People Not Pozos – Health & Environmental Justice Workshop Series

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Join us on Thursday, July 23, July 27, & August 6, 2015 at Senderos: 2141 Estrella Avenue in South Los Angeles to learn more about the presence of urban oil & natural gas extraction within our communities and the potential short/long-term effects that we may experience in the near future.

Be sure to register by calling (213) 748-7285.

Register by Calling (213) 748-7285

Local Residents Work to Transform their Community

The sun hid behind the clouds early in the morning, but everyone was alert with their drills, buckets, or shovels in hand. Eager children as young as four hurried back and forth like ants carrying buckets of soil. Committed parents and friends shoveled heavy soil or helped assemble thick wooden planks together. Later, children and adults cradled seeds and small plants in their palms while carefully choosing the best locations for their future crops. Indeed, on Saturday June 7th, 2014 forty community members and Esperanza Community Housing Corporation gathered to finish their community garden project. Among the forty people present there was a sense of collective responsibility and unity. The day transformed from a cloudy morning to a bright, sunny day and the hours seemed to slip by- most of the community members arrived at the park by nine in the morning and worked until two in the afternoon.

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Children at Richardson Park
Courtesy of Sandy Navarro and Angelica Romero

Collective gardens create opportunities for individuals to network and share experiences, create a sense of community, and build community leaders. Especially in South Los Angeles, where access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs are scarce, the opportunities that gardens offer are invaluable. Recognizing their significance, Esperanza invested in their second community garden project to further promote the idea of eating responsibility and help establish a sustainable food system that serves their respective communities regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, or any other background.

The community gleamed with the satisfaction of creating a garden for themselves. Their dedication was not only present that day; the adults and families already demonstrated their dedication by attending weekly meetings where they learned basic gardening skills. Looking around the finished product, Ruth Andrade, an active community member and the Richardson Park organizer shared, “It’s important that our children know how to plant, grow, and maintain seeds. They are tired and realizing how difficult this is, so I think they will want to invest and take care of the garden. (“Es importante para que nuestros hijos sepan cómo plantar semillas, como crecenlos, y cómo cuidarlos. Se estan cansando y saben lo difícil que es, entonces pienso que ellos van a tener esas metas para cuidar el jardín.”).” The garden at Richardson Park is yet another reason for neighborhood children to come to play, as well as a place for individuals and families alike to come together and grow fresh fruit and vegetables.

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Courtesy of Sandy Navarro and Angelica Romero

Esperanza’s Gardening Projects, Semillas de Esperanza (Seeds of Hope), is led by Coordinator Sandy Navarro.The project is an initiative to improve community health by educating community members on how to live a healthy lifestyle, and by providing access to fresh fruits and vegetables by means of planting edible gardens in South Los Angeles. Over the past few months, Sandy has worked to engage community residents in creating their gardens and connecting them with the necessary resources to ensure project sustainability. The first garden was at the Villa Esperanza (Villa), and Richardson Park is Semillas de Esperanza’s second site.

For more information on how you can get involved in our Semillas de Esperanza Project, please contact our Project coordinator:

Sandy Navarro, Gardening Project Coordinator Email: Sandy@esperanzacommunityhousing,org.

You can also support the garden project by making a donation of plants, trees and gardening supplies or funding to sustain our gardens here: donations welcome.

May is Asthma Awareness Month

Did you know: The highest rate of ED visits for asthma in LA County is in the 0-4 yr old age group. Or that Hispanic children are less likely to receive an asthma action plan upon discharge from an asthma hospitalization?

Join us on Tuesday May 20, 2014 at 801 West 23rd Street in South Los Angeles to learn more about the environmental hazards that are causing asthma in our community! Speakers will include Dr. Richard Jackson, Professor and Chair of Environmental Health at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Jim Mangia, CEO of St. John’s Family Medical Clinic, Nancy Halpern Ibrahim Executive Director of Esperanza Community Housing and 3 community members representing communities affected by Allenco, Murphy, West Adams and Baldwin Hills drilling sites. The event will also include asthma screenings by the Breathmobile and free refreshments!

To learn more about asthma and how you can get involved in asthma awareness contact Loretta Worthington at 213-639-6459

WAD flyer 2014 FINAL

 

Controversial urban oil field voluntarily agrees to halt operations

LA TIMES

Controversial urban oil field voluntarily agrees to halt operations       Allenco Energy Co. will suspend operations at a South L.A. oil field pending completion of investigations into health complaints.

Operations to be halted at L.A. oil field

November 22, 2013, 10:18 p.m.

Operators of a controversial urban oil field in South Los Angeles voluntarily agreed Friday to halt operations pending completion of investigations prompted by complaints from neighbors, who blame noxious vapors for persistent respiratory ailments, headaches and nosebleeds.

The move comes a few weeks after U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) urged Allenco Energy Co. to suspend oil production in the University Park neighborhood, half a mile north of USC, “until the experts tell us it is safe for our most vulnerable populations.”

In a letter to Boxer, Allenco President Peter Allen agreed and said the decision to suspend operations was made “to give you and the residents in our area a greater sense of confidence in our ability to operate responsibly and to appropriately address any concerns.”

Barry Wallerstein, executive director of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, said that it “doesn’t happen very often that an operator voluntarily shuts down in response to concerns expressed by the community and its elected representatives — in this case, Sen. Boxer.”

He added that Allen “had committed to make changes in equipment that was responsible for those vapors leaving the facility.”

“He was quite sincere in resolving the problems and making the necessary equipment modifications,” Wallerstein said of Allen.

Allenco is the focus of ongoing investigations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the South Coast air quality agency, the city attorney’s office, the county Department of Health and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which leases the 2-acre site to the company.

“I appreciate the company’s decision to suspend operations,” Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer said. “Our investigation into the company’s compliance with the law continues.”

A team of federal and county environmental officers was recently overwhelmed by toxic vapors while touring the site, lending support to residents’ suspicions that odors from the facility are making people sick. The neighborhood surrounding the oil field includes homes and schools, as well as the Doheny Campus of Mount St. Mary’s College.

Complaints related to the facility increased in 2010, when Allenco boosted production at its wells by more than 400%. Neighbors complained to the air quality agency 251 times over the next three years. The air district responded by issuing 15 citations against Allenco for foul odors and equipment problems.

But frustrations over the air district’s inability to say whether fumes from the oil field are hazardous triggered the ongoing investigations aimed at determining the cause of the ailments, as well as the validity of Allenco’s operating permits and the archdiocese’s lease agreements with the company.

“Even while our operations are down, we will continue to work with the regulating agencies,” Allen said in his letter to Boxer. “We will continue to seek advice from the community, and we have already hired engineering firms and environmental consultants to help us improve our operations.”

Neighbors applauded the company’s decision.

“It’s a great victory for a community that has been living and suffering in the air plume of Allenco’s emissions,” said Nancy H. Ibrahim, executive director of Esperanza Community Housing Corp., a nonprofit affordable housing developer in the area bounded by the 110 Freeway, the 10 Freeway and USC.

Said Monic Uriarte, whose 12-year-old daughter is among neighborhood children suffering from frequent nosebleeds:, “What happened today is a lesson for neighborhoods across Los Angeles. Don’t give up.”

louis.sahagun@latimes.com

http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-1123-oil-field-fumes-20131123,0,7551455.story#ixzz2llyEh3B4

People Not Pozos

September 7th was a hot Saturday morning filled with excitement and vigor as the Esperanza Community gathered across the street from an active oil extraction-well to stand up against oil well owner AllenCo Energy Inc. to demand an end to their toxic emissions. People came to share their stories and symptoms that they experience as a direct result of living steps away from an active oil well. One by one, residents of the neighborhood spoke of the harm they have either felt or witnessed in their own families including constant dizziness, nausea, headaches, and respiratory ailments. One mother spoke of her son’s nightly nosebleeds; another described her fear of opening the windows and exposing her children that much more to harmful chemicals. These fears and stories are common in the University Park community. The AllenCo oil extraction site is surrounded by schools, homes, and apartments and within the last three years they have increased production by more than 400%. Neighbors feel, see and smell this increase in production and know that it is increasingly detrimental to their health.

With the support of SAJE and InnerCity Struggle, Esperanza dropped the colorful “People Not Pozos” banner demanding that AllenCo prioritize the community’s health over production and profits. Songwriter, Luí Donis performed an original song describing the ailments and struggle of this community. In a real-time Spanish to English bilingual translation, speakers and translators helped all participants understand the messages of each speaker. Poignantly 12 year-old Nalleli Cobo shared her experience of headaches and almost daily nosebleeds over the last three years aligned with the increased production. The young resident said, “This is making me sick but it is also making my friends sick. We need to know why.” The community voices ended with local resident and activist, Monic Uriarte reminding the community and hopefully AllenCo that their growing profits are mirrored by the growing harm to community and most especially the children.

IMG_1787LA Times recently covered the event in an article, which led to a follow up piece ignited by Senator Boxer asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to “immediately address these unacceptable situations using all available and appropriate authorities.”

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For more information on how you can join Esperanza in standing up for the People Not Pozo’s Campaign contact elpozo@esperanzacommunityhousing.org  or call us at 213-748-7285 to get involved in our work!

Connecting City Planning through El Chavo del Ocho

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The popular Mexican comedy show starring “El Chavo” first aired in the 1970’s and has continued to be an international hit among families today – 40 years later.  The comedy follows El Chavo del Ocho / Chavo from Apartment 8, and is set in an apartment complex, a vecindad.  The characters are friends, neighbors and the landlord.  Most of the shows take place in the courtyard of the apartment complex. The show and characters were the perfect setting for an adaptation skit for The People’s Planning School.

el_chavo_del_ochoThe People’s Planning School is a series of bi-lingual, popular education workshops where community leaders, organizers and community health promoters teach community members about the City planning process. The workshop engages residents around community needs and identify how to get involved in the planning process to create healthier communities.  Esperanza and SAJE have collaboratively hosted the People’s Planning School over the last four Friday evenings for more than 65 local residents and community leaders. This series included discussions about Slum Housing and Housing Rights, Transit Oriented Development, Fracking and the impact of community planning on community health. The skit was a great opportunity to connect community-planning issues by using familiar characters to address local community concerns in South LA.  The workshops provide local residents with resources and the knowledge needed to get involved in planning their community.  The People’s Planning School is a tool in the larger framework of the Same Neighbors, Better Neighborhoods Coalition including Esperanza, SAJE and St. Johns Well Child and Family Center and the South LA Health and Human Rights Declaration.

PPS_SkitTo find out how you can get involved in the next People’s Planning School series follow our blog and facebook page (www. facebook/ esperanzacommunityhousingcorporation.com)  for upcoming workshops.

A Third Revolution in Health

Esperanza’s Executive Director, Nancy Halpern Ibrahim was recognized in the November 2012 edition of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Magazine for our work with  Magnolia Place and the third revolution in health. “The Magnolia Community Initiative, a collaboration among more than 70 government and private-sector partner organizations with significant participation from the Fielding School, embodies 3.0 with its holistic, community-integrated approach to health.”  

3.0 A New Operating System for Public Health 

                                 

Some USC neighbors foresee a threat, not improvement

It’s the most ambitious construction project in South Los Angeles in decades: The University of Southern California plans to replace its ancient University Village shopping center on the edge of campus with a $900-million, multistory complex of stores, office buildings and dormitories.

Full Story: Some USC neighbors foresee at threat, not improvement.

 

Right to Health Committees

In celebration of Health Center Week and the Supreme Court decision upholding the affordable Care Act: Together, Assemblywoman Mitchell and St. John’s Right to Health Committees stood up to the Governor’s “PPS Payment Reform Proposal” and protected over$100 million in funds for community clinics throughout the state. Her leadership in the State Legislature and commitment to South Los Angeles in unmatched St. John’s is proud to celebrate Ms. Mitchell.