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

Moving Forward Network- Baltimore 2015

MFN 2015

“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.

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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 

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“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

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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/

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“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

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Long Beach City Council voted on their 2015 Federal Legislative Agenda

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“The proof of the pudding is when these things get covered. They can ‘blah, blah, blah” (talk) all they want but it is when they get it covered [the coal and petcoke rail cars] that we can see they did something. It takes all these back and forth for things to get done. You see politics going all around you. It is a lot of unneeded energy. This is something we need to have but we need their help [LB City Council].” – Linda Kamara-Kay’s reflections on the process of passing the Federal Legislative Agenda 2015 (Long Beach Resident & EYCEJ member)

Community Organizers Jan Victor Andasan and Taylor Thomas report back on Long Beach City Council that took place Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 and their vote on approving the 2015 Federal Legislative Agenda:

Tuesday night, Long Beach City Council voted on their 2015 Federal Legislative Agenda which included covering the coal and petcoke rail cars. The inclusion of this issue on the 2015 Long Beach Federal Legislative agenda is the follow-up from the hearing that happened Summer 2014 regarding if it was okay for these coal and petcoke rail cars to traverse into our city and ports. While these coal carts are allowed to go in and out of our city and port, a major concern that was brought to the attention of council  was the fact that they were uncovered and polluting not only the city of Long Beach but all the cities the rail cars traveled through. Although they approved the coal and petcoke rail cars transport, a suggestion was made to find ways to minimize the environmental impact of these coal carts by having them covered.

The agenda was passed with a vote of 6-2. The 2 votes “No” was not necessarily around the coal and petcoke issue but rather the larger agenda itself. There are more than 100 issues in this Federal Legislative Agenda ranging from affordable housing to immigrant issues and even the marijuana industry. It is a major step for the entire city council to agree on one singular document they will pushing on the federal level.

While this is a win for the community in getting Long Beach City Council to find ways to cover the coal and petcoke rail cars, we as community members must continue to hold them accountable throughout the year in their efforts in DC around the uncovered coal and petcoke issue as well as larger environmental justice issues. These may be small strides for environmental justice in the Long Beach community but it is a step in right direction in holding our elected officials accountable in protecting our right to safe & healthy environment. We need them not only to commit on paper or agendas but to real, concrete action! –Jan Victor Andasan, EYCEJ Community Organizer 

Tuesday evening, the Long Beach City Council was set to vote on approving the 2015 Federal Legislative Agenda. This agenda contained many different elements, from medical marijuana to affordable housing. Most relevant to our work  involved language surrounding measures to cover rail cars that carried petroleum coke products through Long Beach. Some council members expressed a need for more information before approving the agenda in its entirety. As a resident and organizer, I fully support this idea. Too often, legislation or measures are passed without being given proper consideration. This in turn creates half-baked policies that are detrimental to communities. We will continue to follow this agenda, and support a community-based and research driven outcome. -Taylor Thomas, EYCEJ Community Organizer 

From Guatemala to Los Angeles; Transnational Platica on Environmental Justice

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On Tuesday, February 2nd East Yard Environmental Justice invited Concepción Santay Gómez to give a presentation regarding megaprojects and human and indigenous rights in Guatemala with a focus on the arrival of hydroelectric dam in his community. He participated in a Toxic Tour throughout the goods movement corridor between East Los Angeles and Long Beach and talked with members of EYCEJ on transnational environmental justice movements.

Concepción Santay Gómez a member of the Alcaldía Indigena of Cotzal, which emerged in 2008, was at the forefront of a pacific resistance movement against the construction of a hydroelectric dam owned by an Italian company. The dam was constructed without the consent of the Ixil communities of Cotzal, which violated the Ixil’s rights. On January 2, 2012, the community placed a blockade on the road leading to the site where a dam would be built. Police and military forces were sent to remove the protesters, but the communities pushed back, keeping the blockade for four months. The dam was eventually built despite the communities’ resistance.  Although the dam in Cotzal is one of the largest in the country, approximately 70 percent of Cotzal’s inhabitants do not have access to electricity.Concepción spoke about the current indigenous rights violations in Cotzal.

EYCEJ Toxic Tours take participants to various toxic 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. As we drove down the 710 freeway over the ports and refineries near Long Beach, Concepción shares, “It benefits companies but pollutes the environment, the government does not care. They do not live in these places, those living here suffer from the impacts. It is good what you do, it all has it’s results”.

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Overlooking Long Beach, executive director mark! Lopez shares with Concepción about the impact the ports have on the air, soil and water, “It is a struggle to live in Los Angeles, we have to re-imagine new forms of survival”.

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Later in the afternoon, EYCEJ leaders had the opportunity to have a dialogue with Concepción and Giovanni Batz, a Phd Student at University of Texas at Austin. Giovanni began the talk by providing members context on Guatemala, to provide background information and details that contribute to the battle in Cotzal, such as the Spanish invasion and the politics around the Guatemalan Civil War (1960-1996), that left 200,000 people murdered and/or disappeared.

As Concepción described the details to the organizing efforts for their four month blockade he shared with members, “I need to defend my land, territory, Mother Earth because of her we live. We are risking our lives, even if they tell us we are terrorists, we are conscious of what we do.”

A significant part of this dialogue focused on identifying the connections between Guatemala & LA. Hugo Lugan, EYCEJ Community Organizer, clearly notices, “This reminds me of the 710 meetings, it is about money but invaders are the industries, here and there.” Connecting both struggles was a pivotal moment to not only learn from each others struggles but also stand in solidarity with each other. Javier Hernandez, member of EYCE,J brought up his concerns with the lack of visibility about the fight against megaprojects in Guatemala. Javier shared, “I am Mexican and I am sad to know of these problems, where the government takes advantage of indigenous people. Why does the media not cover what is going on in Guatemala? We hear about the 43 students in Mexico but how about Guatemala? ” making it clear that he notices the lack of attention this fight in Guatemala is receiving from media sources.

Concepción is also a co-founder of the Ixil University, a three-year educational program that seeks to instill  Ixil ways of knowing in students, values and respect and defense of their territories and natural resources. He hopes people understand his reality, where they have many worries but are happy for the creation of the Ixil University, the recovery of their culture and language. They are sure they are forming new leaders in their communities. As Giovanni looks across the room, he is glad to see a room full of adults and youth members engaged in this conversation. He shared that we can make change with the energy of our ancestors and the youth.

For more information on Concepción’s work, find his community on Facebook “Alcadias Indigenas Region Ixil’ or email Giovanni at batzgio@yahoo.com.

*Photo Credit to Giovanni Batz

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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 

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Ambiente de Mujer Workshops Series in December

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Join residents in this FREE 3-day workshop to learn about reproductive justice and a history of oppression on the bodies of women of color. Find out how to prevent and reduce toxic exposure to chemicals in everyday products by being a smarter shopper. Take home safe cleaning and beauty products that you will make in the 3rd session! Workshops will be held in the EYCEJ Community Room (5117 Kinsie St., Commerce, CA 90040)

Session 1: Thurs, Dec. 4, 2014 | 6pm-8pm
Introduction to Reproductive Justice
What does reproductive justice mean to you? Learn about the history of eugenics and forced sterilization of poor women of color in the United States and Latin America.

Session 2: Thurs, Dec. 11, 2014 | 6pm-8pm
Environmental Toxins & Reproductive Health
Is your favorite shampoo or cleaning product toxic for your health? Learn how everyday beauty and cleaning products expose you and your family to toxic chemicals in your home and how to identify toxic ingredients to minimize exposure.

Session 3: Thurs, Dec. 18, 2014 | 6pm-8pm
Make Your Own Products!
Make safe, non-toxic cleaning and beauty products out of affordable, everyday ingredients in this interactive workshop. Be sure to bring your own glass jars to take your products home!

 Contact Hugo Lujan at (323) 318-2141 or hlujan@eycej.org for more information or to RSVP.

Ride on All Roads – Year-End Overview

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This year, we closed the 2013-2014 academic year saying good bye and good luck to 15 youth core members who have now graduated Bell Gardens High School and are now entering a new stage in their lives. Many have transitioned into the college life at UC, Cal State, and community college campuses still striving to maintain a supportive role for upcoming Youth in Action members.

With 2014-2015 year, Youth in Action kicked off the year with 15 classroom presentations bringing Environmental Racism in our neighborhoods to a total of 90 class periods and 850 students in Bell Gardens High School and Esteban Torrez High School combined. The hard work payed off when a total of 100+ students attended the first Youth In Action Meeting at Bell Gardens High School.

Utilizing the energy that youth provide, we were able to bring the EYCEJ message to Ciclavia where 50+ of our members attended carrying a banner reading “Stop Environmental Racism” from Bell Gardens, to East LA and Boyle Heights.

As we build for next year, we continue to grow into East Los Angeles where youth members from Esteban Torrez High School have already begun to have conversation around establishing a Youth in Action club in their campus. We are excited to see where this academic year still has in store for us and continue with the vision of building strong youth leaders in our community.

Public Speaking 101 Workshops Series Begins in October!

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Interested in becoming a better and more confident speaker? Join residents in this free 2-day workshop that introduces easy-to-use tools to improve your public speaking skills in public meetings or in a meeting with a decision-maker!

Day 1
Introduction to Public Speaking
Learn why public speaking is important and about the different methods of communication and techniques to get your message across most effectively.

Day 2
Mock Public Hearing
Put your skills to the test! Participate in a mock public meeting to practice what you learned in Day 1. Take home public speaking toolkits to help prepare for upcoming public meetings.

Take part of our workshop series at any of the following locations:

Springdale Apartments Recreation Room
2095 W. Spring Street, Long Beach, CA 90810
DAY 1: Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 11am-1pm
DAY 2: Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 11am-1pm
YWCA – Union Pacific
4315 Union Pacific Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90023
DAY 1: Thursday, October 30, 2014, 12:30-2pm
DAY 2: Thursday, November 6, 2014, 12:30-2pm
EYCEJ Community Room
5117 Kinsie St, Commerce, CA 90040
DAY 1: Thursday, November 13, 2014, 6-8pm
DAY 2: Thursday, November 20, 2014, 6-8pm
Westside Christian Church (General West Long Beach)
1594 W. Willow Street Long Beach, CA 90810
DAY 1: Tuesday, November 18, 2014, 6-8pm
DAY 2: Tuesday, November 25, 2014, 6-8pm

 

For more details and/or to RSVP for a workshop series, please e-mail info@eycej.org or call the EYCEJ office at 323.263.2113.

Wynton Johnson – Environmental Warrior

Wynton Johnson - Environmental Warrior

Wynton Johnson was born and raised in Long Beach, CA. He currently lives in West Long Beach and is studying Sociology at Long Beach City College. The correlation of where people live matters in relation to life expectancy and general health has lead him to become an environmental justice advocate. Wynton is working towards a world where health is not a luxury. He is dedicated to organizing for the empowerment of marginalized communities to advance their quality of life.

Why is Wynton so passionate about Environmental Justice? Watch here:

Isella Ramirez – Living in a Toxic Environment

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Isella Ramirez grew up in Commerce and, while she expresses her love for her community, she also knows first-hand what it is like living in a toxic environment. Situated in the midst of a major transportation hub, Isella, her 6-year old niece Citlalih, and neighbors are surrounded by the busy l-710 freeway that accommodates up to 260,000 cars and over 40,000 diesel trucks on a daily basis, rail yards, and blocks and blocks of industries reliant on the freeways and rail yards.

Why is Isella’s environmental justice work so personal? Watch here:

Air Pollution 101 Workshops Series Begins in July!

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After a successful run of Policy Advocacy workshops, we are currently gearing up for our Air Pollution 101 workshops. These two-session workshops highlight the basics of air pollution, the health impact it causes and current efforts to secure a healthier environment:

Day 1
Introduction to Air Pollution
Learn about air pollution, where it comes from and its effects on your local environment, your health and quality of life.

Day 2
Health Impacts & Local Solutions
Dive into scientific studies and participate in interactive activities to gain an in-depth understanding of air pollution. Learn about local efforts to ensure better air quality for you and your loved ones.

Take part of our workshop series at any of the following locations:

Springdale West Apartments
2095 West Spring Street, Long Beach, CA 90810
DAY 1: Thursday, July 10, 2014, 6-8pm
DAY 2: Thursday, July 17, 2014, 6-8pm
Union Pacific at YWCA
4315 Union Pacific Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90023
DAY 1: Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 12-1:30pm
DAY 2: Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 12-1:30pm
General West Long Beach
1594 West Willow Street Long Beach, CA 90810
DAY 1: Wednesday,September 3, 2014, 6-8pm
DAY 2: Wednesday,September 10, 2014, 6-8pm
City of Commerce (EYCEJ Community Room)
2317 S. Atlantic Blvd, Commerce, CA 90040
DAY 1: Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, 6-8pm
DAY 2: Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014, 6-8pm
For more details and/or to RSVP for a workshop series, please e-mail info@eycej.org or call the EYCEJ office at 323.263.2113.