High Country News has started a new series on environmental justice in the West. It’s called Green Justice: The Environmental Movement and the Colors of the West. The series will focus on communities of color and the environmental disasters and challenges facing them.
The first story is about Mountain View, a neighborhood of poor Hispanics (they prefer to be called Chicano/Mexicano) in the South Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico, just outside city limits. The city has zoned away most heavy industry, and Bernalillo County has a history of allowing the heavy industry to concentrate here.
The most shocking thing to me about this story was, I had never heard of this neighborhood. See, I grew up outside Albuquerque (on the west side, not the south) and my mother will drive just about anywhere in town, even the places that aren’t so safe, but we never went that far into the South Valley unless we were on the interstate on a trip.
Here is this neighborhood of a few thousand souls, a couple hundred kids, with one community center, one park, and cement plants, junkyards, a concrete recycling site, Superfund sites, even a dairy on the northern end. And no one goes there unless they have to.