As we discussed in our previous post, residents of Arvin, CA want the truth about what is in the air they are breathing. They know they have the worst air quality in the nation, due to ozone pollution, but could the multiple industries be exacerbating the problem with harmful emissions?

To help them determine what is in the air, they invited GCM to provide them with a Bucket Brigade training in February.

The training kicked off at 10am Sunday: GCM brought the Buckets, and the CBA folks brought the coffee, pan dulces and the sheer passion and determination it takes for grassroots change.  And, much appreciation to CRPE for taking on the BIG task of translation between English and Spanish.

The residents of Arvin were organized and ready with a ton of great questions.  GCM led them through the basics of air pollution, mapped out pollution sources in relation to the community and went over the need to record and keep track of pollution incidents with the Pollution Log.

We quickly learned that Arvin is growing!  There are plans for more houses, jobs and industrial expansions.  All great news considering the lagging economy, but this is a pivotal point for the residents who are concerned about the growing air pollution problem that could go hand-in-hand.

Residents want a straight and honest answer about the potential health risks of living so close to industry.  Community members are concerned about the bad odors near some of the industrial facilities.  They complained of rotten eggs, feces and spoiled fruit; often accompanied by acute health effects.

Sal Partida, President of The Committee for a Better Arvin, shared that “when it rains, you can’t tell what color your car was, because all of the pollution lands on it.”

And what better thing to follow-up that conversation than lunch!  We’re met with some surprised faces and laughter, but it usually doesn’t take too long for everyone to re-gain their appetite.   

Lunch, provided by the community residents, was spectacular.  I put my Cliff Bar away and grabbed a plate of fresh seafood salad, with pulled chicken that had been slow cooked with onions and spices.  And  to top it off hibiscus flavored agua fresca!

Then, onward with the training: it’s time to build the Buckets!  Two teams, four Buckets and two GCM trainers geared up for a little competition.  Which team could build it first?

Obviously, the younger team far surpassed their elders!  We had one Bucket up and running in no more than 15 minutes.

Full Disclosure- this team had seen the Buckets in action before at our Intro meeting, and did have some trouble with the vacuum on the second Bucket.  Additionally, there was no need for translation and so we got quite the head start with instructions.

After the other team caught up, we moved into the essential paperwork for sample data and planned out the pollution monitoring plan.  Everything was falling into place.  The farmer has the early morning pollution patrol and the High School girls have the mid-afternoon patrols.  The community residents decided which four activists would be in charge of the Buckets and circulated contact info so everyone can get in touch with them quickly following a pollution incident.  The Arvin Bucket Brigade is ready to go!  Stay tuned for sample results…..