May 21, 2008
Our friends at No Free Transfer have started a 25 Things I Hate about the T list. Ranking at number seven is the Silver Line bus. While the MBTA promised the residents of Dorchester and Roxbury service equal to or better than the Washington Street Elevated Orange Line that was torn down in 1987, the T’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) replacement has been anything but an improvement.
The Silver Line bus has not incorporated widely used BRT innovations. Even transit-starved Los Angeles has been able to implement signal prioritization and headway-based scheduling (which would reduce the “clumping” of buses which plagues the Silver Line bus) for its BRT, and other cities are following LA’s lead. Read more...
May 20, 2008
A bill filed in the Massachusetts state house yesterday would commit $100 million over five years to clean-energy research and development. This is a valuable step to encourage the use of clean and renewable energy in the state, but it is not completely on target. Sixty-five percent of the bill’s funds would go towards researching new technology at academic institutions and a newly created Clean Energy Technology Center.
We believe that the state must also consider grassroots efforts that are using existing green technology to build environmental justice in lower income communities. Community-owned cooperatives, like the one Co-op Power is fostering in partnership with ACE, are effectively promoting local green-collar jobs, solar installations, and green building. The development of green-collar jobs should not be limited to elite academic institutions; instead, it should be part of a movement that provides benefits for all communities, especially those that have been subject to past environmental injustices. Read more...
May 19, 2008
Things are pretty busy at ACE as we prepare for Jammin' for Justice next week, but we couldn't let today go by without wishing a big Happy Birthday to REEP Youth Organizer Shameka Blake-Jackson. We're glad to have you with us at ACE!
May 16, 2008
After 10 years the Ferdinand building is again the focus of a redevelopment plan aimed at "revitalizing" the Dudley Square area. Early this afternoon Mayor Thomas Menino, Senator Diane Wilkerson, Representative Gloria Fox, City Councilor Chuck Turner, city officials and business owners held a press conference in front of the skeletal structure that once was one of the largest furniture stores in New England.
The Mayor heralded the project as one that will bring renewed investment in the area, remove a long-standing eyesore from the Roxbury skyline and provide construction jobs for the neighborhood. This is a point of contention with residents, as city construction projects routinely hire from suburban areas in spite of the many local workers available. Read more...
May 15, 2008
This Monday, May 19, marks the beginning of the Energy Facilities Siting Board hearing on the fossil fuel power plant proposed for Brockton. The facility would be a 350 megawatt plant burning natural gas and low-sulfur diesel fuel (up to 60 days per year) and is sited in an environmental justice community that is already overburdened with poor air quality, many environmental burdens, and high rates of childhood asthma.
Community residents are opposing the plant for the significant harm it would bring to their neighborhoods. ACE Legal Counsel Eugene Benson and MEJAN Counsel Sidra Vitale are representing them.
The hearings are an important next step in the administrative process, which also includes Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act review and permitting requirements. Read more...
May 14, 2008
Today, an op-ed in the Globe by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) highlighted some of the deplorable conditions that youth are subjected to by the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS). The column describes the inability of DYS to house the number of minor offenders, resulting in incarceration times averaging 25 days for youth charged with misdemeanors.
This abuse of young people is endemic in the criminal injustice system and is statistically shown to fall heavier on youth of color, a sign of institutional racism in the Commonwealth.
Unnecessary jailing isn’t the only form of cruel and unusual punishment inflicted upon youth and adults in Massachusetts. Despite the groundswell of support for criminal record information (CORI) reform and Governor Patrick’s campaign promise to deliver comprehensive results, the executive order he put forward in January was modest at best. Read more...
May 13, 2008
An article in the Sunday Globe featured the Dudley Square design competition, part of the City's visioning process for the Roxbury neighborhood. Ideas included light rail, outdoor markets, office towers and revamping the Dudley Square Bus Station. Four architects won awards that carried cash prizes of $5,000 to $10,000.
Next week, the City will hold an open meeting about the proposed development of the new Dudley police station. We invite folks to come down to the meeting to learn what's going on and to voice your ideas of equitable development. In addition to the police station, the City is redeveloping the Ferdinand Building and the Dudley Square Library. Read more...
May 12, 2008
An article in a new book features the campaign against the Boston University Bioterrorism Lab as a case-study for building power in neighborhoods of color. The anthology, titled Acting Civically: From Urban Neighborhoods to Higher Education, is a compilation of essays by various Boston-area scholars and academics on the theme of how to create positive, sustainable change in American communities.
The authors of the chapter on ACE, Julian Agyeman and Heather Ross, describe the efforts of Boston University Medical Center to construct a Bio-safety Level Four Laboratory situated along the border of Roxbury and the South End, urban communities with a substantial lower-income, immigrant and people of color population.
Agyeman and Ross offer tough criticisms of the project, questioning the economic gains for the communities as well as the widely perceived notion that the Lab, funded in part by the Bush administration through Homeland Security initiatives, would make Americans safer in the case of biological attacks. Read more...
May 9, 2008
A coalition of our neighbors in Connecticut have succeeded in getting an EJ bill passed by their state legislature, adding a level of protection from toxic exposure to environmentally overburdened communities.
The Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ) ran a successful campaign that resulted in the bill being passed by a 139 to 9 vote margin in the House after 90 minutes of debate and unanimously in the Senate with no debate! Great work CCEJ and legislators who sponsored and supported the bill! Read more...
May 8, 2008
According to a Boston Globe editorial yesterday, surging gas prices are sending more people to the T. This is good news. Less cars on the road means reduced emissions in our communities that are burdened with pollution and congestion. But even with the increased ridership, the MBTA's financial situation remains tenuous. A 1999 reorganization that cut subsidies left the T with a debt that now totals over $8 billion. To balance its budget for the next fiscal year, the T had to take $19.3 million from reserves.
If the Massachusetts legislature and the Patrick administration keep under-funding and neglecting the T, fares will continue to increase, and lower income communities will continue to be left off the bus. Read more...