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Media Sanctuary and Riverkeeper launch ‘Water Justice Lab’

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Three Troy students will focus on community science and radio and podcast production to illuminate water issues that disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous and People of Color.

Troy, N.Y. – Media Sanctuary and Riverkeeper announce the launch of the “Water Justice Lab.” The three-year project based at Media Sanctuary in North Troy will establish a water quality sampling lab and train students in both laboratory science and media arts skills in order to focus on environmental justice issues in the Hudson River Watershed.

Three Youth Scientist Fellows from Lansingburgh High School, Genesis Cooper, Gabby Espada and Shansanique Pollack, will work with Water Justice Lab Scientist Mentor Jared Wesley Singer to learn laboratory and media skills, with guidance from Media Sanctuary and Riverkeeper staff.

Genesis Cooper, 14, a Youth Scientist Fellow, said: “For me, water justice means using science to help people in your community – not just for research, but social issues and economic issues in different neighborhoods and cities.”

Gabby Espada, 13, a Youth Scientist Fellow, said: “Water justice to me is very important because water is very important – not only to myself, but to everybody else in the environment.”

Shansanique Pollack, 15, a Youth Scientist Fellow, said: “Water justice for me means the safety of our communities. Because if the water starts to get worse – the water we drink and bathe in – it can cause a lot of health issues. And for people with underlying conditions, it can become a life or death situation. I think it’s important to make sure everyone can be healthy and safe.”

To learn more about the Youth Scientist Fellows, visit the Water Justice Lab web page and listen to their interview with Hudson Mohawk Magazine.

Photo op: On Friday, August 21, 4-7 p.m. at Freedom Square, 101st Street at 5th and 6th Ave, North Troy, the Youth Scientist Fellows will discuss the project as part of the Media Sanctuary’s “People’s Clinic” event Black August: Taking Care of Our Health in The Times of Protests.

The Water Justice Lab is part of Media Sanctuary’s NATURE Lab, which stands for North Troy Art, Technology, and Urban Research in Ecology. The NATURE Lab’s Urban Environmental Education Center is being built in a long-abandoned building on the Media Sanctuary’s campus in North Troy with the help of an Environmental Justice grant from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund. The NATURE Lab will focus on community science, education and civic engagement related to public health, water, air and food.

Riverkeeper is providing equipment and resources that will allow Media Sanctuary to establish the Water Justice Lab as part of the NATURE Lab. The equipment and supplies will allow the Youth Scientist Fellows to process samples gathered by community scientists as part of Riverkeeper’s ongoing water quality monitoring program in the Upper Hudson River starting in 2021. Riverkeeper and a network of partners collaborate to test the Hudson River and many of its tributaries at up to 400 sites each year, including 20 current sampling sites in the Upper Hudson River Watershed between the Adirondack Mountains and Troy. Water quality data and reports are available at riverkeeper.org/water-quality.

The partnership also establishes the mentoring program for Youth Scientist Fellows to produce radio and podcast content as part of the Media Sanctuary’s Hudson Mohawk Magazine. The audio content will focus on issues related to water and environmental justice in the Hudson River Watershed. Stories will be broadcast on WOOC FM 105.3 and will be available as part of the Hudson Mohawk Magazine podcast. The Youth Scientist Fellows will also help organize an event that brings together environmental justice advocates in the Hudson River Watershed for a discussion of water justice issues.

Steve Pierce, executive director of Media Sanctuary, said: “We’re excited to be working with Riverkeeper to help develop a new generation of clean water activists, drawn from the neighborhoods where environmental justice is a pressing concern. We’re looking forward to harnessing our community media tools to the struggle for water justice and amplifying the voices of these young people as they do their work!”

Dan Shapley, director of Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Program, said: “In the Hudson River Watershed, we don’t have equitable access to water that is safe to drink, fish that are abundant and safe to eat, or healthy rivers and streams where we can experience the simple human joy of being in and near water. Through both community science and community media, these three students will help shine a light on these issues, so we can all work to remedy them.”

About Riverkeeper

Riverkeeper protects and restores the Hudson River from source to sea and safeguards drinking water supplies, through advocacy rooted in community partnerships, science and law. Since its beginnings more than 50 years ago, Riverkeeper has helped to establish globally-recognized standards for waterway and watershed protection and serves as the model and mentor for the growing Waterkeeper movement that includes more than 300 Waterkeeper programs around the world. Visit Riverkeeper.org.

About Media Sanctuary

Media Sanctuary uses art and participatory action to promote social and environmental justice and freedom of creative expression. Based in North Troy, Media Sanctuary operates several distinct initiatives in our mission to build a more just world using art, media, and creativity as our tools. Visit MediaSanctuary.org.

Contacts:

Leah Rae, Riverkeeper Media Specialist, lrae@riverkeeper.org, (914) 715-6821
Steve Pierce, Media Sanctuary Executive Director, pierce@mediasanctuary.org,
518-207-6264

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