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Steelworkers Park on the former U.S. Steel site (photo courtesy of Heather Smith).
Geographies of Racial Justice in Chicago Series: Chicago’s Southeast Side – Will the Past Inform the Future?
Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 7 p.m.
Amalia NietoGomez, Executive Director Alliance of the Southeast
Peggy Salazar, Southeast Environmental Task Force
Oscar Sanchez, Youth and Violence Prevention Coordinator, Alliance of the Southeast

Moderated by Heather Smith, DePaul University

Chicago's Southeast side has a long history where environmental justice is concerned. The Community Areas of South Chicago, the East Side and Hegewisch are home to multi-generational, tight-knit working class communities where steel mills and other industries attracted and built a tremendous workforce. Yet today’s Southeast Side residents are surrounded by industry – much of it toxic, in the form of sewage treatment plants, garbage incinerators, landfills, chemical and food processing facilities, asphalt and natural gas production, trucking and shipping yards.

According to several studies, Southeast Side residents have some of the highest rates of coronary heart disease, asthma and some cancers than any other part of Chicago. As a result, residents are organizing and mobilizing for environmental justice.

Join us for this informative and important program, as we look at not only the history of the Southeast Side, but how current development plans have renewed resolve for environmental activism. From industries being relocated due to the North Side’s Lincoln Yards development, to the proposed move to the Southeast Side of the General Iron metal-shredding facility, residents have protested through demonstrations and even hunger strikes.

Apr 20, 2021 07:00 PM in Central Time (US and Canada)

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Amalia NietoGomez
Executive Director @Alliance of the SouthEast (ASE)
Amalia Nieto Gomez is the Executive Director of the Alliance of the SouthEast (ASE). She is also the co-director for the Coalition for a South Works CBA, a diverse and broad-based Coalition of 40+ organizational members, including churches, schools, businesses, block clubs, youth, and non-profits on Chicago’s Southeast side. Amalia has organized around neighborhood safety, community benefit agreements, tenants’ rights, asthma, predatory lending, immigrant rights, and education. She has worked with housing tenants who won $1.6 million in HUD funding for capital improvements. She directed a statewide Coalition, resulting in the first anti-predatory lending city ordinance in the U.S. and an Illinois anti-predatory lending law. Amalia graduated from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs with a minor in Latin American Studies.
Heather Smith
Urban Planner and Adjunct Professor of Geography @DePaul University
Heather’s work is centered at the intersection of urban planning, environmental justice and equity. She has taught a community-based service learning course at DePaul University on sustainable urban development since 2018. Heather has more than 20 years of nonprofit experience, most recently as a Senior Program Officer at the Field Foundation of Illinois. She is a member of the leadership team of Chicago Regional Organizing for Antiracism and serves on the American Planning Association's Illinois chapter Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. She received an American Planning Association fellowship to foster sustainable development and planning in the United States Senate, and was also awarded a fellowship through the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth to advance equity and inclusion in philanthropy. Heather grew up on the South Side of Chicago. She earned a bachelor’s in Urban studies and Japanese from Macalester College and a Master's in Urban Planning from Columbia University.