The early start to 100° + days in DFW this spring has meant an early start to high smog levels as well.

Although it’s not even summer yet, five official EPA ozone monitoring sites in North Texas have already recorded “4th highest” 8-hour ozone averages that put DFW above the 70 parts per billion federal standard for 2018: Grapevine 73 ppb, Keller 72 ppb, Dallas North (by I-635) 73 ppb, Dallas Hinton (Stemmons Freeway and Mockingbird) 72 ppb, and Denton Airport 72 ppb.

No matter what happens the rest of this 2018 “Ozone Season,” these numbers insure DFW will still be violating the Clean Air Act for a 27th year in a row.

Grapevine and Eagle Mountain Lake monitors have recorded the single highest 8-hour ozone levels in the state so far, at 89 and 92 ppb respectively.

Breathers will have to wait longer to find out how this year’s dosage will affect the all-important regional average, driven recently by the results from the Denton Airport monitor. The regional average is the highest 8-hour average number from any one monitor after averaging the 4th-highest ozone readings from each of the last three years. Extremely high years can be off-set by better years, or visa versa.

Slowly, the DFW regional ozone average has come down from the really bad old days of the 1990’s and early-Oughts. But for the last seven or so years, it’s plateaued in the 80-85 ppb range. As of 2017, Denton had a three-year, regional-leading average of 81 ppb.

Many observers believe the recent stagnation in the decrease of DFW smog is due to increased emissions generated by the Barnett Shale gas play taking up the slack from decreases from other large sources like kilns or cars.

A 2015 UNT study using the State’s own air modeling demonstrated the disproportional impact gas industry sources like compressors had on the area’s historically worst performing monitors in Northwest Tarrant County and Denton, accounting for up to 3 ppb of smog.

Closure or mothballing of three large East Texas coal plants will help keep the numbers down this summer from what they could have been, but it may not be enough to outweigh the impact of continued growth and reluctance by authorities to crack down on other large sources like the gas industry or the Midlothian cement plants.

And this summer’s early smog crisis is yet another reminder about why a 21st Century locally-controlled monitoring system is needed. During this last stretch of 100° + heat, when ozone levels were often climbing by 10 ppb or more per hour, the official EPA/State monitors were up to 2 and a half hours late. At 1 pm, a resident was still looking at 10 am data that was obsolete.

If the federal and state governments won’t do anything but make it more difficult to solve our chronic smog problem, it’s self-defense for local governments to at least be able to warn residents about how bad the air is in real time and at a location near them instead of the other side of town.


L to R: Jabrille McDuffie, Natasha Dunn and Temeckia Derrough of the Joppa Freedman’s Town Association


Picture Gallery>>>>

Sticks Mania Video Sample>>> 

We raised another $3600 for air monitoring in Joppa amidst the most diverse “environmental” Big D event many could ever remember, with a program that won rave reviews from an overflow crowd. If you squinted, you could see the future. Thanks.


By almost any measure, the May 22nd benefit for air monitoring in Joppa fit the definition of success.

Packed crowd. Check
Engaging Program. Check
Moneymaker. Check
Political Game Changer…..Depends on what happens next. 

As important as having a full house…was WHO was in the house. Here was a table of 10th Street Historic Neighborhood Association members, there was a table of Sierra Club members. Frazier Revitalization members sat next to Dallas Green Alliance leadership. For every green group represented there was a South Dallas neighborhood group also present and accounted for.

Not only was the event a success for Joppa, it has the potential to inaugurate a new era of cooperation between green and black groups in Dallas. One of the last orders of business were members of the Joppa Freedman’s Town Association reading a long list of needed reforms to be included in what they called the “Joppa Environmental Preservation District” that could be a model for other historically distressed Dallas neighborhoods. What started in Joppa could end up traveling to West Dallas, Pleasant Grove and Cedar Crest.

It was clear from the start this wasn’t going to be a staid program of speakers and performers. After about 30 minutes of eating, drinking, and mixing in the industrial chic of the GoodWork co-working space Downwinders now calls home, a booming ten-member section of the Sticks Mania professional drum line marched down Good-Latimer and directly into the event space. For the next 20 minutes, a sizable portion of a crowd at a Dallas environmental event could be seen sliding into outright twerking behavior, a probable first. You can see a video sample of Sticks Mania’s performance on our Facebook page here. 

And you can see a gallery of highlights from the benefit on our website here courtesy of Norman J Jones.

Dallas’ own spoke word artist Rage Almighty did a great job of playing ringmaster for the evening’s progressive variety show as well as wowing the audience with his own verbal gymnastics and gyrations through the English language and race politics.

District 7 Council Member Keven Felder showed-up to give a rousing welcome and rally his constituents to be on guard for the re-submittal of batch plant permits by Martin Marietta. He also promised he was working on bringing cleaner industries to District 7 and Joppa.

Keith Price and Douglas Carter performed two dramatic monologues from “The Freedmens” fresh off its run at the Wylie Theater downtown. They
received a standing ovation at the end, and it was the first of many times during the night the audience could be seen dabbing their eyes.

Solakio Music provided the right mix of laid back soul and jazz that buffered the different segments and set the mood for whatever was coming next.

Comic relief and some added inspiration was added by the staging of a brief 2018 graduation ceremony for this year’s Downwinders’ College of Constructive Hell-Raising class. Almost a dozen new activists now “think more like organizers” after a ten-session, five month long course in affecting change. Each got a diploma from College “Dean” Jim Schermbeck and faithfully recited the school pledge to protect people and planet.

This year’s graduates heard their convocation speaker, civil rights legend Peter Johnson, talk about all the similarities between the fight against segregation in the 1960’s and the fight for environmental justice in places like Joppa today.  Then they heard Dallas singer Vicki Larkin-Tovar belt out “Keeper of the Flame” as the class song:

“I’m the keeper of the flame
The teller of the story
For the ones that came before me
For the little pilot lights waiting to ignite
Like fireflies in the rain
Keeper of the flame”

After that it was Joppa’s turn to speak. Temeckia Derrough, Natasha Dunn, and Jabrille McDuffie from the Joppa Freedman’s Town Association gave effusive thanks to the crowd for their support and laid out the elements for “what environmental justice in Joppa would look like.” Ms. Dunn brought many to tears in describing the group’s struggle to organize itself and remain steadfast in the face of so much pressure to stop opposing the new batch plants.

Among the changes sought by the residents are a switch to electric locomotives in the 100 plus year-old Union Pacific rail yard, more and better pollution controls on the industry surrounding them, buffer zones separating people from polluters, and new zoning and enforcement provisions that will help them start to reverse decades of environmental racism.

Time and again the JFTA leadership reminded everyone they’ll need all the help they can get if they hope to see any of these reforms materialize. Downwinders and the Sierra Club have both committed resources to the community. That list of partners needs to get longer. In signing-on to help build a Joppa “Environmental Preservation District” Green Dallasites have an opportunity to take a big step in addressing our own historical blindspots as a local movement. Stay tuned as we try to make it easier for groups and individuals outside the neighborhood to provide support.

Meanwhile, thanks to the big crowd, a silent auction, bartender tips, and some sizable donations from the Sierra Club and Frazier Revitalization, $3600 was raised for the purpose of buying air quality monitors for Joppa. We’re combining that with the $1600 already collected, for a grand total of $5200. 

Thanks to everyone who contributed, whether it was $25 or $250. To see what your money will be buying for Joppa keep reading…..


What Now?

by jim on June 4, 2018

1. This monitor was built by the University of Texas at Dallas. It measures Ozone (smog) and Particulate Matter pollution. It’s already been picked-up and will be installed in Joppa in the next 30-45 days. It’s one of ten being placed around the region as part of a fledgling new air quality network. The public will be able to access its data online.








2. An Aeroqual portable Particulate Matter monitor like the ones Downwinders has already deployed inJoppa will be purchased with a protective case for use as both a mobile and stationary monitor in the community. While it records in real time, its collected data must be downloaded later.





3. Beginning in the fall, five small Particulate Matter monitors will be built by UTD for distribution in a grid in Joppa. They’ll be connected to the internet by a wifi nodule which will make the data available to the public in real time. This will be a pilot test for a larger regional grid network being built by a consortium of universities and municipalities. 





In total, by the end of the year, we plan on having seven PM monitors up and running in Joppa. Dallas County currently has one. At that point the neighborhood will be among the most “wired for air” communities in the nation. But it’s only a start to addressing the environmental racism that’s impacted Joppa residents for generations.


All pics by Norman J. Jones, except Peter Johnson by Miles Moffeit. Short video of Sticks Mania drum line here. 

90 second video summary of the evening by Norman J.Jones:




Tonight: Show Up for Change

by jim on May 22, 2018

Like Life,

Social Change is 90% Showing-Up

…Tonight You Have a Chance to Show-Up for Change in a Big Way
for Just a Little Money

It’s showtime.
Tonight is our benefit for Joppe air quality monitoring. 7pm.

Check out the menu, our line-up of entertainers and speakers, and then buy tickets – just click here. 

We celebrate the recent victory of the historic Joppe Freedman’s neighborhood in preventing more polluting industries from moving there.

We also celebrate the launch a new partnership between Joppe, Downwinders, and other members of the DFW green community to reverse decades of environmental racism.

The first step of that partnership is the instillation of modern air quality monitors in the community. Every dollar collected tonight goes directly to that goal. 

And…we also celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2018 from our College of Constructive Hell-Raising, four members of whom have been instrumental in the recent Joppe batch plant fight.

Tonight, showing-up counts.






The Top Five Reasons

You Should Attend the May 22nd Benefit for Joppa

1) This benefit will fund a citizen-run air quality monitoring network in Joppa that can be up and running in months. 

We don’t need the EPA to do anything to win a big environmental victory right now. Or the State. Or even the City of Dallas. Citizens can do this ourselves.

All the air monitoring technology we need is off the shelf. Thanks to the labs at local universities like UTD and UNT we have the expertise we need in our own backyard. All we need is the funding. Your $25 ticket fills that need. All proceeds go directly to buying monitors for Joppa.

2) This benefit supports an historic Black-Green alliance forming in Dallas

This benefit will see the debut of a new grassroots proposal to make Joppa a model of how municipalities can redressdecades of environmental racism.  Over the last several months Joppa residents and environmental groups have worked closely together to prevent another two batch plants from setting-up shop. Now we’re ready to announce how we’ll be more pro-active. Come support this important and historic initiative.

3) This benefit supports an unprecedented pilot project that could be coming to a pair of lungs near you

The Joppa community could be a launching pad for the much larger regional air monitoring network public health advocates and environmentalists want to establish.  It’ll provide reliable real-time air quality readings from monitors located near you instead of many miles away. Joppa makes sense as the place to start because it won’t take a huge budget to cover the well-defined neighborhood with a dense grid of monitors. Joppa can help pave the way for a regional network.


4) This benefit challenges Old Dallas 

The Joppa Freedman’s Township Association (JFTA) was the only Joppa-based neighborhood group leading the fight against the two recently-proposed batch plants. They represent a more volunteer-oriented, grassroots approach to community organizing. They’re seen as a direct challenge to the Status Quo. Your presence at this benefit is a direct rebuke to the Old Dallas way of doing business. Come support a New South Dallas.


5) It’s going to be a great show with good food and good folks…for only $25

We’ve got a drum line. We’ve got one of the most talented local poets on the scene as MC. We have Civil Rights icon Peter Johnson giving a commencement address on why “Clean Air IS a Civil Right. We have selected scenes from Soul Rep Theater’s “The Freedmens” fresh off its run at the Wylie Theater downtown. We have the pipes of Vicki Larkin Tovar and the completely cool vibes of Solako Music.  This is in addition to food and drink. All for only $25.








Tickets are Only $25. Tables of 10 only $250.

Don’t Miss This Historic Event.




  Join us on May 22 at our new digs in GoodWork Co-Working Space,

1808 S. Good-Latimer Expressway, just a few blocks south of I-30 and downtown Dallas….


For Immediate Release:                                                                                   

9 am May 15th, 2018


New Dallas Black-Green Alliance Hosts Benefit

to Bring Full Time Air Quality Monitoring to Joppa


May 22 event launches unprecedented new effort dedicated to

“undoing” decades of environmental racism in Dallas


(Dallas) Fresh from their victory over two proposed batch plants in late March, Joppa residents and Dallas environmentalists are joining forces again to host a benefit on May 22nd aimed at purchasing dedicated high-tech air monitors for the neighborhood. They say it’s a first step in a long-term commitment to lessen the pollution burden of “the best preserved” Freedmen town remaining in Dallas.

Offering a line-up that ties the historical neighborhood to the modern air pollution problems it faces, the Joppa Freedman’s Township Association and Downwinders at Risk are hosting “Let Joppa Breathe!”

from 7 to 9 pm next Tuesday, May 22. The Sticks Mania drum line will call the evening to order. Actors from the Soul Rep Theater will perform scenes from their recently concluded run of “The Freedmens” at the Wylie Theater. Civil Right veteran Peter Johnson will speak to Why Clean Air IS a Civil Right.” Award-winning spoken word artist and poet Rage Almighty will be performing and is also Master Of Ceremonies. Local singers Selako Music and Vicki Larkin Tovar round out the evening’s entertainment. Dallas Council Member Kevin Felder, who led the fight opposing the batch plants at City Hall in March, will provide a welcome. Food by FOODWORK and Doodle Farm plus drinks are included in the $25 admission price. Tickets are being sold through EventBrite online. All proceeds go directly to buying air monitoring equipment that can be up and running in Joppa in a matter of months.

Plugging the community into on-going local air quality efforts means Joppa could have one of ten sophisticated Ozone and Particulate Matter (PM) monitors being built and distributed by the University of Texas at Dallas to locations throughout DFW by the end of summer as part of DFW’s first independent air quality information network. It will also be first in line to host five to ten additional, smaller PM monitors in the first “monitor grid” network of its kind in Texas. Dallas County currently has just one permanent EPA PM monitor, on Hinton Street near Stemmons Freeway, some nine miles from the Joppa neighborhood. Portable monitors owned by Downwinders found PM levels 30-50% higher in Joppa than at that EPA site on the weekend before the batch plant vote.

Building a new network of air monitors would seem ambitious enough, but according to the JFTA and Downwinders, that effort is only the first step in a campaign to make Joppa a model of how to undo decades of environmental racism. They’ll use the May 22nd benefit to unveil a proposal for a Joppa Environmental Protection District aimed at preventing the community from being a dumping ground for undesirable industry and improving its quality of life. Among its goals are electrification of all Union Pacific locomotives operating in the switchyard that runs the length of Joppa, HEPA air filters for all homes, new pollution controls for local industry, and zoning ordinances that establish special protections for historically abused communities like Joppa. It would be a first-of-its-kind District in Dallas whose architects are a first-of-its-kind alliance of Black South Dallas and local environmentalists.

“Everyone is tired of only re-acting to Bad Ideas. We want to stop the Bad Ideas before they ever get a Planning Commission hearing,” said Downwinders Director Jim Schermbeck. “That means the city admitting it has an environmental racism problem and working with residents to create new public public policy to correct it.”

Schermbeck noted that every “comprehensive plan” now moving through Dallas City Hall is impacted by environmental health and environmental racism – whether they’re acknowledged or not. “You can create a housing policy that ignores those realities, but at the end of the day people don’t want to live where they can’t breathe. You can pass an economic development plan, but unless you know where industry is causing problems now you may be adding to them rather then solving them. Environmental Health has traditionally been a stepchild issue at Dallas City Hall. That tradition must end if the City wants to accomplish its new goals.”

Organizers say that donations of equipment and volunteer time means they only need about $3-5,000 to set-up the kind of advanced air quality monitoring network that would be the envy of even the smartest of “smart cities.” They’ve already collected $1600 and hope the May 22 benefit brings in the remainder. “For $25, you can make sure we win an important environmental justice victory by the end of summer and have one heck of a good time.” said Schermbeck.


Tickets are Only $25. Tables of 10 only $250.

Don’t Miss This Historic Event.






Click Here for Tickets and Sponsorship

Joppa is one of Dallas’ most intact Freedman’s Township. One of only three left. It was founded by slaves liberated from the near-by Miller plantation on the banks of the Trinity River. Descendants of those slaves still own homes in Joppa. 

But over the last century it’s been surrounded by heavy industry and tons of air pollution. EPA’s nearest air monitor is nine miles away.

 In March, the Joppa Freedman’s Township Association defeated a proposal to locate two additional concrete batch plants there when it came before the Dallas City Council. A week before the vote Downwinders at Risk board members used their new portable particulate matter monitors to show how high current high pollution levels already are.

Despite the community’s longtime pollution burden, it was the first time any actual air monitoring in the had actually been done there.

 Now, the JFTA and Downwinders have agreed to partner in an unprecedented and historic way to try to redress decades of environmental racism by working for the creation of a”Joppa Environmental Preservation District.”

 This new district would have special zoning and land use policies dedicated to reducing the amount of pollution Joppa residents are subjected to on a daily basis – all designed to “Let Joppa Breathe.”

As a first step, we want this Environmental Preservation District to have more extensive air quality monitoring, especially for Particulate Matter.

 And to do that by this summer, we need your support on May 22nd.

 That evening JFTA and Downwinders are hosting a benefit to raise money to buy multiple air quality monitors for the community.

Thanks to your generosity and the Dallas Sierra Club, we already have enough for one, but we need more – at least one on each side of the community and more if we can get them.

 We want Joppa to be an example of the kind of dense monitoring we want to bring to all of DFW in the years ahead.

A $25 ticket gets you food, wine or beer, and a program highlighting the cultural and historical significance of Joppa as well as celebrating our determined effort to preserve and revitalize it.

Not only will we be unveiling more details about our plans on May 22, you’ll also be treated to a line-up of great entertainment, beginning with MC duties being performed by Dallas spoken word artist and poet Rage Almighty.

Come out on May 22nd to support a good cause, eat good food, and watch an inspiring program that will leave you fired-up and ready to go.


Click Here for Tickets and Sponsorship 





Alternative Earth Day Event

by jim on April 17, 2018


Thanks to Downwinders supporters and the Dallas Sierra Club that pitched in a whopping $1000, we raised the $1600 needed to buy Joppa residents their own full time Aeroqual Particulate Matter monitor. Now comes the hard part in deciding where to put it.

Downwinders and Joppa residents are schedule to meet to discuss the location of the monitor and the protocol surrounding the data gathering.

Unlike the monitors being proposed as the backbone of the new regional network, the Aeroqual model doesn’t connect to the Internet as it collects its data in real time. It’s readings have to be downloaded and examined offline.

There’s also the issue of whether to leave the monitor in one place or move it around the neighborhood to test where those new internet-connected network monitors might go when they get here.

Nevertheless, the placement of a calibrated PM monitor taking readings 24/7 is a huge advance in public health self-protection for Joppa. And this is just the first step in what we hope will be on on-going effort to redress Joppa’s history of environmental racism.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the effort. We’ll keep you updated.




Downwinders is very lucky to have Dallas media lab The Virtual Wild and its artist-owner artist Jay Rutherford creating a special video display of the data we’ve collected with our new portable PM monitors for this year’s Earth Day X @Fair Park.

Using a large 72- inch video monitor as his palette, Jay is painting with light and code to                  produce a really memorable exhibition. His mission: to make air pollution more interesting  and show it new contexts and perspectives.

This year we’ll be side-by-side with our partners at the DFW Air Research Consortium. UTD scientists and others will be showing off their own monitor hardware and Downwinders will      have its portable monitors to demonstrate as well.

Come by and enjoy Jay’s handiwork and stick around to look at the equipment that’s                    changing the way public health is protected in North Texas.




Dallas County finalizes documents for founding a regional air quality monitoring network among local governments – will your city, county, school or hospital district vote to join? 


In the same week that Downwinders at Risk and the Dallas Sierra Club raised enough money to buy a full-time stationary Particulate Matter monitor for the distressed Joppa community, Dallas County Commissioner Theresa Daniel announced she was sending out documents vetted by the Dallas County District Attorney’s office for the founding of a region-wide air monitoring network to be administered by local governments.


With a working title of “The North Texas Clean Air Network,” the documents propose an Inter-Local Agreement between area municipalities, counties, school and hospital districts to oversee a system of inter-connected particulate matter monitors that insures  scientific credibility, uniformity, transparency, and accountability through administration of an appointed board of member representatives.


This kind of air monitoring network is vastly superior in terms of time and space to what exists now. Instead of only a few monitors for seven million DFW residents spread out over an area the size of a New England state, it would contain hundreds of locations – none further than a block or two away from where ever you are. And instead of waiting for a reading of what the air was like one or two hours previously, these networks can deliver the information in constantly updating five-second intervals, in real time.


The result is a bonanza of data for public health administrators, school officials and urban planners, as well as a new “smart” tool for residents to use in their everyday lives. Planning a run or a walk? Chart the least polluted path. Trying to minimize air pollution from congestion? Tweak the synchronization of your stoplights until you find the timing that produces the least emissions. Track classroom absentee rates to pollution levels and enforce schools’ no idling zones. High-tech low-cost air quality monitoring is one of the most useful applications of emerging smart cities technology.


Air quality monitoring’s potential is recognized in Dallas’ “smart cities”planning chart, placing it under both “Public Health and Safety” and “Equity and Empowerment.” The recent fight over new batch plants in the Joppa’s community and the part Downwinders’ portable monitors played in it shows air monitoring is a powerful new high tech tool for citizens.

Language in the County’s documents initially includes only Dallas County, City of Dallas and City of Plano since those were the three entities represented when informal discussions began last summer, BUT ALL DFW LOCAL GOVERNMENTS ARE INVITED TO JOIN.  Reportedly the documents have already been sent to both Dallas and Plano city halls for consideration and action. In Dallas, it’s expected longtime clean air advocate Council Member Sandy Greyson’s Quality of Life Committee will host a hearing on the proposal in the near future.


Given recent events in Joppa, Council Member Kevin Felder is also presumed to be a part of the effort to get Dallas’ to join.


Dense air monitoring networks are being rolled out in many other American and foreign metropolitan areas. Baltimore has proposed a 500-monitor network, Chicago at least as many. Chattanooga has its first ten being built and installed – by a laboratory at the University of Texas at Dallas.


Even though it’s had decades of air pollution problems, DFW has been slow to catch-up with this trend. The North Texas Clean Air Network would begin to address that lag with a first wave of 24 to 50 donated monitors…from that same UTD lab, where Dr. David Lary, one of the world’s leading authority on environmental sensor technologies, teaches physics.


Dr. Lary’s research was just advanced by a large Department of Defense grant to test small high-tech air monitors under a variety of environmental contaminants for possible deployment in the field. This grant and others is allowing UTD to turn its Physics Department into an air monitoring assembly line benefiting the entire region. That’s why the costs of buying and installing the first wave of DFW air monitors is so cheap.


It’s also a reason the public can trust he information they’re getting from the Network as well. Thanks to researchers at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, we know DFW residents are more likely to believe independent third party data about air quality than information they get from government sources.


The documents created by Dallas County are only the first step. Like everything else concerning environmental protection, this monitoring network is a Do-It-Yourself campaign.



By-laws North-Texas-Clean-Air-Network-Bylaws-5 2

Articles of Incorporation Articles of Incorporation for North Texas Clean Air Network 5

Interlocal Agreement North Texas Clean Air Interlocal Agreement 5




What is the Mission of The North Texas Clean Air Network? 

1. Provide the best, most up-to-date factual information about local air quality by supervising the implementation and maintenance of a publicly accessible, secure, and scientifically credible regional air sensor network providing simultaneous real time air quality information from multiple locations within member or contracted jurisdictions via the World Wide Web.

2. Provide fact-based public education resources on local air quality.

3. Support scientific research on local air quality by local colleges, universities, hospitals and schools.

4. Work with regulatory agencies and entities to further local clean air goals.

How much would it cost cities and counties to join the Sensor Network? 

Nothing. Joining is free, and even the first 25-50 monitors are being donated by UTD and other researchers. Only small electrical and internet connectivity costs for each monitorwill be incurred.
Who will be on the Network’s Board? 

1. Sitting Dallas City Council Member

2. Dallas Office of Environmental Quality representative

3. City of Dallas Public Advocate representative

4. Sitting Dallas Commissioners Court member

5. Parkland Health and Hospital representative

6. Dallas County Public Advocate representative

7. Dallas County Medical Society representative

8. Siting City of Plano Council Member

9. Plano Sustainability & Environmental Education Division representative

10. Plano Public Advocate representative

11. Dallas Independent School District representative

(Your Local Government Representative Here When They Join)
How will expansion and operating costs of the Network be paid for? 

For the first year, the initial wave of air monitors isb eing donated. Future monitors and maintenance will be paid for by adoption of Network installation and connection fees, grants donations., and directed funding from local governments.
Who will be the Network’s technical supervisor? 

Dr. David Lary, UTD Physics Department.


Sue Pope just said no.

No to Holcim Cement Inc. No to the EPA. No to the State of Texas.

In 2000, despite intense pressure, the Midlothian rancher would not agree to allow the company’s local cement plant to double its capacity without a public hearing. When her objections were overruled and the plant became a huge source of illegal new pollution, her stubbornness was finally rewarded.

Not only did the company have to install new pollution controls; not only did it have to pay for a staff scientist for Pope and her group, Downwinders at Risk, to use for unscheduled plant inspections at Holcim. It also had to put aside $2.3 million dollars for new clean air projects in DFW.

 12 years and dozens of grants later, that $2.3 million has all been spent – on things like hybrid school buses and delivery trucks, solar panels in South Dallas, energy efficiency projects in Fort Worth, public transit in Arlington and electric lawnmower trade-ins.

The only thing left to do to close out the largest and most successful endowment of its type in the state history is disburse the interest accumulated over the life of the Sue Pope Pollution Reduction Fund. That will happen today when, according to the specific wishes of Pope herself, $75,000 will be donated to the Special Needs education program in the Midlothian public schools. It’s believed to be the largest single donation to the MISD from a local resident.

 “The reason I got involved in clean air issues was because of the children,” said Pope. “In the 1980’s, I began to hear of so many Midlothian area children with rare diseases and birth defects like Down Syndrome and Autism. When we started connecting these problems with local industry, I decided that something needed to be done about it.”

In a ceremony at the L. A. Mills Administration Building 100 Walter Stephenson Road scheduled for 4:45 Monday, Pope will present the check to the Midlothian School Board, some members of which were still in public school themselves when she began her crusade for clean air in the 1980’s.

Whether or not they acknowledge Pope’s original motivation, the Board is reportedly happy to accept the money that one woman’s stubbornness and – thoughtfulness – has brought them.


Donate Here.


Yesterday, the Dallas City Council voted 9 to 5 to deny approval of two new concrete batch plants in the Joppa neighborhood, a part of South Dallas already surrounded by heavy industry.

Among other things, the vote proved what a powerful new tool our new portable Particulate Matter monitors can be to citizens.

Up to now, the ability to know what’s in the air you’re breathing in real time has been rare and available only to government or industry.

Technology is making it more accessible.

Downwinders is making it more accessible.

And now you can make it more accessible for some of the people who need it most.

For the next seven days, any money donated to Downwinders at Risk through our online portal will go towards paying for a permanent stationary air monitor for the Joppa neighborhood. 

We need $1600.

The monitors we’re using now, as well as the one we want to buy for Joppa, come from a lab in New Zealand that was just picked by EPA as its partner in a nationwide low-cost/high-tech air monitoring effort. They’re very good. And that’s what makes them dangerous to polluters.  

Joppa residents did their part and fought a good fight.
But they still need help with reducing pollution from the huge rail yard, asphalt plant, and roofing materials plant that all sit right across the street. Documenting their exposure to Particulate Matter 24/7, year-round with a new air monitor would give them valuable information.

Citizens paying for that monitor sends a powerful signal to Dallas City Hall to step up to the plate and provide this kind of monitoring to all residents, beginning with those most under siege.

Whether its PM pollution or your contribution:
Small Stuff Adds Up. Every little bit helps.

Keep the pressure on. Help us bring 21st-Century air monitoring to Joppa.


Donate Here.


On Wednesday the Dallas City Council ill vote on whether to allow TWO new concrete bath plants in the tiny former freedman’s community of Joppa.

Already surrounded by heavy industry and a rail yard, these plants are opposed by the majority of Joppa residents, as well as their city council representative. Yet, it could be a close vote because of Business As Usual in South Dallas. i.e selling out the community’s health in return for “community development” money.

Don’t let it be a close vote. CLICK HERE to send an email message today telling Mayor Rawlings and the entire council you oppose these batch plants, the South Dallas Business As Usual approach, and the continuing legacy of environmental racism that still affects thousands of residents.

Tell the council to vote no. It takes only a few seconds but will mean a lot to the folks in Joppa. Thanks,


In Memory of Those That Showed-Up

by jim on March 25, 2018

Harriet Irby and Ann Trenton were not exactly local social activist celebrities, but they were well-known among the circle of more or less full-time environmental volunteers and organizers in Tarrant County and thereabouts.

Both Harriet and Ann were based out of Arlington, and were incredibly civic-minded, but that’s not what they had most in common, or what made them valuable to change-makers like Downwinders.

Ann Trenton

They both had a certain reputation: Harriet and Ann showed-up when you needed them to. Anywhere. Anytime. They were…reliable protesters.  Which makes their separate-but-collective losses in the last two weeks or so especially noticeable.

Need to fill a room for a state permit hearing? Need a letter sent to the city council? These women were on it. Every single time. Or so it seemed.

Your imagination may soar with clever protest plans or tsunami-like social media campaigns, but at the end of the day you always need people to show up to make it work, or those lofty plans crash with a thud. These women showed-up.

In our College of Constructive Hell-Raising, we teach persistence as an under-appreciated quality of Change. People just don’t understand how long the road can be to where they want to go. Harriet and Ann knew, and so they made Change their lifework. They weren’t just passing through. They were passing milestones in lives lived for Change.

It seems like both have been on our mailing list for most of our 24 years. We can’t remember end-of-the-year mailings where we didn’t peel off their address labels and stick them on envelopes. Because they were reliable donors as well. Not just to us, but to a host of other groups and causes. All of whom now have large holes in their lists now too.

Harriet Irby

It’s particularly hard to imagine not hearing Harriet harangue officials at air quality meetings any more – she was a good haranguer. Because she seemed so frail and towed an oxygen tank around – a non-smoker with COPD –  there was a tendency for officialdom to give her lots of slack…which she promptly took and ran with until the slack ran out and the line cut. If she couldn’t get out of the house that often and do other things for the cause, she would at least use her damn infirmaries to gain political advantage when she could.

The country needs more Harriets and Anns, not fewer, and so one would like to think that among the throngs of newly-motivated-to-act teens that the current administration has produced, there are some who already understand the value of just showing-up…for the rest of their lives. Rest in Peace Harriet and Ann – although it’s just as likely you’ve probably already started a project or campaign that will keep you busy for awhile.

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by jim on March 25, 2018