TAKEAWAY: So glad to have heard the perspective and passion of Kellen Marshall, an inspiring, up-and-coming advocate and scientist spreading the importance and wonder of Chicago's ecological system and the need for environmental justice. She also offers strong examples of ways to communicate science to different audiences.
A pre-doc fellow at UIC's Institute for Environmental Science, Marshall spoke last week at the Chicago Science Writers* meeting on a panel titled, "Narrating Environmental Justice."
Marshall moved fluidly from wonky science to public outreach and with a passion for connecting African American communities and other communities of color to the nature around them.
In addition to her doctoral work, Marshall advocates for environmental justice through her writing and public outreach. Two excerpts from her work are highlighted below.
From Kellen Marshall's Living Chicago blog for lay people (there's also a TV pilot):
"Here is where we pause to remind everyone how cool Chicago is for having so many experts on everything from climate change, permeable pavements, sustainable food, green roofs, wild animals, domestic animals….we are a city of amazing nature and nature experts! Whew….had to say it! Anyhow Alligator Bob said in an interview that he’s rescued about 70 alligators from Illinois waters in the past 20 years."
From Kellen Marshall's essay on the Flint water crisis and environmental justice, written for her ecologist colleagues at the Ecological Society of America:
"Social injustice and inequity are another great challenge in our living system. It is uncomfortable and it is unfortunate, but we have shown that we have the depth of perspective to make a difference in this world. We see Flint as a reminder of the work ahead to dig deeper into the connections between humans and nature and invite our most esteemed colleagues to be reminded as well.
As cities are restructuring to become more sustainable, ecology can play a role in balancing the benefits of nature’s services to address humans needs. The science of ecosystem services for human health and well-being can have a very positive impact on landscape decisions for urban areas."
Follow Kellen on Twitter @greenkels.
(Though Chicago Science Writers has a website, they don't update it, but they're active on Facebook.)