Monday, April 2, 2012

Environmental Justice

Go Green! No. 4

The world is a home for many different inhabitants. Not only does wildlife and vegetation have their respective homes, but also many diverse populations share the world. No matter how differently subscribed people may be, the world is home to all. Even in the great American city of Chicago, all citizens of diverse cultures, ethnicities, philosophies, and opinions, have an equal right to live and thrive in their homes. There are divides in socio-economic status, in political beliefs, in traditions, and in religions but we must never forget that we all are neighbors, we are all Chicagoans, we are all Americans, and we are all humans. We must strive for egalitarianism, and for Chicago, America, and the world to honor the most natural, inalienable right to life, we must unite in our interest to protect all human’s right to life.

The world is our home, a home to many, but it is a home that shines above for some and for others it is a modest attempt to shelter a family. For many Chicagoans in neighborhoods like Pilsen and Little Village, a home consists of crumbling houses, weakened infrastructure, and contaminated water. Even the air is polluted, air that any other Chicagoan, American, or human could breathe. Neighborhoods with these conditions are not fictional, and it is because of the major coal-burning energy factories that cause this undeserving living conditions. It would seem that the solution is then very easy; Chicago must close the coal-burning factories. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. (Though it is unprecedented that the Fisk and Crawford Factories, two of Chicago’s largest coal-burning facilities, were announced to close this past February.) After years of repeated exposure these Chicago neighborhoods are finally being treated with the same opportunities that the rest of the city has come to regard as standard living conditions.

At DePaul University, the Green Team projected this situation in the Student Center for February’s theme, Environmental Justice. We presented the neighborhoods surrounding the power plants and connected the city by showing the union of Chicago’s upper class living and the energy that comes from the factories. The environmental injustice that affects the lower class neighborhoods is that Chicago and other cities in the area get their power from these factories, but the adverse effects are only felt by those in close proximately; essentially, many of the families that live in factory neighborhoods are of lower socio-economic status and do not have the financial means to live in places where clean air and water are customary living conditions. Fortunately, two of Chicago’s largest coal-burning factories, Fisk and Crawford, were announced days after the Green Team demonstration to not only be closing but to be committing their full attention on cleaning the areas afflicted by the factories.

After such a pressing issue, what’s next for the Green Team? Our attention has turned to a prominent concern on campus and so for the month of March, our theme is creative recycling methods. The Green Team will be holding seminars in each of the freshman dormitories sharing different creative ways of reusing common things found in average dorm rooms. Each event will be the first weekend after break and all are welcome to join the Green Team in celebrating springtime with resourceful devices to make dorm life easier and promote sustainability. And who could forget April, the middle of spring and the month of Earth Day? The Green Team will be working closely with the Environmental Concerns Committee (ECC) to commemorate green living in the city each day in the week prior to Earth Day (April 22).

Interested in DePaul’s Eco-Reps? Check us out on Facebook and follow our updates on Twitter! (Facebook: “Eco Reps” in search under “People” and we’re the first hit! Twitter: “depaul_ecoreps”) New events, places, and environmentally friendly tips are always available!

Written by Matthew Morley, DePaul Eco-Rep