Clean Air’s Response to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic

March 19th, 2020

Dear Clean Air Members,

From all of us in the Clean Air Coalition of WNY family, we hope that you and your families are doing well and staying safe during these very chaotic and troubling times.

As we watch how this pandemic is affecting our brothers, sisters and siblings here in Western New York and around the globe, our hearts ache and our anxieties are high. We are all worried for our elders, our immunocompromised and housing insecure people, and those feelings of anxiety are real and valid. We at Clean Air know so well what it is to care for one another and demand action from governmental officials and other institutions when our health, dignity and safety are on the line. This unprecedented time in our collective history is no different.

This crisis is laying bare the cracks in the systems and institutions that are supposed to care for us and keep us safe. Our people, poor and working-class people, Black and Brown people, queer and trans people, women—we have experienced these cracks for generations and we have the tools to lead in this moment of crisis. At Clean Air, we value resident knowledge, grassroots power and race and class equity and inclusion. The question now is, how are we going to show up and continue our work to prove that our values are the only way forward?

The real and urgent needs of our people are a no-brainer—comprehensive health care, access to clean water and nourishing food, paid sick leave to care for ourselves and our families and the security of knowing we won’t lose our homes and utilities. These needs are basic human rights and the fact that we have to demand them in this time of crisis shows how the system does not work for our people.

It is clear, now more than ever, that when our governmental officials and institutions put private profit over the health, dignity and safety of our communities, it is our people who suffer most. When billionaires are given millions of dollars of our public money to create racist and sexist, hostile work environments like Tesla, when developers like Jon Williams are paid out by the State when our people have been poisoned for generations in Buffalo’s Delevan-Grider neighborhood and Tonawanda, when residents in the Seneca-Babcock have to fight tooth and nail for clean air and when all of communities fear for their lives and wellbeing during this Covid- 19 pandemic, something isn’t right.

Our anger is righteous, and we will continue to do what we do best—organize our people for health and justice. During this time of uncertainty, PCBs will not stop leaking into our backyards, silica dust will not stop flying around our streets, Tesla will not stop their racist and sexist practices and millionaires and billionaires will not stop getting paid to “clean up” toxic sites like Tonawanda Coke. We at Clean Air will continue the work of holding those who make us sick and profit off of our suffering accountable and we will organize for a world where the health and wellbeing of our people is centered. Our mission is to build a world where our environment promotes health and equity and where systems place communities at the forefront of decision making. Now is the time for us all to boldly and unapologetically live into our mission and values and take action to demand justice.

The staff and campaign teams at Clean Air will continue to do our work as this pandemic progresses. While this won’t look exactly like business as usual, we are shifting and adapting to the changing landscape. As of Tuesday, March 17th, our staff and members have been working from home and have suspended all in-person meetings for as long as we need to keep one another safe and healthy. All of our campaign teams and staff are now working remotely. Our office line is still open (716-852-3813) and we will be checking our voicemails regularly.

We are resilient and strong, and we will continue organizing.

Clean Air’s event, Growing Strong Together: An Open House to Root our Power, has been postponed. Although we cannot meet in person, the power of our membership is palpable and we will continue to root that power to support one another. Now is the time where the brilliance and resiliency of our people truly shine and we are confident that we will be able to continue on our vital work during these chaotic times. We know how precious the health and dignity of our communities are, and if you need direct support or are looking for resources on how to set up mutual-aid networks within your communities, please reach out to us! Our communities have power and we are each leaders within them for health and justice. Now is the time for us to show up, live out our values, support one another and build a bold vision for the world we all deserve.

When everything in the world seems uncertain, you can be sure that our hard work will continue. At Clean Air, when we control where our money comes from, we control what our work is. Moments like this prove that our grassroots fundraising strategies are vital in times of crisis when we all need to pivot to care for our communities. Times are tough, but we are stronger together.

But we also need to be honest… just as our organizing is shifting and adapting, our fundraising is too. We, like others, need your support right now… not just to weather the pandemic, but to come out of it stronger, more resilient, and more ready than ever to collectively create the world we know we need.

Can you join us in the work of caring for our communities and demanding health and justice by donating $5, $10, or $15 per month?

In the coming weeks, expect to hear from us, because that’s what we do. Expect emails, phone calls, web-based trainings and get-togethers,  social media posts, and updates on our website blog. We aren’t going anywhere. We are here for our people and our community, and we are continuing to organize. We urge you to call us or email us whenever. We want to hear from you.

We will get through this crisis because our people are strong, resilient, creative and powerful. We will get through this crisis because we have one another.

With all of our love and solidarity,

Clean Air Staff
Rebecca Newberry, Linnea Brett, Julia White and Emily Terrana

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