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Sara Bernard

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia to join the California Air Resources Board

Governor Jerry Brown selected County Supervisor John Gioia on Tuesday to represent the San Francisco Bay Area on the California Air Resources Board.  The 12-member panel, a division of the California Environmental Protection Agency, provides state leadership and enforcement on air pollution standards and climate change regulations. “I’m excited to be working at a statewide level on climate change and community health issues,” Gioia said. “The Air Resources Board has been on the cutting edge of developing policies to address…

Candlelight vigil for Lincoln Plair honors a giving spirit

Until his death, Lincoln Plair would show up each morning at 8 a.m. at the Elm Playlot in the Iron Triangle to pluck broken glass, syringes and other dangerous debris from the sandbox where local kids play. Then he’d leave his daily mark: a series of geometric patterns in the sand, “like a little Zen garden,” said Richard Muro, a staff member and muralist with Pogo Park, a nonprofit group dedicated to making Elm Playlot a safe space for children….

Refinery safety collaborative holds first Richmond forum

The microphone sputtered in and out as community members lined up for a turn to speak at the new Collaborative on Refinery Safety and Community Health’s public forum Wednesday evening. The meeting at St. Mark’s Catholic Church gym was the first of many conversations the group plans to have in Richmond and across the state. The evening’s panelists included representatives from the United Steelworkers union, the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley, and several environmental groups. Speakers stressed both…

Labor and environmental groups join forces on refinery issues

The fire at Richmond’s Chevron oil refinery on August 6, 2012 wasn’t the only reason the United Steelworkers union and several environmental organizations—disparate groups that rarely work in tandem—decided to join forces in an industry-wide conversation about health and safety, but it was certainly an accelerating factor. “Absolutely, that spurred us,” said Charlotte Brody, national associate director of the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of labor unions and environmental groups that advocate for a green economy and safer workplaces. “It was…

4th Annual Chocolate and Beer Festival

Hundreds of Bay Area residents flocked to the Craneway Pavilion on Saturday for a delicious end to SF Beer Week. Attendees sampled beer of all hues from nine different breweries and chocolates and other sweets from twenty confectioners. The event also featured live music, raffles, beer pong, a bouncy castle, and unseasonably warm afternoon sunshine. Proceeds benefited Richmond’s Police Activities League, which offers athletic, artistic and academic activities for local youth.  

Contra Costa Health Services seeks community input on nutrition, physical activity

Of all the ideas brought up in the large conference room at Nevin Community Center on Wednesday morning, one rang true for everyone: to help solve the obesity crisis and help Richmond’s families live healthier lives, community programs need to stop duplicating services and start working together. “Doing one thing together would be better than doing 50 things in silos,” said Cheryl Maier, a member of the West County HEAL Collaborative. The meeting was the second of three community forums…

One woman’s quest to clean up 100 years of chemical waste

The site of a former Stauffer Chemical Co. plant in Richmond is still contaminated with a huge amount of toxic waste. Sherry Padgett, whose office is across the street, has spent the last decade trying to get the site’s current owners and environmental regulators to clean it up. Click the arrow to hear Padgett and other local residents tell their stories.

Henry Clark and three decades of environmental justice

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin first saw Henry Clark, as so many have, at the gates of Richmond’s Chevron oil refinery. It was a blustery day in June 2003 and Clark was calling for environmental accountability from the oil company – as he has for many years – in front of an impassioned crowd of community members holding signs attacking refinery flares and “dirty air.” “He spoke prior to me” at the event, recalls McLaughlin, who had arrived armed with statistics…

Asthma hospitalization rates for children in Contra Costa County

Environmental health advocates have often linked asthma rates in Richmond to nearby industrial polluters like the Chevron refinery. But while science has established some strong correlations between air pollution and asthma episodes — such as in studies conducted by the California EPA Air Resources Board or published in scientific journals such as Current Opinion on Pulmonary Medicine — the jury’s still out on causation. “The connection between asthma and air quality is complicated,” says Abigail Kroch, Director of Epidemiology, Planning & Evaluation at Contra…

Bandwidth: Hip hop artist YSD makes waves in Richmond

Meet Young Shorty Doowop, or Y.S.D., one of Richmond’s rising stars — a female rapper and R&B artist who’s been writing her own songs since childhood. She performs around the Bay Area, dishing up beats from her first album, “I Love All My Fans: The Mixtape” and a new single, “Flexin’ on Em” (which comes with its own dance). She’s been featured on KMEL 106.1 FM, danced in music videos with Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent, and sells her “I…

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