Salem Diesel Awareness Project
“There’s nothing better than seeing people come together for a cause,” says Antonio. He and a fellow student, Casandra (Cassie), practiced their leadership skills for a cause as interns with Latinos Unidos Siempre (LUS) in 2018. Their challenge: uniting neighbors to understand air quality issues in Salem and to seek solutions.
Cassie takes the issue personally. She has lived most of her 17 years in Salem, and her chronic health condition makes her very sensitive to air pollution. “Coming from the Northgate area, I have seen how pollution has made a drastic change in my community. Each year it gets worse and worse. It is difficult to even breathe during rush traffic hours,” she said.
By helping people understand the pollution they encounter every day, Cassie and Antonio worked to unite neighbors as clean air advocates to better their communities. “We want to hold polluters accountable in order to move forward and hopefully one day breathe cleaner air,” says Antonio.
Under the guidance of LUS, and with support from Oregon Environmental Council, Antonio and Cassie conducted an air quality awareness project, taking a closer look at diesel pollution in their neighborhoods and interviewing neighbors about their concerns.
“The idea behind the diesel pollution sampling project is to reveal the toxic pollution in our neighborhoods and share that information with the people that live here,” says Cassie. “We started by listening to people who live here, so we all understand why people are concerned and where they are experiencing pollution. Then, we sampled the levels of toxic particles from diesel pollution in our area and listened to testimonies of people who have been harmed by the toxic air that surrounds us.”