Norco Leadership Development Training

The New City Temple Church was the setting of the Norco Community Leadership Development Training Workshop. Concerned Citizens for Norco showed their commitment to fighting for relocation at the Leadership Training sponsored by the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice.

Although the weather was inclement, citizens came out in great numbers to gain insight and voice their concerns about the second phase of the Norco relocation.
Damu Smith, the facilitator of the workshop, began the training by asking the residents “What kind of organizing experience do you have?” Initially, they all said none. However, after talking about the work experience they have on the job and organizing church activities, they realized that they do have some planning and organizational experience. Smith stated, “good organizers and analyzers will get the job done.”

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The citizens of Norco said they want relocation of residents on Diamond Rd. and East St. and they want Shell Oil to pay for it. “Shell is trying to divide and conquer,” one gentleman in the audience stated. The struggle has always been for all four streets, however, they have only relocated residents on Washington St. and Cathy St. Smith stated, “the key to winning the battle is teamwork. The community leaders must have a vision. Planning ahead is crucial to getting what you want. Leadership can be challenging because there is always forces coming against you. The Norco community must organize to learn the skills and become knowledgeable about the history of the environmental justice movement. Any new ideas should be shared with the group…its about accountability. The community will win because of unity. Stick with the main objective and delegate tasks and responsibilities. The people of the community are the most important part of the equation but it’s OK to have friends and allies like the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Earthjustice, the Bucket Brigade, political leaders, and celebrities.”
Margie Richard, former president of Concerned Citizens for Norco shared words of encouragement with the residents. Ms. Richard is a former resident of Washington St. (directly across the street from Shell Oil). With passion and boldness she said “prayer is the key. The fight will be an uphill battle but with God all things are possible.” The residents of the Norco left the Leadership Workshop, inspired, more knowledgeable, equipped, and ready for battle.

Contact Info: Dr. Beverly Wright, Director, Xavier University of Louisiana, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, 504.304.3324.