Y2 Pilot Project

Developing community based visceral data performances for cross disciplinary collaboration on environmental justice in Chelsea, MA

Communities share hazardous exposures but often face challenges in visualizing this shared experience and developing actionable strategies to reduce exposure. This project aims to investigate ways to experience environmental health science that address two defining qualities of late-industrial environmental hazards: their invisibility and the fact that they are often experienced collectively but managed individually. The project team will examine industrial contamination of waterways in Chelsea, particularly pollution from the numerous oil storage facilities throughout the city, through performative visualizations of the environmental data with the aim of highlighting the social, health, and environmental justice implications of the water pollution. The project team is working with the GreenRoots’ youth group (Environmental Chelsea Organizers (ECO)) to come up with ways to visually represent the discharge from the oil storage facilities both over time and in aggregate via mediums such as long exposure photography. Through the public depictions of the water pollution impacting the city the project team hopes to engage Chelsea residents in investigating environmental justice issues and to support community conversations, led by GreenRoots, about alternative visions for Chelsea’s future.

Dr. Sara Wylie is an Assistant Professor at Northeastern University with a joint appointment in sociology/anthropology and health sciences. Dr. Wylie is interested in developing new ways to study and intervene in large-scale environmental health issues through a fusion of social scientific, scientific, and art/design practices.