Living Downstream

Audio File: https://norcalpublicmedia.org/images/LD-sounds/LD_Season_Two/Living-Downstream-Flowers-Ep2-16LUFS.mp3
On this episode of Living Downstream, we meet Catherine Coleman Flowers. In 2020, she released her first book, Waste: One Woman's Fight Against America's Dirtiest Secret. The book documents her two-decade crusade to expose the shameful conditions that many of her Alabama neighbors endure. Some Americans take for granted that when they flush the toilet their waste will travel to a place where it can be safely and effectively treated. But for others, the sewage may go only as far as their back yards, to become breeding grounds for insects and disease.  
In 2020, Flowers became a MacArthur Foundation Fellow - an award colloquially known as the "genius" grant for her work in Alabama and around the world. She also is the founder of CREEJ, the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, and a current vice chair of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council
Flowers talked in January, and again in April, with Living Downstream host Steve Mencher. In this episode we'll also hear selections from the documentary about Flowers, called The Accidental Environmentalist, and a story about a distant cousin and friend of Flowers, Pamela Rush, used by permission of NPR's All Things Considered.

Audio File: https://norcalpublicmedia.org/images/LD-sounds/LD_Season_Two/Living_Downstream_Preview1_16LUFS.mp3

Season 2 of Living Downstream: The Environmental Justice Podcast premieres Earth Day (4/22/21). Producers are checking in from around the country, from California to North Carolina. And we'll talk with EJ warrior Catherine Coleman Flowers. Here's a preview.  

Audio File: https://norcalpublicmedia.org/images/LD-sounds/LD_Season_Two/Bronx_Episode_1_Season_Two.mp3

More than a year into the pandemic, the Bronx is still the New York City borough with the highest death rate from COVID-19. That's where we begin the second season of our Living Downstream podcast.

Last year, Ese Olumhense, former Bronx reporter at THE CITY, explored why residents there were dying from the virus at a rate double the city's average. Public health experts said Bronx residents, who are overwhelmingly Black and Latinx, were more likely to work outside of their homes, regularly exposing them to the virus. The borough also sees high rates of chronic illnesses like diabetes and asthma, which can make COVID-19 infection more dangerous.

Audio File: https://norcalpublicmedia.org/images/LD-sounds/LD_Eglin_2_ANTHONY_MIX_V4_16LUFS.mp3

Penny Davidson Eglin2Last year we brought you the story of civilian workers at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, who tested the defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Today these workers are in their 70s and 80s and suffer from the same diseases that Vietnam veterans have shown were caused by their exposure to the herbicide. 

While surviving veterans receive disability benefits as a result of their exposure, these civilian workers do not.

Earlier this year NPR’s mid-day show, Here & Now, featured our story of the civilian workers at Eglin. That broadcast has prompted more individuals to come forward who say they too are suffering medical problems caused by exposure to Agent Orange at Eglin. The story also sparked interest by law firms in a potential class action on behalf of those affected. 

Jon Kalish reports…


Read more about the class action lawsuit and Agent Orange.

[Photo: Penny Davidson. At 82 she has fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis and a host of other ills she traces back to her time in the lab at Eglin working with Agent Orange. Credit: Jon Kalish]

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