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Dear CRC Community,

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” These lines from Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities has been ringing in my mind as I viewed the events of the past three days. The first African American and Jewish American senators elected from the state of Georgia; the certification of the Presidential vote despite months of conflict and disinformation; the launch of the COVID vaccinations all hopeful signs that we are putting 2020 behind us. And yet, the violent insurrection and invasion of the US Capitol building – including those waving Confederate flags – coupled with the disparity between the tepid police response relative to the militarized treatment of non-violent Black Lives Matter protestors earlier this year highlights the established place of white supremacy that threatens our democracy.

What are we to do in the face of these contractions in American society? Here at the CRC, we lift up the inspired work of our affiliated faculty, professional staff and community partners on social, racial, and environmental justice projects to affirm our values. This week’s Region Matters highlights several such projects and partnerships, including a new article about youth disparities by Anne Visser, a new podcast on water justice by Clare Gupta, an article about my work on air quality and environmental justice, and a long-term partnership involving Nancy Erbstein and Brandon Louie with Fathers and Families of San Joaquin. I wish us all a speedy transition from our winter of despair toward a spring of hope. 

-Jonathan London, Faculty Director, Center for Regional Change