Urban Environmental Program in New England
Grants and Projects: Capacity Building
Regional Environmental Council, Inc.
Worcester Healthy Homes and Neighborhoods Initiative
Prospective Partners: Nu-look Refinishing, Worcester Property Owners Association, Worcester Roots Project, Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts, Worcester Community Action Council, Inc., NeighborWorks Home Ownership Center, Lutheran Social Services of New England, Fairbridge Project International, Clark University, Legal Assistance Corp. Christian Community Church, Catholic Charities, City of Worcester Office of Human Rights, City of Worcester Division of Neighborhoods and Housing, City of Worcester Inspectional Services (Division of Housing and Health Inspections), City of Worcester Dept. of Public Health, and Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.
Summary: Worcester Healthy Homes and Neighborhoods Initiative is a recipient of a Level I CARE cooperative agreement. Healthy Homes and Neighborhoods (HHN) will be convened by the Regional Environmental Council, Inc. (REC), whose mission is to build healthy, sustainable and just communities in the City of Worcester, MA. The Worcester Healthy Homes and Neighborhoods Initiative will focus on the 5 lowest-income, highest-risk neighborhoods in the city of Worcester: Main South, Piedmont, Bell Hill, Oak Hill and Quinsigamond Village. These neighborhoods correspond with the city's federally designated neighborhood revitalization strategy areas (NRSA). These vulnerable neighborhoods have a long history of air, water, and land pollution. Interviews with residents and CBOs indicate that community members daily confront built environment, economic and household conditions associated with a range of negative health outcomes, disorders and learning disabilities. Worcester was #1 (worst) in total point ranking for cities in Massachusetts in a recent environmental justice assessment of the state (Faber and Krieg 2005), which analyzed the extent to which communities were overburdened through exposure to landfills, hazardous waste sites, trash transfer stations, incinerators, polluting industry, power plants, and cumulative environmental hazards.
REC and its partners are committed to working together to expand and strengthen the existing Worcester Lead Action Collaborative (WLAC) beyond its current 30 partner organizations to ensure their efforts are both inclusive and sustainable. Following the Roadmap, REC and HHN will identify environmental, health, and socio-economic community concerns (including those for immediate action), along with community vulnerabilities and assets. Following the collection and Assessment of information through the Community Dialogue Sessions and other tasks, HHN will assemble all data collected into a matrix for use during the prioritization process. Lastly, HHN seek to embody the CARE "bias for action" throughout the process by taking risk-reduction actions on key concerns as soon as possible.
Main South CDC
“Building Community Participation in Clean Energy and Green Infrastructure Projects in Worcester’s Kilby/Gardner/Hammond Neighborhood”
The Main Community Development Corporation has a long history of neighborhoods collaboration. The goal of this project is to assist residents of the Kilby/Gardener/Hammond neighborhood in developing knowledge about and networks to the Clean Energy and Green Infrastructure sectors to positively impact their quality of life. Knowledge about and networks for linking to these agendas will empower the community to participate in future development projects in their neighborhood in a meaningful way. Particular attention will be paid to the involvement of neighborhood youth through local schools and the Boys and Girls Club. An additional benefit will be the introduction of green job networks, as residents interact with professionals and are introduced to green job skills training offered by local Community Colleges.
Measurable Results: Bi-lingual factsheet of the project will be introduced and released. Contact lists of residents who are interested in Clean Energy and Green Infrastructure will be developed. Four forums will be organized to inform community residents about Green Infrastructure.
Project Partners: Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), University Park Campus School, Boys and Girls Club, Regional Environmental Council, City of Worcester Department of Public Works, City of Worcester Planning Department, Clean Water Action, Quinsigamond Community College, Institute for Energy and Sustainability, National Grid, and Mass Department of Energy Resources.
Worcester Roots Project
Toxic Soil Busters: Soil Science Research for Healthy Neighborhoods
Worcester Roots Project has been a major player in addressing environmental justice issues in Worcester since its inception. The purpose of the Soil Science Research for Healthy Neighborhoods project is to investigate the effectiveness of low-cost remediation methods for lead in soil contamination. The project will involve the implementation of low-cost remediation techniques, soil science research, and GIS data mapping. Participants in Worcester Roots Project’s lead safe landscaping program will partner with researchers from institutions of higher education to learn scientific methods and implement activities. Worcester Roots Project will produce written materials to aid residents and community-based organizations in implementing techniques based on research findings
Measurable Results: 10 youth will receive many hours of training between April and October 2010, gaining invaluable research skills which will allow their full participation in the project. The trainings are essential to build the skills and capacity of the youth who will be involved in all aspects of the research. Although there will be oversight of all aspects of the project by qualified volunteers and staff members, all parties will seek to prioritize youth leadership and hands on learning
Project Partners: Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Clark University
Boston Public Health Commission
Boston Safe Shop
The Boston Public Health Commission’s mission is to protect, promote, and preserve the health and well-being of all Boston residents, particularly the most vulnerable. The Boston Safe Shops Project is designed to protect the health and well being of workers in small automotive repair shops and the neighborhoods in which they are located by preventing air pollution, promoting green job growth, and connecting workers with education and health care resources. Grant funds will be used to offer a new and important component to this project – a skills training program leading to certification on repair and maintenance of hybrid vehicles. This training will act as an incentive to implement pollution reducing alternative products in neighborhood shops.
Measures of Success: Number of auto shops testing water-based brake cleaner or parts; Number of auto shops continuing the aqueous system contract beyond the 3-month trial period – effectively replacing their solvent usage; Number of mechanics participating in the hybrid service training sessions; Number of shops participating in the hybrid service training will take the certification test and become a Qualified Hybrid Auto Center with one or more Qualified Auto Techs; Publication of a Safe Shops newsletter to all auto shops in Boston highlighting the success stories of participating shops to share their experiences.
Project Partners: Boston Auto Repair Shops, Safety-Kleen, Automotive Career Development Center, Safe Shops Community Partners, Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, Vietnamese American Initiative for Development, Inc., Boston Main Streets, Boston Inspectional Services, Boston Public Schools (Madison Park Vocational and Technical High School), the Toxics Use Reduction Institute, and the Mayor’s Health Line, and others.
Spanish American Union, Inc.
“What’s Bugging You?”
The Spanish American Union, Inc. is a recipient of an Environmental Justice Small Grants award. The “What’s Bugging You?” project, led by the Groundwork Springfield project manager of the non-profit Spanish American Union, will collaborate with partners to raise awareness and reduce health hazards and risks from pesticides for families in public housing in Springfield, MA. The project will work with youth (Groundwork Springfield Green Team) to provide education, outreach and encourage actions to improve the quality of the indoor environment in public housing developments by reducing exposure to pesticides, encouraging integrated pest management, and reducing asthma triggers for families at risk.
Measurable Results: Number of public forums held; Number of tenants reached; Creation of “What’s Bugging You?” webpage; Number of public service announcements created and aired; Creation of a Pesticide Use Reduction Strategy
Project Partners: Springfield Housing Authority
Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE)
“Green Justice: Education & Outreach to Improve Energy Efficiency”
According to a 2008 study by Jerrold Oppenheim, low-income Massachusetts residents paid three or more times the fraction of their incomes for heat and electricity as did the average resident. Lower-income families in Boston in particular are struggling with rising energy costs, as many families live in older homes that lack energy efficient systems and have drafty doors and windows and under-insulated attics, walls, floors, and basements. Founded in 1993, ACE builds the power of communities of color and lower income communities in New England to eradicate environmental racism and classism and achieve environmental justice. This project seeks to increase energy efficiency in residences in Roxbury, MA resulting in reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution and reduce utility costs for low income residents, giving families a greater chance of being able to stay in their homes. Activities include developing a culturally appropriate curriculum on the impacts of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions on air quality and health, residential energy systems and home energy costs, how to perform preliminary energy audits in homes, and how to access free and low cost energy audit and weatherization services. ACE will also train a corps of youth organizers as presenters on these topics who will host workshops for homeowners and renters in environmental justice neighborhoods. Other activities include compiling data on household GHG emissions, engaging households in a Low Carbon Living study and support group, compiling information about training programs to help residents prepare to take advantage of new opportunities in the growing energy efficiency field, and engaging low income residents in advocacy efforts for new policies and programs to reduce GHGs by increasing energy efficiency.
Measurable Results: Number of local residents trained; Number of corps members trained as organizers; Creation of a comprehensive curriculum, Reduction of GHG emissions
Project Partners: Boston Climate Action Network