News Release

Social Justice Series to highlight environmental action

Contact: Elise Doster


     HAMMOND – Focusing on the current push toward environmental awareness, two environmental justice specialists are set to speak at Southeastern Louisiana University’s 5th Annual Social Justice Series Nov. 11 and 12. 
     Presented by the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, the event will feature lectures by Omar Freilla, founder of Green Worker Cooperatives, and author and environmental activist Diane Wilson. Free and open to the public, the series is sponsored by the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, the Lyceum Arts and Lectures Committee and student groups Reconnect and the Southeastern Sociological Association. 
     Friella will speak Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the Student Union Theater. In response to high unemployment rates and years of ecological troubles, the organization Green Worker Cooperatives, located in the South Bronx region of New York, was developed to bring worker-owned environmentally conscious jobs to the area. 
     Although South Bronx is currently receiving 40 percent of Manhattan’s waste, said sociology professor and series coordinator David Burley, Friella and Bronx inhabitants are commanding change by taking the environmental future into their own hands. Owned by Bronx citizens, the company has not only boosted economic development, it has also turned bad environmental behavior into a positive outcome.    
     “Instead of years and years of just banging their heads against city hall, they are figuring something else out,” Burley said. “We are seeing groups like this popping up all over; they are demanding action and creating democratically-owned businesses that better the community.” 
     On Thursday  at 3 p.m. in the Student Union Theater, Wilson will talk about her life as a fourth-generation shrimper and environmental activist who has fought commercial polluters from contaminating the Gulf Coast since 1989. Despite resentment from corporations and fellow citizens, Wilson’s efforts have earned her numerous awards including the National Fisherman Magazine Award and the Louisiana Environmental Action (LEAN) Award. 
     In addition to stopping Formosa Plastics from dumping toxins in the Texas Gulf Coast, Wilson has written two books entitled “An Unreasonable Woman” and most recently, “HOLY ROLLER: Growing Up in the Church of Knock Down, Drag Out; or, How I Quit Loving a Blue-Eyed Jesus.”
     Burley said that environmental justice is a pertinent theme considering the current issues facing society that includes a depressed economy and pollution. 
     For more information about the lecture series, contact David Burley at 985-549-5443.

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