How One California Community is Working for Social and Climate Justice

Impoverished and minority communities have long been disproportionately affected by pollution. One city, which embodies this long-standing problem, is the small community of Commerce, not far from downtown Los Angeles. For decades, the community has suffered from toxic pollutants, poor city planning, and a host of environmental problems. However, things are slowly beginning to change, and residents have started to organize efforts to clean up their city.

Residents in the community have begun to pressure city leaders to address environmental concerns. This includes approving a green zone ordinance, which aims to address the environmental issues facing the community. All of these are part of a larger effort by residents and city leaders to empower the community by boosting economic conditions, investing in city infrastructure, and improving the overall standard of living for those in the city.

Residents in Commerce are providing an example of how a community, through strong organization and leadership, can make important changes. While much more must be done, the new initiatives are an invaluable first step towards addressing the environmental and social inequities that Commerce residents face. Lead your city towards a better future by joining with other climate leaders at Path to Positive Communities.

Polluting industries took over this California city. Now, residents are taking it back

By Aura Boggado | Grist | November 5, 2015

The city of Commerce, a small municipality of 13,000 just a short distance from downtown Los Angeles, has long been the recipient of some of the region’s worst pollution. Commerce is the unlucky inheritor of decades of poor land planning, which has saddled its residents with health-threatening conditions and few resources to handle them. But those residents began organizing for change years ago.

In September, they won their city council’s approval of a green zones ordinance — a unique set of policy changes that aim to clean up their community. The ordinance is extensive, and includes objectives to reduce pollution, revitalize the local economy, and reinvest in the community’s well-being. The ordinance sets out strategies, initiatives, and timetables for achievement.

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