Youth Environmental Equity Tour

LENNOX, CA – Saturday November 7 kicked off an early at Lennox Park, the start of a tour hosted by the Empowerment Congress’ Environmental Committee.  Twenty three members of the committee and community residents joined.  The tour aimed to show places where organizations and the County 2nd District Supervisor’s office are making progress toward environmental equity in the District.

Walking through Lennox Park, guided by members of the Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA), to see the new walking path, fitness equipment, lighting, and baseball field, the group agreed that these improvements make residents feel safer and welcome in coming to the park.  The tour bus then took the group to the Lennox Community Garden, a project of From Lot to Spot to create space for community members to grow fresh vegetables.

At Norman O. Houston Park in Baldwin Hills, the tour joined the Park to Playa event and planted several fruit trees.  Tour participants also had the opportunity to meet Los Angeles County 2nd District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Heading north to Koreatown, the tour stopped in Seoul International Park, one of the very few parks in the neighborhood that holds the largest number of people per acre in Los Angeles.  Koreatown Youth Community Center discussed the air monitoring project with USC to find out more about traffic pollution in the area.

The final spot was a demonstration of a hanging garden put together by the Koreatown Youth Community Center, a Green Graffiti Abatement Installation made of reused bottles and succulent plants.

Many thanks to the office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Empowerment Congress for sponsoring the event, and thanks to our Committee members for organizing.

Thanks to the speakers and participants:
•    Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance
•    Koreatown Youth and Community Center
•    From Lot To Spot 
•    Environmental Relief Center
•    Ballona Institute
•    Community Outreach, Southern CA Environmental Health Centers at USC


James Merchant, MD, DrPH, awarded the Inaugural John Peters Lectureship

Dr. Tom Smith, left, and Dr. Jim Merchant spoke at the inaugural Jon Peters Lectureship.
Dr. Tom Smith, left, and Dr. Jim Merchant spoke at the inaugural Jon Peters Lectureship.

On April 8, James Merchant, MD, DrPH, was awarded the first annual John Peters Lectureship for outstanding contributions to environmental health sciences. Dr. Merchant is a professor of occupational and environmental health and served as the founding Dean of the University of Iowa College of Public Health from 1999 to 2008. He is a renowned expert on occupational and environmental health, rural health, and public health policy.

The John Peters Lectureship program was developed to continue the scientific legacy of groundbreaking epidemiologist and founding director of the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center, Dr. John Peters.

The inaugural lecture was presented at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles to 140 prominent members of the environmental health sciences community. In a skillfully crafted lecture, Dr. Merchant successfully merged a comprehensive overview of a generation of research on urban and rural asthma with anecdotal stories and heartfelt remarks about his longtime colleague and friend, Dr. Peters.

Dr. Merchant described research that began in Keokuk County, Iowa where he and his colleagues explored the respiratory impacts of agricultural and environmental exposures among  rural residents with a focus on childhood asthma.  He went on to describe asthma research in the urban environment of Southern California, including the USC Children’s Health Study and the work of the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center which continues to investigate the health effects of air pollution on Los Angeles youth.

In a presentation, equal parts heartfelt and scientifically invigorating, Dr. Merchant’s lecture concluded with an emphasis on the importance of translating scientific findings into policy changes.  He received a standing ovation from the audience.

Thomas Smith, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Industrial Hygiene in the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard School of Public Health provided introductory remarks at the lecture. Dr. Smith shared kind words about his personal and professional experiencewith his close friend and collaborator, Dr. Peters.

The John Peters Fund was founded in 2009 to support research and educational activities in environmental health within the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine.
By Kristin Dessie