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11537The new face of environmentalism

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  • J.H. Crawford
    Sep 24, 2009
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      This is quite interesting (from the LA Times):


      A new crop of eco-warriors take to their own streets

      Along the I-710 corridor, where cargo-carrying trucks and trains spew diesel pollution around the clock, grass-roots groups are persuading residents to act and making clean air a priority.

      It is 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday. Along streets of grimy stucco bungalows with bougainvillea, American flags and "Beware of Dog" signs on chain-link fences, a couple of residents are hosing down lawns.

      It ought to be quiet, but it's not.

      Behind the garden walls of Astor Avenue, there's a chugging and a hissing and a clanking and a squeaking. Two yellow locomotives, hooked to cars piled high with metal containers, idle on the track of the Union Pacific. Their stacks spew gray plumes of smoke.

      "We call this cancer alley," said Angelo Logan, who grew up on the city of Commerce street. "And we're fed up."

      Logan, 42, is part of a new generation of urban, blue-collar environmentalists. The son of a janitor and the youngest of five children, he dropped out of school in 10th grade and went to work as a maintenance mechanic in an aerospace factory.

      Now he is executive director of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, with a paid staff of four and 200 members who join for $5 a year. They recruit door-to-door in Commerce, Bell Gardens, Montebello and East Los Angeles, where more than three-quarters of residents are working-class Latinos.

      East Yard operates from a storefront on Commerce's Atlantic Avenue, a street lined with cheap motels and fast-food joints. It has no celebrities on its board, no publicity staff churning out press releases, no in-house attorneys to go toe-to-toe with $500-an-hour corporate law firms.

      But in California, where Latinos, African Americans and Asians now collectively outnumber non-Hispanic whites, political power is shifting. Here especially, but also across the country, mainstream foundations, which had long supported environmental groups led by white lawyers and policy wonks, have begun to channel grants to community organizations run by Latinos and blacks who see clean air and water as civil rights.


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      J.H. Crawford . Carfree Cities
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