Voices Unbound: Enviro-Amplify

What do people really mean when they talk about the environment? A new podcast asks regular citizens a simple, but charged question: "What are the environmental challenges that are most important to you?" The answers to that question drive this engaging podcast in sometimes unexpected directions, from the environmental impacts of being homeless, to air quality, to wide-ranging discussions about environmental justice. 

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About Voices Unbound

So, what do people think about environmental challenges, and what do they do every day to survive those challenges? We explore these questions in this podcast series. We are a unique blend of community researchers from the University of Washington Tacoma: a community nurse, an urban ecologist, an environmental policy analyst, an air and water scientist, and three undergraduate students interested in public health, medicine, and environmental education. Over seven months between 2019 and 2020, we stood in the street, behind booths, in the sunshine and the rain, asking passers by to fill out a postcard to answer these two questions. We chose places where we wouldn’t necessarily find the sorts of people who already had a voice: outside the State Fair, in senior centers, amongst those experiencing homelessness, in parks, outside an ice skating rink, and in local outdoor markets. We collected over 1000 postcards before the coronavirus outbreak took over everyone’s consciousness.

In each podcast we present selections of the postcards we collected and discuss our experiences. In the last three podcasts we recruit a fellow researcher with a unique passion for the environment and pair them with a community member or activist with similar interests: 1) The Climate Crisis with Dr. Ellen Moore and Erin Rasmussen with the Sunrise Movement; 2) Climate Justice with Dr. Linda Ishem and Liesl Santkuyl with Latinx Unidos of South Sound; and 3) Plastic Pollution with UWT Plastics researcher Julie Masura, Amy Kovacs from Sound Experience, and Caitlyn McFarland UWT undergraduate environmental researcher and Sound Experience educator.

We are funded by Earthlab, a UW institute advancing our commitment to community and to bringing people of different backgrounds together to solve our most complex and critical environmental challenges: first-mile thinking; out-of-box questions; new paths to action! Production support comes from the Puget Sound Institute and the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.

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About the Author: 
Voices Unbound is hosted by University of Washington Tacoma healthcare professor Robin Evans-Agnew. Partners in the project include UWT faculty members Evans-Agnew, Christopher Schell, Joel Baker and Tom Koontz who developed the podcast with funds from the University of Washington's Earthlab. Production support comes from the Puget Sound Institute and the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.