Hi friends, Ezra here. It’s been a hot minute since we shared some content… Unfortunately I had to withhold an episode for t*r*a*u*m*a reasons, but I’ve recently been involved in a lot of conversations about environmental justice and I wanted to revisit a topic that I introduced in this space in 2020. Following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, coinciding with the beginning of pandemic lockdown protocols, my community was engaging in intensive conversations about what systemic racism looks like in our city.
I was motivated to publish an episode discussing aspects of Columbus’ city planning history that exemplify systemic racism. In this updated version of the episode, I speak on redlining specifically and data points that demonstrate relation between the built environment and worse socio-economic and health outcomes for Black Columbus residents.
Links to listen below.
Columbus Ohio is all too typical of the physical imprint of racism on urban spaces. Redlining, urban highways, white flite, prohibitive zoning… All of these things and more have manifested in the economic and racial segregation that plagues Columbus. This episode shares some insight on Columbus’ “urban problems” and offers several resources for planners and non-planners alike to learn more and do better.
This episode we chat about dance as a consideration in urban design. In China, millions of residents participate in urban dance as a way to enhance their health and foster social connection. These groups practice in parks and ‘waste spaces’ around cities, accompanied often by live music. However, this practice has run into some resistance from the central and city governments. Complaints of too much noise have forced cities to ban these dancing retirees to parking lots and bridge underpasses. But the dancers persist, sometimes as an act of resistance. We unpack all that an more this episode of STEMS and Leaves.
In this episode, Sujata Emani and I spend a good amount of time discussing women of massive determination and how we work everyday to emulate their example. Sujata also shares some insight into her identity as a caregiver for her grandmother; an identity that was chosen for her and certainly changed the trajectory of her life in her mid-twenties.
Coral Torres is without a doubt one of the coolest engineers I’ve ever met. She exudes confidence in herself and her work; all the while remaining truly humble. It was a pleasure to join her for an afternoon at the Surface Transportation Board offices and learn a bit about her niche in the industry. Coral’s official title is ‘Transportation Industry Analyst’, which she explains in this episode. More broadly speaking, she analyzes data to interpret railroad performance in a regulator capacity (if that sounds a little out of your depth, Coral explains it much better than I do!). She also shares how her identity as a Hispanic woman has shaped her experiences in Engineering. The transition from undergraduate studies in Puerto Rico to a master’s program in upstate New York was incredible and Coral describes some of the culture shock moments she experienced.