In late March 2013, a group of about 25 attended a “Toxic Tour” of Richmond led by Communities for a Better Environment organizer Andres Soto. The trip offered an overview of Richmond’s industrial waste, environmental disasters and cultural history.
Highlights of the tour included a stop at the Wildcat Marsh & Landfill Loop Trail—a part of the San Francisco Bay Trail that runs along Richmond’s wastewater treatment facility and what’s known as “Garbage Mountain”—and historical gems like Minnie Lou’s, a blues club that thrived in North Richmond until the early 1980s.
Attendees included both environmental activists and longtime residents, several of whom expressed surprise at the day’s information. “These are things I didn’t know,” said Sylvia Gray-White, a Richmond resident for the past 50 years. “I’m really grateful for this experience. I’ve never been on a tour to this degree.”
Even though Richmond’s industries have left a legacy of pollution, community activism around these issues has always been strong. “There’s a deep passion to change the paradigm,” Soto told the group. “You’re part of the resiliency.”
CBE plans to hold a few more such tours in Richmond this year.