The EJLS program anchors ACE’s organizational and coalition work with a robust legal framework grounded in federal and state civil rights and environmental laws. Our staff attorney collaborates with non-EJLS staff and members to ensure that legal arguments and campaigns are grounded both in the law and in the lived experiences of staff and community members. Our work on DERO, both historically and in the present day, proves how powerful our organizing and theory of change can be.
EJLS and other ACE staff actively participate in legislative and regulatory advocacy locally and statewide on environmental justice, transit, housing issues and other related policy matters.
- Making Environmental Justice a Legislative Priority: ACE is co-leading efforts to pass legislation to better protect EJ communities, people of color, and low income residents of Massachusetts. Current EJ bills would define environmental justice populations in Massachusetts and provide designated communities with greater access to the state regulatory processes that are meant to protect them against excessive pollution and degradation. These bills are currently in the Committee on Ways & Means.
- Bolstering Residents’ Rights to Address Discrimination in State Court: Our Staff Attorney spoke at a briefing in January in support of civil rights legislation that would allow individuals and groups to sue in state court under a disparate impacts theory of discrimination. This type of case used to be a tool commonly used by environmental justice communities, but a bad Supreme Court decision in 2001 has made it all but impossible for claims to be brought on the federal level. Unfortunately, the bills were sent to study but we are gearing up to support them in the next legislative session.
- Making Fair Housing a Reality in Boston: ACE continues to be a member of the Community Advisory Committee for the Assessment of Fair Housing and is working to hold the Mayor and the City of Boston accountable for the lack of fair housing in Roxbury and throughout the city.
Massachusetts Environmental Justice Advocacy Network (MEJAN)
In addition to providing support to ACE staff and members on legal issues that arise in ACE’s campaigns and coalition work, ACE has provided legal & technical assistance through MEJAN to neighborhood groups who meet the criteria at right.
Are you eligible for MEJAN? To be eligible your group should be:
- In a low income community and/or communities of color;
- Need help with an environmental, development, or public health problem;
- Are willing to work together with their neighbors to fix it.
Note: MEJAN is currently being restructured. Stay tuned for news about the program reboot!
Marty Walsh signs DERO!
Executive Order on Environmental Justice signed!
Residents successfully block ethanol transports through neighborhoods
Increased access to energy efficiency for thousands of renters and families
Residents win protections for municipal drinking water
Chelmsford advocates defeat plan to increase storage tanks
Chelsea residents, represented by ACE lawyers, defeated a proposal to build a diesel-fired power
Dorchester residents win zoning appeal
Representatives of the Mystic River Watershed Collaborative, represented by ACE lawyers, win one million dollars in criminal case
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.
The tour lasts about two hours, and we can adapt the route for your availability. 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.
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.
Contact us a month or two before you would like your tour to be scheduled. For April tours, contact us in February.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Public Education & Speaking Engagements
ACE provides workshops, webinars, and is available for speaking engagements. Click the button below to request an ACE member to speak at your event or set up a workshop or webinar.
- Affordable Environmentally Sustainable Building Standards
- Environmental Justice
- Protected Classes
- Housing Segregation and systemic racism
- Climate change preparedness
- The impacts of climate change on environmental justice communities
- Public Transit
- Development without displacement
- Development and climate impacts