ACE Blog

Support a permanent Youth Pass!

June 1, 2016

The MBTA's Fiscal and Management Control Board will be deciding the future of our Youth Pass on Monday, June 6. We need your support to make sure the program becomes permanently accessible for youth in our region!

Data from the first year of our pilot program shows what young people have been saying all along: Affordable public transportation dramatically increases access to education, work, healthcare and other activities. Participants ages 19 to 21 rode the MBTA two-thirds more with a Youth Pass, while trips by out-of-school youth ages 18 and under doubled.

These extra trips were primarily made during off-peak hours (not during rush hour), which means unused seats are getting filled without any strain on service. During the school year, the most frequent destination for participants was class, followed by work. In the summer, the number one use of the pass was to get to work, followed by errands, school, extracurricular activities like volunteering, family responsibilities and more.

Further, the program was proven affordable and effective: The pilot results show that the costs to the T are much less than anticipated and that our MBTA-city partnerships are successful at distributing the passes. Participating cities are supportive (see comments from Boston, Chelsea and Malden) and despite some concern, the program experienced no instances of fraud.

Thank you for supporting Jammin' for Justice!

June 1, 2016

We had a wonderful evening with members, partners and allies celebrating our work together for environmental justice. Your support means that this year, we will continue the fight to make the Youth Pass a permanent MBTA fare category, grow food on reclaimed land, organize with Roxbury residents for our #Right2Remain, and so much more.

Congratulations again to our 2016 EJ Awardees: Grow or Die gardeners Altha Henderson and Teresa Senices, The Greater Boston Community Land Trust Network, and the Equity, Public Transit & Health Access Project. We applaud your leadership and dedication.

There's still time to donate! If you weren't able to attend Jammin' this year or if you would like to make another contribution to help us meet our goals, please give today and consider becoming a monthly donor to help sustain this work.

Thank you to our hosting team, volunteers, sponsors, and everyone who came and gave to Jammin' this year. Be sure to check out photos from the event, and thank you for all you do!

Support the continuation of our Youth Pass program!

May 11, 2016

The fate of our MBTA Youth Pass will be determined in the next few weeks. Just over 10 months ago, we held a ribbon cutting to launch our Youth Pass pilot with representatives from the cities of Boston, Chelsea, Malden and Somerville, and MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. At the time, Secretary Pollack said it was up to organizers to keep pressure on her to make this a reality.

It's now time to do just that and push for the Youth Pass to be a permanent fare category at upcoming MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) meetings. Data from the pilot shows that the program is effective and affordable, and has opened access for youth riders in need. Our municipal partners have proven to be effective administers of the program, which has had no instances of fraud.

"I have more freedom to use the T now, I'm not worried, like, Oh, I don't have money on my T Pass. I can go and use the bus and take the train because it's unlimited. So, it's really good and a big difference," said Larissa Williams, a Youth Pass pilot participant. "When you're struggling with money also, it's really helpful, so I think that it would be a good idea to keep it."

We are also asking for a 60-day extension of the Youth Pass pilot, from July 1 to August 31. This will cover the gap between the end of the pilot on June 30 to September 1, when fare vending machines will begin offering Student (and potentially Youth) Passes.

To improve the program, we need to expand the eligibility range beyond age 21 to include low-income youth up to age 25. Currently, the pilot is available to youth ages 12 to 18 without restriction and to low-income youth ages 19 to 21. Expanding the range responds to the demonstrated need cited by municipal partners and better aligns the pass with workforce and healthcare programs.

"We are asking for your support for these youth. Not saying we are all one, but united we stand, divided we fall," said Youth Pass campaign leader Trae Weekes. "We share similar challenges and one of those youth at risk of losing this opportunity may be your family, or your friend, or even you yourself."

Toxic Tour season now open!

May 11, 2016

Join us for our Toxic Tour of Dudley Square and learn about the history of environmental justice in our home neighborhood. Toxic Tours are great for students, teachers, community organizations, faith-based groups, public health professionals and anyone interested in EJ organizing.

"The electroplating factory and piles of rubble were obvious health risks to students at the nearby middle schools and daycare, yet the management of the factory and construction agency did nothing to help or warn the population...I could not believe that somebody could care so little about the safety of a large population.

The other specific moment that impacted me the most was when [ACE staff] asked us if those events outlined above could happen in the places where we live. That moment was the first time I fully realized how real environmental racism is."

                                                                                                                          --C.B., Milton Academy student

Tours usually last about two hours and we are happy to work with your group's specific needs. In exchange, we ask for a sliding scale honorarium to support this work. See more details and contact us to schedule a tour.

Preparing gardens this spring

May 11, 2016

Thank you to the amazing volunteers who helped refresh our Grow or Die community gardens for the growing season! Our Ellington garden is ready for planting and our Magnolia garden was successfully relocated thanks to dozens of folks who turned out to shovel compost, renovate raised beds and clean up from winter.

There are still opportunities to get involved! Join us on Saturday, May 21, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to finish our new garden design on Magnolia Street. For more information and to RSVP, contact Olmis.

Jammin' tickets & volunteer opportunities

May 11, 2016

Jammin' for Justice is just a week and a half away! We can't wait to celebrate another year of environmental justice with you on Monday, May 23, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Hibernian Hall in Dudley Square.

Buy your ticket today! Tickets start at $35. A "Set your own ticket price" option is available and no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Already got your ticket? Get a sneak peek of our silent auction items and learn more about our EJ Awardees: Grow or Die gardeners Altha Henderson and Teresa Senices, the Greater Boston Community Land Trust Network, and the Equity, Public Transit & Health Access Project.

Calling volunteers! We would love your help at Jammin' to assist with setup, welcome guests, provide logistical support and photograph the event. Also, join us for Volunteer Night on Wednesday, May 18, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. to make decorations, displays and more. To volunteer, please contact Giselle.

Can't make it? We'll miss you! You can still show your support by giving online or donating via our amazing hosts to help us continue this work for environmental justice.

Hope to see you there!

EJ Awardee Spotlight: Grow or Die Gardeners

May 10, 2016

When REEP launched our Grow or Die campaign in October of 2011, we envisioned thriving community gardens with healthy, affordable food in place of vacant lots in our neighborhoods. Today, over 100 families grow thousands of pounds of fresh, organic produce across Roxbury and Dorchester. We are thankful for the work of all the gardeners who have grown food over the past four seasons and especially want to recognize Altha Henderson of the Dudley Garden (photo: top right) and Teresa Senices of the Geneva Garden (photo: bottom left), whose leadership and enthusiasm for food justice helped to shape and expand the campaign.

“It feels so good to shop for free. We are growing tomatoes – we love tomatoes – and greens. The stuff that we grow, we eat,” said Altha. “We’re enjoying it.”

Altha and Teresa were with us from the beginning. Both took the initiative to garner support for the gardens, coordinating planting days and upgrades, and ensuring that neighbors made the most out of each raised bed. Altha and Teresa brought in neighbors to form a community committed to environmental justice and, with REEP youth organizers, got our first gardens up and running.

“I like to grow my own vegetables – to grow my own food for my family,” said Teresa. “I’ve met new people at the garden.”

Our community gardens provide more than affordable produce. Each garden is a bulwark against displacement, planting a community stake in land that holds back destabilizing and speculative development. This work would not have been possible without the dedication of neighbors like Altha and Teresa. Thank you for all you do for food justice in our community!

EJ Awardee Spotlight: Greater Boston Community Land Trust Network

May 10, 2016

While Boston continues to grapple with rampant gentrification and economic inequality, community groups have come together to stabilize our neighborhoods. The Greater Boston Community Land Trust Network, led by the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI), formed to champion community control of land and protect low-income households from displacement through land trusts (CLTs).

“Momentum for this network has been building since the end of the foreclosure crisis as we started to think about how to prevent mass displacement on that level from happening again,” said Eliza Parad, Community Organizer at DSNI. “Land trusts are a way to plan for future generations to make sure that the work we do now to reclaim land and housing keeps low-income and working class families in Boston permanently.”

EJ Awardee Spotlight: Equity, Public Transit & Health Access Project

May 10, 2016

In 2014, the Equity, Public Transit & Health Access Project launched to explore the intersection of health and transit justice. The Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center (SJPHC), On the Move (OTM) and ACE came together with Boston Alliance for Community Health (BACH) and the Center for Community Health Education Research and Service, Inc. (CCHERS) to educate providers, gather data and take action.

"The transit justice collaboration with ACE was transformative for our Health Center. Our partnership opened a new space to combine organizing, public health, racial justice language and values that was powerful and shared," said Abigail Ortiz, Director of Community Health Programs at the SJPHC. "Focusing the goals of the project on the extensive transit organizing done by ACE and its members, rather than re-creating new ones, gave our health center clarity about how we can be most effective in placing our patients' realities at the center of our health equity policy work."

The project collected surveys from over 1,300 patients on how public transportation affects their access to health. The survey found that over 60 percent of respondents had missed a health care appointment due to the MBTA. The findings also showed that people of color are disproportionately impacted by the MBTA’s failures, an issue that is compounded by displacement.

The fight for just and affordable housing continues!

April 15, 2016

In March, we joined with our partners in Right to the City - Boston to stop the eviction of a family in Dudley Square by a management group that has been using massive rent increases to remove long-time tenants.

ACE members and supporters gathered in front of 9-15 Ruggles Street where Felicha Young and her family have been fighting a no-fault eviction served by Advanced Property Management (APM). With strong organizing by City Life/Vida Urbana (CLVU) and legal representation from Greater Boston Legal Services, Felicha won an extension in court to stay in her home.

Despite Felicha being a reliable tenant for more than 16 years, APM and The Mayo Group want to force her out to renovate the building for much higher rents. APM has refused to negotiate even when residents were open to reasonable increases, resulting in 10 of the building's 15 families being pushed into Boston's increasingly expensive housing market, with eviction threats hanging over the rest.