the brownfield between us: a work in progress

the brownfield between us trailer

I'm working on a documentary, the brownfield between us, with Ellen Esling, a former graduate student of our MFA program who first learned about this contaminated former industrial site in our town in my class, Storytelling in the Anthrocene. From 1902-1987, a midwestern wood treatment plant provided railroad ties to support the expanding industries of that century. The plant largely employed men from the nearby black neighborhood of Carbondale, Illinois as Generations later, as residents piece together a pattern of fatal malignancies in the neighborhood, and begin to conduct their own investigations into environmental racism, a company from out of town promises to produce clean energy on the contaminated brownfield.

the brownfield between us will tell the environmental justice story of the tie yard plant in Carbondale Illinois, and its impact on the health and land of local black families. The brownfield between us speaks to differentials of historic trauma, or ghosts, that lead to differentials of risk. In the context of city government and land management, these differences are translated into positions of obliviousness regarding the health and safety of a town, its people and the land they occupy. 

We plan to finish it in September, when a memorial to people who were affected by this industry will be placed in park in Carbondale.