COVID-19: OUR AIR EMERGENCY CALL TO ACTION

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!


We call for every member of our South Williamsburg and Bushwick community to come together and send a powerful message to our elected officials: take action to reduce the air pollution in our parks and open spaces TODAY so that we do not continue to suffer from the most dangerous effects of pandemics like COVID-19 and climate change!

COVID-19 is having a shocking impact on Hispanic/Latinx and Black/African American communities in New York City, with alarmingly high death rates, as per recent data released by the NYC Department of Mental Health and Hygiene.

Residents in Los Sures and Bushwick are more likely to be hit by the deadly impacts of COVID-19 because it is a virus that attacks respiratory systems. Levels of air pollution and asthma rates in our communities are double those of NYC and Brooklyn. Breathing in polluted air causes many other respiratory diseases and chronic health conditions, including cancer, and has been shown to shorten lifespans.

According to a new nationwide study conducted by Harvard University, coronavirus patients in areas that had high levels of air pollution before the pandemic are more likely to die from the infection than patients in cleaner parts of the country. 

Poor air quality in South Williamsburg and Bushwick is due to an abundance of polluting industrial and transportation-related infrastructure, along with a lack of greenery and open space. 

Toxic air in our parks and open spaces has caused high levels of respiratory disease among our residents, making them fatally vulnerable in this COVID-19 pandemic.

These facts have been known for decades through studies conducted by community organizations like El Puente. COVID-19 has now exposed the deadly results of the lack of prompt action, resources, and policies ensuring clean air for our families and neighbors. This is a man-made, not natural disaster.

Our people have the right to live safe and healthy lives! The recognition of inequity needs to transform into policy and action. This is a moral imperative! We as a community have the power, knowledge, and creativity to change this situation!

Sign on to this petition today and demand that our public officials address the environmental and health inequities that continue to put our community at risk and extremely vulnerable to health epidemics like COVID-19. The time for action is NOW!

We demand:

1. THE RIGHT TO BREATHE CLEAN AIR

MITIGATE VEHICULAR POLLUTION

  • Identify critical sources of vehicular pollution in the area through socially distanced neighborhood traffic studies conducted by the Department of Transportation in partnership with local, community based organizations and transit advocacy groups.
  • Take immediate measures to regulate deliveries to businesses and industrial sites. Local electeds need to work with businesses and truck company owners to advocate for a reduction in truck route coverage and restrict local deliveries made by trucks or vans by:
    • Organizing an off-hour delivery (OHD) program for businesses located along congested roadways and/or businesses that receive multiple truck-loads of goods each business day;
    • Replacing trucks with cargo bikes that can boost local employment, and are a safer and greener alternative;
    • Enforcing existing laws and increasing fines for vehicular violations, such as idling trucks with traffic cameras;
    • Prioritizing funding to retrofit or replace diesel trucks and bus fleets with electric or cleaner engine trucks;
    • Targeting funding to turn over trucks in hotspots where trucking is most intense through stimulus investments in green infrastructure.

STRATEGIC CIRCULATION & ACCESS

  • Close access to the Williamsburg Bridge on Roebling and South 4th St., and unite Continental Army Plaza and Laguardia Playground to create a continuous plaza space that is green, safe, and reroutes vehicles to reduce pollution.
  • Implement congestion pricing passed in the state budget in 2019 that would also establish tolls on the Williamsburg Bridge and reduce the burden of traffic in Los Sures.
  • In coordination with the Open Streets campaign, explore a permanent or long-term closure of certain streets to vehicular traffic.

 

COMMUNITY-LED DEVELOPMENT OF BROOKLYN QUEENS EXPRESSWAY (BQE)

  • Incorporate policy and community-led mitigation design strategies like green decking as part of the ongoing environmental review process being executed by the Department of Transportation to assess proposals to fix the BQE.
  • Currently, a plan is receiving traction to make an $11 billion tunnel to keep cars off a stretch of the Expressway in South Brooklyn. Parts of this budget must be dedicated to addressing the role of the BQE in creating inequities during public health emergencies, and no proposal should be finalized without deep community engagement and a holistic and inclusive assessment of needs across the entire corridor of the BQE.
  • Target investment in air filtration systems for schools, daycares, senior centers and apartments closest to BQE and traffic routes with high concentrations of diesel pollution, and with high rates of asthmatic or health compromised populations.

2. HEALTH AS A HUMAN RIGHT

  • Strengthen the public healthcare system by ensuring that public hospitals are as well equipped to respond to a health emergency as private hospitals, and are permanently retrofitted with testing centers and high-end technologies.
  • Pilot inclusive Holistic Wellness Centers that empower people, including members of our undocumented community, to nurture good health and mitigate chronic health conditions through access to nutrition, exercise, traditional cultural wellness practices and mental health support. Facilitators should be community members in order to reinvest in our community and provide culturally competent care. These centers can be housed in existing community institutions like Moore Street Market in order to expand access to healthcare.
  • Develop and launch a culturally responsive, bilingual Community Health Platform that acts as a central resource hub for families to seek support, report needs and get connected to resources, especially during a crisis. Ensure that key health information is distributed in languages and through different kinds of media that are accessible to all demographics.
  • Conduct a detailed survey and oral history interviews to analyze the health outcomes of poor air quality on residents and workers, and document the lived experiences of community members within highly polluted areas in Los Sures.
  • Invest in and reinforce community-led emergency healthcare programs to compensate for direct and indirect losses connected to public health disasters. This may include reimbursement for emergency healthcare costs regardless of immigration status, small business recovery aid, food distribution networks and pantries, support with completing applications for federal funding and loans, language support in emergency rooms, and more.

3. A COMMUNITY-LED PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY TASK FORCE

  • Organize a Community Resiliency & Public Health Emergency Task force to assess and respond to community health needs through a self-determination centered and holistic approach, including building capacity and tools to exchange resources, facilitate recovery, relief and preparedness efforts, during and in the aftermath of public health emergencies and disasters. This coalition needs to cooperate across departments, with representatives from various city agencies, elected officials, community organizations, schools, religious and cultural institutions, local artists, and small businesses.
  • Brooklyn Community Board 1 must be informed and activated by the issues and needs of our communities in Los Sures, and all decisions made through inclusive and deeply engaged outreach. Ensure that preparedness planning and action continues after the emergency to address underlying inequities and are incorporated as priorities into local governance agendas.
  • Commit to sustainable and long-term community controlled mechanisms by conducting feasibility studies and investing in initiatives like community land trusts and credit unions. Declare Los Sures (and other NYC neighbor- hoods that are in need of urgent resources to address environmental injustice) as the first Green Zones of the East Coast.

4. GREENING FOR A SAFE FUTURE

  • Organize a Green Development Fund through capital funding from city agencies like the Department of Transportation, the Parks Department, and the Department of Environmental Conservation and recurring contributions from real estate developers and businesses that are located in Williamsburg. The fund would be community controlled and utilized to build and maintain green infrastructure in open and public spaces to mitigate air pollution.
  • Organize and fund tree planting programs in partnership with schools and local, community organizations. Prioritize and expand the build out of green infrastructure in the public right of way.
  • Increase landscaping and greenery to buffer high pollution points from a concentration of emissions, reduce asphalt and concrete, and increase permeable surfaces in existing open spaces in parks and plazas like LaGuardia Playground and Continental Army Plaza. These measures would not only improve air quality, but also reduce extreme heat by providing shade and reducing surface-level temperatures, and reduce the incidence of flooding by increasing permeable surfaces.
  • Connect existing open spaces and identify brownfield spaces and vacant lots that can be converted to open space.
  • Invest in innovative green infrastructure projects to protect residents from the impacts of pollution, both indoors and outdoors. A green wall on the south side of LaGuardia Playground would reduce noise and air pollution from vehicles, expand natural land cover within a vertical space, and increase the sense of place of the park by effectively separating it from the BQE on-ramp. 
  • Create opportunities for green jobs and training programs in the neighborhood that will support the building, installation and maintenance of green infrastructure. Promote community based innovation through the seeding and incubation of green infrastructure projects developed by local entrepreneurs and students.

5. CULTURAL ORGANIZING, COMMUNITY EDUCATION, & MOBILIZATION

  • Commit to a comprehensive, community dissemination of air quality research, data and preparedness plans through culturally and linguistically grounded participatory processes that ensures that every person who lives or works in Williamsburg is aware of the impacts of air pollution on their health, the inequity of development in our neighborhoods, and can get involved in efforts towards accountability, transparency and action.
  • Pilot Holistic Community Wellness education programs that informs, trains and empowers residents during and be- yond crisis. The “Clean Air/Community Wellness” curriculum will include tools and practices that promote healthy living and nutrition that draw on the rich cultural expertise and wisdom of our residents. The curriculum will be collaboratively developed and facilitated with artists, cultural workers, wellness practitioners and community educators. The bilingual curriculum will be offered to schools, daycare centers and other community centers.
  • Commit sustainable funding to local artists and cultural organizers who are the heart of our community, through programs like block grants, to specifically raise awareness and mobilize residents around public health inequities
    as well as address trauma, stress and depression within our community through healing and empowering arts and cultural programs/projects To challenge inequity in public health access and information, sustained cultural organizing and engagement of longtime and new residents, schools, small businesses, senior centers, NYCHA communities and religious institutions is effective and powerful.
  • Organize free internet for every household and safe, common spaces at local community organizations and cultural institutions for WiFi, considering that more frequent public health disasters are imminent due to climate change, and training for remote schooling, remote consultation with doctors, and virtual programs to stay organized, connected and uplifted through community engagement.
  • Develop an Integrated Multimedia Cultural Organizing Toolkit through El Puente's GLD framework to ensure continued mobilization of people and resources as local community organizations, activists and artists grapple with adapting to staying at home during times of crisis, collaborating and being able to engage diverse and intergenera- tional groups of residents, often without internet connections or adequate technical expertise.

This 5-point Action Platform was put together by El Puente’s Green Light District in consultation with residents, technical experts, teachers, community leaders, artists and more through the Our Air campaign. For detailed policy recommendations for each demand and more information, contact us at gld@elpuente.us.

-----

Hacemos un llamado para que cada miembro de las comunidades del Sur de Williamsburg y Bushwick se unan y envíen un poderoso mensaje a nuestros oficiales electos: ¡Necesitamos que tomen acción para reducir la contaminación del aire en nuestros parques y espacios al aire libre. HOY y evitar que continuemos sufriendo los peligrosos efectos de pandemias como la del COVID-19 y el cambio climático!


El COVID-19 está impactando de manera sorprendente a las comunidades Hispanas/Latinx y a las comunidades Negras/Afroamericanas de la Ciudad de Nueva York, con tasas de muerte alarmantes, según los datos recientes publicados por el Departamento de Salud e Higiene de la Ciudad de Nueva York. 

Los residentes de Los Sures y Bushwick son más propensos a sufrir el impacto letal del COVID-19 porque es un virus que ataca el sistema respiratorio debido a que los niveles de contaminación del aire y de asma en nuestras comunidades son el doble de los niveles de la Ciudad de Nueva York en general y el condado de Brooklyn. Respirar aire contaminado causa muchas otras enfermedades respiratorias  y condiciones de salud crónicas, incluyendo el cáncer, y se ha comprobado que acorta la esperanza de vida.

De acuerdo a un nuevo estudio realizado por la Universidad de Harvard, los pacientes de coronavirus en áreas que tenían altos niveles de contaminación antes de la pandemia son más propensos a morir a causa de la infección que los pacientes en áreas más limpias del país.

La mala calidad del aire en el Sur de Williamsburg y Bushwick es causada por la abundante contaminación de la infraestructura industrial y de transportación, además de la falta de espacios verdes y espacios abiertos. 

Por décadas se ha sabido de estos hechos a través de estudios realizados por organizaciones comunitarias como El Puente. El COVID-19 ha puesto al descubierto los resultados letales de la falta de acción inmediata, asignación de fondos y políticas que nos garanticen que tendremos aire limpio para nuestros vecinos y familiares. ¡Estos desastres no son naturales; todos son causados por los seres humanos! 

¡Nuestra gente tiene derecho a vivir vidas seguras y saludables! Más allá de reconocer las inequidades necesitamos desarrollar políticas y tomar acción. ¡Es un imperativo moral! ¡Nosotros tenemos el poder, el conocimiento, y la creatividad para cambiar esta situación como comunidad!

Firma esta petición hoy y exige que nuestros funcionarios electos confronten las inequidades de salud y del medio ambiente que continúan poniendo a nuestras comunidades en riesgo y en una posición extremadamente vulnerable a epidemias como la del  COVID-19. ¡El momento de actuar es AHORA! 

Exigimos: 

1. EL DERECHO A RESPIRAR AIRE LIMPIO

  • Establecer regulaciones para la contaminación de camiones y vehículos
  • Cerrar el acceso al Puente Williamsburg en las Calles Roebling y South 4th 
  • Establecer peajes en el Puente Williamsburg
  • Asegurar that our communities are engaged in any proposals involving upgrading of the BQE

2. UN EQUIPO DE TRABAJO PARA EMERGENCIAS DE SALUD PÚBLICA

  • Formar una red de grupos comunitarios, funcionarios electos, agencias de la ciudad, organizaciones comunitarias y negocios que puedan reunirse rápidamente e intercambiar recursos durante una emergencia
  • Crear una plataforma bilingüe que funcione como una fuente central de apoyo para las familias que necesiten acceso a recursos federales, estatales y de la ciudad
  • Abogar por un fondo de emergencia y crear un Fondo de Desarrollo Verde que responda a las necesidades más urgentes a corto y largo plazo
  • Redactar un plan de resiliencia, dirigido por la comunidad, para que estemos preparados en caso de un futuro desastre

3. LA SALUD COMO DERECHO HUMANO

  • Asegurar que los hospitales públicos de la ciudad esten tan equipados como los hospitales privados para responder a una emergencia de salud pública
  • Programas de salud de emergencia, dirigido por la comunidad, para ayudar a sus residentes mientras se recuperan de las pérdidas familiares y financieras causadas por los desastres de salud pública
  • Programas de distribución de comida puerta por puerta para personas de edad avanzada y miembros de la comunidad que están incapacitados, y la expansión de las despensas de alimentos de la comunidad
  • Centros de Bienestar Holístico que empoderen a los miembros de la comunidad a desarrollar una buena salud a través de la nutrición, el ejercicio, las prácticas culturales de salud holística y apoyo de salud mental

4. ORGANIZACIÓN CULTURAL, CREACIÓN DE CONCIENCIA & EDUCACIÓN

  • Internet gratis para cada hogar durante la crisis y entrenamiento para el aprendizaje remoto y consultas remotas con los doctores
  • Distribución de cualquier información importante en todos los lenguajes que se hablan en la comunidad 
  • Apoyo a artistas locales y organizadores culturales a través de programas que conecten y eduquen a las personas durante las emergencias de salud pública
  • Educación de Bienestar que enseñe a cada  miembro de la comunidad a prepararse durante una crisis

5. ECOLOGIZACIÓN PARA UN FUTURO SEGURO 

  • Una pared verde en el lado sur del Parque de Recreo LaGuardia para reducir el ruido y la contaminación de los vehículos 
  • Plantación de árboles en colaboración con las escuelas y organizaciones comunitarias locales
  • Identificar lugares para espacios abiertos más accesibles, verdes y saludables 
  • Invertir en oportunidades de empleos verdes y programas de entrenamiento en el vecindario que apoyen la construcción, instalación y mantenimiento de infraestructura verde
  • Declarar a Los Sures como la primera Área Verde de la Costa Este

Esta Plataforma de Acción de 5-puntos fue creada por El Puente–Distrito Verde Luz consultando con residentes, expertos técnicos, maestros, líderes comunitarios, artistas y más a través de la campaña Our Air–Nuestro Aire. Para recomendaciones de políticas detalladas para cada demanda y más información, comuníquese con nosotros escribiendo a gld@elpuente.us.