Belly of the Beast

san-diego-bay-cleanupAt the invitation of Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), San Diego Coastkeeper toured the environmental justice communities of National City and Barrio Logan on Saturday, Oct. 15. No doubt we saw some of the worst environmental harms and violations in San Diego. EHC builds grassroots campaigns to confront the unjust consequences of toxic pollution. Coastkeeper is proud to be one of EHC’s partners.  Indeed Nicole Capretz, EHC’s Green Energy/Good Jobs Campaign Director, is a San Diego Coastkeeper board member.

Environmental Justice is about victories brought through community action. We had the opportunity to see a real victory, the restoration/rehabilitation project of Paradise creek that was spearheaded by Margaret and Ted Godshalk. Margaret Godshalk is the President of EHC and a teacher at Hoover Elementary School, which is adjacent to Paradise Creek.  Through the Godshalks’ efforts what was once a dumping ground for used motor oil, car batteries and other flotsam that threatened wildlife and San Diego Bay is now Paradise Creek Educational Park, a vibrant watershed which serves as home to crabs, pelicans, egrets and wetland plants. The park also serves as an outdoor laboratory for Ms. Godshalk’s students. As Ms. Godshalk puts it, “Kids can start seeing it’s not just about protecting the water and the stream to the ocean, it’s about what they do in their own neighborhoods. After learning about how precious that wetland is, there’s a 180-degree turnaround, a feeling of pride in what you have in your very back yard.”

EHC Executive Director Diane Takvorian is spot on:  “All people have the right to live, play and work in a safe and healthy environment.”  It doesn’t  take rocket science to understand what is environmentally good for National City and Barrio Logan is also  good for all of San Diego.