Dirty air is an issue of environmental justice in Bristol. Those who contribute the least are suffering the most, and areas with higher Black and Ethnic minorities population are being exposed to the highest levels of dirty air resulting in the highest rates of asthma.
These communities often have the least power or agency to effect change due to a history of having been excluded from conversations and decisions that impact everyday life.
My project, to breathe, aimed to bridge that gap and help build community solutions for clean air through:
- Questions – a survey to get insight from a larger group about there perception of dirty air
- Discussions – with community groups (walking, cycling, gardening) around lived experience, actions and solutions
- Conversations – asking individuals to take me where they go to breathe in Bristol, on this journey talking about clean air, power and solutions.
Always sharing, knowledge and connections.
Ideas and reflections I will take forward from these conversations include:
- We go to green open spaces, that are connected with people, nature and faith.
- We feel alive, a sense of self, strong, connected with body, mind and history, protected and free.
- To breathe we need to be safety, trust and knowledge. We need education, awareness, for individuals, organisations and government to act now not later. We need the dial to shift from do no harm, to doing good.
- The air we breathe wasn’t always something people thought about but it means vitality.
- Many people feel they could breathe clean air where they live now or not, they have experienced and can feel the differences in air across the city and in places they have lived throughout there lifetime. In some instances, Bristol has comparatively clean air, compared to growing up in Lagos or Lahore.
- The priority was the need for space, people feel densely packed in and claustrophobic. Green spaces are an ideal, but space is necessary.
- It is not all about transport- in academic or traditional air pollution spaces this dominates the discourse. Though this was spoken about, the conversations were so much richer, so much more than this.
- Limited or muted sense of power – individual action and behaviour was seen as important. People knew what actions could be taken, and felt they were able to put these into practise in a way that worked for there live. But there was a need for a greater level of change the need the dial to shift from do no harm, to actively doing good government, organisations and business.
This is just the starting point – I will continue building a picture of clean air in Bristol that I will share that back through mapping, films and conversation. And, ask how we would like to turn this from a picture to reality using the platform of B&G to create change.