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A real eye-opening experience…

This trip has been a remarkable journey through the eyes of another person in learning and acknowledging their daily lifes and struggles in the poor neighborhoods of Port Arthur and eastern Houston.  It greatly exceeded my expectaions that one would only imagine from reading or watching a film of the community’s struggle for a better life in the high concentrated areas of heavy (and dirty) industries.  To be able to talk with Hilton and Parras smack in the middle of their own environments is truly a eye-popping experience that allows for us to take in all the horrible sights, smells, and sounds that was thought to be unbearable to live in.  I cannot imagine myself allowing any of my loved ones to live in such a situation in the future.  Yet, those residents are too poor and working many jobs just to scrap by their daily lives… too busy to give thier time or money towards an united grassroots effort into making the community a cleanier place.  It is difficult for them to reform the political system to work towards the favor of the lower class, especially when there were no (or minimal) zoning laws set in place to prohibit the construction of industries right into the middle of a residential neighborhood.  The industries automatically doesn’t offer their aid in contributing to the community.  They give out minimal amount of money only when they encounter effective resistance.  We saw gas pipes trailing aboveground right across a local playground with the smoke pipes in the background emitting white smoke; the air was full of the sulfur dioxide aromas.  We saw a high school with all kinds of the petroleum industry-owned lines running underground through the school grounds.  We saw massive Valero tanks built right next to a tiny house whose owner refused to move out of his home that has been in the family for countless generations.

It is obvious that this has been a fight that can go on for a decade or more to get any real revolution for the better with cleanier (green) industries.  Those communities cann0t do the fight alone, but with an united front with some outside aid will they start to see some positive outcomes.  We need to be able to do effective and scientific studies/researching that would aid into the reform for a cleanier environment and a stronger enforcement of the Clean Air / Water federal acts.  They do not need only money from funds, but they need to advocate for improvements in their economic sectors that would attract more businesses/industries into the area for s stronger economic stability/sustainability that would eventually aid the community for a better and safer neighborhoods that any parent would feel safe to raise their families in.

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  1. April 26, 2011 at 2:21 am

    This city seemed to be exactly what we have been learning about in class the entire semester, and I think that the field trip and witnessing these hurting communities ourselves really enhanced our learning for the course.
    People living in a poor area are easy to take advantage of by large industry because they do not have the regulatory knowledge, time or money necessary to devote to overcoming such large obstacles. When we learned that the petrochemical plants had been essentially paying off the community for the dirty air they were forced to breathe, the entire class was in shock. How can this really be happening? Also, when Hilton told us that many people were not willing to speak out because they needed those checks from the factories, we understood that sad reality, and understood their choices under such circumstances.

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