REEP: Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project
“This is where we’re from and we’re fighting to defend it.”
—Stanley Gourgue, Youth Organizer
See Stanley's story.
REEP is a youth-led community organizing program. We build youth power for environmental justice in Roxbury, Dorchester and across the City of Boston.
We build our base of youth members and develop youth leadership through outreach, youth-led member meetings, campaign committees, political education, building community and healing, game nights and parties, and organizing training. We recently held our first Member Leadership Retreat!
REEP has three current environmental justice campaigns:
Youth Transit Justice!
In the Youth Way on the MBTA campaign, we fight for the rights of all youth riders on the MBTA. We demand an MBTA Youth Pass, for ages 12-21, available for $10 per month at Charlie Card machines, with no day or time restrictions. We demand more frequent buses. And we demand respect from Transit Police and T employees. The campaign is a partnership with Boston-area Youth Organizing Project (BYOP) and T Riders Union (TRU). Our progress includes…
* In 2009, after collecting 1,600 postcards, we got the MBTA Student Pass time extended to 11pm, allowing nearly 30,000 students to get home safely from school, work, and extra-curriculars.
* From 2009 to the present, we have met regularly with the Department of Transportation and the MBTA in our effort to create the Youth Pass.
* At the United States Social Forum in 2010, we held a “Youth Transit Justice Story Circle,” which was attended by youth transit activists from seven cities.
* After collecting over 2,400 surveys in 2010, we published our report, “Opportuni(T) – Youth riders, the affordability crisis, and the Youth Pass solution.” Click here to download the report! We presented the report to the MBTA General Manager at our Youth Riders Banquet in June and secured a commitment to work together and design a Youth Pass pilot!
Stop Dirty Diesel Pollution!
In our Asthma-Diesel campaign, we fight to reduce harmful pollution from diesel vehicles that is poisoning our community and causing a childhood asthma epidemic. We demand the best available retrofits on all diesel engines and enforcement of anti-idling laws. We have been winning this fight since our “Anti-Idling March” in 1997. Recent victories…
* In 2009, we got Capitol Waste Services, the largest residential trash hauler in Boston (and six other cities), to commit to installing retrofits on 72 garbage trucks.
* In 2011, we got Brigham and Women’s Hospital, along with six other Partners Healthcare hospitals, to commit to reducing diesel emissions on all current and future construction projects. Check out the video!
* Currently, we are working on a Diesel Emissions Reduction Ordinance (DERO) for Boston, to require pollution control technology on city owned and contracted diesel engines, including construction projects. These vehicles would also be required to use ultra low sulfur diesel fuel, which is substantially less polluting that regular diesel, and strictly adhere to state anti-idling laws.
We launched our newest campaign, Grow or Die, in October 2011. Check out our launch statement and the Grow or Die video! We want healthy, affordable food in our community, and we want to use vacant land to grow it on.
EJ Youth Summit
For the past 15 years we have held our annual Environmental Justice Youth Summit. The next summit will be on in July 2012. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to attend, perform, or deliver a youth-led workshop. Check out the video from the Youth Summit in 2010, “Check It Or Change It,” and in 2011 by "Press Pass TV.”
Classroom Action Projects
REEP staff and alums work with classroom teachers in Boston Public Schools to conduct our environmental justice curriculum and support students to lead action projects for environmental justice. We have recently worked with Social Justice Academy, Dorchester Academy, Phillips Brooks House Association, Odyssey High School, and El Centro de Cardinal. Our student-led projects have included supporting local organizing efforts for food justice, creating school raised-bed gardens and a garden club, filming municipal vehicles breaking the anti-idling law, getting pollution filters installed on construction vehicles and garbage trucks, supporting the campaign for youth jobs, and supporting local campaigns for immigrant rights. To setup a Classroom Action Project, please contact REEP.
Each year REEP brings hundreds of students on an environmental justice Toxic Tour of Dudley Square. The tour highlights local EJ issues and victories. Topics include environmental justice, youth power, air quality & asthma, land use & toxics, brownfields, city budgeting, development & displacement. To setup a Toxic Tour of Dudley Square, please contact us.
Founded in 1995 as a way to engage Roxbury public school students and families in the environmental justice movement, REEP has numerous accomplishments.
*In 1996, REEP students reclaimed green space in Dudley Square and John Eliot Square.
* In 1997, we launched the movement against diesel pollution in Boston with our “Anti-Idling March” from Egleston Square to Dudley Station. Our effort led to the formation of the “Clean Buses for Boston” coalition and the transformation of the entire MBTA Bus Fleet off of dirty diesel fuel, the shut down of the MBTA’s Bartlett Garage and relocating of several hundred buses, and the installation of retrofit filters on all BPS school buses.
* In 1998, we hosted Boston's first ever Healthy Hair Show.
* In 1999, we got the state to site an air monitoring station in Dudley Square; you can see our real-time air quality data at www.airbeat.org.
* In 2001, we pressured a major developer in Roxbury, Cruz Construction, to clean-up asbestos and lead-filled debris from the demolition of Orchard Park, which had been illegally dumped in our neighborhood, openly exposing neighbors and students of the Dearborn Middle School.
* Also in 2001, REEP participated in the 2nd National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, where we co-led the process to create the Youth Principles of Environmental Justice.
* From 2004 to 2008, we focused on preventing and reversing the devastating state and city budget cuts to youth employment and violence prevention programs, resulting in millions of dollars of investment.
* In addition to these victories, we have hosted numerous youth-led community events and forums with political candidates and elected officials, educated thousands of youth on environmental justice issues and conducted numerous participatory action research studies.
We are the REEPers!
Autumn Ghafoor, Youth Organizer
Stanley Gourgue, Youth Organizer
Melissa Lopez Henriquez, Youth Organizer
Dacia Jordan, Youth Organizer
Davonte Jordan, Youth Organizer
Whitney Ogbesoyen, Youth Organizer
Modesto Sanchez, Youth Organizer
Hakim Sutherland, Youth Organizer
Quianna Mendez, Alum Intern
Tyree Ware, Alum Intern
Indira Baez, Alum Committee Co-Chair
Handel Dixon, Alum Committee Co-Chair
Carlos Moreno, Alum Committee Co-Chair