Transit Allies Fight for Share of Sales Tax

By Marcy Rein

Community meeting on proposed transportation sales tax, at Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose, Sept. 9, 2015 © 2015 Tiburon

Santa Clara County's low-income transit users face some common challenges, whether they live in Gilroy, the Latino communities of East San Jose, or Sunnyvale. The buses they depend on cost too much, take too long, don’t run often enough or late enough, and are always at the end of the line for transit funding.The transportation sales tax proposed for the November 2016 ballot  could begin to close the funding gap, but competition for the $6 billion the tax could raise will be stiff, and low-income transit users will need to press their case in a political process that has been dominated by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which represents the region’s major employers. But a diverse new coalition, the Transportation Justice Alliance (TJA), is taking the challenge head-on.

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San Mateo County Renters Fight Rising Evictions

By Joseph Smooke and Dyan Ruiz

Renters and community supporters protest the eviction of residents of 1824 El Parque Court in San Mateo at a vigil organized by the San Francisco Organizing Project/Peninsula Interfaith Action. Courtesy of []. A group of community workers, along with mostly Latino and African American working-class parents, hold hands in a prayer vigil at a suburban Bay Area neighborhood. They huddle together in the shade on the front lawn of a townhouse complex as their children play with protest signs and run around with friends. So close to San Francisco with its rent control and modest eviction preventions, the Silicon Valley city of San Mateo provides no security for tenants.

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Connecting Struggles Across Issues and Borders

The roots of the environmental justice movement lie in an archetypical struggle between low-income communities of color and industrial polluters—refineries, incinerators, landfills, and dirty ports, to name a few. In the last few years, leaders of this movement have worked ardently to infuse an environmental politic into racial and economic justice campaigns and to underscore local control of common resources and community-based solutions to social and ecological ills.[1]

Now the fruits of this labor are becoming evident. What was seen as isolated pockets of noxious industrial impacts are now being viewed as symptoms of larger phenomena that create other social inequities. People are connecting the impacts of toxic industry to other injustices, such as forced migration and poverty jobs, and coming together to address these multiple crises.   

On a hot July afternoon in Detroit last summer, over 300 movement organizers from across the United States gathered to plot a course for ecological justice as part of the U.S. Social Forum. “We come from environmental justice communities who have been on the frontlines of the effects of polluting industries like waste incineration. But [we] also come from economic justice struggles... and immigrant [communities that] understand the connection between land and life,” said Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan, strategy initiatives director for Movement Generation based in Oakland, California.

People, Power, Policy

Coalition Challenges California to Legislate Climate Equity

By Kay Cuajunco, Photos by Brooke Anderson

On August 25th, community leaders from across the state converged on the steps of the Capitol to demand climate policies that benefit and protect low-income communities and communities of color. In commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, residents from some of the state’s most pollution-impacted communities stood in solidarity with frontline communities across the nation, urging their legislators to pass policies to transition away from dirty fossil fuels and ensure another Katrina doesn’t happen again.

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Moving the Money

By Amy Vanderwarker

In 2014, there was a rare occurrence in California: a new revenue stream of hundreds of millions of dollars—$872 million, to be exact, with more anticipated in future years — being funneled to state agencies through the newly implemented cap-and-trade program to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

On October 31, 2014, the California Environmental Protection Agency announced that, as expected, it will use the statewide cumulative impact screening tool, CalEnviroScreen2.0, to define “disadvantaged communities” for the purposes of distributing climate change funding. The top 25 percent of communities identified by this tool will be considered “disadvantaged” for the purposes of the set-aside within the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.  Suddenly, how “disadvantaged community” is defined took on a lot more importance to a lot more people than it ever has in the past.

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The Lie of Growth and the Power of the Small— Vandana Shiva and Gopal Dayaneni

"The growing “bio-economy”   is based on control, manipulation and commodification of life… things like microbial factories that are producing industrial food products, that will make fuels and pharmaceuticals, seeds and now even species.” —Gopal Dayaneni

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Dr. Vandana Shiva, the internationally known author, scientist and advocate for small farmers and agroecology, spoke with Gopal Dayaneni of Movement Generation at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, California in September 2013. This conversation was part of a series of conversations hosted by the group that expose the growing “bio-economy,” which Dayaneni calls “an economy based on control, manipulation and commodification of life… things like microbial factories that are producing industrial food products, that will make fuels and pharmaceuticals, seeds and now even species.” U.C. Berkeley, The Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, and the private corporations that are subsidized by it, are central to this developing bio-economy. The federal government and multinational corporations see the bioeconomy as a new frontier to be conquered.


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