From Toxins to Total Liberation: David Pellow

David Pellow has long been defining and then turning around and redefining work on environmental injustices. Pellow himself struggled and worked to get through college, attending multiple universities, but by the time he hit his stride as a young scholar it was clear he would shape fields. His first project led to the book  Garbage Wars, and targeted occupational and community health hazards of waste processing  in Chicago, tracing the trouble with first dumps, then incineration, and even recycling.  For a generation of environmentalists who will no longer face the choice between problems and solutions, but rather will have to face the problems WITH the solutions, David’s work is a road map.That map leads us not only into the lives of those working in the waste processing plants of Chicago, but also into those of workers in Silicon Valley where Pellow himself worked briefly.   His books tackling this topic include both  The Silicon Valley of Dreams  and the later work Challenging the Chip. They point to the challenge of making corporations truly accountable for the human damage created in electronic capitalism.  But they also reveal the creativity and resilience of activist networks and the advocates, attorneys, journalists, and researchers who support them.

Documenting exposure to harm is a strong pillar of environmental justice scholarship, but Pellow has also followed the lead of our own Dr. Dorceta Taylor in building out how the environmental justice framework relates to conservation and landscape.  His book The Slums of Aspen with Lisa Sun-Hee Park describes the  ways that immigrant labor is embedded in ski resort aesthetics and services, but also blamed by patrons and public officials for environmental damage.

Chris Askew Merwin relates these questions of environmental privilege to the violence of conservation in Tanzania’s game parks, where residents are displaced for tourism. That makes Malavika’s riff on the Cold Play video Paradise, seem all the more relevant.  With lyrics about gender inequality, and images of animal captivity and escape, the song begs the question: can you sing along with “intersectionality?”

If not, just say Total Liberation, the title of one of Pellow’s latest books on the animal rights movement as it blends advocacy for and value of animal life with visions of human freedoms from corporate domination or state repression. You might recall our recent convo  on  Trump Era Work on Climate Change , where we debate the power of single issue campaigns versus the imperatives of intersectional causes.  Let’s face it, most of us don’t lead single issue lives. And no matter how we think about it, there is a lot of work to do. Thanks, Dr. Pellow, for showing us how it gets DONE.


Conserving the world’s primates: A conversation with Andrew Marshall and Julie Jarvey


In January, over 30 authors published a new report on the status of the world’s primates. The title gave a bleak prognosis: “Impending extinction crisis of the world’s primates.” This week, co-hosts Chris Askew-Merwin and Ben Finkel ask why primates matter and how we can preserve them. We sat down in the studio with two Michigan primatologists and conservationists: Dr. Andrew Marshall, professor in the anthropology, Program in the Environment, and School of Natural Resource and Environment, and Julie Jarvey, member of the Gelada Research Project based here at the University of Michigan.

Our conversation delves into the unique role primates play in our understanding of tropical ecology. Marshall shares with us lessons learned in his research including a new edited volume: An Introduction to Primate Conservation, as wells a work in Gunung Palung National Park, Indonesia. Jarvey fills us in on what’s happening with a unique primate population on the other side of the world: the gelada monkeys of the Ethiopian highlands.

We also talk actions and solutions, from guidelines for being a tourist visiting primate countries, to being consumers here at home. Jarvey shares with us some outreach, including the hilarious and educational Gelada Rap video.

Between telling stories on global issues and primate behavior, we play some monkey-themed tunes from the Kinks, Simon & Garfunkel, and the Rolling Stones. If you love the content we provide on It’s Hot in Here, please consider donating to WCBN during our fundraising week. There are some neat premiums being offered in exchange for donations, and it’s your support that helps us continue to bring you this show!

Food and Power: A Conversation With Phil Howard

In this week’s episode co-hosts Chris Askew-Merwin and Malavika Sahai talk food and power, with a focus on corporate control over the food industry. This conversation is based on an interview we air between Malavika and guest Phil Howard from Michigan State University, a professor and sociologist studying food markets and food systems. He has a new book out, entitled Concentration and Power in the Food System: Who Controls What We Eat?, and is perhaps most famous for his widely-circulated infographics about concentration of ownership in the food system. They talk taking back power through consumer purchasing power and sustainable movements in pre-existing markets.

The conversation between Malavika and Phil got us thinking about a previous show we had on sustainability in the craft beer industry, from November 2015. We review a clip from the episode, A Cultural Shift to Conservation, with Kris Spaulding of Brewery Vivant in which she discusses being a LEED certified brewery and profit sharing at Brewery Vivant.

Along with these fabulous content-rich interviews, we play some groovy tunes from Weird Al Yankovic and The Beatles. If you love the content we provide on It’s Hot in Here, please consider donating to WCBN during our fundraising week. There are some pretty neat premiums being offered in exchange for donations, and it’s your support that helps us continue to bring you this show!

One of Phil Howard's infographics on corporate power in the food industry. This one is on the soft drink industry, and Malavika and Chris discuss it on air on this week's show! For more information like this, check out his website
One of Phil Howard’s infographics on corporate power in the food industry. This one is on the soft drink industry, and Malavika and Chris discuss it on air on this week’s show! For more information like this, check out his website

Advancing Sustainability in the Trump Era: A Discussion

In this week’s episode host Chris Askew-Merwin and our newest host Audrey Pallmeyer discuss clips from the fantastic panel titled Advancing Environmental Sustainability in the Trump Era which was held on Tuesday, January 31, 2017. The panel was hosted by the U of M’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. The panel is moderated by SNRE’s interim dean, Dan Brown and includes a range of phenomenal thinkers including, Professor Joe Arvai, Professor Rosina Bierbaum, Keith Creagh, Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Laura Rubin, Executive Director of the Huron River Watershed Council, and Professor David Uhlmann. Listen as the panelists discuss their fears regarding this new administration and explain their reasons for optimism. If you are feeling worried but don’t know what concerns are valid or if there is any reason to be even slightly optimistic then this is the show for you! For more information about the panel or the panelists click here. To listen to the full panel watch the video below.