Dr. Stephen Sills (Center for Housing and Community Studies) received new funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the project “Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL) Cohort 5 – Investigating Community Social Action to Identify, Remediate, Evaluate, and Sustain an Environmental Justice Initiative.” Dr. Sandra Echeverria is co-principal investigator on the project.
Unsafe and unhealthy environments disparately impact low income and people of color and present serious environmental justice issues (Taylor 2014). Across NC there are over 2,500 environmental hazard sites including chemical spills, disposal sites, and buried landfills. Disproportionately the 656 sites of pre-regulatory landfills buried throughout the state are found neighborhoods of color. This project examines one particular community impacted by environmental racism and evaluates a process for addressing the legacy of environmental injustices. This project will extend and expand a two-year (2019-2021) implementation project addressing environmental justice (EJ) issues of a buried landfill. The proposed research engages the community, Cone Health System, and UNCG in an investigation of the impact of the implementation project. Researchers will examine the efficacy of the intervention, document the impact on neighborhood political empowerment and environmental awareness, and gauge any improvements to the environment.
This project builds upon recent EJ and restorative justice work to address adverse community conditions, encourage pro environmental behavior, examine local community-based environmental conflicts and the collision with macro-level environmental issues, and acknowledge the role of place identity and inequality and how individuals and communities respond to collective environmental threats. The project will be used to 1) develop and test a framework for addressing EJ concern in communities of color; 2) evaluate the effectiveness of our community-based environmental education program; and 3) build the case for remediation of the Bingham Park Landfill and streams by the NC Pre-Regulatory Landfill Program.