From February 2021 to November 2022, Collective Resource Compost hosted a monthly Environmental Justice Discussion Group. You rightly might be asking yourself why a food scrap hauler would do that. The answer is that we are more than just that. Though we are a for-profit business, we have always been mission-based, and part of our mission is to “build community around sustainability.” It turns out, sustainability has a shadow side.
We wanted to shine a light on environmental injustices around the world, and in a safe space, discover and discuss our culpability. Our facilitator Lesley Williams guided us through it all.
Though our official monthly discussions have ended, our environmental justice work has not. It is our intention to use our social media channels to continue to share resources on this subject. We welcome you to inform us of any resources or opportunities to learn that you come across that we could share with our community. We’d like to share our past selections in the hope that if you haven’t yet, you will watch or read some or all of them and have your own discussions.
In our first year, we alternated between documentaries and nonfiction books.
February documentary, Cooked: Survival by Zip Code
March and April book, nonfiction, A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind, by Harriet A. Washington
May documentary, The True Cost
June, July, August and September book of essays, Colors of Nature: Culture, Identity and the Natural World, edited by Alison H. Deming and Lauret E. Savoy
October documentary, Death by Design
November book, nonfiction, Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago, by David Naguib Pellow
In our second year, we mixed it up a bit and added a lecture, speculative fiction, an audio-only story, a podcast, poetry and a feature film, while still including some nonfiction books and a documentary.
February documentary, 13th and lecture, Critical Environmental Justice, speaker David Naguib Pellow
March short stories, speculative fiction, Kabu-Kabu: “Spider the Artist” and “The Popular Mechanic” audio-only story: “Poison Fish” by Nnedi Okorafor
April documentary, The Sacrifice Zone: Life in an Industrial Wasteland
May book, nonfiction, Environmental Justice in a Moment of Danger, by Julie Sze
June podcast, Agents of Change: Cielo Sharkus on how engineering can bolster environmental justice
July poetry, selections from Poetry & Environmental Justice, joint project of Poetry Society of America and Greenpeace USA
August documentary, television series, The New Environmentalists
September feature film, Avatar
October book, nonfiction, As Long As Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock by Dina Gilio-Whitaker
November 2022, documentary, Landfillharmonic
In 2022, we began each discussion with this Land Acknowledgement: We begin by acknowledging and extending gratitude to First Nations ancestors of the land we are on. The Chicago area is a territory that belongs to the Peoria, Potawatomi, Miami & Sioux people. We offer thanks and ask forgiveness to the people of this land. Traditional knowledge, governance, cultural practices and lives were lost in order for our people to settle here. We commit to repairing the damages of colonization in the ways we are able to. Through relationship-building and direct political engagement in solidarity with Indigenous peoples across the country, we now call the United States.