Marathon’s Tar Sands refinery puts Detroit further into environmental “Hole”

Many of us have heard that the 48217 area code of Southwest Detroit was deemed the most polluted area in the state of Michigan in a recent environmental report. Residents of 48217 and Southwest Detroit as a whole have long suffered from disproportionate rates of cancer, asthma and other chronic health maladies and premature deaths which are no doubt related their close proximity to the city’s industrial corridor along the banks of the Detroit River.

Southwest Detroit consists of ethnically diverse communities like the largely African American community of 48217 and and more diverse communities of River Rogue and Ecorse boarder the largely Hispanic community known historically as “Mexican Town.” The health problems of these communities are only now being exposed thanks to the pioneering work of the local Sierra Club’s one-woman Environmental Justice office under Ms. Rhonda Anderson along with grassroots efforts of area activists like Theresa Landrum, Vincent Martin, Dr. Delores Leonard and many others. With entrenched and economically vital private and public industries in the area like Marathon Oil, Severstal Steele, Great Lakes Steele, the Detroit Waste Water Treatment Plant, The NAFTA Freeway (Interstate 75), the Detroit Salt Plant, Ajax Paving and the Ambassador Bridge (to nowhere) just to name a few, the work of protecting the environmental quality rights for residents in the area is a daunting task.

With all that history already in play, one of the area’s most recent industrial expansions and environmental challenges adds a new chapter. The situation came to my attention by way of Ms. Anderson and our class project for the Detroit Future Media video class. I am currently working on a documentary project alongside three extraordinary women of Detroit in Ms. Anderson, Dr. Conja Wright and Dr. Angie Allen.

The focus of our documentary are 13 homes (including the Bridgeview Church) on the block of Leibold and Pleasant in an area of 48217 known as “The Hole.” Residents say the community got that name because of its location at the edges of the city near what used to be mostly marsh lands.

“There was only one way in and one way out,” a former resident said in an interview conducted by Dr. Wright. Anderson, who grew up in Southwest Detroit’s River Rogue area said that The Hole always had a reputation for being especially rugged and a “tough neighborhood.”

No doubt that toughness serves them well even to this day with all they are up against. Many of the residents of the area settled there after coming up from the South after World War II. They made a relatively good living for themselves and pursued the American Dream by working in the various industries thriving in Detroit at the time. Although Detroiters of European decent held the vast majority of the jobs in the area, they increasingly abandoned the area (while maintaining the jobs of course) following the four days of the famous 1967 race rebellion.

During that time, further industrial expansions transformed the marshlands near The Hole. Today the area is surrounded on all four sides by facilities of Marathon Oil, salt mining operations and the city’s Waste Water Treatment Plant. As bad as things may have been then, the area’s environmental quality took a decided turn for the worse around 2007 when Marathon began a multi-billion dollar expansion of their facilities and the city of Detroit almost simultaneously broke ground on a new addition to its Waste Water Treatment facility with a new Waste Sewage Over Flow Plant. The city insists the simultaneous erection of both facilities is purely coincidental, but skeptics suspect this is another example of industry getting their costs subsidized on the public dime.

It’s no secret in Environmental circles that the purpose of Marathon’s expansion was to accommodate a new refining operation for one of the world’s most environmentally hazardous oil production processes known as Tar Sands Mining. The world’s largest Tar Sands mine happens to be across the Canadian border in Alberta where experts say the Tar Sands found their has the potential to produce enough oil capacity to meet the energy needs of the entire United States for over half a century. Some experts claim that the Alberta Tar Sands hold more oil than all of Saudi Arabia and at a time when Americans are clamoring for less dependence on Middle Eastern oil and the oil industry suddenly awash in enough profits (thanks to the record highs in oil prices starting also in 2007) to finance the expensive and environmentally controversial process of extracting the oil content from the tar sands, tar sands mining seems to be positioning itself as the lynch pen for the energy security needs of the worlds largest energy consuming nation. See this link below for details on the affects of the area.

It’s apparent that the city of Detroit and Marathon Oil have joined together to make sure that Chrysler isn’t the only thing “imported from Detroit” these days. Maybe the M&M comeback should stand for Marathon and Motown? Seriously though, Marathon’s Tar Sands refinery requires copious amounts of water. Check out these quotes from the link previously referenced.

The extraction process involves using hot-water flotation to remove a thin coating of oil from grains of sand, then adding naphtha to the resulting tar-like material to thin it so that it can be pumped. Currently, two tons of sand must be mined in order to yield one barrel of oil.”


“The primary method used to process oil sands yields an oily wastewater. For each barrel of oil recovered, 2.5 barrels of liquid waste are pumped into huge ponds. In the Syncrude pond, 14 miles in circumference, 20 feet of murky water floats on a 130-foot-thick slurry of sand, silt, clay, and unrecovered oil. Residents of northern Alberta have engaged in activist campaigns to close down the oil sands plants because of devastating environmental problems, including displacement of native people, destruction of boreal forests, livestock deaths, and an increase in miscarriages.”

 All this could put a new perspective on the recent move to wrest control of Detroit’s Water System from the people of Detroit. I’m betting corporate funding was solidly behind the campaign and evidently its paid off (pun intended). Being located near the world’s second largest body of freshwater sure has its advantages.

What’s happening in The Hole area of 48217 is that Marathon is currently pumping its waste water from the tar sands refining process to the city’s Combined Sewage Overflow (CSO) plant via an existing public sewer system that runs under Pleasant Street, which connects the two facilities. Residents on Liddesdale were suddenly bombarded with a toxic overflow of gases which started creeping up from their basements that Marathon agreed to buyout the entire street of Lidesdale which is closest to the WSO.

However, Marathon neglected to address the surrounding communities that run along Pleasant Street and only recently began making buyout offers to the residents on Leibold only one street over from Lidesdale despite repeated complaints from those residents, who had to conduct their own tests and get local activists and news outlets involved before their concerns began to be taken seriously.

Our Future Media project tells their story but it can only scratch the surface of what the long term affects of the tar sands refinery in Detroit will mean for the entire region. To Marathon’s credit, they are in the process of building their own pipeline to funnel its waste water from the refinery to the CSO. My understanding is that the new pipeline will run where Liddesdale used to be. Still, nearby Bridgeview Park was shut down only mere months after a grand opening and subsequently fenced off because of alarming levels of contamination discovered in the soil. This was all prior to the arrival of the refinery and the CSO, which was at one point at least lobbying for tax payer funding through increased rate hikes. (See the link below from a 2009 article)

The park is surrounded by several blocks of residential homes. Common sense says the entire area is contaminated and the residents need to be located. Common sense also says that residents should have good cause for concern about waste water from the process being dumped into the nearby Rouge River. That River flows into the Detroit River and beyond and questions need to be asked. Those questions also need to be answered. The Hole may be a very small part of what’s going on environmentally in Detroit, but it’s about time someone take a good look and see how far down it really goes.

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Future City Media is all about getting back to Detroit’s roots – It’s people

In many ways, I’m so impressed with the environmental and social activist infrastructure that I’ve found in Detroit these first two months. On the other hand, we all know that that infrastructure is very much under assault with the globalist agenda being instituted by the ever-resurgent Republican machine that apparently won’t be satisfied until they’ve regressed the country in to their ideal for America of 100 years ago. That would be the run up to the Great Depression.In seeing them blindly championing their quasi-economic religion of deregulating business while regulating the public, it seems clear that what is at stake is no less than the future.An interesting juxtaposition to how these battles are being fought was recently brought to my attention on the WDET broadcast highlighting how the city of Memphis is trying to solve its shock-doctrine-created economic crisis by putting up a ballot measure on whether to merge Memphis’ public school system with the suburban school systems. Imagine that. Actually asking for the public’s approval???By contrast, Detroit is being presented with a “you have no choice” system of emergency financial management czars who’s only solution is apparently to do away with remaining public institutions like the water system, school system, unions and even the political system (see the passage of the EFM Bill recently passed by the Michigan state senate with respects to the latter three).While most media takes the spinning Daytons on a Jalopy approach, there’s another approach to creating the city’s future under way with the work being done in the Future City Media Workshops of the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition and the Detroit’s Digital Media Economy Collaborative. That’s where you’ll find some of the more community-minded artists and citizens coming together for the next 22 weeks to take courses in video, web, audio and graphics production with hopes of using those acquired skills to building a media based economy infrastructure in the city.The goals is that these fortunate sons and daughters – of whom I am humbled to be one – will take the skills they will learn from a team of talented instructors in each of these fields and use them to empower or spread those skills throughout the community.Of course, this seamlessly fits with my work as Remedia and communications coordinator for the East Michigan Environmental Action Council but what is most inspiring about being in the class is to see college professors, recent graduates, community activists, urban farmers, artists, students and plain old regular citizens all joining together to take up such a challenge.In our first few sessions, introductions have been made and we’ve all gotten to know a little bit about one another. Of course, we’ve also gotten familiar with the visionary goal of the program and the enthusiasm for the work ahead has been palpable.If all comes together as planned, the heavy handed, dictatorial forces being imposed from Lansing may one day discover that despite their best efforts, democracy in Detroit is not just an imaginary river in Egypt they’d like to import.The reality on the ground – under the pavement and stone, weathering the cold and polluting elements visited upon it time and again – is rooted in the people of Detroit. When the people on the ground are empowered to organically tell their own stories and shape their own reality, the grass just may stop looking so green in the suburbs. It may take some time – like spring shakes off fall and winter to reclaim the vibrancy of life in its time – but when that time comes, the people of Detroit just may be ready to determine its own future from a grass roots perspective.

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Deconstructing dead blackbird coverage for starters

One of my tasks as EMEAC’s Remedia Communications Coordinator is to “deconstruct” the not so well camouflaged pro-corporate biases in the mass media outlets these days. There is no shortage of deconstruction projects for sure here in Detroit.

I could begin with Russ Bellant’s messages at the most recent Undoing Racism in the Food System meeting where he told of seeing timely and relevant stories of interest to the community pounced on by eager reporters only to see them time and again “shot down at the editorial level.”

I could examine the historically unhinged and sadly irresponsible media campaign being waged in favor of the take over the Detroit Water System using corruption chargers against the former mayor as a pretext to pit Detroiters against their suburban neighbors. I could likewise breakdown the shameful yard sale approach to running the Detroit Public School System going on as a pretext to defund the Detroit Public School System in favor of even more privatization efforts. I could talk about the slanted coverage of the current mayor’s “Right Sizing” …. uh I mean “Detroit Works” plan involving the wholesaling or large swaths of city to foreign investors.  Fortunately, there are many people like Mr. Bellant, Brad Van Gilder and the fine folks at the Michigan Citizen who can do those subjects a much greater service than I could at this point in my sojourn here in Detroit, so I’ll happily rely on their insightful expertise.

For now, I’ll start my deconstructing the media campaign with something closer to home for me — the tens of thousands of red-winged black birds that mysteriously fell out of the sky in Arkansas to ring in 2011.

No doubt, you all remember the story?

On this past New Year’s Eve, a portentous 2011 was rung in not with stories of manna and quails from heaven but dead black birds and fish found along streets and streams in Arkansas and Louisiana. The world was introduced to these unique species of birds as lowly scavengers but for me the horror was all the more poignant because the Red Wing Blackbird or “Ricebird” as we know them was actually our high school mascot at Stuttgart High and a source of great pride and nostalgia.

We call them Ricebirds because they flock to the rice fields surrounding the towns of South Central Arkansas’ Grand Prairie where I grew up. They feed on stray grains that fall to the ground and the abundance of insect life – most assuredly the swarms of nocturnal mosquitos — that thrive in the well-irrigated rice fields.

Many a time I walked along the streets at the edge of the city, drove by in speeding cars or jogged along the railroad tracks and looked up to see a solitary male with his raven black chest feathers thrust forward catching the sun’s prisms at the edges and his red-patched shoulders trimmed with gold, crowing from power lines above like a sentinel over his turf as a flock of less adorned females and younglings darted through the fields in gleaning of food.

Though the birds were small and hardly intimidating, I always made the connection with the “Ricebird Pride” motto we wolfed in our highly decorated high school football program as we took to manicured fields to play or practice the “second religion” of the South. You might imagine how ominous it was to me to turn on the television New Year’s Day and hear the reports of over 4,000 bird deaths in Beebe – a town one county over from my hometown in the same region between the Arkansas and White Rivers.

The story soon gained world wide mileage as people from around the globe seemed to be as spooked by the whole incident as I was – Ricebird Pride or not! As scientist from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission scrambled for answers, then came the stories of over a hundreds of thousand dead fish washing up on the shores of the Arkansas River around the same time. That was followed by similar stories in neighboring southern states like Louisiana, Tennessee and Kentucky.

With 2012 just one year away and world news reports increasingly resembling the works of John the Revelator or Nostradamus, it wasn’t surprising that some people speculated that it was a sign of the apocalypse or the result of a clandestine military experiment in the area. Don’t get me wrong, if there were an organization called Conspiracy Theorist of America, I’d probably be a card-carrying member, but as a military veteran I also know that soldiers and sailors are more likely to be conducting experiments in their shot glasses or cross dressing on New Year’s Eve than military science. As for a warning of the apocalypse, hey. Who knows?

It wasn’t long before the official speculations and conclusions began coming in with explanations like the birds dying of mass fear upon being stirred from their nearby roost then flying aimlessly into some solid object or being struck by lightning. Most of the official explanations I’ve seen have settled on one of these. In fact, it was a publication in New York that prompted me to blog on this particular issue.

That piece, like so many others declared – based on unofficial conclusions of local authorities – that “stress” from the fireworks display caused the birds to panic then run into houses, power lines or other structures. These mid-air collisions caused “internal injuries” and hemorrhaging, resulting in the death of the birds.

Say what? Internal injuries and hemorrhaging caused by a one-to-two ounce bird flying into a house? Yeah right. While I’m not inclined to believe in a government conspiracy or Biblical prophecy for once, nor am I inclined to buy something as illogical as that explanation either.

I mean I can see a few dozen maybe but 4,000? And where was this object they ran into. I’ve been into Beebe. About the largest structure you’ll find is a two story house. I’ve also seen how the birds fly in their black swarm and even so, it’s high enough to avoid most buildings in Beebe. It’s interesting that all these experts settled on the same conclusion, without anyone identifying this mass murdering structure, which would surely have signs of such a collision some place.

The most telling part to me was that the conclusion in the article was reached without any word on the results of toxicology reports, which the same article mentioned were submitted. This brings me to one of the major flaws of today’s media: The failure to ask the right questions.

Having grown up in the area and knowing that these birds are considered an agricultural pest, the most logical explanation to me would be that the birds were poisoned. Having grown up in the area and experiencing the level of corruption that exists between local media, big agriculture and their bought and paid for watch dog groups and political organizations ala the 2008 Wall Street scandals that caused the near collapse of the world’s financial system, I tend to go with the old scientific theorem that all things being equal the simplest explanation is the most likely one.

As the honorable Miss Lila Campbell said in an impromptu discussion of the topic following a recent environmental justice meeting, ‘What about all the fishes?’

Even as these black birds fell from the sky, over 100,000 fish turned up dead also along the Arkansas River. Still, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, which concluded that stress from the fire works cause the death of the blackbirds, quickly pronounced the two incidents unrelated. I guess the fireworks have some sort of under water sonar capacity hunh?

When thousands of fish turned up dead on the shores of Paran, Brazil, the sale of seafood in Paranagua was suspended as a precaution. What does it say that no such precautions were even considered in the U.S.?

Whether the birds could have been poisoned in the irrigated rice fields of the area and if some runoffs had contaminated the river should be considered instead of dismissed out of hand. Of course, that assumes our media and government would put people over profits, but it’s clear from everything going on in this society today that such thoughts no longer cross the minds of those in positions of power today.

Am I saying that I know for sure what caused the death of those birds and fish? No. I am not. I’m speculating just like everyone else. What I am saying is I don’t buy that it was caused by stress from hearing fireworks, and it is irresponsible and down right insulting to the intelligence of the American public for such an explanation to be passed off as fact.

As I mentioned before, the same dynamic is taking place in the current debates in Detroit surrounding the public’s water, land and educational systems. I’m looking forward to deconstructing media here in Detroit around these issues as we go forward.

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Ready for the world of EMEAC Environmental Justice 101

As EMEAC’s new environmental justice communications coordinator, I am finding myself embarking into a brave new world. Only three weeks into this sojourn, I’m finding that not even my past journeys from the agricultural prairies of Arkansas, to the urban jungles of the San Francisco Bay Area, to the it’s-not-just-a-job-it’s-an-adventure life of a military veteran, and finally the very real jungles and seascapes of one of the Caribbean’s most pristine environmental jewels have quite prepared me for the environmental forefront that is Detroit and Eastern Michigan.
Along the way, I’ve managed to hone my skills as a journalist and media maker, and it is those skills that I partly hope to bring to this front. Unfortunately, my journalistic training to maintain neutrality has to be largely set aside for now as it has become clear to me that we are all being forced to take sides in the battle for environmental justice. Thankfully, I’ve been quite reassured by everything I’ve seen from the forces allied around me here at East Michigan Environmental Action Council that I’ve chosen to join the right side for the right reasons.
Of course, you don’t always realize it as a child coming up, but the battle for environmental justice is waged around us all our lives. Stuttgart sprang when prairie lands thought to be practically worthless and largely sold off to poor white European immigrants (many from the midwest) and freed slaves from all over the South turned out to be situated on a gold mine of natural aquifers. The market crash preceding the Great Depression forced many blacks and poor whites to sell their farmland in the 1930s only to see these aquifers gave rise to one of the most fertile rice producing areas in the world just as the rice industry there was taking hold. Today, the world’s two largest rice cooperatives Riceland and Producers are based right in my hometown of Stuttgart, which as you might imagine has become the quintessential mill town.
I grew up in the dusty shadows of towering silos similar to the way local Detroit youth grew up around billowing factories, industrial zones and skyscrapers. In fact, first-time visitors approaching Stuttgart often remark how much the collection of silos and mills look like a cityscape against an otherwise flat skyline of the Grand Prairie. What we lacked in air pollution quantity from buildings and cars was made up for with the constant spraying of the nearby rice and soybean fields with pesticides or the constant need to fumigate the community’s streets during the summer months with mosquito control.
It’s fascinating to go home now and see not a single water bug in drainage ditches that used to teem with an entire ecosystem of minnows, tap poles, frogs, crawfish, turtles, snails, small fish — even including goldfish — when I was a child. Of course, there have been no studies commissioned or official documentation of this change, but it’s something that’s talked about in the community where cancer rates seem so disproportionately high.
After returning from California to Arkansas in the late 90’s, I began working as the sports and outdoors editor for my hometown newspaper. One of the biggest environmental stories in the region from then and until this day is the White River Irrigation Project, which seems to be a typical exercise in environmental hubris. The WRIP was born out of the realization that the natural aquifers that had nourished the local rice industry for almost a century were now running dry. As a solution, the local agricultural industry, which as we all know is so hooked into state and national power structures to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars of farm subsidy entitlements each year that from 1999 to 2003 trillions (pronounced Tee-Real-yons and you may remember that denomination of from the more recent financial system bailout?) in “unaccounted for expenditures” were recorded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, decided that if Moses won’t go to the water, they’ll make the water come to Moses.
Together with the Army Corps of Engineers, the agricultural industry recently began the monumental prospect of channeling water from the White and Arkansas rivers directly to rice fields for irrigation purposes. Of course, there were objections raised all along by some farmers and environmentalists as to the potential damage that could be done to the rivers from contamination of pesticides and other pollutants. Still, this project has largely gone on unabated despite the legal action of some environmentalist and responsible journalism of my former editor Jeannie Nugent.
More recently, I was involved in a neighborhood action to block what is obstensibly a corporate gentrification effort by the rice mills. Never mind that Riceland and no doubt Producers to some extent were called out by the Rev. Jessie Jackson and international relief organization Oxfam in 2005 for using its own heavily subsidized rice production “to drop rice on Haiti, drive Haiti farmers out of business, and then raise the price of rice and have rice riots.”
According to a CNN report in January of last year “During that same period, the Oxfam report said, ” U.S. policies hurt Haitian farmers and helped Arkansas-based Riceland Foods, the world’s largest miller and marketer of rice. Riceland’s profits jumped by $123 million from 2002 to 2003, thanks in large part to a 50 percent increase in exports, primarily to Haiti and Cuba,” the report said.
“In a 2006 report, the Cato Institute, a nonprofit Washington-based research foundation, called rice “one of the most heavily subsidized commodities in the United States,” and argued that several countries including Haiti “could all plausibly claim that the U.S. rice program has driven down global prices to the detriment of their citizens.”
“Until the 1980s,” the Washington Post recently reported, “Haiti grew almost all the rice that it ate. But in 1986, under pressure from foreign governments, including the United States, Haiti removed its tariff on imported rice. The subsidized U.S. rice was cheaper than Haitian rice, and soon, it became a staple of the Haitian diet. Many Haitian rice farmers were driven out of business, fleeing to the slums of Port-au-Prince. Later, the price of rice began to rise. It doubled in a little over a year, sparking food riots in Haiti in 2008.”
During this same time frame back home, Riceland and Producers had started a campaign to clear out the local african-american neighborhoods that had sprung up directly around the mills when the development of farm technology following World War II had caused many blacks to leave the more rural farming communities outside of town and move into town to take mill jobs where blacks had been largely unwelcome before. After 911 however, large amounts of federal money was made available to the mills in the name of food security. Consequently, the mills and the city planning commission made plans to build a new expanded industrial complex for the mills. That coupled with the plan to build an interstate overpass right through these largely black residential areas kicked off efforts to remove residents from properties they had spent a lifetime paying off for a moving price that wouldn’t amount to a down payment on a new property.
The community rallied around a local minister whose church was in the area. I was among those who joined with the local minister and together we were able to fight against a proposed plan to literally fence in those residents who had refused to sell. This was even in the face of the mills turning vacant properties they had purchased at Wal-Mart prices into waste sites for obsolete and abandoned equipment and the erection of barbed wire fences around the neighborhoods. Our efforts resulted in only a partial victory. A fence was erected, but a route for residents to freely go in and out of the neighborhood was allowed. The pressure to force residents to move has largely stopped, however the environmental hazards those residents are exposed to have not.
More recently, I left Stuttgart to take a teaching job at an adult education center on the small island of Saba in the Dutch Caribbean. When the island correspondent for the local newspaper out of St. Maarten returned to the U.S., I was able to get back to “the noble profession” as her replacement.
Saba is a very unique island, whose capital village rests on the floor of a dormant volcano. It is only five square miles with no natural beaches or ports, so much of the over development and exploitation that plagues so many other Caribbean islands Saba has been spared. As a result, Saba relies on the preservation of its environmental purity as its calling card. Consequently, a big part of covering the island’s news revolves around environmental protectionism and conservation of its limited resources.
It was such a refreshing change to be working in an environment where the local power structure and the community at large took those principles seriously. For me it was a crash course in the world wide environmental movement as I not only had a chance to interview and meet some of Holland’s highest ranking government officials along with their counterparts on other Dutch Caribbean islands, but also work along side some of the leading environmental scientists around as they came to the island to do research or participate in some of the island’s various environmental programs.
Of course even in paradise, you can count on the forces of greed and exploitation to rear their ugly hydra heads. That too was a big lesson for me. Just prior to moving to Detroit, the local environmental protection group on Saba reported an oil spill taking place on the neighboring sister island of St. Eustatius. Unlike Saba, St. Eustatius’ environmental watch dogs turned out to be compromised by the fact that the island’s largest employer was a Dutch oil company called Nustar.
So, it was quite revealing to me that after I reported on the spill in the local paper to get an angry email — not from a Nustar executive mind you — but from the head of the environmental group in St. Esutatius stating that she never intended the news to go public and that the press release I recieved was actually an internal email where she was quoted. In a separate email she stated that going public with the oil spill had “jeopardized sensitive negotiations” her organization had going on with Nustar.
After standing by the story and receiving only the most timid backing from the newspaper, I realized that in the fight for environmental justice, we all have to decide about where it is exactly that we stand. It’s with that in mind that I decided to come back to the States and join forces with EMEAC and all its ever-growing and ever-impressive network of allies.
As someone from the labor industry said recently at EMEAC’s debriefing upon the return from the U.N. Summitt on climate change in Cancun, Mexico, Detroit is uniquely positioned to be at the forefront in the world movement toward environmental justice. As we all know, the deck is stacked against us and the fight for environmental justice is neither easy nor popular for the most part. At the same time, I do sincerely believe that the struggle for environmental, food and media justice are all linked together and the coming together of all those areas under some truly visionary leadership like EMEAC’s directorship of Diana Copeland, Lottie Spady and Ahmina Maxey is where I want to make my contribution.
Of course, I’m still very much a novice in this area and hope that you all will enjoy the journey with me as I embark on a mission of learning about environmental justice from the ground up. Welcome to Environmental Justice 101. I am your guide and co-pilot, Patrick. I am very pleased to meet you all and look forward to working along side each and every one of you committed to the EJ Principles.

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