ACE Blog

Have you voted yet?

September 16, 2008

Today is Primary Day in Massachusetts. If you haven't gone to vote, it's not too late - polls close at 8 p.m. If you'd like to register to vote, come by ACE's office to pick up a voter registration form. You may also register online. To be able to vote in the November election, you must register to vote by Wednesday, October 15. Also, see your sample ballot and find your polling location by entering your address here. For more information about voting, see MassVOTE and Have a good Primary Day!

Latest on anti-eviction campaign

September 15, 2008

Protestors gather at Paula's house

Two weeks ago, Paula Taylor was evicted from her foreclosed home in Roxbury by Bank of America. This happened despite her offer to pay rent until a new owner was found.

In July, Bank of America was unable to evict her, thanks to the help of rallying community members.

Since then, Paula, along with residents and political leaders, have been urging Bank of America to open dialogue on the matter, including during a rally held recently at the Dudley Square branch. Instead, the bank manager referred supporters to a public relations office and sent the police, a constable and a moving team to forcefully remove her.

A heavy police detail of roughly 15 to 20 officers arrived, including a special unit to cut through blockade chains at entrances to the house. Four people were then cuffed and arrested. Police then followed the crowd to the Bank of America Grove Hall branch where supporters passed out information about the bank's role in the foreclosure crisis. Read more...

Grabauskas raises salaries for MBTA managers while state scrambles for funding

Update: 8/20/2008

Yesterday evening the Globe reported that General Manager Dan Grabauskas, under pressure from the Patrick administration, agreed to rescind the nine percent executive level pay raises he approved last week. Instead, employees making less than $70,000 will receive a three percent increase.

August 19, 2008

This summer TRU members have surveyed close to 900 riders about bus service

On August 12, Secretary of Transportation Bernard Cohen announced that the state's transportation agencies have agreed to pool their resources in an effort to help the MBTA and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. Like the T, the Pike is facing a severe budget deficit. While the T is planning a large fare increase in 2010, the Pike is currently deciding whether to raise tolls in January. It's unclear what Secretary Cohen's effort will yield at this point. The Globe reports that Cohen is considering suggestions from agency officials and will make those ideas public.

Opportunity for youth expression

August 12, 2008

Every week about 25 youth attend REEP's Teen Café at ACE

Every Thursday afternoon the ACE office fills with the sounds of enthusiastic young people. They're participating in the weekly Teen Cafés, hosted by Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project.

The Cafés, which draw an average of 25 teens, offer a space for youth to talk openly about issues that concern them. The agendas are driven by the interests of the youth present. Davel, a fifteen year old summer organizer with REEP, says the café discussions impact the young people who participate. "They're intense, complex and wild," he says, "The youth can talk about all the issues teens have to deal with, like pregnancy, violence and stereotypes. We talked about the N-word once and it was really deep." Read more...

ACE interns get down and dirty at urban farm

August 6, 2008

ACE intern by the entrance of the ReVision House Urban Farm

ACE interns Amara, Becky, Brian, Cathy, Kathleen, and Sadie got a taste of farming in the city last Thursday afternoon as volunteers at the ReVision House Urban Farm in Dorchester. The interns were put to task spreading fertilizer around collard greens and cauliflower and weeding around bean plants. The farm is tucked away on Fabyan Street in a residential area, hidden from the main traffic streets. Also included are two other sites nearby. All three sites together make up a total of one acre of "farmland."

The farm is truly an urban farm. It is situated on previously vacant lots, which held triple-decker apartment buildings before burning down in 1970. Furthermore, there are no full-service grocery centers within the Farm's zip code of 02124 – creating a "food desert." This poses a problem for the residents living in the area with limited access to transportation to the full service grocery stores located miles away. ReVision’s small farm is able to produce enough for a farm stand, farmer's market stands (with a Brookline farm) at the Milton Farmer's Market, and 75 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) full-price and low-income shares in conjunction with Drumlin Farm. Finally, half of its produce goes to the 22 women currently staying in women's shelter ReVision House, located across the street, all for free. Read more...

Wal-Mart, communities of color, and cause-related marketing

August 1, 2008

All too often, Wal-Mart works against community interests and vision in search of profits

ACE recently received an unsolicited email from Wal-Mart commending our work. It said that "REEP is a wonderful program" and that Wal-Mart appreciates the connections REEP makes between environmental sustainability and education. It's always rewarding when REEP is recognized, but the praise from Walmart is a bit puzzling as our mission and vision contradict Wal-Mart's business practices. We believe that sustainable neighborhoods involve fair wages, local ownership of businesses, and community investment - not discrimination, political strong-arming, and anti-unionism. Read more...

Housing advocates rally to end evictions

July 30, 2008

ACE member Michelle McGruder at Paula Taylor's eviction blockade

Yesterday, City Life/Vida Urbana and partners rallied at the State House in support of three bills that could help end the foreclosure crisis in Massachusetts. The three bills would place a temporary moratorium on foreclosures, require just cause for all evictions and require judicial review of foreclosures.

Supporters held up cardboard keys, representing the 30,000 homes in foreclosure across the Commonwealth. One key was painted black in memory of Carlene Balderrama, a Taunton woman who committed suicide when faced with foreclosure.

Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner, CLVU Tenant Organizer Soledad Lawrence, and Roxbury resident Paula Taylor, whose home was successfully defended from a post-foreclosure eviction all spoke in favor of the legislation. Ralliers then visited legislators and urged them to support the bills. They also presented lawmakers with a key as a reminder that many people are at risk of losing their homes. Read more...

In Memoriam: Kelvin Lara, youth organizer

July 28, 2008

Our hearts go out to partner organization and neighbor Project Hip Hop (PHH), who has recently lost a member of their youth group. In moments like these, the youth violence epidemic touches us all personally. REEP continues the campaign against youth violence with PHH in coalition with the United Youth and Youth Workers of Boston. Kelvin Lara, you will be remembered.

Kelvin Patricio Lara, May 16, 1990 - July 12, 2008

Kelvin Patricio Lara
May 16, 1990 - July 12, 2008

By Carmen Ruiz

Kelvin was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts and lived on Blue Hill Avenue for most of his life. Kelvin had a great passion for his opinions and the values he believed in. With his charming personality and great sense of humor, Kelvin touched the lives of those who were fortunate enough to be around him.

During his high school years Kelvin gained much popularity. With his good looks and good heart he gained the love of his girlfriend Soukaina. Many late nights he would play his love songs and think about her. Kelvin would always sit outside or ride bikes with Angel and their friends talking and laughing about life. Johnny, Jamerson, and Kelvin would stay up late playing videogames, and arguments would always come up about music and sports. Showcasing his enthusiasm for the home teams, Kelvin predicted championships for both the Celtics and Red Sox when others around him doubted. And if Kelvin wasn't hanging outside with his friends, playing NFL Madden, or spending time with his girlfriend, he would play with and help take care with his nieces Alexia and Liliana, and also visit various family members. Read more...

You're invited to the Environmental Justice Youth Summit

July 25, 2008

12th Annual Environmental Justice Youth Summit, August 1, 2008

Next Friday, REEP will host our Twelfth Annual Environmental Justice Youth Summit. Mishon Brown, REEP Organizer and Youth Summit Coordinator, is expecting one of the best turnouts ever. Themed "Resolution for Conflict and Drama in the Heart of the City," this gathering focuses on positive change and aims to connect young people with campaigns on issues affecting youth.

The summit will include workshops as well as spoken word, dance and music. Workshops will continue building dialogue among youth, covering topics such as violence, money, stereotypes, teen relationships and green jobs. Browne hopes that the conversations "will get people to open up and realize what is going on." Read more...