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The Rochas are Defending Our Human Rights from Mega Warehouses

 Meet Kim and Tommy Rocha. When constant traffic pollution encroached on their neighborhood, they moved to Bloomington and found their American dream: a beautiful home in a peaceful community. Then the warehouses and diesel truck pollution came, threatening their livelihood yet again. Here’s why they’ve become two of our community’s leading voices for human rights.

It all started when we opened our mailbox to a letter from the planning commission. It said they wanted to build a 344,000 square foot mega-warehouse in our neighborhood. Already, our local government has allowed corporations to build two warehouses in Bloomington without any consent from our community. These two warehouses bring hundreds of air-polluting diesel trucks through Bloomington each day.

After just a few years of constant truck traffic, the pollution is already making us sick.

After a walk through the neighborhood, our eyes often sting. Neighbors tell us that their elderly family members are contracting more lung-related diseases and kids are developing asthma after years of good health. Studies have shown that the smog and particulate from diesel truck pollution cause these ailments as well as brain damage, tumors and other deadly diseases.

But this proposed warehouse was different.

It’s not just gigantic, the proposed location is a couple blocks from our high school and 70 feet from our backyard fence. That’s just ten feet more than the distance from home plate to first base. We moved to Bloomington to escape toxic air pollution, only to have it follow us, quite literally, to our own backyard.

After reading that letter, it became clear that every warehouse development allowed to be built illegally close to homes and schools emboldens more companies to do the same. If we don’t protect ourselves now, our children won’t have the opportunity to defend their right to breathe clean air.

That letter inspired us to seize our voice and our power.

We began printing flyers, knocking on doors and speaking to our government representatives and continue to today. We hold community meetings in our living room and write letters to decision-makers. We even joined the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice Boards and Commissions Training Program to learn how to bring our community voices straight to the decision-making table.

This is a fight for our basic human right to breathe without getting sick. Until that right is secured in Bloomington and across our region, we will continue to build our community power and make our voice heard.


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