ACE Blog

Vote today - NO on one, YES on the rest!

Vote NO on Question 1 - we need to invest in and improve public transit!November 4, 2014

It's Election Day - don't forget to vote, if you haven't already! The choices we make on our ballot will have long-lasting ramifications on our work for environmental justice.

Here are some resources to read and share on the four ballot questions:

Question 1
Please vote NO on Question 1!

Youth, seniors and community members fought hard to pass the Gas Tax Bill, which provides critical funding for our roads, bridges and the MBTA.

If Question 1 passes, we will lose millions of dollars for the maintenance and expansion of public transit in our region, not to mention funds for road repairs or to fix the 53 percent of Massachusetts bridges that are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

Youth Summit brings hundreds together to build, learn

August 14, 2014

Hundreds of youth attended the summit

On July 31, over 200 young people gathered at our 18th annual Youth Summit at 1199 SEIU in Dorchester. Organized by youth in our Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Program (REEP), this year’s summit was named Youth Revolt Roulette 2: Check it or change it.

Young people from Boston, Cambridge, Worcester and Providence attended the all-day summit, which featured youth-led workshops, art projects, an open mic and a performance by Project HIP-HOP.

In addition to REEP and our Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition, Bikes Not Bombs, Youth Force, Youth Jobs Coalition and Youth Against Mass Incarceration led workshops on topics from organizing methods and theory of change to community resiliency and fighting racism, sexism and homophobia. Outside activities included dancing, T-shirt painting, button-making and sports.

The day of idea exchanges and movement building was devoted to helping youth develop their skills and abilities to become positive agents of change in our communities.

REEP youth organizers visit Mississippi and Detroit

August 14, 2014

REEP speaking on Grow or Die in Detroit

In June, REEP youth attended two national gatherings to share and learn with organizers from across the country—to Tougaloo, Mississippi, for the 50th Anniversary of the Mississippi Freedom Summer, and the Our Power conference in Detroit on youth power and environmental justice.

In Mississippi, attendees commemorated Freedom Summer by reflecting on the state of racial justice in 1964 and today. The national conference included talks from civil rights organizers including Bob Moses, a leader in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and many others who are continuing this work. REEP organizers also participated in canvassing for the National Student Bill of Rights (NSBR), a campaign to build a unified youth vision for educational justice.

TRU launches Early Bird campaign for off-peak service

December 27, 2014 UPDATE:
Success! With your help, we secured extra early bird trips in the MBTA's fall and winter schedules on Routes 22, 23, 28 and 109, including runs before 6:00 a.m. and extra round trips. This includes an increase in the service void zone of Saturday and Sunday mornings, a pressing need of shift workers. This comes after hearing firsthand accounts from hotel and janitorial workers of packed 5:00 a.m. buses. Stay tuned as we continue this fight.

August 14, 2014

TRU members at our monthly meeting

This summer, our T Riders Union (TRU) launched a new campaign for increased early morning service in our communities. With the Early Bird campaign, TRU members are demanding more service to get workers to jobs that start before the morning rush hour. Our survey collection in the spring showed that a vast majority of riders support an increase in early morning trips.

The MBTA is already planning to increase off-peak service, which makes this a crucial moment to amplify the needs of low-income communities. The T wants to add 150 hours of service to routes outside of the morning and evening rush hours. We are asking the T to use 20 of those hours for early morning service. Early morning service means any trips between the hours of 4:30 and 6:30 a.m.

Residents secure moratorium on ethanol trains

August 14, 2014

Residents meeting with Governor Patrick

In response to resident organizing to prevent the transportation of ethanol by train through Greater Boston, Governor Deval Patrick included language in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget which guarantees ethanol trains will not be allowed in the Boston area through at least January 2017. The approval of the ethanol legislation, which was attached to the budget, cemented a significant victory for residents of Chelsea, East Boston and Revere led by the Chelsea Creek Action Group and supported by our Environmental Justice Legal Services (EJLS).

The law prohibits the Department of Environmental Protection from issuing an environmental license between now and January 1, 2017 for the development of railroad lines or facilities in Cambridge, Chelsea, Revere, Everett, Somerville, East Boston or the Chelsea Creek port area that connect to ethanol storage and blending facilities.

Youth action spurs MBTA and MassDOT to develop Youth Pass pilot

December 11, 2014 UPDATE:

Our Youth Pass pilot will be starting in July 2015! The MassDOT Board of Directors has approved our pilot, which is now part of the MBTA's FY2015-2016 budget. Thank you members for all your help in achieving this major victory!

August 14, 2014

Awardees at YAC's Celebration

Following our Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition’s (YAC) sit-in in June, which ended in arrests of Youth Pass supporters, the MBTA agreed to set up a working group to develop a pilot program for our Youth Pass. YAC members will participate in the project planning and research, preparing for a trial period beginning July 2015.

The formation of the working group represents a crucial shift in MassDOT’s attitude towards the Youth Pass. For the past seven years of the campaign, transportation officials have repeatedly delayed progress and refused to take the project seriously. Secretary Richard Davey would not meet with us during the sit-in, continuing to ignore the youth rider crisis. After 21 supporters were arrested outside of his office and dozens more were barred from testifying at a public hearing the following week, he and MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott finally agreed to sit down with us and fulfill a three-year old commitment to implement a pilot program.

Youth Pass sit-in participants arrested, MassDOT blocks youth from public meeting

July 7, 2014

Sitting in the hallway outside Davey's office

On June 9, 21 youth and supporters were arrested at the office of Transportation Secretary Richard Davey after holding a sit-in for an MBTA Youth Pass. After repeated delay tactics from MassDOT and MBTA officials, and receiving no response a full month after delivering our Open Letter [pdf], nearly 40 youth and supporters from our Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition (YAC) gathered in Secretary Davey’s office, asking him to fulfill his promise to implement a pilot program for the pass.

When he refused to speak with us, we sat down and announced that we would wait for his response. MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott visited to speak with us, but media were not allowed to enter the Transportation Building due to “capacity issues.” Outside, supporters rallied throughout the day and well into the evening, when the 21 people in our group who stayed were arrested.

Riders need early morning service and low-income fares

July 7, 2014

TRU surveying in Dudley Square

Over the past six weeks, our T Riders Union (TRU) has surveyed MBTA riders on transit issues and found that an overwhelming majority support increased early morning service and an income-based fare. Both initiatives would benefit low-income workers who hold night or early-morning shifts and rely on public transportation. Hundreds of responses have been collected from Dudley, Ashmont and Mattapan Stations and through our partners at SEIU 615.

Early morning service includes any bus or train trips that start before 6:00 a.m. Currently, there are a small number of buses that run early morning trips, but not nearly enough to get all transit-dependent workers to and from jobs. Over 86 percent of riders surveyed supported early morning service as an affordable way to get to work and back safely.

Connecting for Climate Justice

July 7, 2014

Small-group discussions at our final workshop

This June, ACE hosted three workshops on climate justice for members to discuss what climate change looks like in our lives and how it connects with our work for environmental justice.

During the first workshop, members identified climate change impacts in our communities like extreme fluctuations in temperature and food shortages that raise the cost of groceries. We explored the root causes of this crisis and its connection to environmental injustice, like how people of color and folks with low-incomes are the first to experience the negative effects of climate change. Drawing on connections between climate and environmental justice, we collectively came up with a working definition of climate justice.

The second workshop focused on local and global climate justice movements, with guest speakers sharing what climate justice organizing looks like in their communities. Joaquin Brito and Brian Gonzalez from UPROSE in Brooklyn, NY, video conferenced with us, and Ninya Loeppky from Boston Climate Action Network, joined us in person. Together, members discussed how we can work for climate justice at home by building up our own networks and local food sources to develop alternative and sustainable economies.

Hakim Sutherland: YAC Sit-in, T Riders Union Intern

July 7, 2014

Hakim at the Sit-in for Opportuni(T)

I’m from Boston. I like to make music, I like to draw, I like bike riding and enjoying the city. I got involved with ACE when REEP Director Dave Jenkins was teaching a history class at my high school when I was a freshman. I asked my teacher about a picture on the wall of teens rallying – there were three REEPers, one holding a bullhorn, and I was like, what is that? She said Dave was there at the rally and introduced me and I became a youth organizer.

I’ve been working on the Youth Pass ever since I was involved with REEP. I worked on the Youth Way campaign for one year before I co-founded Grow or Die, and now I’m adult support and alumni with the Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition (YAC). I’ve been heavily involved in the past year and my favorite part is the creativity behind the campaign. It’s so open that it allows youth to express themselves the way that they want to.

The major thing I felt during the sit-in was frustration, particularly with Richard Davey and MassDOT as a whole and how they fail to address the problem, the youth rider crisis. There’s a lot of youth out there that, number one, don’t have access to the BPS student pass. And number two, they don’t have the opportunity to get a monthly or a weekly pass, so a lot of youth are still pushed out. Especially the youth who graduate high school but don’t go to college – those three years before you turn 21 you have to pay $70 a month. And you can only get so much with a high school education, so you don’t make the money to get the pass.