Toxic Tours of Dudley Square

"People of color are still in poverty and we still experience injustice. It's everywhere, in housing, jobs, transportation, food markets, healthcare, etc. We have an opportunity to change these injustices as a strong collaborative organization—we can make a difference."

—Sadika Edwards, ACE Member
A Teacher Toxic Tour with Dave

Why does Roxbury have a children's asthma hospitalization rate that's nearly six times higher than the state average? Who's making environmental decisions for us?

Join us in Dudley for a walking tour that shows how environmental racism and classism have impacted our community and how residents have won changes for a healthy and sustainable neighborhood. Learn about environmental history, what we're doing now, and how you can make a positive impact on our community and environment.

See sites like the following:

A Toxic Tour at the Modern Electroplating site

Modern Electroplating
This former brownfield was notoriously the worst in Boston. It was an electroplating company that got shut down in '95 for leaking toxins into the sewer system. Now, it is the B-2 police station.

A Toxic Tour at the AirBeat

This air quality monitor was installed by the state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) following a youth-led initiative to keep track of the pollutants in our air. Since it began operation, we monitored our air pollution levels and observed that air quality in Dudley has been improving.

A Teacher Toxic Tour at the asbestos pile

Asbestos pile (now a recently built housing development)
REEP youth have pushed the city to clean up this 10-foot mound of asbestos and turn the site into affordable housing, now under construction.

A Toxic Tour at Bartlett yard

Bartlett yard
This yard housed 150 diesel buses until residents, concerned about the diesel from idling buses polluting our air, got it shut down in 2005.

Watering plants at the Dudley Gardens

Dudley Gardens
In 2013, youth organizers worked with neighbors and Madison Park Development Corporation to clean up this once-vacant lot and turn it into a community garden. As part of the Grow or Die campaign, this garden increases access to healthy and affordable food.

Youth organizing in Dudley Station

Dudley Station
Transportation is a central environmental justice issue, and Dudley Square is home to one of the busiest bus terminals in the city. Find out what we've been doing to make public transit more affordable and accessible.

Ferdinand building construction in February, 2014

Ferdinand Building
Since construction began on the Ferdinand building, neighbors have raised concerns about the possible community impacts from traffic congestion to gentrification.


At the AirBeat site

How long is the tour? The tour lasts about two hours, and we can adapt the route for your availability. For shorter tours, we may have to skip some sites to save time. For longer tours, we'll be able to see extra sites and allow for a broader group dialogue. Meet us at the ACE office, 2201 Washington Street (rear entrance), and we'll start the tour with a short discussion of environmental justice before heading out to see Dudley.

When do tours run? Our tour season is generally from April through October, with a winter hiatus from November through March. We are sometimes able to work with groups who want an early spring or late fall tour. We do not recommend winter tours, even for groups who are willing to brave the elements, because we've found that the cold seriously erodes people's ability to concentrate. (Even when the coordinator of the group really wants everyone to pay attention.) On occasion, we may arrange for a winter indoor tour, which takes the form of a slideshow presentation. However, indoor tours are in no way an equal replacement for the outdoor walking tour.

How soon can I schedule a tour for the next calendar year? Contact us a month or two before you would like your tour to be scheduled. For April tours, contact us in February.

What time of day do your hold tours? Tours during the day are best, as it will be easiest to see the sites during daylight hours. During times of the year when there is less daylight, we may occasionally hold tours in the late afternoon that end after sunset, if that is what works for you. Again though, it's not ideal for the best tour experience.

Do you hold tours on weekends or holidays? Yes, we are sometimes able to hold tours on weekends or holidays. If you are interested in a weekend or holiday, we invite you to contact us far in advance of when you would like a tour, so that we are able to work this into the schedule of tour leaders.

What happens if there's inclement weather on our tour date? We highly recommend that your group check weather reports and dress appropriately for being outdoors for two hours. You may reschedule your tour for weather-related reasons if that is a concern. We are generally pretty hardy and will lead tours in the rain, but we may reschedule with you if we do not feel that it is safe for tour guides to be out in certain weather conditions.

Are there other things my group can do to prepare for poor weather? It's important to dress appropriately for chilly and/or rainy New England days. If it is cold, we recommend a warm coat, boots, scarves and gloves. If there is rain, we recommend raincoats, rain boots and umbrellas. Participants who do not have rain gear may want to consider bringing extra clothes, socks and shoes to change into after a rainy tour.

Who can go on the tour? We invite all groups to join us. If you are a teacher in Boston Public Schools, contact us about a Teacher Toxic Tour or to find out how you can bring your students on a tour to learn about environmental justice.

How many people can go on the tour? We are happy to work with the size of your group. Here are some general guidelines: Groups of 15 people or less are an optimum size. While we are able to accommodate larger groups, we find that people tend to have a better experience in groups that are no bigger than 25 people. The larger a group, the harder it is for everyone to hear the tour leaders, and the longer we spend walking and waiting for everyone to assemble.

Are you able to run concurrent tours for large groups? Yes, we can sometimes break a very large group into multiple groups for concurrent tours. This will take more coordination and most likely require more than two hours.

Are there options besides walking? We are happy to work with you to accommodate the needs of your group. Some groups have rented vans and buses to use for a driving tour. It's not the same as a walking tour, but it's better than an indoor tour. If some of your participants are not able to walk for two hours, we can arrange for you to have a map and a tour itinerary, if you would like to drive some people between stops.

Can we leave our stuff in your office? Yes, you may leave bags and other personal items in our office if you do not wish to carry them with you. If members of your group arrive via bike, we recommend taking bicycles up to our office to be stored, rather than locking them on the street.

How much does it cost? We ask for a sliding scale honorarium, from $100 to $500 an hour, with the higher end for businesses and universities, and the lower end for Boston Public School classrooms. Toxic Tours take about two hours. For residents of EJ neighborhoods (particularly those who are low-income), we may waive honorariums or arrange for an exchange of volunteer hours.

Here are a few questions we ask all groups:

  • What would you like for the participants to get out of this session?
  • What are the group’s demographics, so we can tailor our presentation accordingly? (Age range, race/class background, where people reside, languages spoken, etc.)
  • How many will be attending?
  • How much time do you have for a tour?
  • What tour dates and times work best for you?
  • Are you able to provide an honorarium, and if so, what is the range that works for you?

How do I schedule a tour? For more information or to find out about scheduling a tour, email.

Looking for more information on ACE and environmental justice? See our Student Request Policy.