SPARC Environmental Justice Lab
- The SPARC Environmental Justice Lab views training and mentoring as part of the research process. Collectively we have more knowledge than we do as individuals. We foster the development of shared knowledge and team problem solving, through regular meetings, where each member reports on successes, challenges, and problems. We share suggestions and experiences to assist each other and to increase investment in each other’s work. This nurturing space fosters creativity and fosters working together, helping bridge relations between the university and the community. It also ensures that the research projects remain focused on community benefit.
- Students are trained in a variety of methods, depending upon the needs of specific projects. They are immersed in learning about community-engaged research and meet with community members to develop specific research projects and to define goals. Previously trained graduate students help coordinate the different components of a research project, working with community members, students, and scholars. In this peer mentoring is employed, as graduate students assist one another and undergraduate students. This structure helps establish continuity to maintain training and mentoring, as well as progress on the various projects. Students who want to continue working on these projects--whether as advanced undergraduate or graduate students--help train and mentor the next group of students participating in community-engaged learning.
SLC Westside Environmental Justice Story Mapping—Examining how political and economic practices have contributed to food apartheid
and environmental injustice in Salt Lake City's Westside, students and community practitioners
are creating a comprehensive story map to make this information available to planners
and policy makers.
MAGIC Garden Research: COVID and Beyond—Exploring justice and resilience as emergent properties of the local Mutual Aid Garden at Iverson and Conway, students and faculty use both quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze the impacts of this initiative for community partners.
Refugee Foodways for Health Equity—Recognizing that resistance to cheap and convenient food may be best built around understanding the ways in which food acts as a relational device that builds both identity and community, this research seeks to understand and support cultural foodways in working towards health.
Growing Educational Pathways for Food Sovereignty—Given that garden spaces have been effectively used to build community and restore health, this action research project has launched a reciprocal gardening program between the University of Utah’s campus gardens and Hartland Community 4 Youth & Families to create pathways for marginalized students to attend the University of Utah. Researchers will explore the role that gardens based in food sovereignty can play in retention of diverse students from marginalized populations.
Glendale Voices—This project began three years ago to better understand the experience of students bussed from their neighborhoods on the westside to attend East High School. Data are now informing the SLC Education Collective community school initiatives.
Community Learning Centers (CLCS) play an important role in advancing equity across the country and in our own community. At a national level CLCS are designed to provide academic enrichment opportunities, particularly for students who attend high-poverty and/or low-performing schools. Here we explore how our local CLCs are experienced by active community members.
Mapping Energy Sovereignty—Understanding the history of Utah Diné Bikéyah in light of current management practices that threaten critical energy resources for inhabitants by limiting areas for wood collection while also allowing for fossil field extraction both on the reservation and on surrounding public lands, provides an interesting context for understanding public lands as a tool of colonization. It also provides context for reimagining an energy system based in native sovereignty on a local scale and energy democracy on a broader scale.
Energy Sovereignty—Energy sovereignty entails understanding and having access to the preferred type of energy e.g., biomass, solar, coal. This project engages students with our Diné partners using interviews and chapter house discussions to better understand energy preferences, uses, and cultural significance.
Energy Democracy in Puerto Rico—Energy democracy seeks to ensure that the energy transition is as just, democratic, and equitable as possible. This project works with community groups and academics in Puerto Rico to study how people communicate about energy transition in Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria exposed major flaws in the status quo energy system in Puerto Rico, resulting in up to 329 days without power for some Puerto Rico communities. An electricity grid vulnerable to disasters (hurricanes and earthquakes), years of mismanagement of Puerto Rico’s state energy utility, dependence on imported coal and natural gas, and a colonial relationship withthe United States have all contributed to an energy crisis in the archipelago. Puerto Rico is at an energy crossroad: powerful corporate forces are seeking to reform the system by rebuilding the status quo grid and importing more natural gas; and community groups are working toward transforming the system toward distributed solar, micro-grids, and democratic decision making. This project uses media analysis, ethnographic fieldwork, interviewing, and document analysis to not only understand ongoing energy issues in Puerto Rico but also to use the tools of engaged research to promote a democratic and just energy transition.
Urban Camping—Salt Lake City has faced increasing numbers of visible open encampments in downtown core. These encampments are characterized by uneven enforcement and displacements from legal and health department authorities this is an ongoing project to map these encampments and understand their spatial and temporal dynamics and the factors that underpin this complex issue.
Environmental Disamenities & Homelessness—Human waste and intravenous needles are often associated with homeless encampments yet there is very little direct evidence of the prevalence and concentration of these disamenities. Researchers are involved in observation and training around these phenomena. These data will be used to inform policy and broader narratives around the environmental justice aspects of unsheltered homelessness.
Air Quality and Sound Walls on the Westside—Sound walls along highways have been known not only to reduce sound but also to safeguard air quality yet sound walls are not evenly distributed along socioeconomic criteria. Mapping sound walls and measuring their impact on air quality may help make the case for more thought fil and equitable distribution.
Air Quality and Recess Policy—This project investigates recess policies during inversions at title 1 v. non-title 1 schools. You will learn what sorts of policies different schools have regarding keeping children, especially medically sensitive children, indoors at recess or PE classes during bad air quality events. We will investigate how the school determines daily air quality, which children are targeted, how parents are informed, and what steps parents must take in order to ensure their children are kept indoors. We also try to learn what indoor options are provided to children kept indoors during recess.
Air Quality Monitoring & Education— This project is an extension of educational outreach work that is also housed in the Chemical Engineering Dept.’s K-12 Educational Outreach Program, led by Drs. Kerry Kelly and Anthony Butterfield. Casey Mullen, from the Dept of Sociology is continuing this educational outreach with SLC schools. This project includes visits to (6th grade +) science classrooms to provide an educational lesson about air quality monitoring and to build indoor Plantower particulate matter sensors with Lego building blocks. Student co-researchers also gain experience writing grant proposals to secure funds for the materials needed to continue educational outreach with Lego sensors in future semesters. Community and student co-researchers work together to develop and distribute informational pamphlets that include educational material about air pollution, air quality monitoring, and mitigation strategies with environmental justice and sustainability perspectives guiding content creation.
Water quality & Access Along the Jordan River—With increasing encampments along the Jordan River, water quality in the river and potable water access along the Jordan River take on new environmental justice dimensions. Mapping access points and water quality may inform policy and infrastructure investments along the Jordan.
Research Project Leads
Faculty & Staff Advisors
Emerging Alumni Leaders
- Education Collective SLC
- Growing Gardens Growing Communities Course (Flyer)
- New Roots Photovoice Exhibit at Glendale CLC
Joyner, L., Yagüe, B., Cachelin, A. A Community-Based Approach to Food Equity & Local Food Systems. Utah Farmers Market Network Community of Practice. October 2021.
Joyner, L., Yagüe, B., Cachelin, A. Resilience, Urban Farms, and COVID-19. Utah Department of Agriculture and Local Food Advisory Council. October 2020.
Joyner, L., Yagüe, B., Cachelin, A. Towards Food Sovereignty in Salt Lake City. Slow Foods Utah Presentation. 2020.
Cachelin, A., Joyner, L., Yagüe, B. Urban Farms, Resilience, and COVID-19: Towards Food Sovereignty in Salt Lake City. American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, April 2021.
Nicolosi, E. Cachelin, A. The value of community-based research in critical environmental justice pedagogy and practice. Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, April, 2018.
Joyner, L., Yagüe, B., Cachelin, A. Syndemics: Exploring Food apartheid and COVID-19 through community-informed praxis in Salt Lake City. American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, April 2021.Yagüe, B., Joyner, L., Cachelin, A. Urban Food Justice through Community Campus Partnerships: A Case Study in Salt Lake City’s Westside. Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Spokane, WA. September 2019.
Community Outreach Publications:
Cachelin, A. (Ed.). (2015). Savor: Stories of Community, Culture, & Food. Salt Lake
*Note: Above link is an excerpt, not entire publication.
Joyner, L., Cachelin, A.,Yagüe, B. (2022). Increasing Food Sovereignty: Insights from Salt Lake City Farmers and Food Advocates. Research summary and report prepared for SPARC Environmental Justice Lab, Salt Lake City, UT. University of Utah.
Yagüe, B., Joyner, L., Cachelin, A., Lackey, Q., Unruh, S., Maack, L., Wason, P. (2020). Urban Farms and Food Access in the Glendale Community. Project report prepared for Backyard Urban Gardens Salt Lake City, UT. University of Utah.
Peer Reviewed Publications:
Anatunes, A., Cachelin, A., Folau, M., Fitisemanu, L., Hart, S., Kuttner, P., Salcedo, A. (in press) Establishing Principles for Community-Based Research: Story & Power in the Community Research Collaborative.
Carter, D., & Cachelin, A., (2018). The consumer costs of food certification: A pilot study and research opportunities. Journal of Consumer Affairs. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/joca.12196.
Cachelin, A., (2020). Nourishing a sense of place: Refugee foodways in the New West. In Eliason, E., McNeill, L. & Edison, C. (Eds). This is the plate: Utah Food Traditions. University of Utah Press.
Cachelin, A., Ivkovich, L., Jensen. P., & Neild, M., (2019). Leveraging foodways for health and justice. Local Environment 24(5) 417-427.
Cachelin, A.,Rose, J., & Rumore, D. (2016) Leveraging place for critical sustainability education: The promise of participatory action research. Journal of Sustainability Education, 11-20. http://www.jsedimensions.org/wordpress.
Joyner, L., Cachelin, A., Yagüe, B., Rose, J. (2022). Farms and gardens everywhere but not a bite to eat? A Critical Geographic Approach to Food Apartheid in Salt Lake City. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development.
Magargal, K., Yellowman, J., Morning Star Chee*, S., Wabel, M.*, Macfarlan, S., Codding, B. (in prep) Political ecology of energy sovereignty on Navajo Nation.
Magargal, K. Campbell, M. Dennison, P. Anderegg, W. Codding, B. (in prep) Trade-offs faced by Diné firewood harvesters.