Join our community conversation this academic year as we focus on the issue of Environmental Justice. Each quarter will focus on a different aspect of our broader theme, but will strive to keep environmental racism at the forefront of our discussions. Virtual programming will be provided throughout the year, with asynchronous discussions for the community to engage in conversation and expression.
As our climate crisis draws nearer to a tipping point, meeting insufficient government response, and environmental racism continues to put communities of color most at risk of illness and home destruction, it is time for our community to talk frankly about the problems facing us and look for solutions. We hope to open conversations about the many facets of this urgent issue, touching on environmental destruction and contextualizing it in the communities - particularly Black and Indigenous communities - who suffer most from it. We would like to build on our previous year's themes of activism and systemic change as a way of opening solution-driven community conversations.
Key Terms Defined
Environmental justice is the fair and equitable involvement of - and outcomes for - all people in environmental policies, practices, attitudes, and actions. Due in large part to the environmental movement being historically white-led, there have been unequal benefits of environmental protection with most benefits felt by white communities. This has led to a present-day landscape of environmental injustice where communities of color, indigenous communities, and low-income communities bear the most burden of pollution and environmental degradation. -View the Washington Environmental Council's full definition
Environmental racism "refers to any environmental policy, practice, or directive that differently affects or disadvantages (whether intended or unintended) individuals, groups, or communities based on race or color." -View the Washington Environmental Council's full definition
Additional Relevant Vocabulary - explore more terminology for this year's focus in this living document.
Read, Watch, & Listen
Our structure this year will be a trio model we call "Read, Watch, and Listen." Each quarter we will offer short focused "texts" in three modalities: a text to read (ie. short story, article), then two complementary resources that you can watch (ie. video) and listen to (ie. podcast, radio broadcast). Additionally, we will reflect together on pieces of art as environmental activism.
Read | "He Are The People" by Elif Shafak, short story (NetID login required)
Watch | "The Environmental Refugee Holding Centre" by Sabrina Mahfouz, video poetry
Listen | "Climate Refugees" from "What Makes Us Human," podcast
Read | "Drones Above the Coral Sand," by Claire G. Coleman, short story
Watch | "Rise: From One Island to Another" from Mainspring Media, video poetry
Listen | "The Inseparable Link Between Climate Change and Racial Justice" from NPR, interview with Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
View (Act) | "Inheritance," Mexico, Jason deCaires Taylor, underwater sculpture
To provide other frameworks with which to examine our selected trio of "texts" each quarter, we have compiled a working resource list of related works of art, literature, and scholarship. Some of these resources may be highlighted throughout the year, but all are worth reading, watching, or engaging with. Please feel free to contact us if you have suggestions for works you would like us to add to the list.
Image: "Inheritance," Mexico, Jason deCaires Taylor
Learn more about quarter specific event details, our "Read, Watch, & Listen" selections, and additional resources by visiting these web and Canvas pages (UW NetID required).
Everyone (UWB/CC Students, Faculty, Staff)
Contact us with your own ideas!
“Positionality” refers to how one’s worldview and lived experience shape their understanding of and interaction with a topic. Our values, identities, experiences, biases and previous knowledge influence how we interact with topics, texts, and even teachers, classmates, and colleagues.
The Community Reads (CR) Team wants to acknowledge that in discussing Environmental Justice and its related systemic injustices, we are discussing matters that disproportionately target poor people and people of color – groups that have a long and documented history of having their values and experiences discounted and invalidated, including at educational institutions like colleges, universities, and libraries. We seek to intentionally make space for such voices.
The CR Team’s goal, both in-person and online, is to provide space for discussion and understanding of the ideas coming from a wide variety of viewpoints and experiences across our campus. We attempt not to over-represent ourselves or our own specific positionalities. We intentionally take steps to make this happen each quarter. We also strongly encourage you to keep in mind the positionality of yourself and others when considering, agreeing or disagreeing with another participant’s comments.
Our goals for the Community Reads program are to: