Our climate is changing, and our approaches to politics and activism have to change with it. That’s why The Nation, in partnership with the Food & Environment Reporting Network, has launched “Taking Heat,” a series of dispatches from the front lines of the climate-justice movement, by journalist Audrea Lim.
In “Taking Heat,” Lim explores the ways in which the communities that stand to lose the most from climate change are also becoming leaders in the climate resistance. From the farms of Puerto Rico to the tar sands of Canada, from the streets of Los Angeles to Kentucky’s coal country, communities are coming together to fight for a just transition to a greener and more equitable economy. At a time when extreme-weather events and climate-policy impasse are increasingly dominating environmental news, “Taking Heat” focuses on the intersection of climate change with other social and political issues, showcasing the ingenious and inventive ways in which people are already reworking our economy and society. There will be new dispatches every few weeks (follow along here).
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Adan Anguiano had been working in the solar industry only a few months when his company, Evolution Energy, got a contract to install a solar-heating unit two blocks from his home, in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles. “I was working on the roof and looking straight at the view of where I grew up, and it was like, wow,” he recalled. Candles were flickering in the distance, and he recognized them as part of a sidewalk memorial for his friend Fred Barragan, who had been shot by police in March 2017, just weeks after Anguiano joined Evolution.
Just a few years earlier, Anguiano would never have imagined himself with this job, or any job. The 33-year-old had begun “making mistakes, getting into trouble” in high school, leading to a two-year stint in a juvenile-detention facility when he was 16, and then a couple of short prison terms in his twenties. “I didn’t have anything,” he said. He was no longer living with his ex and his kids, so he sought distraction by drinking and hanging out in the streets. “I fell back in the same old ways.”
Then a friend, David Andrade, suggested he check out the solar-installation program at Homeboy Industries, an organization that Father Greg Boyle and other community members started in Boyle Heights in 1988 to support and train people who had been incarcerated and involved with gangs. Anguiano had known Father Greg since he was 7; Boyle’s Dolores Mission parish was a short distance from the Aliso Village housing project where he grew up. Anguiano remembered Father Greg giving tennis shoes and money to people in the community. Now, he told Father Greg, he wanted to turn his life around. Father Greg handed him a slip of paper that read, “March 6, 2015.” It was his start date at Homeboy Industries.