© 2024 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

State and local organizations seek solutions to environmental justice challenges

Protesters at a climate justice rally [shutterstock]
Protesters at a climate justice rally [shutterstock]

53 years ago, the Cuyahoga River burned.

The river actually caught fire more times than we can recall, but it was the fire in 1969 that grabbed national attention and had wide reaching effects. Many of those effects were positive, as the blaze is now viewed as a catalyst of the clean water movement, and the environmental movement writ large.

The positions of the Stokes brothers during this period also help bolster the narrative that at the heart of environmental concerns were also concerns about racial justice. Carl as Mayor of Cleveland was advocating for cleaner water for his city, while Congressman Louis was working to secure money for that work, and throughout his time in Washington fought for the creation and the protection of the Environmental Protection Agency.

But where America sees inequity in clean air, and clean water, or access to fresh food and green spaces, it also often sees prominent racial inequities.

Today, on The Sound of Ideas, we look at how environmental factors play an integral part in racial disparities, and how more attention is now being paid to creating equity.

One example is the new pressure being placed on getting workers of color into the field of renewable energy, as less than 10 percent of America's clean-energy jobs are currently held by Black workers. And if municipalities like Cleveland have declared ' racism a public health crisis', how do you not address that crisis without remedying underlying environmental factors?

We also discuss at length this hour a new fund in Ohio; providing grants to community organizations fighting environmental injustice.

A panel of experts discusses this today on the program, and that includes Brian Siggers from the Ohio Environmental Council, Rachael Belz from Ohio Citizen Action, and David Wilson and SeMia Bray both from Black Environmental Leaders.

- SeMia Bray, Co-Director, Black Environmental Leaders; Board Member, Ohio Climate Justice Fund

- David Wilson, Co-Director, Black Environmental Leaders; Project Manager, Land Studio

- Rachael Belz, CEO, Ohio Citizen Action; Board Member, Ohio Climate Justice Fund

- Brian Siggers, Cleveland Metro Advocacy Director, Ohio Environmental Council

- Rose Carter, Executive Director, ACTION Inc.

Drew Maziasz is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and also serves as the show’s technical producer.