the last few decades, many local organizations and agencies were
founded by women with environmental and social focuses at the community
level. Many of these groups are involved in bettering the quality
of life in their community through programs to rid their neighborhoods
of pollution and violence. One noteworthy organization here in Southern
California is the Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles.
CCSCLA was first founded in 1985 by Robin Cannon. The success of
the group is largely due to her hard work and vision.
Robin now serves as president of this community group. Members of
CCSCLA are volunteers and are comprised of residents, businesses
and organizations located in the Vernon-Central neighborhood of
South Central Los Angeles. This group is predominantly African American.
In fact, 100% of it’s’ board members are African American.
The goal of CCSCLA is to educate residents on issues affecting their
community such as unemployment, affordable housing, decent education
and a clean, safe living environment. Robin and CCSCLA are also
very much involved with ecological concerns. Specific environmental
issues targeted by the group are recycling, clean streets, and any
other issues that impact the quality of life.
Robin very aptly defined the environment as, “not just land,
air and water, but your social and economic space too.” Robin’s
opinion has changed my views. I believe that the simple definition
of the environment as being land, air, and water, must be expanded
upon. We have in the past accepted the above definition, but we
now see that everything is interrelated. Our homes, schools, businesses
and communities are part of the environment and affect the natural
resources on which we depend. It is imperative that we view our
neighborhoods and communities as part of the environment in order
to ensure the safety and health of the residents, as well as the
safety and health of our natural world. CCSCLA had this in mind
when it began community projects directed at cleaning up and protecting
South Central Los Angeles.
One monumental environmental and social accomplishment CCSCLA is
responsible for is preventing the construction of a 65 acre municipal
trash conversion plant that was going to cost the city 535 million
dollars. The trash conversion plant was a euphemism for an incinerator
which was to be built in a concentrated South Central residential
area. When up and running, this plant would burn thousands of pounds
of trash a day and spew enormous amounts of carcinogenic toxins
into the air.
After the residents calculated the increase in air and noise pollution,
members of the community became alarmed. The residents did not want
this type of plant polluting the area in which their families and
young children lived and played. The diligence of the organization
paid off. After a two year fight, the city not only put a halt to
the project, but accepted the recycling plans that CCSCLA endorsed.
A small urban organization was able to fight city hall and win.
Robin’s victory at the local level caused her to become actively
involved on the national level with the Southwest Network for Environmental
and Economic Justice. This organization is made up of more than
50 multi-racial and multi-issue groups who emphasize the importance
of socially just business and ecological practices. This, along
with her work in South Central, has made Robin a hero in local,
national, and international communities.
Robin and her group are a perfect example of how unity, hard work,
and dedication can make a difference. Against all odds, Robin, a
female minority, was able to prevail against powerful adversaries
intent on degrading the environment and the lives of those in a
small community. The success of groups like CCSCLA prove that we
all have the power to save our social and environmental systems
from further destruction, but we all need to get involved; locally,
nationally, and internationally.
Jamie Korshak is a freshman at Santa Monica
College. She is majoring in Art History and hopes to transfer to
UCLA in her junior year. Her interests include: music, movies and