The American Interstate Highway System has significantly reshaped the American landscape with consequences little considered at its inception. In New Orleans, Louisiana, highway planners decided that Interstate I-10 required an elevated extension which would go through a section of the city. The extension, put in place over community protests, cut through North Claiborne Avenue, a key business corridor and gathering place for the area’s historic Black and Creole community. The extension not only dug up the area’s stately and cherished oak trees, but also tore the neighborhood apart, bringing significant health consequences, a result of the air and noise pollution from the never-ending traffic flows.
The Claiborne Avenue Alliance, a coalition of area residents, property and business owners, came together in 2017 to raise awareness of the ongoing negative impact of the Claiborne Expressway and to advocate for change. Working with the Alliance, scientists joined with community members to document the effects of the I-10 extension and to share their expertise with community members – including local public school students – so that strong evidence of the toxicity brought by the expressway would be made available to the public and to New Orleans officials.
This AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition webinar will bring together the principal collaborators in this community-science effort:
Amy Stelly, an artist, planner and educator and a major catalyst of the Claiborne Avenue Alliance;
Dr. Raj Pandya, director of the American Geophysical Union’s Thriving Earth Exchange, which provided support to the Alliance;
Mimi Spahn Sattler, an educator with Public Lab who worked directly with the community in measuring toxicity brought by the Expressway; and
Adrienne Katner, a faculty member of Louisiana State University’s School of Public Health, who brought her expertise in environmental epidemiology to documenting the public health consequences of the Expressway.