195337 Documenting neighborhood history: A tool for environmental justice organizing

Monday, November 9, 2009: 8:30 AM

Emily K. Eidenier, MPH Candidate , Health Behavior and Health Education, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill, NC
Eugenia Eng, MPH, DrPH , Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Robert Campbell , Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association, Chapel Hill, NC
This presentation will provide an overview of our work with a neighborhood association in the North Carolina Piedmont on three connected projects: 1)A neighborhood history and photovoice project from May to August of 2008, 2) The publication of a neighborhood history book, and 3)The creation of a neighborhood document and photograph archive housed both in the community church and at UNC's Wilson Library. The presentation will illustrate how public health practitioners can work with communities to affect local government policy by establishing partnerships with existing coalitions and engaging in projects that strengthen community identity.

The neighborhood is a historic African-American community, settled by freed slaves in the 1800s, half within a Township, and half remaining unincorporated. Since 1972 the community has hosted their County's solid waste landfill, and is currently threatened with a solid waste transfer station. For over 30 years community leaders have sought compensation in the form of water and sewer, bus routes, and sidewalks, with limited success. Residents are still concerned that their private wells have been contaminated by the landfill, while landfill managers and local officials deny the plausibility of those claims.

Through the project, we will discuss how our experience engaging in community-driven participatory research brought to light several health concerns in the community and provided a platform for community organizing. The project increased involvement of neighborhood residents in community activities and helped the neighborhood association better define their goals for environmental justice activism.

Learning Objectives:
1) Describe how to conduct a neighborhood history and photovoice project as community-driven participatory research. 2)Discuss how an understanding of community-articulated history can help public health practitioners working with minority communities affected by solid waste landfills. 3)Explain how public health work can both draw from and contribute to grassroots activism.

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Community Building

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I teach a course on photovoice methodology, have published on photovoice, and served as the faculty advisor for this project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.