Oral Histories

Interview of Elina Green

Project manager for the Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma. Participant in THE (Trade, Health, Environment) Impact Project, an organization focused on the community health impact of the Los Angeles/Long Beach ports.
Environmental Activism in Los Angeles
Social Movements
Environmental Movement
Collings, Jane
Green, Elina
Persons Present:
Green and Collings.
Place Conducted:
Green's office at the Alliance for Children with Asthma in Long Beach, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, interviewer and senior editor, Center for Oral History Research. B.A., Communications, Antioch College; M.A., Communications, University of Iowa; Ph.D., Critical Studies, UCLA. Collings prepared for the interview by reviewing material on the work, mission and structure of the Long Beach Alliance of Children with Asthma, and on history of activism on the ports and goods movement as it pertains to the cities of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Green was then given an opportunity to review the transcript but made no corrections or additions.
5 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The series documents environmental activism in the Los Angeles area from the 1970s through to the present day. The majority of interviews are with either founders or knowledgeable participants in major regional environmental organizations. Represented groups embody a wide range of issues, including conservation, restoration, environmental justice and toxic waste disposal.
Family background—Grows up at the Two Rivers Farm in Oregon—Family background in medicine—Parents’ path into non-traditional medicine—Educational background—Growing up at the Two Rivers Farm—Questions the ideology at Two Rivers Farm as a youth—The philosophy of G. I. Gurdjieff at Two Rivers Farm—Travels to mother’s home country in Finland—Mother’s upbringing in Finland—The conservatism and gender roles at the Two Rivers Farm—Green’s long term connections with Two Rivers Farm community members—Cultural changes at Two Rivers Farm—High school education—Attends Willamette University—Travels to Argentina to study Spanish—Contract tuberculosis—AmeriCorps service—Applies to the public health program at Emory University with a focus on environmental work
More on growing up in a communal living situation—Outcomes among Green’s cohort at the community—Gender roles at the community—The administration of the community—More on gender roles at the community—Widespread participation in community events at the community—Prevalence of divorce among adults at the community—Prohibitions against watching TV—The endurance of the community—The origins of Green’s willingness to challenge the status quo—Pursues graduate work in public health at Emery University—A graduate thesis on second hand smoke—Objects to the small research samples used at Emory—The solid basis of the epidemiology research at USC and UCLA—Greens drive to live in a large, diverse city to practice preventative public health—The public health challenge presented by the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles—The work of the Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma (LBACA) —The impact of the goods movement on the Long Beach area community—The balance of direct services and policy work—The involvement of community members in LBACA policy work—Efforts to fight back against a rail yard expansion at the port—LBACA’s role in bringing forward health input data—Participation of community members in testimony—Port’s growing refusal to listen to health input data—LBACA meetings as a social space for Latina mothers in the community—More on the conflict between policy work and direct services at LBACA—Leadership training for community members—Coalition for Clean Air—Natural Resources Defense Council—The high profile of the LBACA moms—Groundbreaking community participants—The impact of the neighborhood assessment teams for growing the new cohort of community activists—The perception that the Latino community in the Long Beach area is inconsequential due to perceived immigration status—The constant challenge of reconciling the visions of competing activist groups—The port “greenwashing” PR superficially addresses the healthcare concerns—The slowing momentum within community interest on port pollution—The range of the LBACA volunteers ability to communicate their message—The development of the Punta Colonet port project as a response to the environmental pressure at the LA and Long Beach ports—The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard—The public cost of the health impacts of port pollution—Areas where LBACA’s participation has mitigated port growth—East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice—Difficulties in bringing new people and groups into the struggle.
The commitment at Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma to involve community members—LBACA provides a social network for Latina women in the community—The challenge of building the organization despite a lack of continuity in participants—A concerted effort to build community leaders through the partnership for the Public’s Health—Hiring community members who have grown up through the leadership training—Trained community moms make important recommendations to make events work and attract attendees—Issues raised at LBACA community meetings—Community women become empowered through their participation at LBACA—Cross-pollinating and sharing resources among community groups to help sustain the energy of participants— The Trade, Health and Environment Impact project—The challenge of mobilizing and sustaining community involvement—The ethnic makeup of the community member participants—The A.[Assessment] Teams—LBACA hires a media consultant to counter port “greenwashing” —The formation of the coalition against the expansion of the 710 freeway [CEHJ] —The genesis o f the Tier 2 reports—Obstacles facing the coalition fighting the 710 freeway expansion—Efforts on the part of the 710 project to exclude the CEHJ membership for the community evaluation process—LBACA’s more recent focus on highly local projects—LBACA’s pressure for improvement in air quality prior to the start of the expansion—Efforts to re-engage community members in fighting against the 710 freeway—CEHJ faces a wide spectrum of opinion among community groups on the 710 freeway expansion—Challenges faced by an overstretched CEHJ—The work against the 710 freeway expansion as an example of how community groups can exert pressure and have an impact—The “induced traffic” counter argument to fast flow of goods theory as a rationale for expanding the 710 freeway—The importance of working on building public opinion about port pollution—The challenge for activist groups of sustaining energy—The challenge of explaining the work to the public—The link between port security regulations and health regulations—A range of opinion within the coalition on port growth—More on The Story of Stuff
The challenge of countering “greenwashing” —An upcoming health assessment project—The pressure of local activist groups keeps the national conversation about green growth going—Volunteer morale—The Schuler Heim Bridge project—Efforts to energize and educate the local community—A [assessment] Team—The structure and agendas at Health and Housing meetings—An instance where community members became engaged in housing issues—Community Partners Council—CPC-funded gym and exercise activities—The civic commitment of the LBACA volunteers—The disinclination of LBACA to pursue immigrant rights activities—Green’s unsuccessful efforts to include get the Long Beach community’s perspective in a prominent Los Angeles Times article on port pollution—Problems with the accuracy of the data in the Los Angeles Times story—The emotional power of the testimony of mothers of children with asthma—The significance of foundation funding to the existence of community groups—The importance of training and educating community members in order to ensure the long term goals of the organization—The challenge of attracting private donors in the Long Beach area—The stigma that attaches to those who question the consumer life style that underwrites the goods movement—The high degree of first generation immigrants participating in good movement activism—Inevitable conflicts between groups with a community base and more traditional advocacy groups—The working relationship between LBACA and the NRDC—The genesis of activist group constituencies—Greens’ personal choices as an environmentalist—Efforts to transmit ecological practices to the local community .