The Struggle for Basic Amenities in Mebane, North Carolina

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The West End Revitalization Association (WERA) is a community-based organization located in Mebane, North Carolina. WERA focuses on addressing the lack of basic amenities and infrastructure in distressed African-American communities in Mebane and other areas in the Southeastern United States. To address residents’ civil rights and environmental justice concerns, WERA created an innovative research paradigm in 2000 called community-owned and managed research (COMR) which is the gold standard for community-driven public health  research. WERA combines COMR with collaborative problem-solving (CPS) to empower low-income communities of color to produce scientific data and translate research into action. Dr. Wilson has worked with WERA to train community monitors to assess home and neighborhood infrastructure and to advocate for change. As a result, nearly 100 homes received first time installation of sewer and water infrastructure and neighborhood roads were paved for the first time. Read more about Dr. Wilson’s role in this partnership here.  Over the past 10 years, Dr. Wilson has worked with Omega Wilson, WERA President, and other partners such as Dr. Chris Heaney at Johns Hopkins University to train other communities in the use of the COMR framework including REACH and the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association (RENA). In addition, Dr. Wilson and Omega have co-presented at workshops and seminars on COMR and citizen science.  The two are collaborating on elevating environmental justice as a theme at the upcoming Citizen Science Association Conference that will be held in Raleigh in March 2019.

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