Southside ReLeaf is a community organization committed to building a healthy, equitable and sustainable environment for all residents in South Richmond. Our aim is to tackle environmental disparities by building green spaces, reducing pollution and increasing infrastructure assets to positively adapt to a changing climate. We are committed to improving the quality of life and wellness for communities in the Southside.
Richmond Now!: Volume 5 wanted to bring attention to what this organization is doing for our community. If you have the means and are looking for ways to make an impactful difference, please consider donating to Southside ReLEAF and see how you can become involved.
In the 1930s, the government graded neighborhoods on a scale from “hazardous” to “best,” based in large part on the racial makeup of residents. Richmond’s neighborhoods with Black residents were marked in red - or redlined - as risky investments for home loans. Many formerly redlined neighborhoods exist in South Richmond.
Although this practice has been outlawed, the legacy of redlining and subsequently urban renewal - the clearance of blighted properties that made way for today’s highways and large-scale projects - continue to have a lasting effect in Southside communities. A concerted effort must be made to rectify years of economic, cultural and environmental damage done to our communities.
It’s no coincidence much of the Southside has the hottest temperatures in the city. Our neighbors are most vulnerable to Urban Heat Islands (UHIs) due to a high percentage of impervious surfaces that absorb and radiate heat, leading to a high rate of heat-related emergency-room visits. The lack of parks, gardens, tree canopy and maintained green spaces has reduced the quality of life and life expectancy of residents.
The life expectancy of Southside residents is shorter than residents in other areas of the city due to decades of disinvestment. Southside residents experience higher rates of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and asthma as a result of poor housing conditions, air pollution, lack of access to fresh, quality foods and health services.
MISSION: Increase Green Spaces
More trees please!
We are committed to planting the right trees in the right place and ensuring they are maintained to live a full life. More trees will not only cool neighborhoods and provide much-needed shade, but increase health outcomes for residents.
Greater food access
Southside residents have already demonstrated their resilience by creating community gardens. We want to continue to support that work and provide resources to increase food access across all of South Richmond
Rebuilding our parks
The Southside is home to several parks and playgrounds, but many are in disrepair. Plus, many of our neighbors are not within a 10-minute walking distance to a public park. Let’s change that by creating communal spaces and investing resources to address infrastructural barriers that keep people inside instead of outdoors.
Learn more about Southside ReLEAF by visiting: https://www.southsidereleaf.org/