Peggy Shepard – Full Interview

Full Interview (Duration 1:06:41)


Part 1 – Early Career (10:30)

  1. Please describe your career before you became involved in the environmental justice movement. 00:40
  2. How did you move from magazine editor to an activist in the political arena? 03:40
  3. Did working for the Jesse Jackson campaign alter your career goals? 05:50
  4. What factors led you to run for office? 07:15
  5. As a politician, how did you become interested in environmental problems? 08:25

Part 2 – The Origins of WE ACT (8:24)

  1. Was it difficult to mobilize public support for environmental reforms? 10:00
  2. How responsive was the city to the problems that you raised about the sewage treatment plant? 10:50
  3. Were you pushing to have the sewage treatment center closed? 12:30
  4. Please describe the lawsuit that helped to solve that problem and helped to invigorate WE ACT. 13:10
  5. Can you say more about WE ACT’s history and its staff? 15:00
  6. Please describe the community in which WE ACT does most of its work. 15:40
  7. What is the mission of WE ACT? 16:20

Part 3 – The Work of WE ACT (11:02)

  1. As community activists, how do you measure your own success in helping to create a healthy community? 17:20
  2. Please briefly describe WE ACT’s “8 Indicators of a Healthy Community.” 18:20
  3. Is there one environmental problem that stands out as most important to WE ACT? 21:20
  4. What sorts of things have you done to promote improved air quality? 22:50
  5. Please briefly describe some of your work to create open and green spaces in the community. 23:40

Part 4 – Environmental Health & Justice (6:29)

  1. How would you summarize the connection between environmental health and environmental justice? 27:10
  2. Can you say more about the role of race in determining exposure levels to environmental toxins? 27:40
  3. Why is it that environmental toxins disproportionately burden communities of color? 29:10
  4. In general terms, what do those exposures mean for health outcomes? 30:50

Part 5 – Collaborating with Scientists (7:51)

  1. Please describe how you are collaborating with environmental health scientists. 32:30
  2. What sorts of things have your learned through that research, and how has that research assisted in your activism? 34:25
  3. Can you say a bit more about the research findings that connect environmental toxins to adverse health outcomes? 36:30
  4. How do you work with environmental health scientists to promote policy change? 38:00

Part 6 – Policy Reforms (10:15)

  1. What sorts of policy reforms has WE ACT helped to promote locally? 39:10
  2. How do your local efforts connect to the environmental justice movement around the country? 40:20
  3. What activities does your organization specialize in when engaged at the national level? 42:00
  4. Would you say that the environmental justice movement has been successful? 43:00
  5. What are some other policies that you would like to see enacted? 44:35

Part 7 – Environmental Activism (14:22)

  1. What do you consider to be the biggest obstacles to reform and most significant challenges to reformers? 48:15
  2. Why is community involvement and mobilization important? 50:40
  3. Why do you think community organizing has died out? 53:00
  4. What are some consequences of not having meaningful community movements? 54:40
  5. Why do you suppose so many people are apathetic with regard to environmental health risks? 56:00
  6. Does the global focus of many mainstream environmental groups contribute to the public apathy toward more local environmental justice concerns? 57:40
  7. What can we do to promote environmental health and environmental justice in our own communities? 58:30

Five Favorites (5:45)

  1. What mentor had the greatest influence on your work? 01:01:40
  2. What do you consider to be the best wide-audience book, article, or movie related to your field? 01:02:30
  3. What do you consider to be the most important academic book or article? 01:03:20
  4. Which of your writings would you recommend to viewers? 01:04:30
  5. Which activist or community organization, besides your own, do you most admire? 01:05:40

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Title Duration
Part 1 – Early Career 10:30
Part 2 – The Origins of WE ACT 8:24
Part 3 – The Work of WE ACT 11:02
Part 4 – Environmental Health & Justice 6:29
Part 5 – Collaborating with Scientists 7:51
Part 6 – Policy Reforms 10:15
Part 7 – Environmental Activism 14:22
Part 8 – Five Favorites 5:45
Full Interview 66:41

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