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A year later, Planet Southie turns to confronting asthma, toxins in neighborhood

Posted by Roy Greene  August 23, 2011 11:33 AM

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A year after neighbors banded together to encourage dialogue and steps to protect the environment, Planet Southie is still acting locally on issues affecting the neighborhood.

In addition to combatting environmental problems in the area, the group partners with other organizations to highlight local public health issues. Although the group is a volunteer organization, members have been tackling problems as large as house weatherization and bike lanes in South Boston.

Stefanie Valovic, a founding member of Planet Southie, said that along with getting out and making South Boston greener, the group works to raise awareness about environmental problems in the neighborhood.

"Some of our main initiatives have been helping get a tree and bike group set up,'' Valovic said. "But we are always trying to give a platform for residents to have a voice and for people, who are interested in environmental issues in South Boston, to find a way to plug in.''

Looking into the future, there are a few issues that Valovic and Planet Southie want to focus on during the next year.

"The bike and pedestrian connections in the community aren’t great, and we also are encouraging people to sign up for Renew Boston, the free weatherization program.'' she said. "But I think there are still a few challenges like asthma and toxins in the neighborhood, that haven’t been addressed yet.''

Valovic said that connecting other environmental groups and residents is the group’s main motivation.

‘We noticed there didn’t seem to be a lot going on, and we knew there were some things [environmental groups], so we thought there might be a way to tie it all together. So our goal is to provide an easy way for people to access those things in the community,’ she said.

Valovic also said that people who might be interested in the group should know it all has to do with South Boston pride.

"South Boston is a community that is very proud and it should be because we have a lot to be proud of. When we look around, we care about what we see and we want to see trees, healthy people, and clean sidewalks,'' she said. "So I think it’s a natural extension of community pride to have pride in your environment.''

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