Campus / News / May 8, 2014

Knox brings environmental activist to speak

sustainability​In the wake of several new sustainability initiatives on campus, Goldman Environmental Prize winner Kim Wasserman will visit campus to discuss the connection between environmental justice, racism and property.

Wasserman’s environmental activism stemmed from her experience growing up near the Crawford and Fisk plants in Chicago — some of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest power plants which were responsible for several health issues in the community, including asthma and bronchitis. The entire community suffered because of the presence of the coal-powered plants.

The health ramifications acted as the impetus for Wasserman to take over as the community organizer for the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) in 1998, lobbying for the right of the community members to live and raise children in a neighborhood without toxic pollution. She began to work with community-based organizations and reach out to policy makers.

In 2011, her efforts gained momentum with the new Chicago Power Coalition and recent election of a new mayor and class of aldermen on City Council. The Chicago Power Coalition pushed for the Clean Power Ordinance and gained support from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and 35 aldermen, who ultimately shut down the Crawford and Fisk plants in 2012.

Now, LVEJO has partnered with an organization in Pilsen to negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement and prohibit fossil fuel industries from operating on the property. Wasserman is meanwhile working to rally a next generation of activists to transform industrial sites into open spaces and parks for the community.

In 2013, Wasserman won the 2013 Goldman Environmental Prize for North America. She will be speaking to Knox about her environmental experiences on Monday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. in Harbach Theater.

Kate Mishkin
Kate Mishkin is a senior majoring in English literature and minoring in journalism. She started working for TKS as a freshman and subsequently served as managing editor, co-news editor and co-mosaic editor. Kate is the recipient of four awards from the Illinois College Press Association for news and feature stories and one award from the Associated Collegiate Press. She won the Theodore Hazen Kimble Prize in 2015 and 2014 and the Ida M. Tarbell Prize in Investigate Journalism in 2014. She has interned at FILTER Magazine, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and WGIL radio and the Virginian-Pilot.

Twitter: @KateMishkin

Tags:  chicago power coalition crawford plants environmental activism goldman environmental prize Harbach kimberly wasserman

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