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Within the Shadow Of Large Oil

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Group healing walks organized by Native American environmental activists are drawing elevated consideration to the high charges of asthma, cancer and environmental racism experienced by neighbors of the 5 massive oil refineries within the northeast San Francisco Bay space.

“I have lived in Richmond within the shadow of the Chevron refinery for many many years now, elevating my youngsters on this refinery town,” mentioned Alison Ehara-Brown, one of the organizers of the Refinery Corridor Healing Walks. “When our kids have excessive asthma rates, when our relations are getting cancer and collapsed lungs at an early age … then we all know that we are dwelling in a culture that wants healing.”

The Refinery Corridor Healing Walks bring Richmond residents, environmental advocates and residents from the better Bay Area together to discuss the health and environmental impacts of five colossal refineries within the East Bay. These refineries are tucked away from the high-tech buzz and allure of Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

The healing walks are organized by the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Idle No More, considered one of the largest grassroots movements of Aboriginal peoples in Canada calling for a peaceful revolution for affirming indigenous sovereignty and safety of land and waterways. Ehara-Brown takes part in the group as an activist with part-Mohawk ancestry.

There are four healing walks organized this year by Native American environmental advocates; these walks traverse refineries lining the East Bay, crude-by-rail tracks, neighborhoods, bridges and the bay.

“We want to carry to the mainstream this lexicon of ‘refinery corridor’ so that we perceive what some communities expertise day by day living subsequent to these toxic websites,” said Pennie Opal Plant, a longtime Native-American environmental justice advocate who was impressed by the tar sands healing walks in Alberta and had a vision to begin the walks in the East Bay.

The third healing stroll, organized June 20, began with a morning water ceremony led by Native-American elders in the historic city of Benicia, California’s former state capital, which is dwelling to Valero refinery. The stroll included interfaith leaders from the Jewish, Buddhist and Christian traditions emphasizing the necessity to transition to renewable power and demanding accountability from massive oil to neighborhood health and security.

“I am right here because I see systemic injustices, especially towards folks of color,” stated Reverend Will McGarvey of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County. “Richmond and Pittsburg have some of highest asthma rates. Members of my very own congregation are in danger with the pollution that is prevalent here.”

The 12-mile stroll began from Benicia and ended in the city of Rodeo, which is home to a Phillips 66 refinery, the primary major oil refinery within the Bay Area. The Board of Supervisors accepted an expansion of the refinery, alarming environmental advocates. The refinery sits on an earthquake liquefaction zone, and local residents are worried that the enlargement plans may exacerbate air pollution and public security.

An oil boom from Tar Sands and Bakken crude in North Dakota has precipitously increased crude-by-rail operations within the United States, and Bay Space residents, particularly those dwelling by the refineries, are fearful about bomb trains – named so due to the high combustion gasoline they carry and the dangers they pose – passing by means of their communities.

“Why ought to any group be a sacrifice zone for the fossil fuel business Would those making these kind of choices allow their households to reside in these sacrifice zones If not, then nobody should reside in them,” concluded Opal Plant.

The third Refinery Corridor Healing Walk began with a water ceremony led by Native People within the historic town of Benicia, which is residence to Valero Refinery. Pennie Opal Plant gathered water in a bucket from the bay surrounding the town and talked concerning the sacredness of the waterways. Participants then carried this water all through the 12-mile walk. (Photograph: Rucha Chitnis)

Group members, activists, artists, religion leaders and other Bay Space residents gathered round to decide to constructing a future that transitioned away from soiled crude to one, where access to wholesome jobs and clean surroundings was not a privilege for a chosen few. (Photo: Rucha Chitnis)

“I am right here to protest the crude by rail oil that may come to communities right here from Tar Sands in Canada or the Bakken oil from North Dakota. These oils are highly flammable, and if there’s an accident we’re in huge hassle,” mentioned Gary Shortbull of Chickasaw heritage. (Picture: Rucha Chitnis)

Ayya Santussika Bhikkhuni, who’s part of Buddhist Local weather Motion Community, joined the stroll from her monastery in Mountain View. “We wish to method local weather change from the Buddhist perspective, which is absolutely supportive of life and believes in not inflicting harm,” she stated. “It’s my duty as a spiritual instructor to speak out about local weather change. We now have an financial system that’s condemning so many people to poverty, starvation and suffering. As climate change progresses, we all know there may be devastation for therefore many people.” (Picture: Rucha Chitnis)

Bryan Parras, Co-Founding father of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, joined the walks as an act Petroleum of solidarity. “Ultimately we have to get off our addiction to fossil fuels and have a look at our consumption habits,” he said. “These walks are vital because they assist to boost consciousness of people.” (Photo: Rucha Chitnis)

“We need to heal from the methods now we have been a part of destroying our lovely earth,” mentioned Alison Ehra-Brown, one of the organizers of the healing walks. “We have to heal from the harm, which has clouded our minds as humans and allowed the destruction of communities and sacred websites to happen. We need to deliver healing to our land, our air, our water and our hearts.” (Picture: Rucha Chitnis)

Thirteen-year outdated Cinnamon Perez, of Lakota heritage, led the prayer staff for a part of the walk. “I went for the first walk and needed to come again again,” she mentioned. She expressed her love for the ocean and said she hopes that environmental health will likely be restored in the oil refinery company in canada post future. (Picture: Rucha Chitnis)

The youngest participant of the march was three-month-previous Lillian Berry-Philip. Her mom went on the walk final year, as nicely, while pregnant with Lillian. (Photograph: Rucha Chitnis)

Ebullient 5-12 months-old Kinyaanii Chief chatted and kept up with the walkers. Based on Contra Costa Asthma Coalition, some areas of Richmond and San Pablo have hospitalization charges of asthma, which are “greater than double that of the state common among youngsters 0-14 years of age,” and hospitalization rates are highest amongst school-aged African American kids. (Picture: Rucha Chitnis)

Chaitanya Diwadkar, member oil refinery company in canada post of Alliance of South Asians Taking Motion, waved a Clear Water and Energy flag at the continuing vehicular visitors on the Carquinez Bridge. “As a privileged South Asian immigrant, who lives off assets that were stolen from Native people within the Americas and all around the globe, it is a ethical obligation to assist in any approach possible the courageous efforts of people whose ancient knowledge is humanity’s solely hope against a sure extinction,” he mentioned. (Photo: Rucha Chitnis)

“The Refinery Corridor Healing Walks are near and expensive to me, where my multiple identities collide and manifest as a singular entity,” said Daniel Adel, a second generation Bangladeshi American. “I have been an environmental advocate for years and as a Benicia native, the Bay Area’s refinery corridor is literally my house — the place of my upbringing.” (Photo: Rucha Chitnis)

“People are waking up to the understanding of their duty to the way forward for life,” mentioned Pennie Opal Plant. “The saying ‘suppose globally and act regionally’ has by no means been as important as it is now. The walks are a technique for individuals to act domestically by joining us to bring awareness to the five refineries along the Northeast San Francisco Bay.” (Photograph: Rucha Chitnis)

The walkers exited Carquinez Bridge and headed towards Phillips 66 Refinery in Rodeo. (Photo: Rucha Chitnis)

Rebekah Olstad of Earth Justice, an environmental justice group with a nifty tagline: “Because the Earth oil refinery company in canada post wants a good lawyer,” stood in front of Phillips sixty six Refinery, certainly one of Bay Area’s oldest refineries. (Picture: Rucha Chitnis)

The healing walk got here to a close with members of the Rodeo community welcoming the walkers with meals, drinks and songs with a message for peace and justice. Opal Plant and Ehara-Brown released the water collected from the Benicia bay into the waterways in Rodeo. (Photograph: Rucha Chitnis)

“We now have to consider our own habits, our consumption patterns, our ethos and philosophy that we will destroy the planet without any penalties,” Bryan Parras mentioned. (Photo: Rucha Chitnis)

The final healing walk for 2015 is on Sunday, July 19, from Rodeo’s Conoco Phillips 66 Refinery to Richmond, which is home to Chevron Refinery. Chevron can also be one of California’s largest polluter and emitter of inexperienced house gasoline.