How Little Village Defeated Dirty Coal

Alex Narrajos

Health of an urban area is vital to its viability to thrive and be sustainable, both of the ecosystem and of the humans themselves. Chicagoans know this all too well-we as a city needed to reverse the Chicago River in 1900 because the unsanitary conditions were harming both parties. There is a different environmental battle being fought today, though this time the residents’ health is being affected by humans and their use, rather than a natural flow of a waterway. In the neighborhood of Little Village, massive coal power plants, Crawford and Fisk plants, have been causing irreversible damage to health of the some 100,000, mainly Latina/o residents (LVEJO). In an effort from non-profits and organizations in the area, they successfully shut down one of worst coal plants. This successful action is impressive and has been a relief in the community, though there are many other toxic plants in the neighborhood and other communities whose health is still being plagued by dirty coal. According to the reading, A Review of the Progress of the European Healthy Cities Programme, the World Health Organization (WHO) says

““Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being, without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.” (Barton and Grant)

Taking this claim into consideration, thinking about the fact that Little Village, and similar communities, are mainly minority and low-income, and that these plants have been spewing toxicity into the air for decades without any regard for the multiple generations of families living in the neighborhood, it certainly seems as if the Latino population in Chicago is being targeted as a community to take advantage of. Thanks to LVEJO and the Chicago Clean Power Coalition, both plants were shut down in fall 2012, making it a healthier and happier place to live and will hopefully inspire similar communities to work collaboratively within their own communities to fight for environmental justice and sustainability.

Barton, Hugh, and Marcus Grant. “A Review of the Progress of the European Healthy Cities Programme.” Journal of Urban Health 90.S1 (2012): 129-41. Web.

“Chicago Clean Power Coalition.” Environmental Law Policy Center. N.p., 4 Apr. 2012. Web. 05 Oct. 2016.

“Coal Plant Shutdown.” LVEJO. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2016.

Image result for lvejo plant shut down

LVEJO.org

 

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2 thoughts on “How Little Village Defeated Dirty Coal

  1. As a Pilsen resident that has witnessed the aftermath of these shutdowns, I see how this one action has has impacted the community in so many ways. I believe these coal plants were strategically put in an area of many non-English speaking households because it made it easier to keep the extent of their harmful operations under wraps and made it unlikely for the residents to have a strong voice that could successfully contest their business.
    Now that the factories have been long gone for a few years, the surrounding communities have seen an influx of newcomers that are taking attention to the them and desiring to live there too. There was a demand for more public parks to be built because more children are let out by their parents to play outdoors now, myself and my neighbors have noticed less and less of the pollution marks our apartment walls tend to receive when we open up our windows, and less local trees dying prematurely. A simple stop to this has become a contributing factor to why the area is gentrifying exponentially and why these coal plants need to stay out of residential areas that deserve a healthy atmosphere!

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  2. I personally do not live in the little village area, however, I went to high school in Pilsen. I think it is amazing for non-profit organizations to have successfully shut down coal plants in that area.

    According to SourceWatch, the effects of coal plants on it’s residents consist of respiratory problems, reduced life expectancy, and loss of IQ. These power plants are strategically placed in low-income minority neighborhoods because these residents are stereotyped as less educated, less informed, and less important. However, thanks to informed citizens and students in these neighborhoods, these communities have a voice that matter and can speak up for themselves. Also, thankfully there are non-profit organizations that are willing to help residents in these areas.

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Health_effects_of_coal

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