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In Southwest Chicago, Environmental Groups Must Also Grapple With a Sluggish Economy

After working together to shut down a pair of coal plants, three grassroots organizations no longer see exactly eye to eye on the best way forward for their community.
Pilsen, in Southwest Chicago.
Pilsen, in Southwest Chicago.Connie Ma/Flickr

Nelson Soza left his native Santiago, Chile, a hardened cynic after enduring the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. The U.S. is a much safer place for political malcontents than 1980s Chile, but Soza said it was useful preparation for his current role as executive director of Pilsen Alliance, one of several grassroots organizations fighting environmental hazards on Chicago's heavily Latino and working-class Southwest Side.

"You have to have know-how but also a lot of patience," he says. "I'm a very hardcore political person from a different era and an incredibly corrupt place."