March 20, 2013

Topic: Environment

Alma Salcido and her husband Nicolás have lived in Boyle Heights for more than 20 years and raised their family in the majority-Latino community just east of downtown across the Los Angeles River.

Boyle Heights is a vital community with a rich history as a West Coast gateway for Mexican, Japanese and European Jewish immigrants.  It has one of the highest population densities in the United States.  Boyle Heights is also beset by an accumulation of local pollution sources – the 6.52 square mile area is bordered by freeways and rail yards, occupied by clusters of auto repair shops, factories and warehouses.

The concentration of pollution sources poses an array of increased health risks including susceptibility of asthma and cancer.  On a given day Alma and her neighbors are exposed to high levels of toxins while walking to work or grocery store, or accompanying their kids to school.

When her six-month old granddaughter Alizée was hospitalized with a rare condition that causes a very low white blood cell-count, Alma was prompted to question the effect of over concentration of polluting industries in her neighborhood.  She was moved to action.

Alma got involved with Union de Vecinos, a group of dedicated neighborhood residents in Boyle Heights that work to protect the health and well-being of the broader community.  Alma has taken the lead in the organization’s efforts to reduce and prevent the further accumulation of pollution sources that affect the health of those living and working in Boyle Heights.

“In Union de Vecinos we are part of the Clean Up Green Up Campaign.  We want the support of our governmental leaders to take action and encourage business owners to prevent and reduce pollution, and revitalize and invest in our communities to be healthier with green companies and spaces.” -Alma Salcido

Union de Vecinos is working for Clean Up Green Up, a City of Los Angeles policy that could revitalize Boyle Heights. Clean Up Green Up aims to reduce the health impacts that come with overexposure to pollutants and to support investment in local businesses that helps them to modernize and become more efficient and environmentally friendly.  Alma, along with other change makers in Boyle Heights, is committed to raising awareness about the harmful effects of polluting industries and bringing her friends and neighbors into the fight to keep community clean, green and healthy.