East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice info@eycej.org 323.263.2113

Why you won’t see EYCEJ at the LA Mayor’s Exide event tomorrow:

StopEnvRacism Ciclavia

First off we would like to make it clear that we are not discouraging anyone from participating in tomorrow’s activities. A component of the event includes door knocking to get residents in Boyle Heights to sign property access agreements to have their soil and paint tested for lead. The more people sign up, the further we advance our long struggle for justice on this issue.

What we have issue with is how long it took Mayor Garcetti to acknowledge the Exide issue (especially when compared to his response at Porter Ranch), the fact that we had to push for this to happen, and have had to continually push to see any action out of his office (which is now only beginning to look anything like his response in Porter Ranch), and the response has been problematic. On top of this, one particular staff member from his office has been rude, condescending, and low key threatening (no need to mention names since the name comes out of everyone’s mouth as soon as we mention there has been conflict with the Mayor’s office). We are not here for that.

We, along with other community allies, have had to push this Exide issue every step of the way, moving the CA Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), moving the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD, more on corporate polluter politicians at AQMD in a forthcoming statement), moving the CA Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), moving the Governor (more on that in a forthcoming statement about a terrible proposal for a CEQA exemption for Exide residential cleanup) and even the Mayor of LA. We continue to have to push.

The Mayor’s Office is disconnected from what is happening in our communities. One example is when the Mayor’s Office invited our staff and members to get trained to do door knocking ahead of this Saturday’s event. They were not aware that the DTSC staff prepared to train them, were prepared by our staff and members. In fact, the DTSC staff members’ first experience walking door to door on this issue was at one of our monthly outreach blitzes a week before the Mayor’s Office was offering the training. They were not aware that before DTSC ever approached us to start conversations on how they could do more successful outreach, we had already knocked on over 1,000 doors and had gotten hundreds of access agreements signed by residents of Boyle Heights, Unincorporated East LA and the City of Commerce. Our communities have had to take on this work for years because those in power have failed us.

We have pushed back because we don’t need press conferences. The time for statements from politicians was when Exide was still open, or before the Governor announced a plan to fund partial residential cleanup. Other elected officials have stepped up with action to help make these things happen, and we don’t need to list them because our communities know who has stepped up and who has fallen flat. We know who has done real work and who has shown up for party. At this point we don’t need a response from the LA Mayor in the form of a one-day event. As we explained weeks ago to his office, now is the time for a response and commitment from the City of LA. We need the City to commit funds, similar to what the County has done, for a sustained effort to reach residents and test residential properties to move us closer to justice. We are not here for anything less.

We are not here to pose with the Mayor in front of cameras at a press conference, or stand next to him as cameras capture him knocking on a door. Plenty of people will rush to his side for that. We are not interested in glorified reelection campaign activities. We are not here for that.

What we are here for is to continue to fight for what our communities deserve. We are here to meet with the Mayor, and his staff who have been positively responsive, when we can seriously discuss what our needs are as Exide impacted communities.

At the end of the day, you won’t see EYCEJ out with the Mayor on Saturday because we stay out here in these streets building up a movement.

-mark! Lopez (EYCEJ Member and Executive Director)

*If you are interested in joining us in outreaching to the Boyle Heights, East LA and Commerce communities to sign residents up to have their soil and homes tested for lead, you can join us:

Saturday, March 19, 2-6pm in East LA & Boyle Heights


Sunday, March 20, 2-6pm in the City of Commerce


Dia De Los Muertos: Re-membering our ancestors


Our Dia de Los Muertos celebration this year came in a form of a small dinner. I took the morning to put up this altar before everyone arrived to add personal photographs and items.

I have put together altares in the past, but this year it felt different.

This year I had my stepdad named Guilberto Rodriguez and a very close amiga named Marina Uranga Pando pass away, so naturally I felt more responsibility in putting together an altar with intentions and memories ingrained into it.

I have been taught that every part of the altar has a meaning. It is meant to honor those energies in our life that keep us in balance, like the elements, directions, family edlers, mujeres, hombres, and children.

As I was putting the altar together, it forced me to think about what it means to remember our ancestors? What does it mean to have ancestors visit you? To have them with you?
In thinking about Marina and Guilberto, I am pushed to piece together memories, feelings, thoughts, in essence meaning of a life on its own and as part of a community. It pushes me to acknowledge that everyone’s life has meaning and a purpose. That sometimes that meaning extends longer than what we will ever be able to live.

Placing objects in the altar is about taking an object, acknowledging it’s importance, and allowing that importance to connect and call out to those who have passed. Putting together an altar is a ceremony of giving importance and meaning. This placing of objects makes me think of how all of our communities are often given the opposite. Our communities in many ways are deemed meaningless and unimportant. It is that exact view of our communities that allows for us to be the center of soo much toxic waste.

In a domestic violence workshop we held in our community room, we were taught that violence isn’t always an action. Violence can also be the lack of action. Violence is also neglect. It is this neglect that allows for our life expectancy to be shortened. It is this neglect that allows for our communities to be surrounded by so much violence.
As I place objects and acknowledge it’s meaning, I can’t help but feel a level of anger. As I place meaning for our dead, I think about how many lives has this neglect shortened? How many years not spent with family and friends is this neglect responsible for?

At times I feel like Marina speaks to me. She doesn’t speak to me in voice, but through the meaning that her actions took within my life. The stories that where shared with me. Through the underlying anger that she carried in her actions driving the need to fight against the violence that our communities face. The anger that pushes us establish that we exist, we are alive, that we have meaning.

This is how I speak with my ancestors. Their life is full of decisions that carry meaning well beyond a single life. I didn’t know all of them, but I know of them, and their actions. Those actions have meaning and importance in my life.

So I set up this altar to honor those ancestors- children, elders, mujeres, hombres.
To honor them by re-membering them. By piecing and sowing together objects, memories, intentions, with meaning and importance.

I have come to understand remembering as a putting and keeping together.
It is to re-member those who I have or haven’t known of. To re-member my actions to theirs.

Los re-cuerdo. (To agree with again)
I re-member you. (To piece together again)

‪#‎LaLuchaSigue‬ ‪#‎LaGenteViveVive‬

In Honor of:
– Guilberto Rodriguez
– Felicitas Ramos
– Unnamed nephew
– Queer uncle (name unknown)
– Marina Uranga Pando
– Those still haven’t met

by Xugo Lujan


image1 #ReclaimingTheLARiver was a film and photography exhibit presented by EYCEJ youth focused on reclaiming the dignity and respect of the LA river for the South LA river communities.The exhibit took place under the 105 fwy on the LA River Bike Path. To make this amazing event happen, Youth members participated in summer long workshops dealing with the LA River story, bike toxic tour, photography, film, and poetry workshops. Through these workshop, EYCEJ Youth began the process of forming stories highlighting the role that the LA River has taken in communities of color living along it. The photography and films highlight the many faces and stories that form part of the LA River in an effort to bring attention to the needs of our communities to see improvements and facilitate the use of the LA River as a source of transportation, exercise, creative space, green space, and shelter connecting communities along the 710 fwy. IMG_1927 Additionally, films will be used as a public comment tool to push forward in supporting LA River and Bike Improvements of our communities through Community Alternative 7 (CA 7) for the 710 Fwy project. For more info on Community Alternative 7 click here CA 7. LA River Exhibit We want to thank all of the 70+ participants who attend the event. Together we reclaimed part of the LA River Bike Path with life, joy and art. For more pictures visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EYCEJ Videos produced by our youth members:

1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wl-h5SHgD_o 

Reclaiming the LA River by Jorge & Amando

2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwroEjWVyKI Reclaiming the LA River: Historias de la Gente by Jocelyn del real Jimenez

To continue to support our work, donate to our efforts:

Check out media coverage of our event below!

KCET: http://www.kcet.org/socal/departures/lariver/confluence/la-river/south-east-la-reclaims-their-part-of-the-los-angeles-river.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=kcet

Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition: http://lacbc.nationbuilder.com/los_angeles_river_connections_move_forward

Special thanks to for making this event possible: Comida No Bombas Los Angeles, Cruzita’s Deli and Cafe, Calo Youth Build Boyle Heights, #‎BarriosDeLosRios‬, Giovanni Solis, Pam Avila, Ana Garcia, Cuauhtemotzin Hache

Photograph Credit: Beatriz Jaramillo    

LA River Bike Toxic Tour 2015!

We would like to thank all of the EYCEJ members, staff, allies, family and friends that made our 1st LA River Bike Toxic Tour possible and to the 100+ cyclist that joined us despite reaching 100+ degree temperature!


The ride started at the East LA Civic Center, with supporters joining along the way in Bell Gardens, Maywood, Bell, Lynwood, Paramount and Long Beach! We toured the LA River, Sleepy Lagoon, 710 Freeway (formerly known as the Los Angeles River Freeway), rail yards, and discussed its historical significance to communities of color.As a group we also visited locations highlighting the improvements that have been made and what the community could look like if we continue to push with community voice and participation.

Photo Credit: @soldizote



We then closed with a BBQ and music by LA Hip Hop band Inner City Dwellers, cumbia band Buyepongo and Carlos Se rocking at Cesar Chavez Park in Long Beach. Overall, a beautiful day being able to witness hundreds of riders reclaim the streets. To view more pictures visit our Facebook page: LA River Bike Toxic Tour 2015 (album)


Thank you all for your support throughout the years — we do this because we believe everyone deserves the right to live in a safe and healthy environment. Help us continue our programming like the LA River Bike Toxic Tour by making a donation today!

Please take one moment to make an online donation to support EYCEJ.

We ride together, we fight together, we build community together, we win together! #FightingForLife



Also, join us for our upcoming event:

#ReclaimingtheLARiver BIKE-IN Photo and Film Exhibit 

September 26, 2015 6:00-9:00PM @ Maywood River Front, Walker Ave, Maywood, CA 90270


EYCEJ youth will be presenting photography and film exhibit focused on reclaiming the dignity and respect of the LA river for the South LA river communities. For more information visit our FaceBook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1386580138307385/



Victory, Research, Riding & Resources

As we reach the end of the summer, we are excited to highlight how your support has allowed East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice to work towards a safe and healthy environment for communities!

We began the year strong with a recent hard-fought victory that EYCEJ was able to achieve with community support:

Shut Down Exide Technologies’ Operations in Vernon Over the last 25 years, Exide Technologies, a battery recycler and chronic polluter located in the City of Vernon has been cited for numerous health violations and has recently been SHUT DOWN. After years of our members, staff and allies engaging with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) to implement regulation to clean up Exide, as of February 2015, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced the shutdown of Exide Technologies. We want to express sincere gratitude for the generations of community builders who have put decades of work towards getting to this moment. We continue to fight towards keeping DTSC accountable for thorough and just cleanup of our homes and neighborhoods to ensure justice for the 100,000 residents in the impact zone.

Exide Picture

Your financial contributions will help bolster this work on multiple levels. Can you take a moment now to donate to EYCEJ?

Along with our hard-fought victory, EYCEJ is proud to present the Marina Pando Social Justice Research Collaborative and our LA River Bike Toxic Tour!

Marina Pando Social Justice Research Collaborative: 1st Annual Grassroots Research Symposium: The Marina Pando Social Justice Research Collaborative (SJRC) is a hub for first generation undergraduate students of color to have a supportive environment in which to conduct social justice oriented research. Through intensive summer training, the next generation of scholars becomes equipped to bridge the data our movement needs with the grassroots voices academia tends to leave out. All participants gain the skill set to ask and answer research questions with the potential to help us win our next victory. Marina Pando was a long time community leader who passed away in June of this year. We have named this program in her honor to celebrate her leadership and contributions to our  movement.


*Students will be presenting their research August 7th at 6:00PM  at our EYCEJ Community Room, we invite you to join us. Help us reach our goal of $7,500 to cover expenses of the program including stipends for our students. Help directly support our program by donating today!

Bike Toxic Tour Flyer

LA River Bike Toxic Tour: History and Construction of Environmental Racism: Join us as we ride down the LA river visiting communities heavily impacted by environmental racism. We will tour locations like Sleepy Lagoon, LA river, 710 Fwy, rail yards, and discuss the historical significance to communities of color. We will also tour parks and locations highlighting what improvements of our communities could potentially look like if we continue to push with community voice and participation. We will close with a BBQ and special surprise performance from one of LA’s premier cumbia bands at Cesar Chavez Park in Long Beach where we will highlight steps being taken to address issues facing our communities. When: August 15th, 2015, Meeting Location: East LA Civic Center at 10:00AM.

ROARYour support has made all this work possible, but we still need your help in order to continue our work to build well informed and well equipped self-advocates in East Los Angeles, South East Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Our organization is at a critical point when it comes to financial resources and every dollar you donate keeps our movement breathing. There is a lot we want to accomplish this year, and we’re aiming to raise $20,000 this summer. This is a huge goal- but it’s possible if every person who receives this letter donates just $25.00.And if you give more, our impact increases.  

Here are a few examples:

Thank you for your support throughout the years — we do this because we believe everyone deserves the right to live in a safe and healthy environment. Help us continue making a difference.

Make a donation today.

Together we can continue Fighting for Life!

Please take one moment to make an online donation to support EYCEJ.

La Leona – Marina Uranga Pando

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 5.08.03 PM


By Hugo Lujan, EYCEJ Community Organizer

*Translated in English below.

“Marina, alguna ves a estado enamorada?”

“Si pero los hombres son muy mendigos.”

“A ver, porque?” le pregunte.

“Una ves, me enamore con un hombre que era muy celoso. Pero el, si quería andar de aquí para haya con Viejas del vecindario y el muy sin vergüenza pitándome el carro cada ves que pasa por la calle para que yo viera. Y luego cuando llegaba a la casa, me preguntaba, ‘Que no oíste cuando te pite el carro?’ Yo le contestaba, ‘Si te escuche. Pero el pito no es mi rienda.’ En una de esas me quiso dar una cachetada, pero no me la dio, pues porque yo tenia muy bien cabeceo. Esa ves el se salió, y me cerro todas las puertas y ventanas para que no me fuera. Al momento que ya no se veía su carro, agarre una lámpara, y la avente hacia la ventana,. Y por ahí mismito me salí. Me fui directo a la casa de mi papa donde me pregunto, ‘que pazo?’ ‘Pues me quiso dar una cachetada.’ ‘Y te la dio?’ ‘No, Pero no me voy a esperar a que me la de.’ Cuando le pedí que me divorciara, el me dijo “No. Que porque en esta familia, nadie se divorcia.” En ese momento lo mire directo a los ojos y le dije. ‘Me divorcias tu, o me divorcia otro. Pero si no me divorcias tu, te juro que no me vuelves a ver en tu vida.‘ Mi mama lo mira y le dice- ‘Hazle caso a La Leona, que bien sabes que lo que te promete, te lo cumple.’

“Y la divorcio?”

“Pues Si.”

“jajaja So le dicen La Leona?”


“Y porque la Leona?” Le pregunte.

“Porque nadie me podía decir que puedo y que no puedo hacer.”

Conocí a La Leona, conocida en ese momento, como Doña Marina, hace 3 años en un 4 de julio en Rosewood Park, donde nos pusimos una mesa para inscribirse miembros de la comunidad para un taller de Oratoria Publica. Mi primera impresión de Marina era su pequeño cuerpo y el amigable sentido del humor. Después de 30 minutos de conversación, Doña Marina se inscribió en el lista para el taller, y me pidió que le llame para recordarle y recogerla de su casa el día del taller. Dos semanas más tarde, la recogí y la llevé a nuestro centro comunitario para la primera parte del taller.

A lo largo de un par de semanas, el primer viaje a la oficina se convirtió en paseos semanales. Después de un par de meses, recogerla todos los días a las 10am se convirtió en rutina. Todos los días se inició con, “Buenos Días Marina! Como amaneció hoy?” Ella respondería con “Acostada, y en ayunas. Que tenemos que hacer hoy?” De 8 -10 horas más tarde en el viaje de regreso a su casa, ella cerraba el día con “Que hacemos Mañana? Y una que hora me levantas?” Esto se convirtió en nuestro ritual diario.

Marina y yo pasamos muchos días juntos. Minuciosas sus muchas historias, ella compartía muchos sobre sus trabajos industriales donde era una de las pocas mujeres en citio lleno de hombres en los 60’s. Ella nunca dudó en llamarle la atención a los hombres que acosaban a ella o a sus amigas en el trabajo. Mientras trabajaba en la Compañía de Neumáticos Firestone por la Firestone Blvd, compartió que en su segundo día de trabajo, ella se acercó a su jefe y le exigió que se desarrolle una políca para disciplinar a hombres que molestaban a empleadas. Mientras trabajaba en un centro de fusión de metal, ella trato de organizar a los trabajadores para que entre la Unión. Fue aquí donde se enteró de reuniones públicas donde ella también exigía el uso de equipos de seguridad para todos los trabajadores en el lugar.

Durante el tiempo que pasó en nuestra oficina, comenzamos a organizar nuestras reuniones mensuales para adultos. En cuestión de meses, ella se nombro a sí misma como la secretaria del centro, llevaba la cuenta de los calendarios mensuales, recordó a los miembros de la comunidad sobre las reuniones, preparados para las visitas a Bell Gardens High School, y se encargó de plántulas de la La Cosecha Colectiva. Con el tiempo, usando una placa de metal con su nombre, declaró un escritorio en la oficina de la organización como el escritorio de “Marina U. Pando.”, a la vez entregándome una lista de los materiales que va a necesitar para llevar a cabo sus responsabilidades.

En su segundo año, fue invitada a hablar en UCLA, donde tuve la oportunidad de verla florecer en una oradora pública increíble y encarnan la líder que siempre pensó que nunca estaría preparada para llegar a ser. Con sorprendente carisma, chistes e historias personales, se refirió a su experiencia de trabajo en las industrias tóxicas y la importancia en la protección de las comunidades y los trabajadores contra los humos tóxicos dentro de las instalaciones. Cerró con invitar a los estudiantes y profesores a visitar a su comunidad y aprender acerca de las formas que pueden apoyar su trabajo. En un momento más tarde, ella también fue invitada a hablar en un panel de líderes mujeres con Inner City Struggle donde según ella, estaríamos “celosos en la cantidad de gente que la amaba.”

Al convertirse cómoda hablando en público, no había nada que la detuviera. En una reunión pública, después de que trabajadores de un desolladero en Vernon terminaron afirmando que han estado trabajando allí durante años y nunca han olido el hedor que salía de la planta, Marina se levantó lentamente, se acercó al micrófono y dijo-

“Antes trabajaba en una compañía donde derretían metales. Para que el olor de los metales no me molestara, lo que hacia era fumar cigarros. Después de trabajar ahí por muchos anos, se me fue el olor y sabor. Hoy le doy muchas gracias a dios por cuitarme el olfato para no tener que oler los olores que salen de esa compañía. Y a los trabajadores, si ya no lo huelen, mejor váyanse al doctor para que no terminen como yo.”

Debido a su excepcional liderazgo y dedicación al movimiento de justicia ambiental, se le concedió a Marina el ‘Premio Margarita Holguín’ de EYCEJ en 2014.

Cerca de sus últimos meses, Marina nos acompaño a la reunión NEJAC (Consejo Asesor Nacional de Justicia Ambiental) con el Moving Forward Network para exigir que la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de Estados Unidos haga un estudio más detallado sobre la contaminación de las emisiones de diesel y empuje para la tecnología de cero emisiones en nuestras comunidades. En su última semana con nosotros, ella había comenzado pidiendo aprender a usar una computadora para poder enviar y recibir correos electrónicos. No había límites a su impulso para seguir creciendo y aprendiendo.

El Sábado, 06 de junio 2015, después de una operación difícil, Marina Uranga Pando comenzó su camino en la vida siguiente, dejando con nosotros un legado inolvidable y las historias de su vida como un testimonio de lo verdaderamente poderoso que podemos ser. En recuerdo de ella, he llegado a considerarme muy bendecido de haber conocido a Marina. Tengo la suerte de haber sido testigo de la cantidad de fuerza, la sabiduría, el coraje y la dignidad que una persona puede llevar; además presenciarlo en acción.

Para muchos era Doña Marina.

Para mí era un luchadora por los derechos de la mujer y los derechos de los trabajadores.

Una luchadora por la vida de su comunidad.

Una artista con sus muchas bromas.

Narradora increíble.

La Mil Usos.

Para mí, ella era La Leona.

En una conversación dos semanas antes de su muerte le pregunté “Marina, si se nos vaya, ay algo que le gustaría dejar saber a su familia o a sus amistades?” “Pues Si. A mi hija Idalia, muchas gracias por todo lo que me cuidaste y todo lo que haces por mi. Que no se que hice para merecerme a una hija como tu. Se que te va doler que me valla, pero quiero que sepas que te quiero mucho. A mis nietos, que cuiden a su mama, y que también los quiero mucho. Y todas mis amistades, que no vivan la vida como pendejos. Vívanla siempre a lo que puedan.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 6.15.12 PM

“Marina, have you ever been in love?”

“Yes, but men are stupid.”

“Let’s see, why?” I asked her.

“Once, I fell in love with a man who was very jealous. I was not allowed to do anything. But according to him it was ok for him to be driving around the neighborhoods with other women in his car. That shameless man would honk at me each time he would drive by just so that I would see him with the other women. And then when he got home, he would ask me, ‘Didn’t you hear me honking at you?’ I would answer, ‘I did hear you. But the honk is not my rein.’ In one of those fights, he tried to slap me but was not able to because I had very quick reflexes. That day, he left the house and closed all the doors and windows so that I would not leave. I waited until I could no longer see his car, grabbed a lamp, and threw it out the window; then I jumped out. I went straight to my father’s house where my father asked me, ‘What happened?’ ‘Well, he wanted to slap me.’ ‘And did he slap you?’ ‘No, but I will not wait around until it happens.’ When I asked him to divorce me, he said ‘No. Because there are no divorces in this family.’ When he said that, I looked in his eyes and told him. ‘You will help me with the divorce, or I will find someone else to do it. But if you don’t help me, I swear you will not see me again for the rest of your life.’ My mother looks at him and said, ‘Do as La Leona asks you, because you know the promises she makes, she keeps.’”

“Did he divorce you?” I asked.

“Well Yes.”

” Why do they call you La Leona?” I asked.

“Because no one can tell me what I can and can not do.”

I met La Leona, known to me at that moment as Doña Marina, 3 years ago at a 4th of July event in Rosewood Park where we set a table to sign up community members for a Public Speaking 101 workshop. My first impression of Marina was her small build body and loud sense of humor. After 30 minutes of talking, she then signed up for the workshop, and asked me to remind her and pick her up from her house. Two weeks later, I picked her up and brought her to the community room for the first portion of the workshop.

Throughout a couple of weeks, the first ride to the office slowly became weekly rides. In about a couple of months, picking her up every day at 10am became routine. Every day began with, “Good Morning Marina, how did you wake up?” She would respond with, “Laying down and fasting. What do we have to do today?” Sometimes 8 -10 hours later on the ride back to her house, she closed the day with “What are we doing tomorrow? And, what time will you be picking me up?” This became our daily ritual.

Marina and I spent many days together. Through her many stories, she shared many of working in industries, being one of few women in an industry full of men. She never hesitated to snap back at men harassing her or her friends at work. While working at the Firestone Tire Company down Firestone Blvd, she shared that on her 2nd day of work, she walked up to her boss and demanded that a policy be developed to discipline men who would catcall female employees. While working at a metal melting facility, she talked about organizing workers to bring in the Union. It was here where she first learned about public meetings where she also pushed for the use of safety equipment for all workers on site.

During the time she spent in our office, we began with organizing our monthly adult meetings,

Within months, she labeled herself the secretary, kept track of monthly calendars, reminded community members about meetings, prepared for outreach at Bell Gardens High School, and took care of La Cosecha Colectiva seedlings. Eventually, using a Silver desk nameplate reading “Marina U. Pando”, she declared a desk in the organizing office as her own, all while handing me a list of the materials that she will need to accomplish her duties.

In her second year, she was invited to speak at UCLA, where I was able to see her flourish into an amazing public speaker and embody the leader she always thought she would never be ready to become. With striking charisma, jokes, and personal stories, she touched on her background working in toxic industries and the importance in protecting communities and workers from the toxic fumes within the facilities. She closed with inviting students and professors to visit her community and learn about ways that can support her work. At a later time, she was also invited to speak at a women leaders panel with Inner City Struggle where according to her, we would be “jealous at how much people loved her.”

In becoming comfortable speaking in public, there was no stopping her. At a public meeting, after workers from a rendering plant in Vernon finished stating that they have been working there for years and have never smelled the stench, Marina slowly got up, walked to the mic and stated:

“I used to work at a company where they melted metals. I used to smoke cigarettes so that the odors wouldn’t bother me. After working there for many years, I lost my sense of smell and taste. Today I thank God very much for taking my sense of smell so I don’t have to smell the odors that come from that company. And to the workers, if you don’t smell the odors, better go to the doctor so you don’t end up like me.”

Because of her outstanding leadership and dedication to the environmental justice movement, Marina was additionally awarded the EYCEJ ‘Margarita Holguin Award’ in 2014.

Close to her last months, Marina accompanied us to the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) meeting in San Diego with the Moving Forward Network to demand that the US Environmental Protection Agency do a closer study on contamination from diesel exhaust and push for Zero Emission technology in our communities. In her last week with us, she had begun asking to learn how to use a computer, type, and send emails. There were no limits to her drive to continue growing and learning.

On Saturday, June 6th, 2015, after a tough operation, Marina Uranga Pando began her journey in the after life, leaving with us an unforgettable legacy and stories of her life as a testament of how powerful we can truly be. In remembering her, I have come to consider myself very luck to have met Marina. I am blessed to have witnessed how much strength, wisdom, courage, and dignity one person can carry; furthermore witness it in action.

To many she was Doña Marina.

To me she was a fighter for women’s and worker’s rights.

A fighter for the life of her community.

An artist with her many jokes.

Amazing storyteller.

She was La Mil Usos.

To me she was La Leona.

She left me with this last conversation, two weeks prior to her passing:

I asked her: “Marina, if you pass away, is there something you would like to tell your friends or family?”

“Well Yes. To my daughter Idalia, I don’t know what I did to deserve a daughter like you. Thank you very much for taking care of me and everything you have done for me. I know that it is going to hurt you once I leave, but I want you to know that I love you. My grandchildren, take care for your mother, and I love you. And to all my friends, do not live life like idiots. Live it always to its fullest potential.”


East Yard and UEPI: Our Many Connections by Bob Gottlieb

Research Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and the Founder and Director of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. Bob Gottlieb’s work has inspired and helped develop several groundbreaking programs, research studies and events in the environmental, transportation, ports, and food systems areas. A long time environmental and social justice activist, Bob Gottlieb has been engaged in researching and participating in social movements for more than 50 years.


“It’s raining today, a nice sound to hear, and a sound that brings a bit of hope. But it’s also a sound that makes us think of the challenges we face in our region and the ways that both East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice and the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute think expansively about agendas for change in our urban – and global – environment. That includes the need for public and community green space and open space like community gardens and pocket parks and public plazas. And it includes the need to reduce the water guzzling private green space like the turf grasses in golf courses and the expansive lawns in large private homes and mansions for the wealthy. It requires us to think of and take action regarding the polluted waters that flow into the storm drains from the streets used by the trucks carrying goods from the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles into the neighborhoods of Commerce or East L.A and other polluted communities in our region. It makes us think of and act around the polluted air so directly linked to those polluted streets and freeways and intermodal rail yards that permeate these neighborhoods. And it makes us think and want to act on the need to see water as life and water as food and to rebuild our neighborhoods where we can also grow our food and create more livable places.

That’s the agenda of both our groups – EYCEJ and UEPI – and it’s in that spirit that I’m so honored to receive recognition at the Celebration for Life event on June 6th at Tamayo Restaurant (along with my good friends and colleagues Andrea Hricko and John Froines). And I remain hopeful, listening to the unexpected rain, that together, with our many allies and friends, we can turn our agendas for action into the changes we need to transform our communities – and our world.”

Join us in celebrating the contributions of Andrea Hricko, John Froines, and Bob Gottlieb as our honoree’s at our 2nd Annual Fighting For Life Celebration Dinner Saturday June 6th 2015 7:00-10:00PM and, in turn, support our programs, projects, and campaigns!
Purchase tickets here: http://eycej.nationbuilder.com/fighting_for_life_2015

2nd Annual Fighting For Life Celebration Dinner! Tamayo Restaurant, Art Gallery & T-Bar * 5300 E. Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90022* Board Of Directors Reception: 6:00PM; Event: 7:00PM

Purchase tickets here: http://eycej.nationbuilder.com/fighting_for_life_2015

Final FFL Flyer

Fighting for Life Honoree Andrea Hricko #ThrowBackThursday


1972 behind garbage truck working for ralph naderandrea and angelo monitoring


My first foray into monitoring diesel exhaust was in 1972 – there I am (in the left photo) at the back of a garbage truck, at the request of the sanitation workers union in Washington, D.C., during the time when I worked on occupational health issues with the Health Research Group, one of Ralph Nader’s organizations. The workers’ concern was carbon monoxide. Fast forward 30 years – and there I am with Angelo Logan of EYCEJ monitoring diesel exhaust (this time for harmful ultrafine particles) from big rig trucks in Commerce.

Does that mean we’ve made no progress? No… now both garbage trucks and big rigs have smokestacks above the cabs, not in areas where workers directly breathe the exhaust. And many of the harmful constituents in diesel exhaust have been reduced over the years through stricter government regulations.

But those of us still working to ensure that diesel exhaust does not continue to suffocate low-income communities of color, and that big rig diesel trucks and locomotives are not the dominant feature of the community landscape … know that we still have a long way to go to protect these communities from harm.

I’m so pleased to be one of East Yard Communities’ honorees next week at its Fighting for Life Celebration. For the past 10 years, the environmental health outreach program I direct, which is based at USC, has partnered with EYCEJ and other environmental justice groups and asthma coalitions, along with academic allies from Occidental College. We call our group “THE Impact Project” – for Trade, Health and Environment impacts. It is a community-academic partnership focused on reducing the impacts of international trade on health and community life.  Partners in THE Impact Project have been instrumental in forming a nationwide organization of groups called The Moving Forward Network (link to http://www.movingforwardnetwork.com/2013/10/about-moving-forward-network.html) which aims to transform the way ports and other goods movement facilities operate, in order to protect communities and health. You’ll be hearing the word ZERO mentioned a lot in the near future from the Moving Forward Network: zero emissions … zero pollution … zero health effects.

EYCEJ has gone from a small group of activists in 2002 to become a leader in the EJ movement in Southern California, the state and nationally in 2015. I have been lucky to be able to work with the great community organizers and advocates at EYCEJ during this period, bringing them news of the latest research findings on diesel and other air pollutants, while they inform our team of scientists at USC and UCLA about community concerns. Together, we have informed policymakers about the latest science and EJ groups have advocated for reducing pollution … building to a momentum for successful policy change.

*For more information on our 2nd Annual Fighting for Life Celebration coming up on June 6, click here.

“Our communities have waited long enough…” a Testimony by Taylor Thomas

This past Thursday April 23, 2015, Community Organizer Taylor Thomas took a trip to Sacramento to share her comments on the Sustainable Freight Strategy draft to tell the California Air Resources Board to take immediate action to reduce pollution from rail yards.The Sustainable Freight Strategy draft is a long term plan to make freight hubs (ports, rail-yards, airports etc.) more sustainable and how can California Air Resources Board make them as green as possible. Below is Taylor’s testimony:

TT Pix

“Hello Board chair, board members, and staff.

My name is Taylor Thomas, I’m a resident of Long Beach and with East

Yard Communities for Environmental Justice and the California Cleaner

Freight Coalition.

While you’ve received copies of our letters regarding the draft Sustainable

Freight Strategy, I’m not here to go over them line by line as other coalition

members have outlined our concerns, but rather I want to underscore the

importance of the need for this Board to take immediate action to reduce

pollution from rail yards.

The last time I spoke here a few months ago, I talked to my experience of

growing up near major pollution sources and the impacts that had on my

health. But today I’m here on behalf of the people who could not be here to

give testimony.

I’m here for the families that have to keep their windows closed because

trains idle a few yards from their homes; I’m here for the teachers and

playground aides that keep bags of inhalers ready for when, not if but

when, a child has an asthma attack; I’m here for the nurses and doctors

that see their patients come in with chronic respiratory illnesses ­ not

knowing how to treat them or what to prescribe to them ­ and what could

they possibly give them knowing that they’ll return to the areas and air that

is making them sick? They want to tell them to move, but this simply isn’t

an option for most people.

Research supports that the communities that bare a disproportionate

burden of air pollution are low­income and communities of color. Even if

people could afford to move, the question is why should they? We have a

right to a safe and healthy environment. We have a right to clean air.

So we’re calling on you to take immediate action. We want to see the

measures outlined in our formal comment letter like: in­yard rail equipment,

such as yard trucks and cranes, changed to electric (there is already zero

emission and CNG tech available for these), enhanced truck and

locomotive inspections, and the installation of the Advanced Locomotive

Emissions Control System at the maintenance facilities where locomotives


Our communities have waited long enough, so we need you to stand up for

us. The Board has said that rail yards would be addressed in the

Sustainable Freight Strategy, but that didn’t happen. This fight for clean air

is not about me, it’s not about you ­ it’s about the families and communities

that are suffering the consequences of this Board not taking action. Thank


First EYCEJ Bike Toxic Tour of 2015!

Bike Toxic Tour

First EYCEJ Bike Toxic Tour of 2015!

Happy New Year from EYCEJ! We had a great start welcoming this new year with our first Bike Toxic Tour of 2015! Won in our Live Auction at our annual Planting Seeds of Change year-end appreciation brunch for members and allies, Executive Director mark! Lopez led a private Bike Toxic Tour.

The EYCEJ Bike Toxic Tour takes participants to various toxic/hazardous sites that are adjacent to homes and communities, demonstrating the negative impacts on our local communities (and entire region) in the form of health & quality of life issues. EYCEJ Bike Toxic Tours also invite participants to learn more about local issues and how they can get involved in making a difference.

Below are what two participants shared about their experience on the Bike Toxic Tour:

“January 3rd, 2015, a group of us hit rubber to pavement and rode bikes throughout the City of Commerce to explore the environmentally racist infrastructure that affects families of color throughout Los Angeles. We saw oil rigs, incinerators, heavy truck traffic (common for an industrial area which much of the nations goods passes through). We learned about the victories of East Yards Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ). We went into the history and the future of this area and how communities are at the forefront of fighting for life and building resiliency in the face of state violences manifested through multinational companies present throughout this region.” David De la Cruz

“Although this picture is all smiles, it was a good reality check — I’m grateful I had the opportunity to be a part of this bike ride and talk about the environmental racism that’s going on right in our back yards.” Maryann Aguirre

For more information or for upcoming Bike Toxic Tours visit our Events tab or use the EYCEJ Bike Toxic Tour pamphlet for a self-guided tour.

*Photo Credit: David De la Cruz 

Toxic Tour 2

Toxic Tour 3

Toxic Tour 5

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