At Resurrection Church in Boyle Heights, California, a party was thrown recently to celebrate the City of Vernon's withdrawal of a proposal to build a huge powerplant upwind from Boyle Heights and the surrounding, largely Latino communities. NRDC opposed this project at the California Energy Commission and had a role in convincing the County of Los Angeles and the City of Los Angeles to go on record against it as well.
Monsignor John Moretta (known to the community as "Father John") spoke about NRDC's help to the community, as did Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina and California Assemblyman John Perez. Sup. Molina was especially strong in reminding the audience that they are empowered and can fight back against their neighborhood being a toxic dumping ground for industry.
The kids understood this too: here is some of their artwork:
My colleagues Adrian Martinez, Jessica Lass and Morgan Wyenn were with me at the event. It was very gratifying to hear the appreciation from the local residents who were there. As I told the crowd, this is the kind of work we all went through school to do.
I went to another party last week in Santa Monica, California that may seem different at first glance but was similar in what it celebrated: local empowerment. Santa Monicans For Renters Rights, known locally as "SMRR," was celebrating its 30th anniversary. SMRR started as a tenants' rights organization, as the name suggests, and evolved into a progressive political organization that has had a majority on the Santa Monica City Council for many years now. Among its other achievements, Santa Monica is one of the greenest cities in the world. NRDC has worked with the City and with the local school board to make that happen.
What is similar about the residents of Boyle Heights and the residents of Santa Monica is they have learned that they can band together to fight harmful outside interests, whether those be polluters or land speculators. When they need legal counsel, NRDC is the earth's best defense.