About Us  

Who and What We Are

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League is a regional, community-based, non-profit environmental organization. Our founding principles are earth stewardship, environmental democracy, social justice, and community empowerment.

Working in rural and disadvantaged areas, our staff and volunteers put into practice the ideals of love of community and love of neighbor. BREDL is a grassroots organization: each community group solves pressing local problems by developing a citizens' campaign with goals, strategies, activities, and assessments.

The issues center on industry's dependence on toxic chemicals, utilities' refusal to adopt sound energy alternatives, industrial development and highway construction at the expense of public health, intensive livestock operations' effects on agriculture and the environment, and huge waste dumps. These are social problems with devastating environmental and public health effects. They are also the clarion call for community action. Our mission is difficult. But, in the words of BREDL Co-president James Johnson, "We don't quit; we find a way to do it."

Why “Grassroots” campaigns

Nothing creates hopefulness out of helplessness like a successful grassroots campaign. BREDL chapters and the independent organizations we serve have a history of winning. In fact, so far we have never lost a campaign. Some communities which have organized to oppose an existing facility have an image of themselves as victims.

Establishing small steps, incremental goals, and short-term projects helps to develop a sense of power. Celebrating victories elevates the human spirit and creates unity of purpose.

Environmental Democracy

BREDL has prevented the deterioration of the quality of life in communities. The preservation of local control and the promotion of clean industry have enhanced social and economic aspects of human life. Our blocking of the divide-and-conquer strategy of our opponents with the unifying theme embodied in the slogan "not here, not there, not anywhere" has created stronger, safer, and more ethical communities.

"We would heartily recommend to all persons of this community not to engage in any routs, riots, or licentious attacks upon the properties of any persons whatsoever, as being subversive of all order and government; but, by a steady, uniform, and persevering opposition, to convince our enemies that in a contest so important--in a cause so solemn, our conduct shall be such as to merit the approbation of the wise and the admiration of the brave and free of every age and of every country.”

- The Suffolk Resolves, 1774

The BREDL creed:

We believe in the practice of earth stewardship, not only by our league members, but by our government and the public as well. To foster stewardship, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League encourages governmental and citizen responsibility in conserving and protecting our natural resources. BREDL advocates grassroots involvement to empower whole communities in environmental issues. BREDL functions as a "watchdog" of the environment, monitoring issues and holding government officials accountable for their actions. BREDL networks with citizen groups and agencies, collecting and disseminating accurate and timely information. BREDL sets standards for environmental quality and awards individuals and agencies who uphold these standards in practice.

- So adopted by BREDL Board of Directors July, 1984

BREDL's Nondiscrimination Policy

BREDL Resolutions