Reflections

June 20, 2019

By Rashidah Farid. New England. I am no stranger to travel and having worked across the lower 48 states and Alaska. I might say I am experienced, particularly with rural communities.  Working in rural New England, however, has presented some unique experiences for me. The prevailing culture is of inclusion and openness. Everyone is open to diversity, natural resource protection and organic locally sourced foods. Individuals or groups that openly challenge diversity and inclusion are immediately shunned and labelled as backward thinkers. In a place born out of religious freedom, the American revolution and... more

June 20, 2019

By Victoria Loong. I took my first educational dive into environmental justice issues through an interactive article by MSNBC on Cancer Alley. This article struck me by how it put the communities at the center of the story; how Brunetta Sims of Baton Rouge, Louisiana was coping among Exxon Mobil’s refineries, how she lived with burning eyes, persistent sinus infections, and a scratchy throat day in and day out. This was the story of our nation’s vulnerable. Having sparked a passion in me to learn more about environmental justice, I began focusing my graduate courses on the environment, its problems, and its... more

June 20, 2019

By Tabaris D. Smith. Coming from the South, and not having to rely on public transportation made me take this asset for granted. Where I’m from we rely most on automobiles so I had no idea how central transportation equity is and how it intersects with so many issues we face in our culture today. As an organizer and scholar in the field of planning, I have heard repeatedly, in both my graduate courses and in my work in communities, that good transportation is an asset to the quality of life. In my graduate courses at Alabama A&M University, I learned mostly about the three major categories of transportation... more

June 20, 2019

By Sarah Naiman. Companies like Wheelabrator [a waste incinerator company] come in here because they can. They can come in they can use their wealth and their power to really buy their way into communities and that’s the sad reality and that’s why we really do need to protect communities of environmental justice. They’re usually communities of color, of low-income, and minorities.—Representative Rose Lee Vincent. The dependence of low-income communities on revenues from dirty energy facilities is problematic because it pits economic benefits of jobs and funding for public programs (through taxes) against... more

June 20, 2019

By Fantasia Williams. During my summer as an Environmental Fellow, I had the opportunity to take part in an equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) history and culture project for one of the largest conservation organizations in North America. This project made it clear that while the global field of environmental conservation is making headway in areas such as wildlife preservation and the reduction of carbon emissions, efforts to increase EDI in the field are not happening as fervently. Combining the concepts of cultural conservation and the conventional environmental conservation movement could prove to entice... more

June 20, 2019

By Shanna Williamson. As an environmental fellow with the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance (MSGA), I participated in their Great Neighborhoods Campaign which is a collaborative effort aimed at addressing housing challenges in the Boston region. This 10-year campaign focused on reforming Massachusetts’s zoning and permitting laws to encourage healthy, diverse, and equitable community development. One of the tactics used by MSGA to demonstrate the importance of passing zoning reform legislation was attaching the stories of residents whom have been negatively impacted by the lack of housing in the region to the... more

June 20, 2019

By Teal Harrison. I first experienced Imposter Syndrome as a new graduate student. I am sure I am not alone in this sentiment. I started undergraduate as an international relations major, then transferred schools where I tried on Public Health, Education, and Anthropology before choosing to major in Behavioral Biology. I didn’t know what Ecology entailed until I studied abroad in Ecuador at the end of my junior year. I fell in love with my course and fieldwork, envisioning a successful career in ecology. With only two semesters until graduation, I rushed to make up for (what I felt was) lost time, taking as... more

May 21, 2019

By Amber Carter. How do major U.S. cities tackle water affordability? How should we approach disparities regarding clean and affordable water? How are different communities handling stormwater runoff? Those are some of the issues I had the opportunity to learn about at the conference “Making Ends Meet: A Workshop on Water Affordability” at the University of Pennsylvania on May 30th and 31st, 2018. The conference brought together city officials, community and utility leaders, professors, researchers, urban planners, and concerned citizens from across the country to learn about potential solutions to the... more

May 21, 2019

By Julie Skarha. In July 2018, Olga McKissic of Louisville, Kentucky, received an offer to buyout her home of 32 years. She had endured five floods between 1997 and 2018—each of which inundated her home with 18–20 inches of water. In 2013, Olga began the arduous process of trying to secure a home buyout, enabling her to move somewhere that was safe from flooding. It took Olga four years to get to the point where the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved funding and an offer being made for her house, during which time her property flooded again. But Olga still is awaiting the final purchase of... more

May 21, 2019

By Chris Torres. The environmental field is at the forefront of some of the most pressing social and environmental problems humans have ever faced. Many environmental groups take on climate change. Others take on wildlife conservation and wilderness protection. And some advocate for protecting communities from contaminated sources of water and polluted air. These problems, however, are a wicked, inter-connected knot, so large and tightly tangled that no one individual group in the field could ever grapple with all these problems at once on all the different scales they happen. To untangle the knot, the field... more