Grassroots Tour Organizers Knock Down "Environmental Racism"

An organization in Chicago's Little Village gives tours to educate its Mexican-American residents on how they can improve their notoriously polluted community. Grassroots efforts like this are being lauded by environmental justice groups.
January 30, 2009, 8am PST | Judy Chang
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"Volunteers guide residents on a walking tour of chemical sites, manufacturing and plastics plants and brownfields to heighten awareness of environmental hazards and provide tools for keeping government officials accountable for monitoring and cleaning up dangerous emissions, deposits and more.

Robin Saha, a University of Montana assistant professor of environmental studies, wrote a book about grass-roots efforts to tackle environmental racism around the country. Saha said the tours are a sign 'people are taking what's good and bad about their communities and owning it. In the process, they're able to involve community members, raise awareness of the issues that matter to them and, frankly, call some industries out on the mat.'

Environmental justice scholars identified two decades ago what became known as 'environmental racism.' A 2007 University of Michigan study found most hazardous waste facilities are located in minority areas. Another study from the University of Colorado at Boulder found that environmental inequality exists in most large urban areas."

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Published on Wednesday, January 28, 2009 in Chicago Tribune
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