Lowcountry Alliance for Model Communities
North Charleston, South Carolina
In South Carolina, North Charleston’s busy port booms with manufacturing and shipping-related businesses, yet it offers little of value for the nearby predominantly black communities. Diesel trucks and trains whisk away the port’s bounty, leaving industrial and transportation-generating pollution in their wake.
People of Color in the U.S. are disproportionately and systemically exposed to higher levels of air pollution than others, according to an April 2021 study published in Science.org. That’s certainly not news to Omar Muhammad, Executive Director since 2017 of Lowcountry Alliance for Model Communities (LAMC) in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Lowcountry Alliance for Model Communities is a grassroots organization founded in 2005 by concerned citizens Herbert Fraser-Rahim, Thomasina Green, Raheem Kareem, and Michael Brown. LAMC’s core mission is to build healthy families by addressing four cornerstone issues: affordable housing, economic development, education, and environmental justice.
They envision sustainable and vibrant communities that encompass all the amenities of a healthy and thriving area. To that end, they work to promote a sense of ownership within the community that translates into empowered residents who actively participate in initiatives to improve the quality of life of their communities.
Within a year of their formation, LAMC joined other North Charleston community leaders in winning a landmark legal case using the National Environmental Policy Act. The first group to successfully use the policy, they secured money to mitigate the deleterious effects of port activity on local residents.
Working with the Mitigation Agreement Commission, LAMC created a $4.08 million community plan for the City of North Charleston to fund community, neighborhood, and economic development projects focusing on grassroots solutions to environmental justice issues and pollution. They have organized workshops to educate community members on air quality, redevelopment of former industrial sites into parks, and environmental justice issues.
The Environmental Protection Agency honored this work with an Environmental Justice Achievement Award in 2009.
Their most recent initiative is their “Five Year Strategic Plan.” This community mitigation plan – the first of its kind in the state and the nation – was negotiated among LAMC, the South Carolina State Ports Authority, and the City of North Charleston to address and carry out activities related to the direct and indirect impacts of the SCSPA’s new port terminal. LAMC has created the following nonprofit organizations to address critical needs in the seven communities: Charleston Community Outreach to Action Board (CCRAB) to address environmental justice issues in the seven communities and the Community First Land Trust to address the lack of affordable housing.
As well, LAMC also partners with Medical University of South Carolina, College of Charleston, University of Maryland, the Environmental Protection Agency, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, Palmetto Railways, and Metanoia to ensure success towards building healthy families.
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Written by Kerri McLean