top of page

Conversation Series Session 1

Below you will find detailed descriptions of the work that will be presented during the Conversation Series: Session 1 on April 7

"Regulating Labor Supply Chains: Sending States, Private Power, and the Evolving Governance of Temporary Labor Migration"

Kathryn Babineau (she/her)

Department of Sociology, Graduate Student

In addition to other themes, my work aims to address the ways in which climate change and other environmental risk factors associated with industrial agriculture - namely, the widespread use of pesticides and the dangers of workplace exposure - affect workers. Specifically, I’m interested in the ways in which worker organizations have developed innovative ‘supply chain agreements’ in order to address these environmental challenges. To do this work, I conduct semi-structured interviews, ethnographic field observations, and document analysis. I have recently defended my dissertation proposal, and am currently preparing to enter the field in the fall. Thus, my main goals at this point are finalizing my research design, and continuing to make plans for field work. My work specifically provides insights into the work-related implications of environmental justice, and the ways in which climate change impacts our most vulnerable workers.


"Blue Flight: Loss and Liability in the Bay and Beyond"

Jonna Yarrington (she/her)

The Repair Lab, Postdoctoral Researcher

My work in coastal Virginia asks: What human losses accompany the environmental displacements wrought by climate change? These losses are sometimes quantifiable, in the economic terms of lost, damaged, and devalued property and livelihood possibilities. Yet some losses are less quantifiable: lost kin networks, lost histories, lost neighborhoods and communities. Who is liable for inevitable losses along Virginia’s coasts? What can justice look in the face of ecological changes at such an immense scale—with losses appearing in economic, social, historical, and cultural terms? In my work on Tangier Island and Norfolk—very different sites—I am (1) ethnographically documenting the problem of loss and liability and (2) pioneering indicators that are new to social science insofar as the phenomena of climate change is novel in scale and scope in the "Anthropocene." My conclusions speak to the embodiment of ecological anxieties, the politics of entitlement and inheritance (splitting on generational, racial, ethnic, and other lines of differentiation), and situate contemporary phenomena within regional histories. I would like to engage more closely with physical and natural scientists. There are serious benefits to these collaborations, but it does not always seem that collaborators understand each other’s methods, methodologies, histories of disciplinary struggles, capacities, promises, and limitations—especially when it comes to operationalizing data about living human populations. Right now, I am in the middle of data-gathering for the Norfolk project and in the process of writing up articles and a book for the Tangier project. My humble contribution is a critical evaluation the “justice” component of “environmental justice.” What do concepts of entitlement and liability—and the lived experiences of damages and loss—do within a politics of differentiation that communities must increasingly engage, in order to advocate for their current safety and future existence? I would be happy to share and participate in this forum.


"The importance of sustainable infrastructure, city-planning, and regulations in preparation for  predicted intensification of climate-related events"

Alannah Bell (she/her)

Undergraduate Student

My work addresses the importance of sustainable infrastructure, city-planning, and regulations in terms of preparing people in the Charlottesville area for the impacts of climate change, particularly with regards to the predicted intensification of climate-related events, like precipitation and subsequent flooding. More specifically, my work focuses on a case study that has to do with the development of low-income housing on Nassau Street. A local developer’s request to increase the density of housing on a particular lot of land near Nassau Street has recently been approved for by the Charlottesville City Council; however, historical flooding, predicted intensification of future flood-related weather events, and uncertainty in the recent adjustments of floodplain levels in the area present a scenario prone to environmental injustices. Hopefully, my work will draw attention to this recent event and will push local representatives to create policies and protections for the people of Charlottesville that will both account for the risks imposed by human-made climate change and better equip the community to face the climatic changes of today and tomorrow. The next steps for my research project include further investigating the details of this case study and any other previous case studies within the same area or of similar environmental risks. All-in-all, I want to provide a better understanding of how Charlottesville is going to be impacted in the future by the changing climate, what preparations will have to be made to face these events, and what we can do as a community to contribute to ongoing sustainable movements. While doing this, my research will also teach our community about the potential for the increasing occurrence of environmental injustices (should the climate continue to increase at its current rate and trajectory) and the power that we have to overturn unjust rulings and to protect our neighbors from current and future environmental injustices.


"Enhancing Community Access to Satellite Observations of Urban Air Pollution Injustice Using Online Interactive Mapping and Story-Telling"

Kate McCarthy (she/her)

Department of Environmental Sciences

Recent advances in satellite remote sensing have enabled new research on neighborhood-level urban air quality disparities. In particular, the TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) produces nitrogen dioxide (NO2) measurements that, when combined with oversampling methods, resolve census tract-scale NO2 inequalities. TROPOMI observations are freely available and have the potential to revolutionize the demands the public can place on their policy-makers. However, there are major barriers to accessing these measurements, including the need for high-level technical training, computational resources, and scientific expertise. As a result, TROPOMI measurements are largely used only by specialized researchers. I am developing online interactive maps of air pollution injustice to help bridge gaps between TROPOMI observations and community organizations engaged in environmental justice work.

Online interactive maps are powerful tools that offer widespread access to visualized data and a high level of user interaction. I will be working in collaboration with the University of Virginia Repair Lab, an interdisciplinary research lab focused on environmental justice issues, so that the maps present a holistic and community-centered view of air pollution inequality. This collaboration will involve exploring the storytelling aspects of data visualization as we create a community-centered resource supporting air pollution justice activism. Additionally, as part of this project, I am working to engineer a data flow framework that will update observations in near real time


"Waste Not, Want Not: Closing the loop on Charlottesville's food system"

Kate Nguyen (she/her)

School of Architecture, Graduate/Professional Student

I am addressing environmental justice in terms of food apartheid, sustainable construction methods, stormwater management, and food waste with the ultimate intention of improving the quality of life for low-wealth communities. The proposed Charlottesville Food Co-op and surrounding agricultural park aim to bring people together using food as the driver. People naturally congregate around food, and the Co-op elaborates on this innate tendency through providing a space for agriculture, gathering, storage, retail, and education, all of which are designed to support the surrounding community and the greater Charlottesville area. This is accomplished through a variety of programmatic and design decisions that will also address the food supply chain and its traditionally linear path to landfill. Re-using and mitigating food waste that occurs during the latter stages of the supply chain (retail and consumption) can be used to support the infrastructure of the earlier stages (growing and distributing). Additionally, partnering with local farms as well as using the produce grown on-site will help condense the supply chain and form a closed loop system, as opposed to relying on far-off industrial farms as in the case of big-box chain grocery stores. The local economy is also bolstered by the membership structure of the co-op itself, in which profits are shared among the community. These communal ideals are expressed in the architecture and construction of the co-op, which will primarily use materials from within the site and the surrounding area: rammed earth and timber. Rammed earth construction is not only another way to reconnect people with the earth, it is also a construction method that allows for community participation, which will help nurture sovereignty and stewardship over the new space.

bottom of page