NJIT students explore Newark as a habitat
by Andaiye Taylor
It’s a fact that can be easy to lose sight of, but that’s obvious when one takes even a moment to think about it: “the environment” isn’t only the rainforest or the marshlands or the savannah, it’s everywhere, including cities like Newark that are comprised of bricks, glass and steel.
It’s urgent that we think about where we live as every bit the habitat that it is. The health of our environment affects the health of people who live here — children in particular — and communities like Newark tend to take the brunt of environmental injustices as the sites of incinerators, exhaust, mowed over green spaces and poisoned water.
It was with that thought in mind that a class of 22 NJIT journalism students, under the guidance of journalist and professor Miriam Ascarelli, decided to create a virtual environmental tour of Newark, in this case with a focus on the Ironbound. A presentation by Nancy Zak and subsequent bus tour with Drew Curtis, both of the Ironbound Community Corporation, helped the students make sense of the specific issues — and opportunities — facing the neighborhood. (The students had always planned to explore environmental issues in the Ironbound, and hadn’t originally planned to explore the neighborhood’s culture, as an earlier version of this introduction stated.)
The project below won the first prize in the Dirty Little Secrets student reporting contest, which focused on environmental issues in Newark (disclosure: I was a contest judge).