“During the last week of January, activists, residents, policy makers, researchers and others gathered in Baltimore to build, connect, and learn how we can all work towards creating healthy and sustainable communities. For members of the Moving Forward Network, a nationwide network of community-based organizations committed to transforming port and freight communities into vibrant environments, the convening gave us the opportunity to bond with other participants, share strategies, and support regional work. The larger conference, the 14th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth, allowed for CBO’s to network with different industry and agencies and communicate how we could better work together to serve our communities.
It was exciting to be in a room with folks who were equally, if not more, passionate about environmental justice than myself. One of the best parts of our convening was the regional share out, where each region shared their goals, accomplishments, and struggles with the group.
I think most of us agreed that being on the East Coast in the dead of winter was less than ideal, but that didn’t stop several groups from braving the elements to extend our communing. We frequently dined in groups, and on the last day of the Moving Forward Network convening, all of us gathered for a family style dinner at a local restaurant. This was the highlight of the trip for me. I was able to spend a few hours breaking bread with and learning about my brothers and sisters in the movement. I’m very much looking forward to working with my comrades on transforming the impacts of the goods movement system!” -Taylor Thomas, EYCEJ Community Organizer
“EYCEJ has been a leader in community driven, solution-oriented grassroots organizing focused on combating the negative effects of the goods movement system. As part of the Moving Forward Network, we have much experience to share and much more to learn from our partners across the country. As we work to resolve issues that impact our communities, we push locally, regionally, statewide, and now nationwide. The impact our members have had up to date is now being combined with efforts across the nation in communities like ours. We are a force to be reckoned with and we look forward to building stronger communities and lifting up solutions with our partner communities. We are also excited about working to bring youth leaders together from all of our communities to share, learn and grow our movement with a new generation.” –mark! Lopez, EYCEJ Executive Director
MFN Spot Light ~ Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS)
“Through the MFN, EYCEJ has had the opportunity to share our work with multiple communities. We have been able to dialogue and engage with many communities across the US also dealing with Environmental Justice issues, linking us together. This year, we met Yudith, a Community Organizer, and Jose Olmedo Martinez, a community member of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS) located in Houston, Texas. Yudith and Jose shared that refineries and the transport of chemicals are two of the biggest threats to their community health. As refinery central, Houston attracts many trucks transporting oil and other dangerous chemicals in and out of their neighborhood. This is why Yudith finds it important to begin engaging youth in local high schools on these issues, bringing youth leaders such as Jose into the movement.
Additionally, we learned that TEJAS is currently dealing with issues regarding the Keystone pipeline, which would transport oil extracted from the tar sands in Canada all the way down to Houston, Texas refineries. Just like Texas, Long Beach California may also become a destination for tar sands oil, increasing the already present issues regarding the refineries in Wilmington and West Long Beach.
Through this dialogue, it became evident that communication with members and organizers like Yudith and Jose in Texas, as well as other communities dealing with refineries, is imperative. As an organization increasingly engaged with stopping the Keystone pipeline from coming into Texas, we have much to gain from their expertise and knowledge around impacts and implications of such projects.”-Hugo Lugan, EYCEJ Community Organizer
For some insight on what has been going on with local refineries in Houston, Texas: http://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/news/design-flaws-led-to-poison-gas-leak-at-dupont-plant-in-la-porte/
“The Baltimore, Moving Forward Network convening was a moment in time for the environmental health and justice movement. The convening was a place to connect and build a family of comrades to fight for justice. We came to an agreement to launch a policy campaign at the federal level to bring freight to the forefront of the clean air struggle and reduce pollution to zero emissions, while democratizing the community planning process.
We will build a local, statewide and national movement for environmental health and climate justice in freight communities.”
– Angelo Logan, EYCEJ Research & Policy Analyst