Breathing Life into a Dead Space

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By Aissia Richardson

For over 31 years, the mission of African American United Fund (AAUF) has been to actively engage Pennsylvania’s African American community to collectively address social, environmental and economic injustices by pooling resources to enhance the quality of life of those most affected by these problems. I created the AAUF African Marketplace Health and Wellness program in 2007 to highlight health disparities in the African American community after my father suffered a stroke and subsequently was diagnosed with heart disease.

After my father had his stroke, he was afraid to leave home. He stopped working, stopped teaching, and stopped exercising. All activities he had previously enjoyed. As a work therapy project, I asked him to help coordinate this new program to educate our family and our community about preventable disease and to connect African American men to traditional health care providers. Sadly, my father lost his battle with heart disease in 2008 and died the day before our first healthy food cooking demonstration took place. As a tribute to him, I vowed to provide access to health care for the poor and in minority communities, to present information about how to maintain health and recognize warning signs of preventable diseases and to work with young men by talking with them early about maintaining their health.

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Students preparing fruit salad

In 2009 I began a community garden on a vacant lot where illegal dumping, prostitution and drug dealing were rampant. After seeing a news clip about gardening at the White House, the Urban Garden Initiative was born and it’s now a meeting space for our community. We’ve hosted film screenings, dance performances, plays, musical productions, farmers markets and an annual health fair. The urban garden is a demonstration model to teach our neighbors how to garden, to grow and distribute produce and to conduct farmers markets with items from small, family owned farms.  In addition, the site is used as a job skills training program for adjudicated minors in the Philadelphia Youth Advocate Program and the formerly convicted, in conjunction with X-Offenders for Community Empowerment, as well as other neighborhood re-entry facilities.

In 2010, I started Garden to Plate cooking classes with adjudicated minors which introduced youth to healthy eating options. My personal philosophy is that all men should know how to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s what I’ve taught my son and what I pass on to youth who regularly eat cheeseburger specials rather than fruits and vegetables. Over 70 young men have graduated from the program. It costs $23,000 to house a prisoner in state facilities. I estimate the gardening and cooking class has saved taxpayers approximately $1,610,000 and only costs $10,000 per year to maintain. The participants raise their grades, get off probation and have marketable skills once they graduate!

If you live in the Philadelphia area and want to start a community garden, the first place to go is the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Garden Tenders program. With a little bit of work and effective programming you too can breathe life into a dead space!

About the author: Aissia Richardson, President, African American United Fund, has volunteered with various organizations that address policy issues over the years. Ms. Richardson is a public education and public transit advocate. She serves as the chair of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority’s 24 member Citizen Advisory Committee and the City of Philadelphia’s appointee to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission Public Participation Taskforce. She is a Pennsylvania native and Philadelphia resident who enjoys connecting organizations to each other to create mutually beneficial partnerships. She has traveled extensively across the Delaware Valley learning about rural, urban and suburban living and working with concerned citizens in the region to ensure their voices are heard when public planning is proposed and implemented.

 

 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

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Reaching New Audiences With an Environmental Justice Message

By Rebecca Bratspies

Environmental Justice, I bet you don’t even know what that means…I had no idea that it actually affects every one of us. That is, until it came to my home.”

Untitled-2So begins Mayah’s Lot, the environmental justice comic book produced by my new research center—the CUNY Center for Urban Environmental Reform (CUER).  I founded CUER in 2011 to connect my scholarly environmental writings with public service to my urban community in New York City. CUER promotes environmental democracy as a critical aspect of social justice, and supports communities seeking to participate in environmental decisions that affect them.

With support from the CUNY Law School Innovation Fund, we began looking for non-traditional ways to bring environmental messages to a generation steeped in highly visual and interactive ways of learning.  I especially wanted a message that would resonate with my very urban daughter and her friends—many of whom think of “the environment” as existing elsewhere, rather than where they live and learn. Our first project is Mayah’s Lot—an environmental justice comic book and video animated by Norman Dillon of Mothermin­d Studios. You can download the comic book here, or watch the video here.

With Mayah’s Lot, we want to create an accessible learning tool for young readers and also to reach non-traditional audiences with an environmental justice message. We collaborated with graphic artist Charlie LaGreca of Comicbook Classroom and a group of middle-school students in Queens, NY, to develop a beautifully-illustrated comic book.  Mayah’s Lot stands alone as a storybook, but it also provides valuable environmental justice lessons. Readers learn alongside Mayah, the young heroine, as she organizes her neighborhood to prevent a hazardous waste facility from coming into her already overburdened community.

With support from CUNY Law, the Forest Service and the Greening Western Queens Fund, we are developing lesson plans for a range of grade levels that work with the Core Curriculum and are suitable for classroom adoption.  These materials will be available from the CUER website.  If you use them—and we hope you do—we ask that you let us know what you used and give us feedback on how it went.

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In fact, throughout this month, I have been using Mayah’s Lot in educational workshops with about 100 fifth graders at PS85 in Astoria, Queens and 120 sixth graders at PS122. Using a curriculum built around Mayah’s Lot, Charlie and I have worked with these students to cultivate their understanding of environmental law and environmental justice. We help them identify environmental problems in their neighborhoods and then the students create their own environmental justice comic book. The response from students so far has been terrific!

“It was amazing to see how engaged our students were using academic skills to tackle a real-world problem,” said Dimitria Kamaris, a teacher at PS122. “We strive to have our students personally invested in their own education, and through Mayah’s Lot and its curriculum, we’ve been able to do just that.”

About the author: Rebecca Bratspies, Professor, joined the faculty of CUNY Law in 2004. Her teaching and scholarly research focus on environmental and public international law, with a particular emphasis on how legal systems govern the global commons and how law can further sustainable development. Professor Bratspies spent a year seconded to the Republic of China (Taiwan) Environmental Protection Administration. Upon her return to the United States, she was a litigation associate with Dechert, Price and Rhoads where she worked with civil rights groups to bring two victorious class action suits challenging Pennsylvania’s implementation of welfare reform.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

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Injecting Knowledge to Cure Injustice

By Dr. Sacoby Wilson

Growing up in Vicksburg, Mississippi, I had a fondness of the Big River and the love of the environment.  Unfortunately, I was aware that some communities did not enjoy the same level of environmental quality that others did.  I grew up near a concrete plant, waste water treatment plant, oil facility, and power plant in the background.  My father was a pipefitter who over the years worked at nuclear power plants, oil refineries, coal fired plants and was exposed to many contaminants.  These experiences, combined with my diagnosis at age 7 with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease, really drove me to explore why some communities were burdened by hazards and unhealthy land uses and how exposure to environmental stressors can lead to negative health outcomes.

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I was inspired to use my interest in science and environmental health for environmental justice after meeting Drs. Benjamin Chavis and Robert Bullard in the early 1990s. These professors taught me the value of getting out of the ivory towers of academia and getting into communities to spread knowledge to push for positive change. Since then, I have been a passionate advocate for environmental justice working in partnership with community groups across the United States. Through this work, I have learned that the use of science to empower through education, paired with community organizing and civic engagement, is the key to alleviating environmental injustices.

One of those individuals who helped me understand the importance of getting communities into the research process was Omega Wilson.  Wilson’s Group, the West End Revitalization Association (WERA) has  fought against environmental injustice, infrastructure disparities, and the lack of basic amenities for the last twenty years.  WERA leaders have used a community-driven research approach known as community-owned and managed research (COMR) to address environmental injustice in their community.  COMR focuses on the collection of data for action, compliance, and social change.  In combination with EPA’s collaborative-problem-solving model, WERA’s work provides a blueprint for other communities to use partnerships, stakeholder engagement, action-oriented research, and legal tools to achieve environmental justice.

Untitled-2As a professor who learned through my mentors, I also firmly believe in inspiring the next generation of academics to take their tools and research into communities that need it the most. Currently, I am building a program on Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health (CEEJH) at the University of Maryland-College Park. CEEJH is building off existing work of leaders in the DC Metropolitan region to address environmental justice and health issues at the grassroots level; we use community-university partnerships, capacity-building, and community empowerment to address environmental justice and health issues in the Chesapeake Bay region.  Following in the footsteps of WERA, I plan to inspire young people to be bold, courageous, and become advocates for environmental justice.

About the author: Dr. Wilson is an environmental health scientist with expertise in environmental justice and environmental health disparities. His primary research interests are related to issues that impact underserved, socially and economically disadvantaged, marginalized, environmental justice, and health disparity populations. He is building a Program on Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health (CEEJH) to study and address health issues for environmental justice and health disparity populations through community-university partnerships and the use of CBPR in Maryland and beyond.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Chicagoland is Breathing a Little Easier

By Kimberly Wasserman

I’m from South Lawndale, also known as Little Village, a neighborhood on the west side of Chicago. It is a predominantly Mexican-American, low-income community that faces a number of environmental burdens.  And, although we were suffering the impacts of pollution and other stressors that affect our health, Little Village community residents weren’t fighting the pollution.

That’s where the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) comes in. LVEJO is an organization that has been working to protect people’s health and the environment in our community, through democracy in action. I first crossed paths with LVEJO while working as a computer teacher at the Little Village Boys and Girls Club. When the club faced closure, the staff and students rallied with the help of LVEJO to keep it open because it serves an important role as a place for local youth to gather, learn, and play. Attracted to community organizing, I later took a position with LVEJO. That was after my first son was born, who  had his first asthma attack when he was just three months old. Now, two of my three kids suffer from  asthma.

In 2002, a Harvard School of Public Health study validated what Little Village residents had long suspected; air pollution from the antiquated Fisk and Crawford coal plants in our neighborhoods was linked to over 40 premature deaths, 550 emergency room visits, and 2,800 asthma attacks each year, as well as heart attacks, bronchitis and other ailments.  In order to fight this epidemic on a larger scale, LVEJO helped form the Chicago Clean Power Coalition, made up of 50 community, public health and environmental organizations.  The coalition’s tireless efforts eventually led to a victory, with the closure of the dirty, inefficient plants this past September.  Now, we are working to make sure the former plant sites are properly cleaned up before any redevelopment takes place.

Working for LVEJO, I have also focused on training young people to stand up for environmental justice and the many issues we still face in Chicago. One of our campaigns is to create more green space in the community. Currently, Little Village is ranked #1 for the worst deficit of open space; no new parks have been built there for 75 years.  But, we are encouraged by a proposed new nature walkway on an abandoned rail line and plans for a new 24-acre park, designating 6 acres for urban agriculture to open up access to fresh produce.

We will continue to fight for justice in Little Village, and in the meantime we can breathe a little easier thanks, in part, to the efforts of many people in our neighborhoods who are willing to organize and stand up for the health of our community.

About the Author: Kimberly Wasserman grew up in the Chicago neighborhood of Little Village, the same community where she currently lives and works. She began her work with LVEJO as a part-time organizer, but eventually moved up to full time. As part of her current position, Wasserman is responsible for coordinating all LVEJO campaigns, ensuring that all leaders and bases are an active part of the campaign, and executing the campaign. She is also responsible for building the necessary relationships to ensure that the campaigns move forward.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Building a Bridge between Environment and Equity

By Lydia Hooper

Even those of us familiar with environmental justice often cannot see this issue in our own communities without taking an in-depth look. The more I have learned about Westerly Creek in the Denver Metro Area, the more I have come to understand how the quality of this waterway is not just about public and environmental health, it’s about fairness. I have also been delightfully surprised to find that it is young people who are leading the way to change.

Westerly Creek

Most of the Westerly Creek disappears underground but it is also much nearer to homes, both factors which increase the risk of flooding damage in this neighborhood during Denver’s annual flash flood season. Moreover, the people most affected by such floods are the least protected. Flash floods often may have a dangerous wall of roaring water carrying rocks, mud and other debris that can damage property and possibly endanger lives. The area has become a resting place for refugees and immigrants, and due to numerous language and cultural barriers as well as preoccupation with the day-to-day concerns of low-income living, the majority of local residents remain unaware of these flooding dangers.

So far there have been at least three plans drawn up for a greenwayalongthecreek, but since such a major re-engineering project would cost about $1 million per block, it has been very difficult to secure funding. But the good news is that there are some who are working to fight this injustice right now – like my colleague Donny Roush at EarthForce, an organization that empowers youth to become leaders in their communities. Roush hopes to cultivate community-based solutions through facilitation of the EarthForceProcess, six-steps that use scientific inquiry, service-learning and civic action tools to engage students in taking action on environmental issues.

This past summer Roush explored Westerly Creek’s issues with a group of students from the neighborhood’s Fletcher Middle School. Earth Force helped students to conduct experiments to locate nearly 100 homes that are in areas most vulnerable to flooding. The students then decided to make and distribute brochures to educate their neighbors about local flooding dangers. “I do think we made a difference,” ninth-grader Cynthia Casillas told theDenverPost. “I think we spread awareness.”

These students will continue to work with their schools and Earth Force, and have expressed interest in not only sharing their research with residents, but with the local government as well. And as the City of Denver continues to hold meetings with the public to find ways to address the dangers from the flooding season, I won’t be surprised if community youth are the first ones to take a seat.

About the author: LydiaHooper is the “KeepItClean” Communications Liaison for DenverPublicWorksWastewaterManagementWaterQualityDivision and EarthForce, a non-profit that focuses on community partnership and facilitation of environmental service-learning projects for youth nationwide.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Tox Town: A Great Tool for Learning About Chemicals in our Environment

By Judy Kramer and Andrew Plumer

Have you ever wondered which chemicals are in your community and what impacts they may have on your health? Chemicals are routinely used to support all parts of American life and are integral in our agricultural, commercial, and industrial processes. Although our way of life depends on the use of many chemicals, their potential environmental impact cannot be ignored. Understanding the relationships between these substances and our environment is critical to promoting safe practices and protecting public health.

Tox Town Southwest Scene

We at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) have an interesting interactive website that introduces middle school, high school, and college students, as well as educators and the general public, to toxic chemicals in their everyday environment. Tox Town uses graphics, sounds, and animation to show the connections between chemicals, the environment, and the public’s health. There are six distinct neighborhoods in Tox Town: city, town, farm, port, US border regions, and a new US Southwest scene. Each neighborhood is toured by selecting “Location” or “Chemical” links.

Tox Town presents the facts on everyday locations where toxic chemicals and substances might be found with non-technical descriptions of the chemicals. There is information about how the environment can affect human health. We also provide links to chemical and environmental health resources from trusted sources. Like all of our neighborhoods, our new Southwest scene demonstrates the uniqueness and some similarities of the environmental health issues we all face today.

In collaboration with Diné College, a tribal college for the Arizona and New Mexico Navajo Nation, the Southwest has very specific environmental hazards like abandoned mines, uranium tailings, and dust storms. With Tox Town, we at the NLM seek to inform the public about the environmental health concerns in their “own backyard” but also with areas with which they may not be familiar.

The US Southwest scene can be used as an educational tool not only for students and the general public living in the Southwest, but also for those of us living in other parts of the country that are unaware of the unique environmental health concerns for those living in this region. Tox Town can present environmental issues in an easy to understand manner that makes explaining the concept of environmental justice to the general public interesting and engaging.  Tox Town also offers some resources in Spanish, and has a text version. We also have resources especially for teachers.  Check out this great new resource and let us know what you think of the new Southwest scene and Tox Town in general.

About the authors: Judy Kramer is a Public Health Specialist, and a contractor for ICF International, working with the National Library of Medicine on Specialized Information Services. Judy oversaw the development of the Tox Town US Southwest scene and is a member of the K-12 team that produces educational resources for educators. Andrew Plumer is an Outreach Librarian for the National Library of Medicine, and also works on Specialized Information Services. Andrew is part of the K-12 team that produces educational resources for educators.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

(Re)trofit Design: From the Ground Up

By Sean Nicholson

William McDonough, an American architect who co-wrote Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things said, “Pollution is a symbol of design failure.” Considering that  pollution is causing problems like ocean acidification and climate change, the logical next question is, so how do we fix the design?

Well, to address the air emissions that contribute to climate change, you have to start where the design is the weakest; where the pollution is most damaging and often most overlooked. For example, one of the largest design failures contributing to air emissions is energy inefficient housing. In these homes, which are especially prevalent in low-income communities, energy seeps out of every nooks and cranny. This extra energy consumption adds up to more greenhouse gas emissions, higher utility bills, and adds stresses to overburdened communities who need relief the most.

Our organization, Let’s Retrofit a Million (LRAM), started as a student-led, nonprofit organization at Morehouse College, a historically black college (HBCU) in Atlanta, Ga, to help low-income communities that are disproportionately affected by climate destabilization, yet they are the least likely to receive aid. To help address the issue LRAM set up a series of service-learning opportunities in modest means neighborhoods. Our flagship program, the Community Retrofit Day of Action, has already reached more than 10,000 residents and through the program we have given out 54,000 Retrofit Efficiency Packages, containing energy efficiency and water conservation devices, free of charge to residents. These efforts have led to  a total savings of $11.6 million for participating households and have offset the equivalent of more than 16 million lbs of carbon dioxide (CO2), pollution which would have resulted from producing the energy that was saved. Additionally, our distribution of water conservation devices has saved enough water to fill 548 Olympic-size swimming pools!

Through our Applied Mentorship Program for Sustainability (AMPS), we’ve used curriculum to educate metro Atlanta highschool students on how to deal with the environmental issues facing their communities. Furthermore, last year our very own “EcoTerns,” as we affectionately call them, convinced our organization to start an Urban Gardening Resiliency Oasis (UGRO). This program built and supports a community garden that serves as a green education space, a neighborhood beautification project, and provides residents with access to land where they can grow fresh produce.

Through experiential learning for both volunteers and residents, LRAM is able to heighten “environmental intelligence,” or begin to change environmental awareness into environmental action and more sustainable behaviors.  I truly believe that in order to reverse our ‘design failure,’ we must face our environmental justice issues on all fronts and ensure that no one is left behind.

About the Author: Sean Nicholson is the Marketing Communications Associate for Let’s Retrofit A Million Education Fund, Inc. He began his work with LRAM as an intern in the summer of 2009, working with high school students under LRAM’s Atlanta Mentorship Program for Sustainability. After the summer, he continued volunteering with LRAM, developing a passion for environmental justice work after learning first-hand how valuable the impact of the work was in his community.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Nuestras Raíces: How we Turned Environmental Justice into Action

By Giovanna Di Chiro

Nuestras Raíces Clean Air Event, 2011

When I first started working with Nuestras Raíces, I was inspired by the passion and commitment of Holyoke, Massachusetts’ young Puerto Rican residents toward improving their community and respecting Madre Tierra (Mother Earth).  I thought EPA’s Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) program would be a great resource for harnessing this passion, and we were fortunate to be awarded a CARE grant to support these goals.  For our grant project, Nuestras Raíces has focused on engaging young people to create awareness among our neighbors about the risk factors in the community related to indoor and outdoor air quality, water quality and mercury contamination from eating fish from the Connecticut River.

In addition to our focus on environmental health education and organizing, Nuestras Raíces is committed to promoting sustainable economic development to address the high rates of poverty and unemployment in our community. Our youth environmental leaders became more and more excited about the environmental issues we were focusing on in the CARE project. They asked us how they could turn their efforts to expand environmental awareness into jobs and careers that would help make a difference in the community.  To support their great idea, Nuestras Raíces applied for the Department of Labor’s Pathways Out of Poverty funding to start RootsUp, a green jobs training program. To date, RootsUp has completed three cohorts with 22 graduates placed in local energy and green building and manufacturing companies.

Soon it became clear, however, that simply churning out green jobs trainees was not enough; we also wanted to help create good career pathways for our young graduates. Nuestras Raíces’ growing expertise through CARE and other community environmental and health collaboratives allowed us to launch and become the majority owner of Energía, a “triple bottom line” green energy services company, committed to hiring and mentoring local young people.

Now in its second year of operation, Energía has hired and trained three work crews, purchased and retrofitted two grease-powered trucks, and to date has completed over 700 residential and commercial energy efficiency projects, reducing homes’ and businesses’ energy output and saving them money from lower utility bills.

Mark Tajima and Yamil Brito

One of the graduates of our RootUp green jobs program, Yamil Brito, who was promoted to crew leader, has described his burgeoning career at Energía as, “good for his future, good for the earth, and good for the community.” As it grows and thrives, Energía will provide a source of sustainable income generation for Nuestras Raíces, while creating jobs and making our community more sustainable.

About the author: Dr. Giovanna Di Chiro is Director of Environmental Programs at Nuestras Raíces, Inc. in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and Research Associate at the Five Colleges Research Center in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.