Of the six Triboro Ecodistrict goals, equity is ubiquitous and acts as an umbrella for the remaining five: food, water, air quality, energy, and mobility.
When implementing projects like solar panels, stormwater management, and community garden markets, bike infrastructure, and air quality monitors, each touch on equity, which can be hard to define and difficult to create projects around equity alone.
Emergence was created to address that goal, and is a group of local women within the Triboro that are working to strengthen their communities through social and environmental justice, human services, and health and wellness.
Mandy Wolovich said she and Danielle Spinola, owner of Tupelo Honey Teas, thought of the idea “as a way to support women in business and the ecodistrict goals.”
Two of the women on the Emergence board, Wolovich and Tricia Sorg, are attorneys and one of the main initiatives they came up with is free legal clinics in Millvale, Etna, and Sharpsburg where community members can come to get advice on landlord tenant issues, family issues, and the like.
“It’s legal advice only, we don’t provide ongoing representation or anything like that,” Wolovich said. “But they can come in if they have a question, and if they want to follow up with me I am always willing to do that.”
Wolovich said the legal cafes have been very successful; Emergence has been able to stop illegal evictions, provide information for those who have missed bail hearings, and answer simple criminal procedure questions to help people avoid problems in the future.
“Questions can be very random,” Wolovich said. “We guarantee that it’s free and confidential and we’ll do our best to make sure they get pointed in the right direction if we can’t help them.”
Emergence has also created a traveling notary service, so some of the legal clinics can also provide simple wills for attendees when the notary public is able to attend. Wolovich said the only thing needed is a driver’s license, the names of those who an individual wants to leave their belongings to, “and we can have the will made while you’re at your church supper.”
Locations for the legal cafes include Christ Lutheran Church and North Hills Community Outreach Food Pantry in Millvale, Bread of Life Food Pantry at Calvert Presbyterian in Etna, and the House Diner at First English Lutheran in Sharpsburg. Wolovich said it would be helpful to have another site in Sharpsburg, and anyone with a location is welcome to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on Emergence: A Women’s Collective can be found on their Facebook page.