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Pilsen Gets Environmental Justice

by Jasmine Hunt 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

Dvorak Park is a very grassy, wide expanse of trees and benches, a playground for young children with an outdoor pool located in the Pilsen neighborhood, which is home to many Mexican immigrants. Rising above the park is the tall, light-colored brick smokestack of the Fisk coal power plant. Next to the smokestack is the red brick building where coal was burned to produce electricity for 109 years.
Since 1903, the plant has provided power for Chicago. And for many years, it was the number one source of pollution in the city, according to reports in the Chicago Tribune.
Jerry Mead-Lucero is a founding member and organizer of the group Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reformation Organization (PERRO). We met with Mead-Lucero in August 2012 on the day after the Fisk power plant had been closed and the Crawford coal-burning power plant a few miles away in the Little Village neighborhood was scheduled to close the next week.
There have been 55 premature deaths each year linked to the power plant, along with hundreds of asthma attacks and people hospitalized because of pollution from the plant, according to a study by a scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health in 2001. Respiratory issues are frequently caused by coal, fly ash, soot, mercury, lead (which is a neurotoxin) and other particles emitted from the coal plant, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Read more »

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Categories: Homepage UYIJP

Little Village Toxic Tour

by Makylia Anderson 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our first-ever Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen, Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, and Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

The smoke stacks of the Crawford coal plant in Little Village look like giant chimneys. This is one of many pollution sources in Little Village, a small, mostly Mexican neighborhood on the Southwest Side that is affected by a lot of pollution and where finding a job is very hard.

Eco Youth reporters Makylia Anderson and Tyreshia Black reporting in Little Village. Photo by Kari Lydersen.

During a “Toxic Tour” with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), we saw different polluting industries including MRC, a plastics recycling plant that melts down car bumpers and other things. LVEJO has had many meetings about MRC.

Many people report breathing problems and there are also high rates of cancer, according to LVEJO, in the area around MRC and another facility, Meyer Steel Drum.

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Categories: Homepage UYIJP

Residents’ Journal Publisher talking about an Environmental Project for Youth

by Mary C. Piemonte 


Click on the image to view the first episode of this season’s “RJ TV,” on July 11, 2011.

Watch Residents’ Journal‘s Publisher Ethan Michaeli talking to our Urban Youth International Journalism Youth Program Coordinator Quintana Woodridge about our teen reporters’ participation in the environmental project funded by the McCormick Foundation.

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Rahm Wants Urban Farms, Mobile Food Trucks

by Mary C. Piemonte 

More than 600,000 Chicagoans lack easy access to a grocery store offering healthy and fresh foods, according to mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel.

To eradicate food deserts in low-income communities throughout the city, Emmanuel plans to increase access to fresh food options, by “engaging smaller local grocery stores, facilitating public-private partnerships and encouraging community gardens to thrive,” he said at a Feb. 1 press conference at Growing Power Iron Street Farm, 3333 S. Iron St.

Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel fielding reporters questions, during his press conference at the Growing Power Iron Street Farm, on Feb. 1, where he talked about his plans to combat food deserts in low-income communities across the city. Photo by Mary C. Johns

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Categories: Homepage Special Reports

Altgeld Gardens’ Environmental Issues

by Wateka Kleinpeter 

An Altgeld Gardens resident and longtime environmental activist says residents of other public housing developments should be concerned about potential health hazards from the demolition and redevelopment of their communities.

“CHA doesn’t hold contractors responsible when they’re doing demolitions,” said Cheryl Johnson, director of People for Community Recovery. “Maybe due to a lack of knowledge of environmental health concerns.”

For many years, Johnson and other Altgeld Gardens residents have been very concerned about potential health hazards because they live in a former industrial area on the far South Side. Read more »

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