Visualizing environmental justice on the Chelsea Creek


Rosie: The Chelsea river is a really important
industrial water body. We call it, locally here, as the Chelsea Creek. Folks often
think of creeks as small, unimportant water bodies, but the Chelsea Creek is
actually really important for all of the New England region. Along the banks of
the Chelsea Creek are oil tanks that store 100% of the jet fuel
that’s used at Logan International Airport, 70% to 80%of New
England’s heating fuel, and road salt for over 350 communities in the New England
area. It’s essentially a massive mountain of road salt. Chelsea and East Boston are
both significantly impacted by this industrial burden. The low-income
communities and communities of color of these two neighborhoods are shouldering
all of the burden for all of the New England region. Laura: There’s about six high
school students who’ve been working on environmental justice issues in Chelsea
for quite a while now. Student: Hi, we are the ECO crew and for those who don’t know ECO stands for Environmental Chelsea
Organizers and the ECO group consists of six youth from Chelsea including myself
Jasmin, Plymouth, Brian, Jary, Shakaya, and Katherine. Laura: It’s been great for Sara and I
to be able to work with GreenRoots because they have been working in the
community for so long. Sara: …and that seemed to work really well, from my perspective once you guys were writing the drafts… Laura: They really understand what’s happening there,
they know how to get things done. They know the needs of the community. Leilani: What we’re going to do is we’re gonna collect some water from the Chelsea Creek and test it in comparison to the water from the Charles River. Laura: Our next goal was to
create an installation that was really engaging for people, that was clear, that
communicated the messages that the community would be most interested in
hearing, and that’s how we ended up with the chemicals in the creek installation.
We were looking for the numeric violation data so cases where the
industries have exceeded their permits. We started by lighting a year or sign, so
we had a sign that said 2013, we lit it up, and then we put all the lanterns
representing all the violations from that year into the water, then 20 seconds later we lit up the 2014 sign and put
all the lanterns representing the violations from that year Rosie: The young people are remarkably positive
and when they’re given information it’s really eye-opening, and they are taking
this information saying we need to do something about it and so I’ve seen with
our Environmental Chelsea organizers our ECO crew how, these young people have
become so empowered with information that they just want to take that
information and run with it and say, you know what this isn’t fair, this is my
health, this is my family’s health, this is our community and we need to do
something about it you

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