Thursday, July 06, 2006

Another Great Organization: Alternatives for Community and Environment

Today I'm in Boston working for Alternatives for Community and Environment. I first encountered ACE about ten years ago, when my good friend Jodi Sugerman-Brozan joined the staff to organize Roxbury youth around public transportation issues.

"ACE builds the power of communities of color and lower income communities in New England to eradicate environmental racism and classism and achieve environmental justice," reads their mission. "We believe that everyone has the right to a healthy environment and to be decision-makers in issues affecting our communities."

The most interesting thing about ACE is how it has transformed itself from a legal and technical assistance agency started by a couple of nice white guys into a grassroots community organization mostly staffed and led by the constituents it's supposed to serve: the neighborhoods in Boston most affected by urban environmental hazards like lead-contaminated lots, diesel exhaust, solid waste facilities, etc.

It remains a hybrid organization where gray-bearded Euro-American attorneys work side-by-side with 17-year-old neighborhood kids to change the rules of the game. I'm sitting in the office now, and though it's just a regular ordinary work day, the energy is palpable.

Speaking of energy, have you done anything lately to stop the corporate takeover of the Internet? If not, start here.