The days following President Trump’s election in 2016 were a turning point for many. Lilian Bello was no exception. At that time, Bello was a student at Hueneme High in Oxnard, Calif., a diverse community along the iconic Central Coast that’s also known as one of the strawberry capitals of the world. While teachers soothed frantic students, many of whom came from immigrant families, a representative from a local social justice organization showed up with a different objective: to rally them around fighting for their environmental and human rights. “It caught my attention,” says Bello. “I was like, ‘I’m ready. I’m gonna do something. I can’t just stand by.’” Bello soon learned that the city’s three gas power plants were contributing to its dismal asthma rates — and a powerful energy company was dead set on building a fourth. Bello, who has suffered from asthma as long as she can remember, joined others in opposing the plant. In March, after a four-year-long fight, California’s grid operator approved a clean energy alternative to the shortsighted plan, pushing it off a cliff. The victory was sweet for the community, where predominantly low-income, immigrant residents have long lived under a haze of […]


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