Identify and implement strategies to improve air quality in low income areas.

Reduce Pollution in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods

Consider the problem of pollution in disadvantaged neighborhoods and communities. In her excellent book, The Sum of Us, Heather McGhee documents the fact that poorer people, Black, Indigenous, and people of color are more likely to live in areas that have high levels of pollution.  It is one of the reasons for poorer health among people in these communities. 

When Matt Walton joined Values to Action, he indicated that his wife, Mira, wanted to do something to address the fact that the part of Eugene, Oregon they lived in has higher rates of pollution than other parts of the city.  So we formed an Action Circle.


Here is what this Action Circle is up to: 

  • Summarizing the evidence on the degree to which there are disparities in exposure to pollution. 

  • Analyzing the policies that have enabled companies to pollute without consequences. These will include federal policies on down to the level of individual communities. They include the many policies that McGhee describes that segregated poor people into neighborhoods that were polluted. This analysis will enumerate policies that seem most likely to begin to correct the problem; it will also point to the ways in which further research could refine these policies. 

  • Searching for examples of efforts to combat the problem.  It is unlikely that there are experimental evaluations of strategies for reducing pollution in disadvantaged areas, but if there are, these would be particularly valuable.  In any case, there are examples of successes, such as the efforts in Richmond, California to reduce the pollution produced by a Chevron installation there. 

    • Developing a database of organizations working on this problem will be a resource for subsequent action circles to partner with or get help from these organizations.  This would not only help action circles, it would lay the groundwork for Values to Action to collaborate with these organizations to the mutual benefit of V2A and these organizations. 

  • Summarizing what a local Action Circle could do to address the problem, with links to organizations and communities that appear to be making progress.