2014 Holiday photoAs we launch a new year I want to thank you for the incredible work you do for environmental justice. EHC is an amazing team of board, staff and community leaders and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with all of you and I am inspired by you every day.

As I think about the coming year and my own new year's resolutions I'm reminded (again) of Don Miguel Ruiz's Code for Life – The Four Agreements - which seems like a good way to start the new year!

  • Be impeccable with your word - Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
  • Don't take anything personally - Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
  • Don't make assumptions - Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
  • Always do your best - Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

Happy New Year!


Congratulations are in order for latest graduates of our SALTA leadership-training course. SALTA (Salud Ambiental, Líderes Tomando Acción – Environmental Health, Leaders Taking Action) is a nine-session program that provides skills training on organizing, advocacy, power, and media relations. Since 1995, more than 1,500 Community Leaders have graduated from SALTA including EHC staff members Rodrigo, Tuann, Aurora, Maria Sagura and Monique.

This SALTA course is the first ever to be taught in three different languages: English, Spanish and Vietnamese. 


“Each time I facilitate a SALTA session I am amazed and inspired by the community leaders who attend. This session was no different,” says SALTA facilitator Sarah Furman. “These women and men take hours out of their lives each week to learn how to make their communities healthier and more united - something that doesn't go unnoticed by EHC staff and members. Because of these community leaders we continue to be a strong voice and force in the San Diego region, improving our communities one action at a time.”


Student and EHC staff Aurora Zabish was equally inspired, "I liked seeing that there are people in the community that care enough about their communities to participate in a training like this." 

Associate Director Leticia Ayala comments, “SALTA empowers community members by sharpening their skills as leaders and organizers. With those abilities developed, we can take action to build power and win justice in our neighborhoods so that our communities are a clean and healthy place to live, work and play.


But SALTA is not just a leadership-training course. It is also designed to motivate community leaders to take strong and direct action for environmental justice. Ayala says, “One of SALTA’s key goals is to help all residents to see themselves as community leaders and then make a pledge to join our cause. They can use their own power and the power of their communities collectively to move and influence decision makers. After SALTA, these leaders can create the real change we all want in our neighborhoods.”

Your passion for environmental justice made Barrio Live! a wonderful event. The afternoon began with a fully packed bus and a guided tour to environmental justice sites around San Diego.

barrio live 2014 busFirst we first stopped in National City to see where the community will get 201 affordable housing units and easy trolley access without destroying Paradise Creek and this beautiful open space.

Barrio Live 2014 National City

We drove through the Port of San Diego to learn how pollution directly affects air quality and asthma rates of children in neighboring communities and how we can work together to make the Port a healthy neighbor.

Port of SD Infographic

We got off the bus in Cesar Chavez Park to hear Policy Advocate Kayla Race explain how low-income communities feel the most significant impacts of climate change. Kayla says, "This is about reducing pollution while creating healthy communities and a healthy economy."

Barrio Live 2014 Cesar

The tour ended at Strozzi’s SoCal Italian with almost fifty attendees and staff enjoying appetizers, drinks and each others’ company.


David Alvarez joined the party to talk about how, with the help of EHC and dedicated community members, Barrio Logan will continue to move forward building safe and healthy neighborhoods, beginning with a Barrio Logan Community Planning Group.

Barrio Live 2014 David Alvarez 2

Thank you to all who attended our Barrio Live! tour and mixer. We appreciate your involvement and enthusiasm in achieving climate justice and #healthyhoods for all.

View more photos of the tour on our Facebook page.

sid voorakkara and rafael castellanos for port commissionThe San Diego City Council will be choosing two new City appointed members to the San Diego Port Commission today. EHC's 30 years of working with with the Port and representing our members who live in communities adjacent to the Port tidelands gives us an important perspective on these appointments. Port Commission decisions have a direct impact on the health and well-being of all residents who live near the San Diego Bay.

EHC supports appointments of Sid Voorakkara and Rafael Castellanos to the Port Commission. Mr. Voorakkara's considerable experience in job creation and public health make him uniquely qualified to ensure the Port acts consistent with community health. Mr. Castellanos' expertise in real estate transactions will be invaluable to ensure more green and sustainable business practices at the Port.

We believe San Diego Port Commissioners should have experience in green practices so that the Port grows and operates in a way that protects the health of neighboring community residents. They must have a commitment to public and worker health and safety, protecting San Diego Bay, and to making the Port a regional leader in energy policy.

Specifically, the community is looking to the Port to support projects and planning to offset negative impacts of Port operations on neighbors in Barrio Logan and passage of an effective Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Plan. These actions are crucial to meeting environmental and health goals of an exemplary Port. Sid and Rafael should surely be in line with these goals.

EHC opposes the appointment of Richard Vortmann based on the legacy of pollution he was responsible for as the President of NASSCO for over 20 years. During Mr. Vortmann's tenure, NASSCO fought efforts to clean up toxic sediment and fought regulation of water and air pollution from its leasehold without consideration of the impacts on the health of neighboring communities. His legacy is not one that the City Council should allow to be continued at the Port.

We’ve said time and time again, and I’m sure you’ve heard from everyone else, that this election is one of the most important elections in many years. Sure, we can all make the statement, but where are the facts?

We’ve got them right here.

SD Neighborhoods 30to50 POCSD Neighbhorhoods Legend3

EHC’s map shows the influence of our communities of color. A majority of communities south of I-8 have a majority of voters of color.

For instance, in the City of San Diego, 63% of voters of color live south of I-8, while in National City, 68% of all voters are voters of color.

These facts and our map show that if voters in our communities get out and vote on Election Day, we can be the margin of victory to pass propositions and elect a mayor that foster healthy communities. 

With that in mind, we ask you to please get out and vote and use our EHC Voter Guide to ensure your vote protects the health of your family and community. We only support state propositions that support healthy communities, clean air and environmental quality.

Our EHC staff and community members put together a message for voters out there, young and old, to encourage everyone to participate in this election. Watch, vote and tell us you voted on our Facebook Page. Show our region that the communities of color south of I-8 are the margin of victory and should be considered as some of the most powerful communities in San Diego.