I don’t consider myself an environmentalist; it’s just the state of the environment has a lot to do with the health of my family and friends. Planet Harmony will reframe what being an “environmentalist” means for people of color.
The health of a community can be measured through the health of its environment. To me, no other community lives up to this more than the one I grew up in.
I was raised in the San Joaquin Valley in Central California. When you drive through the Valley, as we like to call it, you pass through an endless succession of alfalfa fields, orange trees and dairies. It’s a pastoral bit of Americana.
On the flip side, the Valley has some of the highest rates of obesity and childhood asthma in the country. And these rates are even worse for people of color. So then I have to remind myself to take a step back and give things a second look.
When I was a kid, I had severe asthma. But I was hardly a special case. I remember my daily midday asthma treatment. I would stand in line outside the nurses office and wait with at few other kids who were almost exclusively Latino. We never really thought much of it; this was simply a fact of life. But the older I got, the more this general acceptance bugged me. The Valley was my home but it made me sick.
Now that I’m older I see all the signs around me: The thick layer of smog on the horizon and the crop dusters that drop pesticides on fields near housing developments.
Valley residents are unhealthy because of these very things.
Why wasn’t anyone angry?
This project has created a space. A space to follow how under represented communities struggle and accomplish progress in environmental and health issues across the country.
Planet Harmony will hopefully inspire communities like the Valley to take a second look at their environment and how it’s linked to their health.