Our research focuses on neighborhoods and communities located in two U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated Areas of Concern: the Grand Calumet River AOC in Indiana and the Milwaukee Estuary AOC in Wisconsin. Both of these areas are currently undergoing clean-up.
What is the goal of the project?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified many areas near the Great Lakes where past actions have increased the toxicity of local water ways. Our goal is to use social science research to help us understand two things:
1. Are the concerns communities have about the waterfront being addressed during clean-up efforts?
2. How do different groups decide if clean-up is successful?
From this work, we hope to improve communication between residents and technical experts managing clean-up so that both people and the environment are better off.
To accomplish our goals, we will study patterns of change using government data sources like the US Census and use video recordings to collect the stories of residents, community organizers, and other experts who have lived near and thought about the water ways for a long time.
Who is involved in the project?
This research effort is being led by Bethany Cutts, Ph.D. (North Carolina State University) and Andrew Greenlee, Ph.D. (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). However, the approach we take is participatory, which means that we want community members to help determine project goals and procedures. This research is funded by the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, and Sea Grant staff are working closely with the researchers to develop and refine research questions and to make sure that the results are useful to future remediation and the process of working with local communities.