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How does a city crawl out from under the black-smoked shadow of a refinery that has dominated its western edge for over 100 years?
In this 38-minute interview, Gayle McLaughlin, Mayor of Richmond, CA tells us that the key is staying in touch with the energy and spirit of the people, who see a clean food and green energy future for themselves, which includes a liveable city where people have empowered employment through worker-owned cooperatives.
On August 6, more than 900 people have sought medical treatment following a massive fire at the Chevron oil refinery which sits at the western edge of Richmond. Tens of thousands of area residents were ordered to stay in their homes with the windows and doors closed after a series of blasts Monday sparked blazing fires that sent huge plumes of smoke. Mayor McLaughlin called for a full investigation into the blaze, and told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, "We have a community that’s been fighting Chevron for a long time. And I’m proud to and honored to stand for that community." The investigation so far has turned up an illegal rerouting of dirty crude oil as the possible cause of the fire.
Environmental justice groups such as Communities for a Better Environment have previously sued Chevron over poorly drawn environmental impact reports. Issues are simmering over Chevron's environmental practices, but also fair txation and the corporate giant's refusal to negotiate in good faith with the community over a wide range of issues.
Meanwhile, progressives on the city council are joining the Mayor to reinvent Richmond with Community Gardens, farmers markets, school projects, an active Transition Town movement, and a policy that favors the formation of worker-owned cooperative businesses.
Listen in, to find out how a truth-to-power mayor and city council have stopped rolling over for Chevron - and started revitalizing Richmond.
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It's good to talk.