Current and historical pollution of the White River disproportionately impacts low-income and immigrant neighborhoods on the west and south sides of Indianapolis. Decades of poor waste management from former industries near the river affects residents today. A sewer system from the early 1900s combines wastewater and storm water in a single pipe that overflows into the river.
Industries valued real estate near the river for access to its fresh water and energy. In the late 1800s, pro-business legislation and practices allowed industries to dump their waste in the river. Discriminatory housing practices and disinvestment created neighborhoods that had few resources to advocate for change.
The Kheprw Institute (KI) is one grassroots organization empowering citizens to address current and future pollution. KI convenes the Environmental Justice Assembly and collaborates with community partners on citizen science projects to educate residents in environmental justice and advocacy.
Our Point of View
The issues in this exhibit became personal as we realized that we live in some of the communities and areas affected by environmental injustices in Indianapolis. Access to clean water is no longer a distant problem. The perseverance and influence of grassroots organizations like our project partner, the Kheprw Institute, inspires us. By attending their meetings and engaging with members, we learned how small steps can lead to powerful changes in our city. We hope our audiences will be as moved as we are and work for change.
—Indiana University IUPUI
Our mission is to create a more just, equitable human-centered world by nurturing youth and young adults to be leaders, critical thinkers, and doers to bring about change that leads to empowered self-sustainable communities. By collaborating with IUPUI students, we built relationships that allowed both the students and our youth leaders to get experience in leadership development and deep listening. Our members asked critical questions, gave the students a historical context of race and displacement, and connected students with community organizing efforts, including our Environmental Justice Assembly (ej.kheprw.org).