West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT)

Award Recipients - 2000

Peggy M. Shepard, Co-Founder & Executive Director

The West Harlem Environmental Action (WE ACT) is dedicated to securing environmental justice in communities of color.  WE ACT informs, trains, and mobilizes the predominately African American and Latino/a residents of Northern Manhattan on issues that affect environmental quality of life such as air, water and indoor pollution, land use, sanitation, transportation, historic preservation and citizen participation in policy making.  WE ACT educated about the interconnectedness of these issues, lobbies governmental agencies and organizes demonstrations.  
WE ACT emerged out of a struggle against the North River Sewage Treatment Plant, a $2 billion dollar facility approved by New York City in the 1960s and fraught with problems from the beginning.  We ACT and other residents sued the City for operating a nuisance, and in 1993, the City settled and put $1.1 million in a fund to address community concerns.  West Harlem has also been a dumping ground for other ecological hazards.  Diesel bus fumes from 2,000 buses housed in the area inflict life-threatening pollution and drive the alarming asthma epidemic.  In 1998 WE ACT successfully lobbied for the conversion to natural gas at one depot.
WE ACT also train youth, publishes a bilingual newspaper and is involved in a community planning process to convert the abandoned piers in Harlem into a vibrant waterfront park.

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