northern california public media

Premieres Season 2 on Earth Day, April 22


Living Downstream: The Environmental Justice Podcast begins its second season on Earth Day, April 22. Created by Northern California Public Media and Mensch Media, the season opener is a co-production with THE CITY, New York's independent, nonprofit news outlet.

NorCal Public Media is the nonprofit corporation that operates KRCB FM radio and Channel 22 PBS TV in Sonoma County and the North Bay.

Struggling to Breathe in the Bronx is based on an article written for THE CITY by Ese Olumhense entitled “For Some Near the Cross Bronx Expressway, COVID-19 Is an Environmental Justice Issue, Too.” In it, she follows the Bouret family, who lost an elder to COVID-19, while struggling with a youngster's asthma.

Olumhense teamed up with journalist Anjali Tsui to create the podcast episode with support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism and Columbia Journalism School's Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism. In this episode, they describe how air pollution, caused by a confluence of Bronx highways, affects the air and impinges on the lives of those living in its wake. The polluted air in the Bronx and elsewhere in New York City has been correlated with increased risk of sickness and death due to the coronavirus.

The reporters also explore solutions to the problem, starting with the possibility that the parts of the Cross Bronx could be "decked over" or covered, ameliorating the exhaust spewed by trucks and cars and creating much needed green space in the borough.

Among those interviewed in this premiere episode are Representative Ritchie Torres (D-NY-15); Kate Slevin, Senior Vice President, Regional Plan Association; Diana Hernandez, Associate Professor, Sociomedical Sciences, at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health; and Ese Olumhense's father Sonala, who emigrated to the Bronx from Nigeria and who remembers his daughter struggling for air and being diagnosed with asthma as a child.

Also this season: Host Steve Mencher, former KRCB Radio news manager,  interviews Catherine Coleman Flowers, a MacArthur Fellow (“Genius” grantee), who is also on the newly formed White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council; and stories of people in Oakland, Houston, Denver, North Carolina and elsewhere, struggling with COVID and battling to make their communities safer and healthier as they fight environmental injustice.

Find Living Downstream on NPR One, and subscribe at Apple and wherever you get your podcasts.

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