#LetUsBreathe

May 1, 2018

WHO WE ARE

The Green Justice Coalition (GJC) is a partnership of community based, environmental and labor allies who lead campaigns that have a meaningful impact on working class people and communities of color.  Together, our members organize and advocate for a just transition to a sustainable economy that allows our communities to achieve environmental and economic justice.

Our Campaigns

STATEWIDE
Equity in Clean Energy Policy

Rapid growth in renewable energy, the fastest growing sector of Massachusetts’ clean energy economy, has largely been driven by increased adoption of solar generation. Advances in technology and manufacturing, together with new policies and enhanced programs have helped to make solar more accessible; but, not all families and workers are benefitting from the changes. Solar is an important part of the clean energy transition and GJC is working to ensure that frontline communities and workers are not shut out from its benefits.

Environmental Justice Protection for All

Through the Environmental Justice Act and Executive Order 552 on Environmental Justice, the Green Justice Coalition is working toward comprehensive environmental and public health protections for environmentally overburdened low-income communities and communities of color across Massachusetts. Every neighborhood should have healthy air, soil, water, and lives.

Empowering Communities!

Many residents rent rather than own their homes. This reality can make it difficult for our communities to invest in or benefit from renewable energy projects. This legislation would allow a municipality or aggregator to use the combined creditworthiness of all its ratepayers to enter into long term contracts for renewable energy with new project developers, including customers of utilities like Eversource and National Grid. Local renewable energy development could mean different things for different communities, such as solar, wind or battery storage, but all of these options mean good jobs with decent wages for workers in our communities.

GREATER BOSTON AREA
Organizing for a Just Transition

As cities across the commonwealth wrestle with what it will mean to address climate change and develop plans to reduce emissions, we must ensure that every community is not only included but directly involved with creating the solutions. We will no doubt transition into a new more earth friendly way of being but that does not guarantee that new way of being will be JUST. Efforts to organize and educate our bases and community allies broadly are essential to meeting the needs of those burdened the most by environmental injustice.

Community Choice Energy

Residents of a town or city can aggregate their electricity demand into a single municipal contract, giving them direct control over where their energy is sourced. CCE is a rapid, low-cost catalyst to grow clean energy and ensure that all residents are able to access its benefits. It can protect residents from winter price spikes and makes renewable energy affordable for every household without raising rates.

Community-Owned Microgrids

The Coalition began exploring the opportunities of microgrids in January 2016, after the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center released a Request for Proposals to assess potential projects across the state. If implemented with community partners and a community-led vision, microgrids can be part of the solutions in addressing climate justice and resiliency in low income communities of color. We are excited to explore what a community owned and supported grid can do to bring a neighborhood together.

Around the world there are people struggling to breathe; for some it is the effect of pollution, for others, crippling heat intensified by climate change, and then there are folks like Eric Garner whose airways were restricted by a combination of asthma and brutal force.

Too many people are exposed to harmful chemicals in their workplace and even more are denied access to affordable housing, education and health care, which have an enormous impact on our health and well-being.

We have been profoundly hurt by our culture that has pursued profit at the expense of communities, particularly black, brown, and Indigenous peoples. Communities of color have become sacrifice zones for pollution from landfills, coal plants, pipelines, and toxins in our homes, schools, and playgrounds.

On May 1st – International Workers’ Day (May Day) and World Asthma Day – we are calling for a world in which all of us can breathe deeply.

A world where we do not live paycheck-to-paycheck. A world where we can afford good housing and healthcare. A world where we are paid fairly.

A world where we can walk the streets freely without being worried about police or ICE deportations.  A world where we honor and protect our natural resources by investing in renewable energy, public transportation and community control. We are demanding a world free of racial, gender, and economic inequalities that take our breath and our power away.

This is not our world yet, but it could be.

To make this “just transition” we must confront the intersecting crises of climate change, racism and inequality. The window to make this transition is short. On May 1st, show support for our collective right to breathe deeply and live freely by joining hands with our communities, deepening our connections in our fights for justice, and dismantling systems that block those rights for people of color and low-income people around the world.

How can you participate?

Individuals

1.

Change your profile or cover photo on facebook or twitter to let friends and family about the #LetUsBreathe action and start a conversation. Download them here!

2.

On May 1st wear a dust mask or medical mask to show your support for our collective right to breathe deeply.  You can purchase the masks at a local hardware store or drug store. Decorate your mask, or add the name of someone who suffers from respiratory issues or social constrictions that make it hard for them live freely. Take a picture with your mask on and tag it #LetUsBreathe. If you run into someone else, take a photo with them!

3.

Call or tweet at legislators! Use the form below to ask key legislators to vote favorably on two important pieces of legislation or highlight other local legislation your community is advocating for combatting racism, climate change and inequality.

  • The Environmental Justice Act H.2913/S.426which would provide comprehensive environmental and public health protections for environmentally overburdened low-income communities and communities of color across Massachusetts.
  • The Solar Access for All Bill H.3398/S.1831 to ensure low-income communities, communities of color, and renters can access affordable renewable energy.

Organizations

1.

Encourage your members and staff to participate – Change your profile or cover photo on your facebook or twitter page. Download the images here! Send out email blasts, post on social media, and share the facebook event! Check out the sample emails and posts in the #LetUsBreathe Toolkit.

2.

Host a mask decorating party for your organization or partner up with another group and do it together (e.g. anti-pollution with a anti-poverty advocates or a worker’s rights group with a health care advocacy org). Download the mask-decorating party guide as part of the #LetUsBreathe Toolkit. 

3.

Organize a group photo with masks on May 1st! — Tag your legislators or local officials to draw attention to the issues of racism, climate change and inequality in your area.

4.

Participate in local May Day actions and host a debrief post-action about one or more of the issues connected to this day. Look at the sample debrief questions in the #LetUsBreathe Toolkit.

Resources

Facebook/Twitter
Profile Picture
Facebook Profile Cover Photo
Facebook Page Cover Photo
Twitter Header

The Toolkit Includes:

  • Message and framing for the action
  • How you can participate
  • Sample email blasts and social posts
  • Mask-decorating party guide
  • How to host a debrief session post-action
  • Event flyers
  • Graphics for email & social media

Events

Mask Making Parties:

12:00 PM-6:00 pm
LynnArts, 25 Exchange St., 3rd Floor, Lynn MA

May 1st Events:

May 1st Coalition – Chelsea, East Boston, Everett
Gatherings this day/Lugares de reunión este día:
4:00 PM Liberty Plaza – East Boston
4:30 PM Chelsea City Hall
5:30 PM Glendale Park, Everett

Coalition for Social Justice – New Bedford World Asthma Day/Worker’s Day
5:30-7:00 PM
Hurricane Barrier Harbor Walk, New Bedford, MA

Lynn’s May Day March and Rally for Workers and Immigrants
6:00 PM Lynn City Hall

PROBLEM:

The reality of climate change is even worse than predicted.

Massachusetts has grown two degrees warmer over the last century, almost double the warming of the rest of continental US. Boston is expected to experience an even greater increase in heat than the rest of the state. Some of the most pressing issues we face are:

  • Climate change, like the fossil fuel economy, puts working class communities at risk.
  • Fossil fuel companies that accelerate climate change are evading responsibility.
  • Frontline communities and workers are often shut out of the benefits from the clean energy transition.

Boston has the highest level of income inequality of any large city in the United States. If we do not deliberately address the existing inequalities in our city and state, the transition to a clean energy system will perpetuate and exacerbate the growing wealth and opportunity gap in the Commonwealth. Lower-income customers represent nearly 20 percent of residential energy consumption in the Northeast. Creating policies that benefit lower-income consumers benefit all of us.

SOLUTION:

Frontline communities and workers must be at the center of the clean energy transition

Massachusetts has been a national leader in the transition to a fuel economy that prioritizes the safety and wellbeing of people and the planet. We must work to ensure that our transition to clean energy is built on equity, deliberately targeting the needs of working-class communities, and frontline environmental justice communities.

By targeting resilient technologies toward frontline communities burdened by the former fossil fuel economy, and by securing good job standards for workers, we can spur new economic growth and ensure all are able to share in it meaningfully without being left behind.

 

An equity-driven transition to clean energy will:

Stabilize communities and local economies

  • Reduce surges of demand on the main grid that increase costs of operation

Increase spending power for low-income households

  • Reduce unemployment and improve job quality
  • Create local jobs that cannot be outsourced

Improve public health

  • Better air quality in our homes and communities
  • Reduce asthmas and other respiratory diseases

Increase resilience of communities

  • By expanding local independent power generation, we increase communities’ readiness for more frequent, more powerful storms and accompanying grid disruptions
  • Keep money in the local economy, rather than paying for imported fuels. Of the $22 billion Massachusetts spends on fossil fuel annually, $18 billion is spent out of state.

“We want clean air, so our kids can breathe without inhalers. We want clean land and water, so we can safely eat the food we grow and fish we catch. And we want responsible businesses that bring good, clean jobs to our communities.” 

          –Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts