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RIGHT TO THE CITY – CURTIS BAY: COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT THROUGH A MOBILE APP EXPLORATORY SESSION BY BUS

Right to the City – Curtis Bay: Community Engagement through a Mobile App Exploratory Session by Bus | Sponsored by Towson University

towson_logo.gifAnthropology students and faculty at Towson University along with the United Workers-Free Your Voice have been working on a participatory action research project with high-school students in environmental science classes to qualitatively study the environmental hazards in South Baltimore. Curtis Bay, Maryland is located in the southern portion of the City of Baltimore, Maryland. The neighborhood is located in a highly industrialized waterfront area in the southern part of the city and receives its name from the body of water to the east of which it sits. The area has had a toxic history.

Historic Sediments of Global Trade

During the 19th century, guano fertilizer from Peru was a prized commodity, particularly around the Chesapeake bay where both cotton and tobacco had drained the soil of its nutrients. Guano imports which migrated through and often remained in Curtis Bay initiated a long period of uneven disposal of hazardous and/or toxic materials in the soils, air, and bodies of residents.

Global Oil 

Prudential Oil Corporations in 1914 established a refinery in the middle of the Peninsula. Texas Oil Company of Delaware was established before the end of WWI. By the end of 1918, the Fairfield Peninsula was home to at least three petroleum product refineries and several fertilizer plants. Oil refining exposes the surrounding community to the risk of intense explosions while coal dust exacerbates lung and cardiovascular diseases.

Shipbuilding, Ship Breakdown in a Postindustrial wasteland

The Wartime efforts in the 1940s to manufacture materials needed to fortify American troops affected Curtis Bay. During this period, thousands of workers from WVA and elsewhere in Appalachia and African Americans migrated to Fairfield Peninsula for jobs in the shipbuilding and other emergent wartime industries. White workers received decent government subsidized housing while Blacks continued to be exiled to Old Fairfield only having access to substandard housing. The memories of expansive capitalism, exploitative laboring relations, race/class based discrimination, and toxicity do not simply linger as a historic artifact but rather continue to define how this landscape is viewed in Baltimore.

The Next Step in Curtis Bay’s Steady Decline into Toxicity

In 2009, Energy Answers announced it would build the nation’s largest trash-to-energy incinerator in Fairfield and presented the project as a solution to two crises: the waste crisis and the energy crisis. Energy Answers International promoted the project as a power plant providing schools and other facilities with “green energy.” The incinerator was originally slated to be sited less than a mile from Benjamin Franklin High School and Curtis Bay Elementary, which state environmental regulations wouldn’t have typically allowed (no incinerator can be built that close to a school). However, when the Public Service Commission approved the incinerator as an energy plant.*

Seize this opportunity to explore the Curtis Bay Area and the social justice work with Nicole Fabricant, Matthew Durington, and Samuel Collins, Ph.D.s, Associate Professors, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice at Towson University along with the students and community agencies.

*For more on the Campaign to bring to an end the Trash to Energy Incinerator, See https://stoptheincinerator.wordpress.com/

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ADP Campuses in the News | February 2016 Edition

ADP Campuses in the News | February 2016 Edition

ADP in the News is a compilation of brief updates about American Democracy Project (ADP) activities at participating colleges and universities and is a semi-regular news feature on our blog. Below you will find the latest edition of this series.

2016 College Convention:  AASCu’s American Democracy Project is a supporting partner for the 2016 College Convention, a forum for students to discuss election issues that are important to them in ways that resonate with them. Dominican University of California is hosting this initiative as a Voter Education Partner of the Commission on Presidential Debates and is accepting applications from students in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to serve as College Convention delegates. Selected students will meet on the Dominican campus June 2-3 to discuss organizing events on their campuses and using social media to catalyze discussions among young voters across the country about the issues that matter most to them. For more information, click here.

Fort Hays State University (Kan.): One of Herbert’s poster designs went viral after the contest winners were posted on the university’s Facebook page. Her poster about human trafficking and according to Facebook estimates reached over 5.5 million users — one million in the first 36 hours.

FHSU ADP and Black Student Union students spoke out for equality. Students expressed their take on the importance of Black History Month and equality in society by taking photos of students who had written out their feelings on either subject. A wide variety of students participated in this project and voiced high levels of support for the idea. To read more on the event, click here.

Indiana State University: Indiana State University’s American Democracy Project kicked off its Pizza & Politics series in the New Hampshire first primary election, to educate students about the process of electing the next president.

Keene State College (N.H.): KSC in collaboration with ADP hosted eight presidential candidates, including Democrats Bernie Sanders, Hilary Clinton and Republicans Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina to discuss their platform. Members of the college and city communities had a forum to debate their issues.

Kennesaw State University (Ga.): American Democracy Project and a few other organizations came together Tuesday night to watch President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union Address. Find out more here.

Middle Tennessee State University: Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic and Jewish prayers and blessings were given before the Thai and Laotian meal at the temple on Barfield Crescent Road. The interfaith meal was part of a broader project to help bridge cultures organized by Mary Evins, associate professor of history at Middle Tennessee State University and the coordinator at the American Democracy Project at the university.

University of Arkansas-Fort Smith: Arkansas-Fort Smith hosted a weekend-long event honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. and co-sponsored with ADP at an event, “Protect and Serve”, that honored local law enforcement and firefighters.

University of Central Oklahoma:  UCO’s ADP hosted an event to teach students how to be prepared to be knowledgeable, involved citizens in their communities once they graduate college. To read more, click here.

University of North Georgia: UNG has partnered with Democracy Works, Inc. to research the integration of civic engagement into existing technology on college and university campuses across the country. To read more, click here.

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh: The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s American Democracy Project  hosted an event with David Canon, a political science professor at UW-Madison, a lecture titled: “Voter ID, Early Voting and Voting Rights: Will Changes in Voting Laws Affect the 2016 Elections?”

If you have an ADP event you’d like posted in this format, please email adp@aascu.org

 

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