WUWM: Environmental Reporting

Many of us are environmentally aware — many recycle, some conserve water, you might ride a bike to work. But we do face profound environmental challenges.

Help WUWM’s Environmental Reporter Susan Bence dig deeper into the issues you are most concerned about.

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Ways to Connect

Susan Bence

In the spring of 2016, residents of Flint, Mich., were experiencing one of the country’s most devastating water crises. Flint-native Mari Copeny decided to do something about it. She wrote a letter to then-President Barack Obama which led to the president traveling to Flint and sitting down to talk with Mari. 

What might be most remarkable is that Mari was just 8 at the time. Now 13, she’s launched into a life of activism.

Susan Bence

Calls to end systemic racial injustice are reverberating throughout the country. That includes around issues of environmental injustice.

One of the people in the Milwaukee area guiding organizations and corporations along the path is August Ball. She calls herself an inclusive culture coach. She works to help groups fold inclusivity in and push racism out of their operations.

Tuesday marks the end of Jeanette Kowalik’s tenure as Milwaukee’s Commissioner of Health. Kowalik has been on the job for two years. She was hired at a low point in the health department’s history — after news broke that the city’s childhood lead poisoning prevention program had been grossly mismanaged.

Susan Bence

Some highly engaged naturalists — including those at Milwaukee’s Urban Ecology Center — are piloting a project called Yardversity to lure people to the outdoors as well as fuel research about the natural world.

READ: Milwaukee's Urban Ecology Center Strikes On A Formula That Works

Susan Bence

Many people lack access to food to sustain their families. The coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating the struggle. According to a recent Feeding America study, food insecurity could impact up to 1 in 3 adults and 1 in 2 children in the U.S.

Milwaukee-area organizations and individuals are stepping up to help fill the food gap.

Susan Bence

The COVID-19 pandemic caused millions of people to lose their jobs and many are facing economic hardship. For some families, it’s been challenging to access fresh food.

Susan Bence / WUWM

Finding ways to connect and collaborate during the coronavirus pandemic is challenging. Organizers of a recent environmental cleanup think they might have come up with a way to combine getting good work done with giving people a chance to connect.

Susan Bence

Research at UW-Milwaukee is helping us learn how E. Coli can impact beaches. Just last week, South Shore Beach was closed because of elevated levels of bacteria in the water that could make people sick.

E. coli is a bacteria found in the gut of humans and animals, which can end up in fecal matter. If a lot of that fecal matter makes its way to beaches, it becomes a public health issue. People can get sick with an upset stomach and fever.

Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore

People working to make Milwaukee’s harbor cleaner plan to install a trash interceptor in the Kinnickinnic River. The idea is to catch floating trash before it reaches Lake Michigan. And the group Harbor District, Inc., won a federal grant to bring the project to life.

We recently met Harbor District’s Natural Environment Program Manager Aaron Zeleske as close to the future home of the trash interceptor as we can get – a fence blocks our path and trees and overgrown bushes block the view.

Marathon County Land and Water Program

Over the last seven months, a task force has been deliberating over what Wisconsin can do about climate change. A panel picked by the governor includes industry and tribal leaders, elected officials, and youth activists. Now, everyone in the state has a chance to weigh in.

Susan Bence

The coronavirus pandemic has many of us feeling unsure. How far is far enough when social distancing? How clean is clean enough?

Milwaukee-area entrepreneur Todd Muderlak thinks the coronavirus is changing the way people approach sanitation — and he’s developed products he hopes will fill a void.

Standing in the middle of his Glendale headquarters off Port Washington Road, Muderlak says as a kid he surrounded by his dad’s creations, including washroom innovations.

Susan Bence

Each month, UWM distinguished professor of atmospheric science Paul Roebber talks with Lake Effect as part of our climate conversations series. In this final installment, two policy experts join the conversation.

Amber Meyer Smith is from the organization Clean Wisconsin. She’s a member of Gov. Tony Evers’ climate change task force.

Susan Bence

A statewide research initiative is underway, which involves all of the UW System’s four-year campuses. It’s called The Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin.

The hope is that this initiative will make Wisconsin and UW schools global leaders in freshwater science, technology and entrepreneurship. The group hopes to enroll hundreds of students, raise research dollars and create jobs.

Susan Bence

Friday was Juneteenth Day, which marks when the last slaves in Galveston, Texas learned in 1865 that slavery had been abolished.

There were a number of gatherings and celebrations in Milwaukee. And they took on special meaning in a period of civil rights demonstrations that have sprouted up across the country.

>>Juneteenth: The Day African Americans Truly Gained Freedom

Courtesy of David Thomas

One day a year for the last 24 years, several thousand volunteers have spread out throughout the Milwaukee River Basin to pick up trash. But this year is different, the coronavirus forced the Milwaukee Riverkeeper organization to cancel its 25th cleanup.

The science-based, water advocacy group says the annual cleaning up of tons of trash that accumulates over the winter helps the Menomonee, Kinnickinnic and Milwaukee River watersheds, but it also helps connect people to the natural resource.

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