Pacific Institute Releases New Report on West Oakland
Project Points to New Model for Community Activism Combining Science, Advocacy
January 23, 2002 -- The Pacific Institute and the 7th
St. Neighborhood Improvement Initiative today released a new report
and held a "toxic tour" showing that West Oakland bears
the brunt of the area's pollution problems, but reaps few of the
"This report details through scientific research what residents
of West Oakland have long known: That West Oakland suffers the
lion's share of the area's toxic pollution, but gains few of the
benefits," said Meena Palaniappan, co-director of the Pacific
Institute's Environmental Indicators Project.
The report, "Neighborhood
Knowledge for Change: The West Oakland Environmental Indicators
Project," (PDF) shows that residents of West Oakland
face five times more toxic pollution per person than residents
of the city of Oakland. Children in West Oakland are seven
times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than the
average child in the state of California. nearly 82 percent
of those who live in West Oakland are within 1/8 mile of
an industrial area. Only 31 percent of area residents can
afford the median rent on available housing units.
"We hope this report will help residents of West Oakland
fight for clean air and a healthy environment," Ms. Palaniappan
continued, "but we also hope that the partnership between
the Pacific Institute and the 7th Street Initiative will point
the way to a new approach to fighting toxic pollution and environmental
The Environmental Indicators Project is the culmination of two
years of research and analysis and is the fruit of an unusual
collaboration between grassroots advocacy groups, community residents,
and a research organization. After in-depth discussion with a
neighborhood-based steering committee, the Pacific Institute created
a set of 17 indicators to track environmental conditions in West
Oakland. The indicators look at issues ranging from air pollution
and toxic contamination to gentrification and voting.
"I have been talking for years about toxic pollution in
West Oakland, but now I have the specifics I need to make my case,"
noted Monsa Nitoto, Vice-Chair of the 7th Street Initiative. "This
project is an excellent model for how research organizations and
groups working for social change can collaborate to empower residents
to improve their communities."
Along with researching and publishing the information, the Pacific
Institute is providing training and support to grassroots activists
working in West Oakland so they can use the research to make their
case and maintain the indicators information. In addition, the
Pacific Institute has launched a companion Website
to provide other interested communities with the tools they need
to create their own indicators report.