ACE Blog

Climate justice workshops in June!

May 27, 2014

Discussing climate justice at last year's EJ Agenda Retreat

Remember Hurricane Sandy? Climate change causes the weather to become less predictable, leading to more extreme storms in the northeast, while worsening droughts elsewhere. In addition to the weather, it affects everything from health to food, which tend to hit communities of color and low-income communities the hardest.

This June is Climate Justice Month at ACE. People are rising up and fighting this threat globally. Locally, what can we do together and how can we ensure that actions taken by the city and state are just and improve people's lives?

Join us for a series of workshops and conversations about climate change, how it affects environmental justice communities and how you can become involved in efforts to protect our neighborhoods.

June 11: Connecting our work to climate justice
June 18: The climate justice movement
June 25: Our role in the climate justice movement
5:30 p.m. Dinner
6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Workshop

Waste ban victory shows results!

May 27, 2014

Click to see image larger

This spring, we’re pleased to report an improvement in state waste management, following last year’s victory when our work with Clean Water Action and Massachusetts residents pushed the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to step up enforcement of waste bans. These laws are designed to reduce our waste stream by preventing recyclable materials from being buried in landfills or burned in incinerators.

In October 2013, the DEP hired three waste ban inspectors to strengthen compliance guidelines at trash transfer stations. Over the past year, there have been five times as many inspections, leading the DEP to issue 101 enforcement actions: 98 noncompliance notices and three penalties. The majority of violations—83 in total—were identified after the new inspectors were hired. This increase in enforcement means that more materials will be recycled, leading to a reduced waste stream, cleaner air in our communities—especially for residents living close to incinerators and landfills—and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Residents win faster cleanup of toxic waste site

May 27, 2014

Map of the Parker Street Waste Site

In February, New Bedford residents battling a hazardous dump site won a big victory when the city withdrew its application to delay a cleanup by two years. The city agreed to speed up the process due to the work of Citizens Leading Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), with support from our Environmental Justice Legal Services program (EJLS) and Licensed Site Professional Ian Phillips of Haley & Aldrich, a volunteer with our Massachusetts Environmental Justice Assistance Network (MEJAN).

Before the withdrawal, we asked the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to reject the application, hold a community meeting on the proposal, and require the city to produce specific and timely plans to clean the site after 12 years of delays. CLEAN members presented evidence that dioxin concentration in the ground exceeds federal safety limits, endangering the health and safety of the people who live, work and study there. However, the city’s application did not mention the presence of dioxin.

Homes, middle and high schools, businesses and churches have been built on the Parker Street Waste Site, which spans more than 140 acres. The exact boundaries of the property and extent of PCB and dioxin contamination has yet to be defined by the City of New Bedford. Some homes have been condemned due to soil contamination and some residents have developed serious illnesses.

New community gardens built this spring

May 27, 2014

In the past five weeks, REEP youth, members, volunteers and neighbors have built 41 raised beds, and installed rain barrels at three of our gardens, along with compost collection. Today, more than 110 families have a Grow or Die garden, and with your help, we’ll continue increasing access to healthy, affordable food in Roxbury and Dorchester.

Of the 4,000 seedlings REEP youth organizers grew in The Food Project's greenhouse this year, we’ve already distributed 1,000 to Grow or Die gardeners, with more on the way. If you haven’t volunteered with Grow or Die yet, there’s still time! Email REEP Coordinator Olmis Sanchez or call (617) 442-3343 x245 if you want to help at future builds.

Also, much of the compost we use for raised beds comes from City Soil, a small business in Mattapan. They were recently served an eviction notice by the Department of Conversation and Recreation, threatening both their work and the local food justice movement. Over the past two weeks, we took part in a mini-campaign to #SaveCitySoil by calling, emailing, and tweeting state officials. The eviction has now been stayed, and we're waiting on a permanent solution. Thanks to all of our members who have been helping with this effort!

Open Letter to Secretary of Transportation - Opportuni(T) Delayed is Opporuni(T) Denied

May 8, 2014

Richard A. Davey
Secretary and Chief Executive Officer
Massachusetts Department of Transportation
10 Park Plaza
Boston, MA 02116

Dear Secretary Davey,

On behalf of the 20 organizations that are part of the Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition (YAC), we are writing to request a Youth Pass pilot for 2,500 youth starting this fall.

We moved + open house

April 17, 2014

Join us at our Open House on April 23!

ACE has moved! We are now located at 2201 Washington Street, Suite 302, in Roxbury, one block down from our old office. Thank you to everyone who helped us throughout the moving process!

Come check out our new space on Wednesday, April 23, during our Open House. Join us from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. to tour the new office, get breaking campaign updates, and enjoy food with members and supporters.

Our office entrance is at the back of the building, accessible through the rear parking lot on Ruggles Street. In the foyer at the entrance, please use the buzzer to call ACE (dial 302). Once inside, take the elevator to the third floor and you will see us across the hall.

If you are bicycling, please bring your bike upstairs to store inside our office.

NOTE: We are sharing the building with the Department of Transitional Assistance, whose security workers staff the lobby entrance. You do not have to go through any security procedures—simply state you are with ACE and head to the elevator. See you soon!

Win for student mobility fuels Youth Pass campaign!

April 17, 2014

Youth Power March, 2014

The Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition (YAC), led by REEP and our partners, won a crucial victory for transit justice last month when the MBTA announced that beginning in July 2014, the price of the seven-day Student Pass, which includes weekends, will drop to the same price as the five-day Student Pass. For nearly a year, YAC has pushed the MBTA to remove the weekend barrier imposed on students. As a result, roughly 21,000 middle and high school students will switch over to the unrestricted pass when returning to school this fall.

A recent survey by Charlestown High School students working with REEP found that over 70 percent of students there currently miss out on basic opportunities such as school events, time with friends, jobs, arts and culture, and sports on the weekends, due to unaffordable fares. This victory is a major improvement for thousands of students in Boston and surrounding communities who use a Student Pass.

This change is part of an MBTA budget that includes a five percent fare increase on all modes of transportation. The sole exception is paratransit fares on THE RIDE, which was recently lowered from $4 to $3, thanks to the sustained, powerful organizing by Massachusetts Senior Action Coalition (MSAC).

Winning weekends for the Student Pass brings us one step closer to YAC’s goal of a $10 monthly Youth Pass available to all Boston youth ages 12 to 21. In the coming weeks, we will continue to push the MBTA to implement a Youth Pass pilot program this year.

Youth kick off our growing season

April 17, 2014

Installing rain barrels at Ellington Street Garden

Our youth-led food justice campaign, Grow or Die, is heating up again this spring to build more gardens, renovate existing ones and distribute thousands of seedlings.

On Saturday, Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project (REEP) members and residents gathered at our first lot takeover in 2011, the Ellington Street Neighborhood Garden. We spent the day clearing brush, expanding the garden to accommodate four new families, and installing rain barrels and composting bins.

On April 22 and May 10, REEP members and resident gardeners will renovate two more gardens, adding fresh soil, double-high beds for seniors, and rainwater collection and compost systems. On April 24, we will build a new guerilla garden in Dorchester. We need volunteers! Please contact Olmis at (617) 442-3343 x234 if you can help on any of these days.