Core C: Community Engagement
The Community Engagement Core (CEC) plays a central role by supporting engagement with stakeholders for all other Projects and Cores and is supported by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Superfund Research Program (MIT SRP) Center Engagement and Translation Advisory Committee members. The CEC supports the MIT SRP mission of creating and applying new technologies to predict the spatiotemporal dynamics of contaminants and to reveal their health impact in order to support public health. Central to these activities is the mission to engage meaningfully with local, state, and national agencies as well as citizens impacted by contaminants in their environment.
The CEC partners with environmental groups for the Mystic River Watershed communities, which contain three Superfund sites, as well as with environmental officers and educators working with five Tribal Nation communities in rural Maine, one of which is living near the Loring USAFB Superfund site. A bidirectional exchange of resources and knowledge continues to be sustained by participation of MIT SRP researchers in meetings and events sponsored by their partners, and in the case of Maine, with regular visits of the MIT SRP leaders to Maine as well as the annual three-day U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 1 Environmental Tribal Summit.
The CEC has two major Tribal Nation partners: Maine Indian Education (MIE) and the Micmac Environmental Lab. The CEC recognizes that culturally appropriate partnerships require relationships that can only be built over time, and they appreciate the support their have gained from their partners; they have built these strong partnerships over the past three years. Going forward, they are engaging with additional partners to support other Environmental Justice (EJ) communities. For Massachusetts, their primary partner is the Mystic River Watershed Association and within their catchment area, the CEC additionally partners with the Friends of the Malden River to help attend to three EJ communities, Malden, Medford and Everett, which are impacted by legacy contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).
Additional engagement activities center around environmental health literacy, delivered through teacher training workshops, school curricula, and informal venues, such as community events. New findings, as well as best practices, are regularly shared with the public health community and other sister SRP Centers via the MIT SRP website and newsletters. Lastly, to ensure a successful program, the CEC has also designed evaluation instruments to help the Core continuously improve its practices.