Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Rachel Gottfried-Clancy And Gabriel Schwartzman (2014)

Mapping Environmental Justice: Citizen Science, Community Stories, and Public Data for Community Organizing

Rachel and Gabe will be launching a web platform and community organizing effort to serve communities in the midst of water crises, focusing on Southern West Virginia’s coalfields and the Sacramento River Delta. The project will create a participatory web platform that involves all aspects of the water-quality monitoring process: from context and data collection, to visualization and organization. The web platform will incorporate government and community-collected data to bridge the gap between the “authoritative” and the “subjective”. We hope to integrate data production and analysis with community participation and improve access to water-quality information, which communities can then use for political projects. The project will require a collaborative process amongst grassroots organizations, water experts, technical specialists and community members to implement participatory water monitoring efforts. To generate the necessary data to launch the online organizational interface, we will create a space for impacted communities to share qualitative data alongside quantitative – stories, media, and mapping that gets at the lived experience of water contamination or shortage.

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Rachel grew up along the beautiful polluted rivers of the Rio Grande, San Joaquin, Sacramento, and Pinheiros. She graduated with a degree in Geography from UC Berkeley. During college she became interested in community organizing while studying community development in the City Planning department. In these courses she learned how participatory action research and participatory planning can be tools for building more democratic and accessible systems. She developed her skills in making those effective tools through a community access mapping and planning project. Most recently she has focused on bridging academic research, policy, and practice in the criminal justice system. She is excited about the community focus collaborative nature of this project and working in rivers she grew up in.
With a Bachelor’s degree in Geography, Gabe has worked on Appalachian social and environmental justice issues for the last 5 years, first as an intern with Coal River Mountain Watch, and then as a researcher with the Blair Heritage Alliance. A recipient of the UC Human Rights Fellowship, two years of mini-grant funding from the Center for Right Wing Studies, and several other awards, he now continues his work in Appalachia building a web resource for water monitoring and community involvement.

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