Uptown Summer Week Two: Data Analysis, Storytelling, and Environmental Justice


The theme of our second week of Uptown Summer programming was “skills.”  Each year, the Uptown Summer youth employees gain skills in media production, storytelling, and environmental science in order to create their own narratives about environmental challenges in their communities. Last week, we were excited to have a number of experts who specialize in creating relatable stories out of scientific data.


Andres Chang is a data analyst and artist who works to make data on climate change accessible, relevant, and intersectional. He gave a workshop to the youth about using data to find and tell important stories. We talked about data visualization techniques and practiced analyzing raw data sets. Listen to him talk about the workshop and his climate justice work on this WOOC podcast.


On Thursday we were joined by Aaron Mair who helped us further brainstorm and develop the environmental justice stories we’ve been working on. Aaron is a spatial epidemiologist, environmental activist, and community organizer. As a spatial epidemiologist, he analyzes data to look for correlations between geographic locations and frequencies of health conditions – a key task in mapping the disproportionate and often overlooked pressure environmental issues place on marginal communities. He provided inspiration for the youth about how their stories can be used to generate action.

We’re also lucky to have RPI mathematics student, Durasia Anderson on the team. Durasia is our resident Data Justice Intern. Throughout Uptown Summer, she will be helping our youth employees in seeking out and analyzing sound scientific data to develop their stories.

With all of this inspiration about the role data can play in social change, we’re excited to go into the field this week with science teacher Darlene Kehn Hunter to collect some of our own data. We’ll be collecting water samples from the Hudson to see if antibiotics have made it into our river. Darlene speaks about the project on this WOOC podcast.

We have many more exciting guests and activities planned for the coming weeks! Keep checking our website or follow us on social media for more Uptown Summer updates!

(Photos by Catie Rafferty.)