Working for healthy neighborhoods

“We should all be equal.”

Virginia Jeppson,
ACE Member and client

ACE member Virginia Jeppson of Brockton

Virginia is a Brockton resident fighting the construction of a fossil fuel power plant with assistance from ACE’s legal program. Brockton is a lower income city with one of the highest premature mortality rates in the state.

I was brought up in Massachusetts and moved to Brockton when I was 13. I finished my schooling here and got married in 1952 and we've lived in Brockton since. Before I retired, I worked in the school department as a teacher, and then with the Brockton Police department.

In 1996, a company wanted to put a waste management transfer station here so another neighbor and I got together and rallied the neighborhood. We ended up with a real grassroots organization and got them out. In 1997, there were plans for a power plant but they couldn't get enough financing and didn't have enough need in the grid for electricity. They came back about three years ago. In the meantime, we did our research and someone connected us to ACE. That's how we were lucky enough to get Gene.

When Gene arrived he really helped us with the legal procedure. It's good to know you have ACE behind you and it helps you see more clearly why things happen—why it takes so blooming long to get an answer. It's definitely been encouraging and we feel extremely lucky to have you people. I think the power company might have issues with a couple of you.

This case means a lot to me because my neighbors on both sides have cancer. I lost my son to cancer. I'm a three time survivor of cancer. So you realize you have a problem. All this can't be good—you have to do something about your environment.

I'm hopeful we have a good outcome because the whole neighborhood has young children and we want them to have a good place to grow up. How can you when you're breathing this every day? Environmental Justice to me would be that everybody shares the right to clean air and a decent place to live. Someone shouldn't slap someone else in the face. We should all be equal.

I remember when Gene asked me to go to the New England School of Law and say a few words to the students there. My daughter came with me to keep me company. It was really nice. I was like a country mouse coming to the big city, I hadn't been on the T in a long while and we were sitting there with Charlie cards thinking where are the tokens? We laughed all the way home.

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