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Environmental Justice Week

Academy Virtual Festival
January 11–19, 2021

A close up image of kids putting their hands on top of one another.

A close up image of kids putting their hands on top of one another.

Join the Academy for a week of digital programs that define and explore environmental justice to commemorate the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Through live events, downloadable content and resource guides, explore the concept of environmental justice and why it is critical to the work we do at the Academy and how we serve our communities. Check out panel discussions, film screenings and lectures for adults. Kids can join with other children for conversations and storytelling as we navigate to inspire a more equitable future.

At the Academy, we believe that conversations around environmental justice are pivotal to our impact and relevance. We hope this week of programs will highlight the importance of environmental justice as it relates to the work we do every day through our research and education programs. By protecting our environment, we can all take steps to support access to safe, healthy places to live and work for everyone.

We know that the concept of environmental justice is as complicated as it is far-reaching. As the Academy begins to convene these critical conversations, we strive to learn more, too. Please join us on Facebook and Instagram to engage with us, ask what you’d like to know more about, and offer your own resources and recommendations to create a more just and equitable world for us all. 

Academy Conversation: What is Environmental Justice?
Monday, January 11, 2021
3 p.m.

academy conversation protestors with environmental signs

Zoom; free with registration

What is environmental justice? Why is environmental justice important to you? For over 30 years, the environmental justice movement has been fighting the disproportionate risks that pollution poses to low-income populations and communities of color.

Join us for a free, virtual discussion on Zoom as we examine how environmental justice matters to us and our community.

Moderator - Kimberly Godfrey

Kimberly Godfrey is the Manager of Social Justice Programs, featuring our Women In Natural Sciences (WINS) Program. She has been with the program and the Academy for 6.5 Years. Her Bachelor’s is in Marine Biology, but she has spent the last 16.5 years working in environmental education. The WINS Program is an after-school, science enrichment program that focuses on the natural sciences, college and career prep, and positive youth development for high school girls of the Philadelphia School District.

Panelist - Saleem Chapman

Saleem serves as Philadelphia's first Chief Resilience Officer. In this role, he oversees the creation and implementation of climate preparedness and resilience strategies. Before joining the City of Philadelphia, Saleem amassed a vast array of experience in the sustainability field, including professional work in urban policy analysis, environmental justice, and sustainable economic development.

Panelist - Jerome Shabazz

Jerome Shabazz is the founder and Executive Director of JASTECH Development Services, Inc. A not-for-profit organization developed in 1998, to promote environmental justice; encourage sustainable design and to ensure public health resources in urban communities. In 2002, JASTECH applied for and received a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant under the Clean Water Act to establish the Overbrook Environmental Education Center (OEEC), a community-based center dedicated to preserving our built and natural environments.

Panelist - Ebony Griffith

Ebony H. Griffin joined the Public Interest Law Center in June of 2017 as the staff attorney for environmental justice. Ms. Griffin focuses on projects that support low-income, historically disinvested communities and communities of color in advocating effectively for sustainable and equitable neighborhoods. Her current work includes representing community groups facing unwanted development (such as the recent completion of a community benefits agreement between Wynnefield Residents’ Association and PECO, and the ongoing  Eastwick Advocacy and Community Development project), the Garden Justice Legal Initiative, and representing communities seeking relief from pollution and environmental racism. Currently, Ms. Griffin serves as an appointed member of the Mayor’s Food Policy Advisory Commission (FPAC), co-chair of FPAC’s Urban Agriculture Subcommittee, and a member of the City of Philadelphia’s Environmental Justice Working Group.

Environmental Justice in Philadelphia and the PES Refinery
As part of the Green Infrastructure, Climate and Cities Series
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
4 p.m.

A person standing on a bridge overlooking a refinery.

Zoom, open to the public

Presented by CCRUN via Drexel University College of Engineering

Join us for a discussion of the impacts of the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refinery on its South Philadelphia Community.

In June 2019, the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) Refinery in South Philadelphia, the largest oil refinery on the East Coast, exploded and one month later filed for bankruptcy. The community surrounding the refinery has long been impacted by the emissions of the refinery, experiencing disproportionately high rates of asthma, cancer, and other chronic health issues. The explosion and subsequent bankruptcy and closure of the refinery has allowed for a unique opportunity to clean up and redevelop this 1,400-acre site.

The Clean Air Council in partnership with Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation at Drexel University have developed a report entitled "Visioning the Reuse of the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refinery Complex" to begin to reimagine the future of the refinery site. Philly Thrive, a grassroots organization made up of residents near the refinery, have been active voices in centering the community's demands in the redevelopment of the site and advocating for a just transition to a fossil-fuel free future.

Speakers include Matt Walker, Advocacy Director of Clean Air Council; Harris Steinberg, Executive Director of the Lindy Institute at Drexel University; and representatives from Philly Thrive.

For more information and registration, please click here. 

Where’s Rodney? Storytelling
Thursday, January 14, 2021
10 a.m.

A child with an orange shirt with a backpack on with the text ''Where's Rodney?'

Facebook Live

Presented in partnership with Drexel's Action for Early Learning

Cozy up to the computer with your listening ears and looking eyes for a special environmental justice-themed storytelling experience with Academy educator Mariah Romaninsky and some special friends. Join Rodney on a journey as he learns about the world beyond his neighborhood. “Where’s Rodney?” emphasizes observation skills and inquiry using the five senses.

All ages are welcome to listen along, but our friends ages 4-8 may enjoy this program the most.

Cooked: Survival By Zipcode
Thursday, January 14, 2021
7 p.m.

A map of a city with the text 'Cooked Survival by Zip Code'.

Film Screening and Panel Discussion; free with Registration

In Partnership with the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival

The concept of Environmental Justice can, at times, be vague and abstract. But there are occasions when that abstraction comes crashing down to reality. This occurred in Chicago during the summer of 1995. Perhaps you recall hearing of the 700 Chicagoans that perished during that summer’s heatwave. But most likely, you haven’t. Perhaps that is because those that lost their lives were largely people of color from the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago. Perhaps that is also more than just a correlation.

In partnership with the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival, we are offering the opportunity to view the film Cooked: Survival by Zip Code in its entirety and free of charge. Once registered you will be provided access to the film to view anytime during the 48 hours leading up to the panel discussion. After viewing the film, please join the film’s director, Judith Helfand, along with our diverse panel as they explore the themes, causes and consequences of environmental injustice explored in Cooked.

Live! From the Academy:#Philabag at Tinicum
Friday, January 15, 2021
1 p.m

A marshland with the Philadelphia skyline in the background.
Photo: Lamar Gore/USFWS 

In Partnership with John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge .

Facebook LiveAn orange mountain with a yellow sun and a blue lake with a blue mallard duck with a salmon jumping out of the water.

Did you know that America’s first urban wildlife refuge is free, open to the public AND right here in Philadelphia? Take a virtual field trip to John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum with Academy educators and scientists to meet the caretakers of this incredible place. Discover how this urban refuge protects not only the plants and animals that live there but also serves the surrounding neighborhoods. Learn about the #Philabag initiative, educating Philadelphians about the travels of our trash, and how you can make an impact to address the problem of litter in our communities.

Ask the Scientists: Environmental Justice Conversation for Kids
Saturday, January 16, 2021
10 a.m.

A child with a magnifying glass

Zoom; free with registration (livestreamed via Facebook)

What does environmental justice mean to our youngest citizens? What do they think about the issues facing our communities? What ideas do they have to help create a just and equitable world? Join Academy educators, Philadelphia experts and area community members for a kid-led conversation about environmental justice. Let your voice be heard, or listen and learn, as we explore what kids think and feel about their future. Find out ways to start meaningful conversations with family, friends and public officials on the topics that mean the most to you. This program is suitable for children ages 8-11 but all are welcome; for our younger guests, we request adult assistance to enable questioning.

This panel is moderated by Senior Women In Natural Sciences (WINS) Explainer Angie Albarouki, of String Theory Charter School, and features WINS Alumna Zakia Elliott, Program Manager at Philadelphia Climate Works.

Cheryl Beth Silverman Lecture Featuring Corina Newsome
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
6 p.m.

A woman wearing a pink shirt and a backpack holding binoculars.

Zoom; free with registration

Fresh off her article in National Audubon Society Magazine: "It's Time to Build a Truly Inclusive Outdoors,"  Corina will expand on the idea of underrepresented communities being exposed to wildlife sciences in conservation, environmental education and exploration of the natural world. She will share her thoughts in a virtual conversation and take questions from our guests for a live, interactive conversation.

Corina earned her B.A. in Zoo and Wildlife Biology at Malone University in Canton, OH, and is presently working on her M.Sc. in Biology at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA. This year Corina received the 2020 Averitt Award for Research Excellence from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA.

Environmental Justice from PEACE

Got a minute? Academy Women In Natural Sciences (WINS) Explainers will teach us five ways to be environmental justice warriors through PEACE: Participate, Educate, Advocate, Communicate and Elevate. From getting involved in their communities to amplifying unheard voices, the WINS exemplify how environmental justice lets us rise together. Learn more about these young women’s experiences working with Academy staff and scientists. Find out how WINS provides them the knowledge to make informed decisions about their education and careers so they can be role models for their communities.

Environmental Justice Family Resource Guide

Are you interested in learning more about environmental justice but not sure where to start? This guide features suggested reading for all ages, recommended websites and media and conversation starters for kids and families. Talking about inequities can be difficult no matter where you live or who you are, but challenging conversations help us grow. Learning is the first step towards building the equitable future we all deserve.

Click here to download the guide.

Museum Pass Memberships for Community Partners

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is proud to offer expanded museum memberships to area libraries and community centers, beginning January 1, 2021. Community members can borrow a museum pass from neighborhood organizations to receive free general admission to the Academy for two adults and up to five children.

For more information on this program, please contact Katie Marquardt, Manager of Membership and Appeals, at or 215-299-1022.