Committee for a Better Shafter Honored With 14th Annual Anthony Grassroots Prize For Immediate Release | Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Juan Flores, Organizer, Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, (661) 720 -9140, jflores@crpe-ej.org
Rodrigo Romo, President, Committee for a Better Shafter, (661) 600-4016, commiteeforabettershafter@gmail.com
Marion Gee, Communications Director, Rose Foundation, (949) 378-5253, mgee@rosefdn.org

 

Fighting Fracking by their schoolyards: committee for a better shafter honored with 14th annual anthony grassroots prize 

Rodrigo Romo speaks

Rodrigo Romo holds a press conference at Committee for a Better Shafter’s community garden, urging Governor Brown to visit Kern County and see the impacts of fracking on local communities firsthand. Photo by Brooke Anderson.

Oakland, CA, April 22, 2015: Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment today announces Committee for a Better Shafter as the winner of the 2015 Anthony Grassroots Prize, an annual $1,000 Earth Day award recognizing an outstanding example of grassroots environmental stewardship.

“My daughter thought carrots came from the grocery store, not the ground,” says Rodrigo Romo, President of Committee for a Better Shafter. In an effort to grow their own healthy food and promote healthy choices, Romo and six other families formed Committee for a Better Shafter in 2008. As they celebrated the opening of their first community garden by Sequoia Elementary School in 2013, however, they could see fracking wells being drilled less than 100 yards away. Now Romo’s daughter comes home from school almost every day with headaches from the noxious fumes.

In June 2014, Romo, fellow Board Member Anabel Marquez, and colleagues from 350.org and Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (who nominated the group for the Anthony Grassroots Prize) organized a press conference in Shafter calling on Governor Jerry Brown to visit Shafter and see the effects of fracking firsthand. The Governor has yet to respond a year later, and while some California municipalities like San Benito County have banned fracking, a statewide ban remains elusive.

“Committee for a Better Shafter is doing more than just growing food,” says Anthony Prize founder Juliette Anthony. “They are showing us how to grow grassroots leaders. Fracking is unacceptable, especially near a school. We honor and stand in solidarity with them in their efforts to ensure a safe and healthy environment for their children.”

Upon learning the news of the award, Romo was “grateful and honored.” “The Anthony Prize is a great opportunity for people to learn more about our work and the issues affecting us,” says Romo. Committee for A Better Shafter’s work will guarantee that community voices are heard even in the face of big oil’s influence. They have already witnessed several successes. The group, initially composed of only six families, has swelled drastically since its inception, and the city is now involved in the Committee’s garden and food bank programs.

Shafter School and fracking

Sequoia Elementary School in Shafter, CA is less than 100 yards away from fracking wells and oil rigs.

“I feel very happy we won the Prize and that our voice is being heard by more people. I hope more people hear about our work, more people get involved, and we can benefit more people in the community,” concludes Marquez. And she hopes other Central Valley towns facing similar issues will come together to build safe, community spaces, “The City didn’t think we could do it at first, that not many people would be interested. But we sent out invitations through the church, our neighbors, in the parks. Now the City is a close partner and our garden a model for other towns.”

Shafter is a small town of 17,000 located in California’s Central Valley. The town’s economy has historically been dependent upon agriculture, but in recent years energy and oil companies like Vintage Petroleum have sprouted up throughout the Valley, spurred by the economic potential of tapping into the Monterey Shale oil reserve. Fracking, an oil extraction technique that requires vast amounts of water and chemicals that may contaminate groundwater reserves and lead to unknown health impacts, is compounding historical environmental pollution issues in the region.

Committee for a Better Shafter, in addition to providing access to healthy food for low-income families, is able to mobilize community members to take action on local environmental justice issues, initially responding to the cleanup of the superfund site left behind by pesticide company Brown & Bryant. Community members, concerned by the potential of chemicals leeching into the ground and groundwater wells, rallied together, and then sought Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment’s help to watchdog the process of cleaning up the site. Now they are using their network to take on the fracking that is happening yards away from their children’s school playground.

ATTENTION: Photographs and videos featuring Committee for a Better Shafter and its members can be found at: rosefdn.org/2015prize

For more information about Committee for a Better Shafter, contact:

Juan Flores, Organizer, Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, (661) 720 -9140, jflores@crpe-ej.org
Rodrigo Romo, President, Committee for a Better Shafter, (661) 600-4016, commiteeforabettershafter@gmail.com

ABOUT the Anthony Grassroots Prize

The Anthony Grassroots Prize was endowed by Juliette Anthony, a lifelong environmental activist who has received wide recognition for her work in protecting the Santa Monica Mountains, banning the toxic gasoline additive MTBE, promoting solar power, and publicizing the negative environmental impacts of ethanol.

ABOUT Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment

Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment supports community-based advocacy to protect the environment and public health through grant-making and direct service programs. Rose Foundation’s focus includes grassroots activism, watershed protection, environmental justice, and consumer rights. Rose also administers New Voices Are Rising, a youth leadership development and environmental justice advocacy training program.

For more information about the Anthony Grassroots Prize & Rose Foundation, contact:

Marion Gee, Communications Coordinator, Rose Foundation, (949) 378-5253, mgee@rosefdn.org

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