ESI guest post: Environmental Racism in the Twin Cities: Pathways to Justice
This is a guest post from Riya Jehangir Stebleton, a 2023 Environmental Stewardship Institute (ESI) summer assistant. Formerly an ESI fellow, Riya wanted to conduct her own research and interview project this summer as she supported fellows to do the same. She created an interactive website to showcase youth voices and other perspectives on the past, present and future of environmental injustice in the Twin Cities. (Note: Opinions expressed in ESI projects are those of the program participant and do not necessarily represent those of FMR.)
* * * * *
This project presents a history of environmental injustice in the Twin Cities as well as a look to the present and future. I focused on Minnesota's racial disparities in green space, housing, government representation and education. I collected research through personal interviews and youth data while compiling it into an interactive website.
Why I chose this project
Growing up in the Twin Cities, I've become increasingly interested in the overlap of our people and the environment. Racial injustice in Minnesota is an extremely relevant issue and oftentimes the environmental disparities are left unacknowledged.
To understand the history of these issues, I conducted personal interviews with both Yumi Kashihara (Regional Planner at Metropolitan Council) and Laura Mann Hill (Friends of the Mississippi Stewardship & Education Director). These interviews gave me an insight on both community and policy action in BIPOC communities. Generational inequities continue to exist in our communities rooting back to practices of redlining.
In order to highlight Twin Cities youth voices, I conducted a survey asking about goals and visions for the future regarding these issues. Our generation is empowered to make change and it was incredibly uplifting to hear these pathways to justice.
What I hope you take away
Although it may not be talked about often, environmental racism has become an increasingly pressing issue in the Twin Cities. Redlining and racial covenant policies still exist in many parts of Minnesota today. This has resulted in major disparities in housing, income, park accessibility, green space and more. In order for these generational systems to shift we need both the community and policy makers to push for change.
* * * * *
FMR created the Environmental Stewardship Institute to address the gap between environmental education and a career path in the environmental field. We hold a summer intensive program and a school-year youth advisory council. Learn more about the 2023 ESI summer program, including other final project highlights.