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.
Alternatives for Community & Environment, Inc.
Diesel Detox: Reducing Toxic Diesel Emissions in Roxbury
Alternatives for Community & Environment (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. Over the last fifteen years, ACE has pioneered innovative efforts to address local sources of air pollution, specifically diesel emissions, which have become models for city and state programs. This project will focus on reducing diesel pollution in Roxbury, MA. Roxbury is a state-designated Environmental Justice Area. Asthma hospitalization rates for Roxbury are consistently among the highest in the state and 5-6 times the state average. In a study of deaths each year due to diseases of the heart and lungs that may be caused by particulate air pollution, the Boston area ranked as the 5th worst major urban area.
The goals of the Diesel Detox project are: (1) reduces diesel fine and ultrafine particulate emissions and black carbon soot in Roxbury from construction sources through partnerships with local and private institutions; (2) new policies in the City of Boston to reduce diesel particulate and black carbon emissions from public works construction projects; (3) sustained funding for diesel particulate filters, engine upgrades and repowers, and other best available retrofit technologies (BART) in Boston and Massachusetts.
Measures of Success: Number of youth leaders trained; Number of community youth reached through outreach and training efforts; Number of community action projects completed; Number of meetings held with local institutions; Status of effort to pass City-wide ordinance requiring Diesel Particulate Filters on all public works projects in Boston.
Project Partners: Clean Water Fund, Clean Water Action
Boston Public Health Commission
Boston Safe Shops, Green & Clean Business Recognition Program
The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) addresses a full spectrum of public health hazards that can impact the citizens of Boston in pursuit of our mission to protect, preserve, and promote the health and well being of the citizens of Boston. Boston Safe Shops, Green & Clean Business Recognition Program works with auto shops and nail salons throughout Boston to prevent and/or reduce pollution and hazardous occupational health exposures caused by the products and methods they use. Nail salons and auto shops expose their workers, owners, customers, and neighbors to a wide range of environmental health hazards including volatile organic chemicals, many of which have been implicated as sensitizing agents in the development of occupational asthma, carcinogens, and neurotoxins. The program will outline a set of objective standards that businesses must meet to earn points on a grading scale and when a business has earned enough points it can receive an annual recognition as a Green & Clean Business. The goal of the program is to reduce pollution and/ or hazards in businesses that implement the necessary changes to be certified as Green and Clean. Once the program is fully established, the standards can be strengthened through annual revisions to further increase pollution and hazard reduction.
Measurable Results: Number of focus groups conducted to solicit input and involvement in the development of criteria for the Green & Clean Business Certification Program; Number of nails salons applying to program; Number of auto shops applying to program; Number of businesses evaluated; Number of businesses certified as a Green & Clean Business.
Project Partners: Vietnamese American Initiative for Development (Viet-AID), Toxic Use Reduction Institute at University of Massachusetts, Lowell (TURI), nail salon owners, auto shop owners, Cora Roelofs, ScD, Brandeis University, and Sustainable Business Network (SBN)
Community Foundation of Southeastern MA / SEEAL Project Fund
SouthCoast Energy Challenge – Dinamismo Language Initiative
The Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance (SEEAL) is a coalition of 25 leading Southeastern Massachusetts’ environmental nonprofits, public agencies, schools, and universities working together to support each member’s capacity to improve environmental awareness and stewardship in the region. The SouthCoast Energy Challenge was designed to reduce South Coast Massachusetts households energy consumption by 15% over three years by helping the community garner the economic benefits of reduced energy consumption and help mitigate the most sever public health threats posed by CO2 emissions. A large percentage of residents in the target areas of Fall River and New Bedford are non-English speaking and were not being reached by the initial Challenge due to language barriers. The goal of the Dinamismo Initiative is to register at least 15% of all non-English speaking households in the target areas in the SouthCoast Energy Challenge by adapting their community education model to include translation of Energy Challenge print and media material, provide language interpretation and specific Spanish/Portuguese workshops, and recruit and support bi-lingual organizing interns and volunteers. The residents enroll in the Energy Challenge by taking concrete energy saving actions such as completing a home energy audit and installing simple energy efficiency technologies, investing in deeper home weatherization upgrades or by implementing energy efficiency behavior changes such as “turning down, switching off, and unplugging
Measurable Results: Number of Spanish/Portuguese language flyers and/or posters and energy efficiency handbooks featuring energy efficiency actions and how-to’s translated and distributed; Number of households reached through door-to-door canvassing; Number of Non-English speaking households registered for the SouthCoast Energy Challenge and completing Energy Challenge actions; Reduction in annual carbon dioxide emissions among Non-English speaking households in Fall Fiver and New Bedford participating in the Energy Challenge.
Project Partners: City of New Bedford government, City of Fall River government, UMass Dartmouth Office of Campus & community Sustainability, Bristol Community College Green Center, and the Marion Institute’s Green Jobs Green Economy Community Mobilization Initiative
Cleaning and Greening Lawrence
Groundwork Lawrence (GWL) was incorporated in 2001 as an independent nonprofit organization that aims to significantly enhance and restore Lawrence’s built environment and influence these public realm investments with projects that help improve the quality of life, public health, education, and the local economy by addressing the community’s needs. In Lawrence, significant amounts of litter line the city streets and it is strewn around many of the city’s public spaces and vacant lots. In addition many businesses are illegally dumping tires, construction debris, white goods, televisions, oil containers and household waste into the Spicket River. The goal of Cleaning and Greening Lawrence is to educate residents about litter issues to bring about their behavioral change to stop littering, start recycling and participate in cleanup efforts. By providing this education, the quality of the air, water, and land of Lawrence will be improved.
Measurable Results: Development of bilingual Litter/Recycling Train-the Trainer course. Number of presentations conducted; Number of residents educated; Number of Neighborhood Leaders recruited and trained; Number of Green Team youth trained; Number of PSA’s developed; Number of illegal dumping incident report signs posted; Number of illegal dumping incident report forms distributed and/or submitted.
Project Partners: City of Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua, City of Lawrence Department of Public Works (DPW), the City of Lawrence Mayor’s Health Task Force (MHTF), Lawrence Community Works (LCW), The Lawrence Senior Center, Neighborhood Associations, Hands United for Lawrence, and Mass Audubon
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