The Detroit River crew is on the road, and is learning a ton already!
Check out this Storify synopsis of their first day, which included environmental justice, air and water pollution, a visit to the largest wastewater treatment plant in North America, and meetings with representatives of the US EPA, Michigan DEQ, Sierra Club, Marathon Petroleum, the Michigan House of Representatives, the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, the city of Detroit, the University of Michigan, and local citizens.
At this very moment, journalists from throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic states, and Midwest are descending on Detroit to begin their four-day whirlwind tour of the city and its natural resource issues.
We have a great line-up of stops and speakers, and we can’t wait to meet everyone and get the bus rolling – literally! Topics we’ll cover include: Rewilding the Detroit River, the conflicts between residential and industrial neighbors, environmental justice, international trade, clear-air regulations, wastewater, wetlands, nutrient pollution, wildlife conservation, and urban agriculture. Whew!
We’ll visit the 48217 area – Michigan’s “most polluted zip code,” and we’ll stop at Ambassador Bridge, where 10,000 diesel trucks idle each day as they wait to cross. We’ll meet with representatives of the EPA and Michigan DEQ, to discuss efforts to reduce air pollution – especially sulfur dioxide, which is a leading air pollutant tied to asthma and other health issues. We’ll stop at Detroit’s wastewater treatment plant, which is changing its image as a major point-source polluter.
We’ll go to Belle Isle, and learn how to restore a river, one wetland at a time, and we’ll see the Blue Heron Lagoon restoration project that’s providing important habitat. We’ll get out on the river with Detroit Riverkeeper, to visit areas of concern, and learn how a bi-national commission is working to clean them up. The group will tour the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, the only such refuge in North America. And finally, the group will get a day-long immersion in urban agriculture – by bicycle.
We hope that you’ll follow along digitally, as we’ll be posting highlights to Twitter (#ijnr_detroit ) and Facebook, and we’ll offer daily dispatches from the road here on the blog.
And last but not least, we’d like to congratulate and welcome all the journalists who will be joining us on this trip!
Introducing the 2014 Detroit River Institute Fellows
Jim Bloch – The Voice (St. Clair, MI)
Mary Ann Colihan – Freelance writer/producer; book author
Steve Furay – Michigan Citizen; Common Breath Media
Weenta Girmay – Freelance multimedia journalist
Tom Henry – The Blade (Toledo, OH)
Tim Lougheed – Freelance writer/editor
James McCarty – The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH)
Alexa Mills – The Boston Globe
Peter Moskowitz – Freelance writer
Hannah Northey – E&E Publishing
Elizabeth Royte – Freelancer writer; book author
Zoe Schlanger – Newsweek
Kristina Smith Horn – Port Clinton News Herald and The News-Messenger (Ohio)
Al Smith – Freelance writer
IJNR invites applications for its Detroit River Institute, an expenses-paid learning expedition that will explore natural resource, agricultural, economic and human health issues in and around Detroit, Michigan. Content of the fellowship program will be relevant not only to journalists in the Great Lakes Basin, but to those working throughout North American cities as well. Radio, television, print and online journalists of all ages and experience levels are eligible to apply.
While the agenda for the Detroit River Institute is still being completed, current planned stops will introduce journalists to:
- The Detroit River, which holds the hopes of a proposed redevelopment highlighting its ecological and economic comeback, while also bearing the burden of outflow from one the nation’s largest single-site (and most problematic) wastewater treatment plants.
- Life in the 48217 zip code, a neighborhood of Arab, African-American and Latino residents surrounded by heavy industries like steel plants and the Marathon Petroleum refinery. The EPA’s toxicity score for the area is 45 times higher than the state average, leading to myriad health and environmental justice concerns.
- Eastern Market, a historic urban marketplace working to not only connect consumers to locally grown, fresh food but to also procure some of that food from Detroit’s urban gardens and help inner-city agriculture flourish in the city.
- The city planners, farmers and organizations working to grow and organize Detroit’s urban agriculture landscape now that unused land is plentiful and official zoning regulations are on the books.
- Ford Motor Company’s Wayne County Plant, where the industry that gave birth to “Motor City” is attempting to reinvent both itself and the technology that made Detroit possible by building new electric and hybrid cars and planning for a much different auto industry future.
These are just a few of the issues currently being considered for an Institute that will use Detroit as its hub and visit several locations both in and around the city over the course of four to five days. The trip may also include programming like: Lake St. Clair dredging and its impact of Great Lakes water levels and the shipping industry; Belle Isle, the newly created Michigan state park in downtown Detroit, and the move to adopt more “deconstruction” versus demolition of abandoned houses.
The Shale Country crew wrapped up their trip this past weekend, and now are - hopefully! - settling back into their daily routines. They had a whirlwind tour of three states in five days, and returned home with heads full of stories ideas. The last two days of the trip found them in Northeast Ohio, discussing citizen science, NIMBYism, economics, oil & gas regulation, and how to tell environment stories better. They paddled on the Cuyahoga River, and visited a massive fracination plant. They heard from farmers who have benefited from the boom, and those who resent it. They visited a couple at their rural home, where a compressor station has been built across the street - and runs 24/7 at roughly 80 decibels.
Read all about their adventures here, and stay tuned as we share their post-Institute stories!
On Thursday the group traveled to New York to learn about drill-waste disposal, concerned citizens, and the economics of natural gas - among other things. See a complete recap of their day, and learn more about the issues they covered:
The Shale Country crew continues their journey near Lake Erie, despite torrential downpours. Yesterday afternoon the group got up close and personal with a well pad in Western Pennsylvania. Read all about it here:
And, check out this post from Fellow and KUNC reporter Stephanie Ogburn, who is reporting from the road:
Stay tuned for an update this evening about where the group went today, who they met, and what they learned!
We're just two weeks away from the start of our 2014 Shale Country Institute, which will bring 18 journalists from around the country to learn all about fracking in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. As usual, we'll be posting daily dispatches from the road during the Institute, and you can follow along virtually right here on The Nooze. We'll also be tweeting about the program at #IJNR_shale.
Curious about the route we'll take and the topics we'll cover? Check it all out here:
And, last but not least, we'd like to congratulate and welcome the fine journalists who have been selected to join us on this journey:
Pat Bywater - Meadville Tribune Stephen Cunningham - Bloomberg News Mary Esch - AP John Finnerty - Community Newspapers (PA) Peter Green - Freelance Kalea Hall - The Vindicator Kathi Kowalski - Freelance Martin LaMonica - Freelance Joe Mahoney - Daily Star Stephanie Ogburn - KUNC Steve Orr - Democrat and Chronicle Joanna Richards - WCNP/Ideastream Lonnie Shekhtman - The Boston Globe Lisa Song - InsideClimate News Miranda Spencer - Freelance/Daily Climate Lana Straub - Freelance Dave Unger - Christian Science Monitor Patricia Villone - CTV News
For today's Earth Month offering, we bring you something a little different. From alumna Carol Ann Bassett, who teaches environmental writing and journalism at the University of Oregon, comes an innovative project. In her own words:
I direct a new & on-going Study Abroad Program through the University of Oregon's Office of International Affairs: "Environmental Multimedia in Uruguay." The program is similar to the core values and design of IJNR as expedition-style immersion journalism on environmental issues. Last fall I worked with a team of eight students (mostly juniors) over an intensive 4-week period in Uruguay. We became the first journalists in the world to ever document Uruguay's Route of the Whale, from its beginning in the hillside town of Piriapolis to the Brazilian border at Chuy. The result is our website, which was released a few months ago. It's bilingual -- and my faith in environmental multimedia on an international level has taken a quantum leap!
Check out their great work here - Route of the Whale - and watch a video synopsis, below:
[vimeo 79445302 w=500 h=281]
On today's installment of Earth Month, we bring you the ongoing tale of a wolf named OR7 (lonely no more!) and a bracelet that's helping scientists understand pollution: First, from Cally Carswell with High Country News, a look at OR7's new friend:
On May 3, a wolf slipped through the frame of a remote camera in southwestern Oregon, a blur of black and brown. The next day, under the cover of darkness, it stared directly at a camera, eyes aglow, and did something ordinary that, under the circumstances, was an extraordinary sight: It squatted and peed. This was a she-wolf.
Her gender had big implications because a famous he-wolf, known as OR7, was right nearby. OR7 rocketed to celebrity in 2011, when he was two years old. He ditched his pack in northeastern Oregon that year and went where no wolf had gone for decades. He traveled south through Oregon, crossing I-84 and four U.S. highways, and became the first wolf known to have been west of the Cascades since 1947. Then, he slipped over the border into California, giving his species a presence in that state for the first time in almost a century... Read more.
Wristbands are the accessory of choice for people promoting a cause. And the next wave of wrist wear might act as a fashionable archive of your chemical exposure.
Researchers at Oregon State University outfitted volunteers with slightly modified silicone bracelets and then tested them for 1,200 substances. They detected several dozen compounds – everything from caffeine and cigarette smoke to flame retardants and pesticides.
“We were surprised at the breadth of chemicals,” said Kim Anderson, a professor and chemist who was senior author of the study published in Environmental Science & Technology.
Beginning with Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong, the cheap, colorful, rubbery wristbands have been a popular fad over the past decade in promoting charities and other affiliations.
Anderson initially tried to use silicone pendants attached to necklaces to test for contaminants. But then, at a football game she saw “all kinds of people, even burly men” sporting wristbands. That’s when the idea hit her.
Silicone is porous and acts similar to human cells, so once chemicals are absorbed by the wristband, “they don’t want to go back to the water or the air,” Anderson said... Read more.