This drawing is from a photo of my brother, me, and my dad cutting down a Christmas tree around 1990. It was really cold that day.

Santa Babies

Santa Babies is a conceptual series of six art projects to be used as tools to educate the community about environmental justice issues. Apart from the website and video, the projects are ideas that could be used to encourage creative thinking about environmental justice issues with the long-term goal of healthier communities.

This project is part of Merrimack College’s Community Engagement program. The theme of the capstone is social justice education in action.

Environmental Justice

The EPA defines environmental justice as the “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”

Pollution and overdevelopment without the consideration or input from community members has led to air pollution, contaminated water, and excess heat and cold.

•Air quality – Cleveland has the 9th worst air quality in the country (American Lung Association).

•Water Quality – Cleveland’s drinking water comes from Lake Erie, the same place sewage is released during heavy rain events.

•Urban Heat Island Effect – Annual average temperatures in Cleveland rose by 2.4 percent from 1956 to 2012, faster than global and national averages (Cleveland Neighborhood Progress).

These projects are not the solution to these problems. Planting more trees may not be the solution to these problems. But we need to start somewhere, and hopefully, this project will help community members and leaders think creatively about these problems.

Patrick Connolly

•Merrimack College, Community Engagement masters program – May 2021

Related Experience

•Ohio State University Extension, Market Gardener Training, 2020

•Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District, Urban agriculture projects in Slavic Village, Kinsman, and Union-Miles, 2019

Community Engagement Experience

•Ohio City Bicycle Co-op, Lakewood Public Library, Cuyahoga Community College