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JULY 14: 2:00pm - Environmental Justice from Resilience to Resistance


  • Judith Helfand - Director/Producer, COOKED: Survival by Zip Code

  • Cheryl Johnson - People for Community Recovery

  • Joshi Radin - Pilson Environmental Right and Reform Organization

  • Kim Wasserman - Little Village Environmental Justice Organization

  • Kyra Woods - Conservation Organizer, Sierra Club

Cheryl Johnson - People for Community Recovery

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Cheryl Johnson is a long-time residents of Altgeld Gardens a public housing development located on the far south side of Chicago.  She is a mother of two, grandmother of one. Ms. Johnson is the daughter of the late Hazel Johnson, “Mother of Environmental Justice,” who founded People for Community Recovery 40 years ago and now Cheryl has taken the reign to continue to fight for environmental justice and equality in Chicago.  Cheryl has been with PCR for the past thirty-two years as an administrative assistance to project manager and now the executive director of PCR. Ms. Johnson is a strong advocate like her mom on urban environmental pollution and its negative impacts on human health. She believes the climate change is real like her mother stated two decades ago that if America does not change its practices of damaging our ozone layers and emitting toxins into our air, we will see a change in our weather patterns. Today’s her statement is true and we call it climate change!

Ms. Johnson has various training experiences and holds many certificates that are environmental related to help assist her in educating her community. Ms. Johnson has co-written several journal articles on environmental health and risk factors, she a passion speaker about environmental justice issues and the injustices associated with it.  Ms. Johnson belongs to several organizations that address environment, health, housing, and safety issues. In 2012 former Governor Pat Quinn appointed Ms. Johnson as one of the 12 members of the Illinois Environmental Justice Commission and 2017 became a member of the National Environmental Justice Council of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  Ms. Johnson received several awards and recognitions for the work she has done on environment and housing related issues.

Joshi Radin - Pilson Environmental Right and Reform Organization

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Joshi Radin, Grassroots Education Campaign Organizer, Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO)

Joshi Radin is an artist and activist living in Chicago. As the grassroots education organizer for PERRO's Solar for Pilsen campaign, she works to educates residents on opportunities available through Illinois' low-income solar program, Illinois Solar for All. She has previously worked on justice issues in affordable and transitional housing as a board member of the YWCA Cambridge, operator of 103 Single Room Occupancy units and the city’s largest residential housing provider for women, as well as a family shelter. She collaborated with former Director of Family Medicine at Boston Health Care for the Homeless, Dr. Summer Bartholomew, staff and patients to create a permanent installation piece at the federally qualified Titusville Clinic in Brevard County, Florida. As an art teacher at a medium security women’s prison in Framingham, MA she worked with women on personal projects and organized internal exhibits of their work. During an exchange with Tokyo University of the Arts and curator Mary Jane Jacob, she met with artists organizing and responding publicly to the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. She has presented her work in artist-run spaces, museums and galleries in New York, Chicago, Boston, Varanasi, Prague and Hiroshima, as well as at conferences in the US and UK. She came to Chicago in 2015 and received two graduate degrees as a merit scholar at The Art Institute. 

Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO) is a grassroots community group of Pilsen residents that formed in 2004 to fight the disproportionate amount of pollution in the Pilsen neighborhood. PERRO believes all people have the right to live in a clean and healthy environment, regardless of their race and class. Its mission is to spread awareness about this concept of environmental justice and make Pilsen a healthier place to live, work, and raise children.

Kim Wasserman - Executive Director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization

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Kim is the Executive Director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), where she has worked since 1998. Kim joined LVEJO as an organizer and helped to organize community leaders to successfully build a new playground, community gardens, remodel of a local school park and force a local polluter to upgrade their facilities to meet current laws. As Executive Director of LVEJO, she has worked with organizers to reinstate a job access bus line, build on the recent victory of a new 23 acre park to be built in Little Village, and continue the 10 plus year campaign that won the closure of the two local coal power plants to fight for remediation and redevelopment of the sites. Mrs. Wasserman is Chair of the Illinois Commission on Environmental Justice. In 2013, Mrs. Wasserman was the recipient of the Goldman Prize for North America. Her biggest accomplishment to date is raising three-community organizers aged 18, 11, and 8.

Moderator: Kyra Woods, Conservation Organizer, Sierra Club

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Kyra currently coordinates the Ready for 100 campaign in Chicago. Recognizing the interdisciplinary nature of climate issues, Kyra works to strengthen exisiting partnerships and develop new ones across the city so that Chicago's clean energy transition will be centered upon values of solidarity, innovation and equity.