ACE Blog

Chelsea residents defeat power plant

May 22, 2008

ACE’s annual celebration and fundraiser, Jammin' for Justice, is less than one week away. The evening will feature delicious Middle Eastern cuisine, lively music, and a silent auction. It will also be an opportunity for ACE to showcase our members’ outstanding work of the last year. Over the next few days we will be highlighting some of our honorees. Today’s selected honoree is Chelsea Creek Communities Against the Power Plant.

Chelsea residents protest against the diesel power plant

Chelsea residents, in collaboration with Chelsea Green Space and ACE, successfully organized against a proposed diesel-burning power plant in their community. The plant would have been sited near Chelsea’s Mary C. Burke Elementary School, exposing children to diesel exhaust and particulate matter. Due to residents’ strong, organized resistance against the plant, the developer withdrew its plans in November 2007. This is not the first time residents have successfully fought industrial interests in their neighborhoods. Last year, with help from our legal network, residents forced a local tannery to clean-up its pollution and foul odors. Read more...

Service on the Silver Line bus anything but 'rapid transit'

May 21, 2008

Silver Line bus protestors

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...

New bill for clean energy filed

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...

Local construction needs to employ local workers

May 16, 2008

Chuck Turner rallies the crowd

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...

Support Brockton and West Bridgewater residents!

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...

Youth impacts of the criminal justice system – reform now!

May 14, 2008

Boston Workers Alliance

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...

What's the future of Dudley Square?

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.

Dudley Square, Ferdinand Building on left

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...


New book reviews bioterrorism lab campaign

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.

Acting Civically book

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...

Environmental Justice Bill passed in Connecticut

May 9, 2008

 Rep. Hennessy, Elizabeth Ratliff, Dr. Mark Mitchell, CCEJ President

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...