthier locally grown food options in intentionally food-deprived areas; as well as the genesis and early campaigns of the Just Transition Alliance.
Jose also talked about the lives of his parents as farmworkers, his childhood growing up in and around San Diego, and his early years of student activism and organizing including countering the anti-immigration forces in the 1980s. This work led to his joining the Environmental Health Coalition and working on their Toxic Free Neighborhoods project in Barrio Logan including the campaign to stop the pollution of surrounding areas with methyl bromide from the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal. Jose also attended the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in Washington DC in October 1991.
Jose describes the life cycle of chemicals from production, to use and disposal – all of which contribute to pollution and health impacts in overburdened communities; and the ways that non-pollution factors including lack of health care, inadequate housing, and police brutality contribute to environmental injustice. In the course of our conversation, Jose referenced two of his friends and colleagues, Luke Cole, co-founder of the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, and Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director of WE ACT, both tremendously important environmental justice leaders.