Environmental Activism

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Turn Off Your Truck: Central Valley Teens Campaign to Cut Emissions

Theresa Moreno, 15, talks to a trucker about strategies to reduce pollution. (Alice Daniel/KQED)

Theresa Moreno, 15, talks to a trucker about strategies to reduce pollution. (Alice Daniel/KQED)

At the intersection of I-5 and Highway 41 lies Kettleman City, a frequent stop for big-rig truckers. But drivers often leave their trucks idling while they have a meal, and residents worry about the resulting air pollution. As part of our first-person health series “Vital Signs,” we hear from two people: Theresa Moreno and Maricela Mares-a la Torre, a community organizer with Greenaction. She trains young people to talk to truckers about air pollution. Mares-a la Torre begins:

What we find is that a lot of the truckers that are stopped up here at the junction, they’re going into the restaurants, they’re hanging out, checking their email, eating their lunch, and they’re letting their trucks idle because supposedly, they don’t want the air conditioning to turn off. But that’s against the law.

We’ve trained our youth to go out and talk to truckers about idling and diesel emission safety. We try to go out in pairs just because it makes you a little braver if you’re with somebody, and truckers can be, you know, a little bit gruff. Continue reading

Wife’s Illness Spurs Mexican Immigrant to Environmental Activism

Eduardo Guevara became involved in environmental activism after his wife was hospitalized twice for asthma. (Lisa Morehouse/KQED)

Eduardo Guevara became involved in environmental activism after his wife was hospitalized twice for asthma. (Lisa Morehouse/KQED)

Editor’s Note: The unincorporated community of Mecca in Riverside County has a host of environmental concerns, from well water with naturally-occurring arsenic to toxic dump sites. When people talk about environmental justice here, Eduardo Guevara is always cited as a leader in the community. But Guevara says that five years ago, after moving here from Mexicali, Mexico, he wasn’t involved in any kind of activism. After his wife was hospitalized twice for asthma, Guevarra learned that their environment might be contributing to his wife’s health problems. As part of our series “What’s Your Story?” we hear from Guevara about how he, his wife and his son started attending community meetings to get some answers.

Since no one had the [the answers as to why my wife got sick], I  started to try to get them for, not only for me, but for her, and for my son.

I started being the guy that sometimes asked the questions nobody wanted to ask. They saw me and they were like, “Oh my god, this guy again.”
And then we went to a meeting, where the Air Quality Management District was at the panel, and out of nowhere the kid is like, “You know what? I saw a kid reading a letter. I’m going to write one, and then I’m going to read it.” You know, my son.

And he took the letter, went to the microphone, read it aloud. He said, “Hi, I’m Eduardo Guevara. I think that the government has to do something about the toxic things that they throw in Mecca. I am worried for my mom because she had asthma and because of those smells she could get asthma again. Thank you.” Continue reading