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Liberty Hill Grants Sustain Environmental Justice in Polluted Neighborhoods

Byline: Cassie Gardener

Five environmental justice grants of $60,000 each have been awarded by Liberty Hill to community-based organizations in support of their efforts around cumulative environmental health impacts over the next year. The five groups are Union de Vecinos in Boyle Heights, Communities for a Better Environment and Coalition for a Safe Environment in Wilmington, Pacoima Beautiful in Pacoima, and East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice in Commerce.

In Los Angeles, members of Communities for a Better Environment, Coalition for a Safe Environment, Pacoima Beautiful and Union de Vecinos have joined together to create the Clean Up Green Up campaign, launched on January 21, 2011. They have been hard at work creating a cutting-edge policy initiative that will establish “green zones” in the pilot communities of Boyle Heights, Pacoima and Wilmington where residents suffer dire health effects from too many nearby polluting industries.

The Green Zones will work to incentivize clean and sustainable industries to provide local jobs and economic growth.  (Pictured here is Union de Vecinos Co-Director Leonardo Vilchis speaking out about cumulative environmental impacts at the Clean Up Green Up Campaign Launch, January 21, 2011.)

Leonardo

Since the campaign launch, residents in each of the four areas have visited each other’s communities through a series of “toxic tours” to learn about cumulative impacts and what their neighbors are doing to improve environmental health. Their efforts are supported by a rigorous Research Team, headed by Dr. Manuel Pastor who directs USC’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, and Dr. James Sadd at Occidental College.

Together, researchers and residents are documenting and analyzing the areas where people are most at-risk for environmental harm, and exploring policy options to create economically vital and livable areas. To learn more about their community-based participatory research groundtruthing efforts, read Liberty Hill’s Hidden Hazards Report published in December 2010. (Pictured here are participants of Pacoima Beautiful Toxic Tour, May 7, 2011.)

Pacoima Beautiful Toxic Tour

In the city of Commerce, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice is working to create a Green Growth Corridor to attract new green businesses and create jobs. Similarly to the green zones established by the Clean Up Green Up Campaign, their goal is to create “buffer zones” through land use planning methods to ensure areas where families and children frequent are protected from industrial pollution. (Pictured here is East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice Co-Executive Director Angelo Logan urging City Council officials to develop a green zones policy in Commerce.)

Angelo Logan

Stay tuned for updates on policy hearings expected to take place in the Fall, that will promote health, economic and environmental justice for LA’s low-income and African-American and Latino neighborhoods. For more information about the Clean Up Green Up campaign, contact: 323-397-1554 or ekyanez@yahoo.com.

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