Environmental Justice Webinar


The resources our donors contribute to Neighbor to Neighbor are essential to our fight for a better world, so we’re excited to create a space where we share with you the transformative work that your generosity makes possible. This is our first Donor Call & Webinar of an on-going series where we will share our work and build with you. We hope this inspires you to sustain N2N.


In this webinar, our speakers offered an overview of N2N’s burgeoning environmental justice program, and shared insights from one of our local environmental justice campaigns. Our speakers also answered some great questions from those who were able to join the call.




Additional ResourceMovement for Generation Zine

N2N IS HIRING: Climate Justice Field Coordinator

JOB POSTING: Climate Justice Field Coordinator

Neighbor to Neighbor is hiring a full-time Climate Justice Field Coordinator with a community organizing background to join our diverse, passionate leadership team.

About Neighbor to Neighbor
We are the “new majority:” people of color, immigrants, women, and the working class, on a path to liberation. Our statewide, membership organization is marching to put people and the planet before profit. We counter the fear that causes injustice by building power to transform the institutions that govern our lives. In an era of income inequality, environmental degradation, and racism, our chapters are confronting this triple crisis in Massachusetts. We are certain that a better world is possible and that we are the ones to build it. For more information, please visit www.n2nma.org and actionfund.n2nma.org.

Background & Vision of Neighbor to Neighbor’s Climate Justice Program
After successfully completing a campaign to shut down a coal plant in Mt. Tom, Holyoke and transitioning the site to a solar field, Neighbor to Neighbor is expanding our climate justice work. We are on the brink of developing an integrated and state-wide climate justice program into our organizing model of going broad for big sate-wide wins and deep for base building and leadership development. Given our membership and our track record working on economic justice, Neighbor to Neighbor is well positioned to bring to the field of climate justice an economic and racial justice lens.

As members of the Green Justice Coalition and the Mass Power Forward Coalition, Neighbor to Neighbor currently is engaged in important legislative campaigns to advance renewable clean energy and codify environmental justice oversight into state law. To these campaigns, we desire to add grassroots power that will lift campaign demands through organizing and mobilizing for legislative grassroots advocacy, and local events and actions. In addition, we seek to go deeper in the three communities where we organize – Lynn, Holyoke and Springfield – to conduct surveys at the doors and focus groups to learn directly from our community what their most pressing issues are, how they understand climate change, and identify local environmental threats.

Position Description
In partnership with the Executive Director, the Climate Justice Field Coordinator will build out Neighbor to Neighbor’s state-wide climate justice program. The vision is to establish a core group of Neighbor to Neighbor members to lead campaign planning and actions. The Climate Justice Field Coordinator will be able to travel and willing to spend at least three days/week in the field in Lynn, Holyoke and Springfield. Given that our entire organizing staff is Latino/a, our ideal candidate will have a racial justice analysis, experience working with or living in communities of color, and be ready to engage as a team player.

Key Job Responsibilities

  • Strategy: Work with the Executive Director to articulate and implement an annual plan with clear outcomes, objectives, activities and timeline that will guarantee the establishment of a core group of 15 – 20 member leaders at Neighbor to Neighbor committed and devoted to advancing a climate justice agenda that integrates racial and economic justice. Work with Executive Director and the organizing team in developing and implementing a community climate justice survey; analyze results and integrate them into Neighbor to Neighbor’s climate justice program.
  • Community Organizing and Coalition Building: Develop and execute canvassing plans in targeted neighborhoods in Lynn, Holyoke and Springfield; accompany canvassers in door knocking activities; organize public events and workshops; do at least five one-on-ones a week; facilitate member meetings and trainings. Must have a Driver’s License and be able and willing to regularly travel across the state. Represent Neighbor to Neighbor in the Green Justice Coalition, MA Power Forward Coalition and other state and national spaces.
  • Management and Administration: Recruit, train and supervise a team of part-time canvassers at each chapter; keep track of progress towards program outcomes in N2N’s organizing database system; document program achievements through written reports, pictures and social media posts.
  • Fundraising: Set an annual fundraising goal; manage individual donor portfolio of at least 30 donors for cultivation and solicitation; organize one grassroots fundraising event or house party; collaborate with Executive Director and Development Director in providing information for grant writing and reports.


  • Community Organizing: Passion for economic, racial and environmental justice. Two or more years’ experience as a community organizer, including volunteer recruitment and supervision, canvassing, and meeting facilitation.
  • Project Management: Experience in planning, leading, and managing organizing projects, including working with others to reach common goals and objectives. Ability to work independently and as a team player, to take initiative, and to manage multiple tasks and projects simultaneously. Strong organizational and time management skills with exceptional attention to detail.
  • Communications: Skilled in creating powerful, compelling written and oral communications for the campaign and for fundraising. Ability to convey complex ideas through brief, simple materials. Fluent in Spanish.
  • Relationship Building: Skilled at establishing and cultivating strong relationships with a diverse range of people, across the organization and externally. High energy and passion for Neighbor to Neighbor’s mission. Flexible and adaptable style.

Compensation: Salary: $45 – 55 DOE. Benefits include fully paid health insurance coverage for individuals and families; paid holidays, sick time, and three weeks paid vacation; Flexible Spending Account, and disability.

To Apply: Email resume and cover letter to elena@n2nma.org with subject Climate Justice Field Coordinator. Applications will be considered as they arrive until position is filled.

Neighbor to Neighbor strongly encourages people of color and women to apply

50 to D.C.!

Neighbor to Neighbor members are headed to the People’s Action Founding Convention in D.C. on April 23-25, 2017 to mark the 100 days of the Trump administration. The only question is: how many of us will represent Massachusetts’ progressive New Majority?

Let’s get 50!

With your help, 50 N2N members can show up and rise up in solidarity, defiance and resistance with other activist leaders against the Trump regime.

You can make this happen by supporting our GoFundMe Campaign with a generous donation or by sharing our campaign with your friends and families.

 Donate here — www.gofundme.com/50toD-C — or share the link! 

 The time is now to build power.


Mayor Sarno fails to protect all of Springfield citizens, caves in to Trump regime’s bullying and blackmail and gives in to the politics of fear, hatred and division. In these dark times, we need brave, courageous leadership that stands on the side of love and unity!

Shame on Sarno!


Story via www.westernmassnews.com:


President Trump’s recent executive orders on immigration continue to draw the opposition of immigrants across the country including those in Western Massachusetts.

On Thursday, a group of community activists personally delivered a letter to the mayor’s office asking him to meet with them over their concerns.

The community group feels that President Trump’s executive orders have unfairly targeted Muslims and the immigrant population.

Mayor Sarno is not budging from his position that Springfield will not become a sanctuary city.

Springfield community leaders deliver a letter to mayor Sarno’s office that was signed  by 14 individuals and organizations.

They’re seeking a meeting with the mayor to discuss the city’s policies regarding the President’s executive orders on immigration.

In addition, community leaders asked the mayor to sign an executive order himself that would stop local police officers from being forced to carry out the work of federal immigration authorities.

“What our point is you can call it sanctuary, or something else you can use a different word what we are asking is a specific proposal we believe doesn’t run afoul of President Trump’s executive order,” said Billy Peard of the Pioneer Valley Workers Center.

The visit to the mayor’s office comes after a recent rally at City Hall where hundreds of people turned out to protest President Trump’s immigration policies.

Mayor Sarno told Western Mass News he will not sign such an executive order.

“I’m all for legal immigration but not skirting the letter of the law, we’re not going to be a sanctuary city, I’m not going to the group’s demand,” said Mayor Sarno.

The group has its concerns and felt a meeting with the mayor would allow them an opportunity to discuss in detail those issues.

“People have a lot of fear he’s been sending a divisive message similar to trump, and we want to have a conversation with Sarno,” said Jafet Robles of Neighbor to Neighbor.

“Springfield is a melting pot, and if we don’t stand up for Muslims now then when will we stand up for the rest of everybody else,” said Adam Gomez, a Springfield City Councilor.

Mayor Sarno was not in his office so the group’s request  will be delivered to him.

Although Mayor Sarno said the group knows how that he doesn’t feel a meeting is necessary.

“The meeting is not in the best interests of the city of Springfield , it’s residents, and businesses,” Mayor Sarno continued.

Copyright 2017 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

Frame Shift. Then Power Shift.

via www.barrfoundation.org:

Elena Letona, executive director of Neighbor to Neighbor (and a 2005 Barr Fellow), shares lessons learned from an old, industrial city in western Massachusetts, where community members, labor groups, elected officials, and others found common cause in a winning effort to go from “coal to sol!”

As I write this, a brave struggle rages in Standing Rock. First Nations have joined to stop the construction of an oil pipeline. Their war cry is not “reduce carbon emissions.”

Their war cry is respect for the sanctity of water, land, and life itself.

This is a different frame. Yet, if victorious, this fight will contribute to reducing carbon emissions, the leading cause of climate change.

In Holyoke, Massachusetts, a low-income, majority-Latino town went from coal to solar.

Their fight was not framed in terms of climate action either. Yet in the end, it also reduced carbon emissions.

The story begins in 2010, when the Sierra Club invited economic justice organization Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) to join a campaign to shut down Holyoke’s Mt. Tom Coal Plant.

Their fight was not framed in terms of climate action either. Yet in the end, it also reduced carbon emissions.

For an organization that organized people based on bread and butter issues, shutting down coal did not resonate at first. However, as N2N members learned of the connection between contamination and health problems, they became outraged that their health should be put at risk by a multi-national energy giant.

The organization joined together with Toxics Action Center, Conservation Law Foundation, and the Sierra Club to put forward a vision that resonated with the community: We want clean air so our kids can breathe without inhalers, clean land and water so we can safely eat the food we grow and fish we catch, and responsible business that brings good, clean jobs to Holyoke.

But even with this growing coalition, an important voice in this community was still missing. Many N2N leaders had lost their jobs when factories closed and were worried about the plant workers. So they invited unions to join the coalition and added a demand for a just transition: to care for the laid-off coal plant workers.

N2N brought this message door-to-door and held press conferences and forums to build support. With support from so many, including the unions, an inclusive and just message, and in-the-streets tenacity, in the end, all shared the victory.

By 2011, public officials funded and launched a study to determine the best future use for the coal plant site.

In the summer of 2015, the Mt. Tom coal plant shut down.

Just one year later, plant owners agreed to meet the worker’s demands for severance and retirement packages. And several months later, the company broke ground on a solar field and committed to cleaning up and removing the contaminated chimney.

We glean two major lessons from this story:

1. It takes all of us.

When we bridge divides, and environmental groups band together with directly affected community members and labor groups, elected officials, and philanthropic supporters, we have the elements for a complex, victorious campaign.

2. Our message must resonate deeply and broadly.

Working-class, Latino N2N members were not ready to join a fight to shut down a coal plant. However, they were ready to fight for their health, land, water, and good jobs. We must shift the frame and our collective understanding of the profound damage that a fossil-fueled economy does to people and planet.

More than ever, in the face of the divisive 2016 presidential election, we must come together and ground our work in values that embrace our care-taking of each other and our only home: Earth.

Energy to power 1,000 Holyoke homes coming from new $10 million Mount Tom Solar Farm


via MassLive.com:

The $10 million Mount Tom Solar Farm with 17,208 panels will be installed by late December beside a now-closed coal-burning plant on Northampton Street with energy to power 1,000 homes, officials said Thursday.

“It’s a great event. It’s a great day,” said Frank Demaille, president and CEO of ENGIE North America.

The company formerly called GDF SUEZ Energy North America held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the solar facility, which will occupy 22 acres of a 128-acre site at 200 Northampton St. beside the Connecticut River. Construction began this month, spokeswoman Julie Vitek said.

GDF SUEZ shut down the coal plant in late December 2014 after years of the facility operating only sporadically. Twenty-eight employees lost jobs.

Changes in energy habits led to the closing, as officials have said burning coal to produce energy was too expensive in the face of the cheaper alternative of natural gas.

Demaille referred to the old-world-to-new-world transformation of the company building a solar farm in the shadow of the property’s signature smoke stack and coal-burning facility, which officials said will be demolished beginning in the spring.

“It’s a landmark for us,” Demaille said.

Two employees will work at the new Mount Tom Solar Farm but the facility will be run remotely by a power station in Fitchburg. The company operates solar facilities that way in Northfield, Massachusetts and Ontario, Canada, a spokeswoman said previously.

ENGIE is focusing such innovation efforts on the United States and Canada — territories where it employs 3,500 people — and additional projects here are possible. The city and the Holyoke Gas and Electric Department (HGE) have proven to be good partners, Demaille said.

“You have to work with the community, the mayor and his team, the local utility and his team,” he said.

The 5.764 megawatts of electricity generated by the solar farm will be sold to HGE at or below market rates to ensure customers’ rates stay as low as possible, HGE Manager James M. Lavelle said.

The solar farm will produce enough power to supply 1,000 homes, he said.

“We’re really excited about this project …,” Lavelle said.

The city will receive $146,000 in tax revenue in 2017 from the solar farm. The company expects to pay about $28,000 on the solar panels and related equipment as a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT), $78,000 on the land the solar facility will occupy and $40,000 in relation to the existing coal-burning structure at the Mount Tom Power Station, spokeswoman Carol Churchill said

Holyoke Mayor Alex B. Morse said decisions by legislators and work of people in the community and activists led to planning on how to deal with the demise of the coal-burning facility.

State Rep. Aaron M. Vega, D-Holyoke, when he was a member of the City Council, filed an order to establish a community advisory group that began studying how the coal-burning plant property could be redeveloped, he said.

Michael R. Knapik, when he was a state senator, secured $100,000 from the state to help Holyoke study reuse options for the site. That was so the city could be prepared depending on what direction the then-GDF SUEZ Energy North America was planning, he said.

Morse also credited activist group Neighbor to Neighbor with keeping attention on the coal-burning plant property.

“We wanted to make sure we took a pro-active stance,” Morse said.

He added, “It’s music to my ears that hopefully this is the first of many investments in our community.”

Judith Judson, commissioner of the state Department of Energy Resources, said the solar project here meets the state’s goals of providing affordable electricity; generating clean energy, that is, energy that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which trap heat in the atmosphere; and offer a safe energy structure.

“It’s really exciting to see this project,” Judson said.

Members of groups like Neighbor to Neighbor and Toxics Action Center planned to celebrate the installation of the solar-power facility and its status as the replacement of the the coal-burning plant with a party after the groundbreaking ceremony at Fiesta Cafe Main Street.

Neighbor to Neighbor’s Lena Entin addressed concerns that such a party could be seen as insensitive to coal-plant workers who lost jobs. The group’s focus was the breathing and other health problems from exposure to coal-burning and always included calls for the employees to receive training for other positions and strong severance packages, she said.

“We are celebrating that we’re moving from burning coal, which contributes to asthma and respiratory problems and even early death, to clean energy. We too are devastated about the job losses,” Entin said.

Concerns about breathing difficulties, kidney disease, high blood pressure and other health problems related to exposure to coal-burning plants prompted activists for years to push for the Mount Tom Power Station and other coal plants to end such operations and switch gears to different forms of energy production. Mount Tom Power Station officials said over the years the plant heeded state and federal emission standards.

The reason the Mount Tom Solar Farm will be subject to a PILOT instead of straight taxation is related to the solar component. The solar panels, like other equipment on a business property (merchandise, furnishings, tools, animals, equipment), would be subject to taxation as personal property under state tax laws, said Marcos A. Marrero, director of the city Department of Planning and Economic Development.

The issue with solar equipment is, at the outset, it is valued so high that the tax bill the first few years can kill a solar project. But solar equipment depreciates quickly, so taxable income from the city’s perspective would be very low after only a few years. So establishing a PILOT of $5,000 per megawatt ensures a steady tax revenue for the city from such a business, he said.

The shuttering of the coal-burning plant was a blow to the municipal budget of this city, which has nearly a third of its population of 40,000 living below the federal poverty line.
For decades, the city could count on more than $600,000 in property tax revenue from the coal plant.

Limits on what future development could occupy the site left few options, said officials such as Marrero who studied possibilities. Site restrictions included its high risk for flooding, being adjacent to the river, presence of endangered species and government regulations.