March 29, 2010
"…For the first time in over 10 years my grandchildren can play outside in the yard and I don’t have to worry...I can plant in the ground and eat what I grow. I don’t have to worry about my basement flooding anymore and getting rashes on my skin when I touch the water."
—Little Village resident Martha Castellon
This victory is the result of a decade long struggle by members of Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), a grassroots group in Chicago leading efforts to clean up a superfund site. Profiled in our new report, Environmental Justice and the Green Economy, LVEJO's campaign shows how strong grassroots organizing can lead to achievements like securing the clean up of nearly 200 homes that went "above and beyond the federal levels of remediation."
Residents of lower income communities and communities of color like Little Village have been advancing a vision of sustainability and equality through the environmental justice movement. Eight of these stories are shared in our report by a group of U.S. environmental justice leaders, including ACE Executive Director Kalila Barnett and former director Penn Loh.
In San Diego, a predominantly Latino community defeated the expansion of a fossil fuel power plant by advancing proposals for renewable energy and energy efficiency. In a historically black neighborhood of Miami, tenants who won the right to remain in a renovated public housing complex are now working to rebuild using green standards. In Navajo land, youth propelled a successful campaign to pass the Navajo Nation’s first green jobs act, which will support development based on traditional and sustainable practices. The report also highlights organizing work from Kentucky, Los Angeles, New York City and Richmond, California.
As stimulus funds are distributed and resources are earmarked for green infrastructure projects, we need to ensure that communities of color and lower income communities are in the forefront of shaping the new green economy. Our report concludes with three broad categories of recommendations for policy makers at all levels that:
1. Strive for full democratic participation.
2. Build capacity for a truly sustainable infrastructure and green economy.
3. Create and share "green" wealth.
Our report can be downloaded in both English and Spanish. This publication is a resource for organizing, leadership development, policy making, research, and public education efforts.
A big thank you to the report Working Group that includes: Bill Gallegos (Communities for a Better Environment, Los Angeles), Denise Perry (Power U, Miami), Kalila Barnett and co-editor Penn Loh (Alternatives for Community & Environment, Roxbury, Massachusetts), Diane Takvorian (Environmental Health Coalition, San Diego), Burt Lauderdale (Kentuckians for the Commonwealth), Peggy Shepard and Cecil Corbin-Mark (West Harlem Environmental Action), Donele Wilkins (Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice), Roger Kim (Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Oakland).
A special thank you to ACE Member Sherrie Waller for her outstanding work in designing this report!