San Francisco Baykeeper and RyanNicole Austin (RyanNicole) are creating a dynamic new work using hip hop to raise awareness of environmental threats facing the Bay Area.
San Francisco Bay is surrounded by 42 sewage treatment plants, five oil refineries, more that 1,600 industrial facilities, and 86 cities that dump trash, oil, bacteria, and toxic pollutants into its water. Too often, the burdens of this pollution are borne by the Bay Area’s low-income residents and communities of color.
Baykeeper will host RyanNicole on Bay boat patrols so that she will experience firsthand the wildness of the Bay and its shorelines and its interconnectedness with local communities. This and other research will inspire her creations. RyanNicole writes, “I live in West Oakland where the air pollution is three times more deadly for residents as anywhere else in the city…my son and other young people here are among the many African American residents experiencing de facto environmental racism….”
Among other accomplishments, RyanNicole is a former playwright-in-residence at New York’s Public Theater through the BARS workshop, has presented original works for the National Performance Network and National American Musical Theater Festival, and founded The HAVEN Project, a cultural and media housing justice initiative.
San Francisco Baykeeper’s brand of environmental activism puts attorneys and scientists on the front lines beside communities to block polluters and stand up for the local environment so we can all find hope, healing, and justice in healthy waters and thriving wildlife. Also collaborating is Hip Hop for Change, which uses grassroots activism and hip hop culture and its expression to educate about socioeconomic injustices and solutions.
Photo of RyanNicole by Khattab McIntosh