The Empire's Backyard: Power & Pollution in Sheridan Hollow

Exhibition Open: March 05—March 22, 2020
Stage 1 Gallery
46-48 N. Swan Street, Albany, NY
Event: Closing Party
March 21, 2020, 6:00 pm—10:00 pm
46-48 N. Swan Street, Albany, NY
Event: Open Gallery Hours
March 21, 2020, 12:00 pm—4:00 pm
46-48 N. Swan Street, Albany, NY
Event: hEarth Albany:  "Weaving Earth into our Heartstrings."
March 20, 2020, 6:00 pm—8:00 pm
46-48 N. Swan Street, Albany, NY
Event: Climate Reality Project Event Meeting
March 14, 2020, 12:00 pm—5:00 pm
46-48 N. Swan Street, Albany, NY
Event: Open Gallery Hours with Ruth Foster
March 14, 2020, 12:00 pm—4:00 pm
46-48 N. Swan Street, Albany, NY

2019: For over 100 yrs. residents lived in the shadow of dirty fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

Courtesy of A.J. Schneller, Skidmore College.

2009: Children play in Sheridan Hollow Splash Park, an environmental amenity drawing summer crowds.
 
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2009: Children play in Sheridan Hollow Splash Park, an environmental amenity drawing summer crowds.

Courtesy of Chip Fasciana.

2018: Protestors demand Governor Cuomo commit to 100% renewable energy in Sheridan Hollow.
 
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2018: Protestors demand Governor Cuomo commit to 100% renewable energy in Sheridan Hollow.

Courtesy of Erik McGregor.

The Problem
The Roots
The Solutions

NY Gov. Cuomo has proposed converting the Albany NY Solid Waste Energy Recovery System (ANSWERS) to a fracked gas power plant to provide heating-cooling and electricity to the Empire State Plaza. The proposal locks NY into decades of reliance on dirty energy and exacerbates a century of pollution and health ills endured by the community.

Between 1911 and 1994 NY State sited a coal power plant and trash incinerator—ANSWERS—in the predominantly Black community of Sheridan Hollow. The air and soils were polluted by toxic ash, resulting in cancer, asthma, and blight. Sheridan Hollow met the criteria for an EJ community as set forth by the State DEC Office of Environmental Justice since the policy was enacted in 2003.

Sheridan Hollow Alliance for Renewable Energy (SHARE) is a grassroots NGO opposing the Governor’s proposal. Advocating for renewable energy projects that benefit both the residents and Empire State Plaza, it demonstrates how reparations can be realized through a transformed EJ community.

1981–1994: A former garbage incinerator spewed toxic levels of dioxin, lead, chromium, and nickel.
2009: The NGO Capital Roots is addressing food apartheid with community gardens in Sheridan Hollow.
1994: NY accused of racism—EJ activists and soot on the governor's mansion closed the incinerator.
2019: Community health issues shouldn’t be exacerbated by additional fossil fuel infrastructure.
2019: Will Governor Cuomo use budget authority to power the Empire State Plaza with renewable energy?
“We’ll be poisoned slowly, yet more efficiently. We ask that you not poison us.” —Mert Simpson.
Schematic of how renewables could fuel Empire State Plaza to protect communities and our climate.
For over 100 years Sheridan Hollow was plagued by one way of thinking: fossil fuel infrastructure.
Children grew up in the shadow of industrial power plants; these mistakes should not be repeated.
Parks, access to green spaces, community gardens, and clean air and soils are community amenities.
Our electricity system is going through the biggest shift in 50 yrs.; natural gas = a bridge to nowhere.
The US must provide reparations for EJ communities and solve climate injustices locally and globally.
NY passed the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, reducing GHG emissions 85% by 2050.
Sheridan Hollow and Empire State Plaza need renewables NOW! Protect citizens, the future, and our climate.
1981–1994: A former garbage incinerator spewed toxic levels of dioxin, lead, chromium, and nickel.
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1981–1994: A former garbage incinerator spewed toxic levels of dioxin, lead, chromium, and nickel.

Courtesy of Ward Stone NYS DEC Wildlife Pathologist.

2009: The NGO Capital Roots is addressing food apartheid with community gardens in Sheridan Hollow.
2

 2009: The NGO Capital Roots is addressing food apartheid with community gardens in Sheridan Hollow.

Courtesy of Chip Fasciana.

1994: NY accused of racism—EJ activists and soot on the governor's mansion closed the incinerator.
3

 1994: NY accused of racism—EJ activists and soot on the governor’s mansion closed the incinerator.

Courtesy of Wiki Commons.

2019: Community health issues shouldn’t be exacerbated by additional fossil fuel infrastructure.
4

2019: Community health issues shouldn’t be exacerbated by additional fossil fuel infrastructure.

Courtesy of Sheridan Hollow residents.

2019: Will Governor Cuomo use budget authority to power the Empire State Plaza with renewable energy?
5

2019: Will Governor Cuomo use budget authority to power the Empire State Plaza with renewable energy?

Courtesy of Wiki Commons.

“We’ll be poisoned slowly, yet more efficiently. We ask that you not poison us.” —Mert Simpson.
6

2018: “We’ll be poisoned slowly, yet more efficiently. We ask that you not poison us.” —Mert Simpson.

Courtesy of Erik McGregor.

Schematic of how renewables could fuel Empire State Plaza to protect communities and our climate.
7

Schematic of how renewables could fuel Empire State Plaza to protect communities and our climate.

Courtesy of Malcolm Kaletsch.

Additional Media

Soot

Courtesy of Ward Stone.

Additional Media

Polluted Garden

Courtesy of Chip Fasciana.

Additional Media

 

NY Accused of Environmental Racism

 

 

Courtesy of NY Renews and Sane Energy Project.

Additional Media

  Illness in Sheridan Hollow

Additional Media

Mert and Ruth Discuss Cuomo’s Proposal

Courtesy of Food and Water Watch.

Additional Media

 

SHARE and Community Mobilization

 

 

 Courtesy of NY Renews and Sane Energy Project.

Additional Media

SHARE Alternative Energy Preferences

 

 

 Courtesy of Times Union.

For over 100 years Sheridan Hollow was plagued by one way of thinking: fossil fuel infrastructure.
Additional Media

For over 100 years Sheridan Hollow was plagued by one way of thinking: fossil fuel infrastructure.

Courtesy of Jacob Adams.

Children grew up in the shadow of industrial power plants; these mistakes should not be repeated.
Additional Media

Children grew up in the shadow of industrial power plants; these mistakes should not be repeated.

Courtesy of Jacob Adams.

Parks, access to green spaces, community gardens, and clean air and soils are community amenities.
Additional Media

Parks, access to green spaces, community gardens, and clean air and soils are community amenities.

Courtesy of Jacob Adams.

Our electricity system is going through the biggest shift in 50 yrs.; natural gas = a bridge to nowhere.
Additional Media

Our electricity system is going through the biggest shift in 50 yrs.; natural gas = a bridge to nowhere.

Courtesy of Jacob Adams.

The US must provide reparations for EJ communities and solve climate injustices locally and globally.
Additional Media

The US must provide reparations for EJ communities and solve climate injustices locally and globally.

Courtesy of Jacob Adams.

NY passed the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, reducing GHG emissions 85% by 2050.
Additional Media

NY passed the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, reducing GHG emissions 85% by 2050.

Courtesy of Jacob Adams.

Sheridan Hollow and Empire State Plaza need renewables NOW! Protect citizens, the future, and our climate.
Additional Media

Sheridan Hollow and Empire State Plaza need renewables NOW! Protect citizens, the future, and our climate.

Courtesy of Jacob Adams.

Our Point of View

University Partners
Community Partners

Studying at a private college that often feels like a bubble, we struggle to apply our concerns to social and environmental justice. Reading case studies and discussing EJ issues is fundamental, but this was our first opportunity to work with a frontline EJ community. We met cancer survivors and those who experience economic and physical distress due to a century of environmental insults in their backyard. Working with Sheridan Hollow Alliance for Renewable Energy has demonstrated the importance of community engagement and staying politically active to advocate for a renewable energy future.

—Skidmore College

SHARE is a coalition of community members and local and statewide climate groups working to stop a fracked gas power plant in our environmental justice community. The documentation of our struggle—most notably through the videos of community members discussing their health problems caused by the continued pollution in their neighborhood—reminds us of the human costs of environmental racism, and why our fight is so important. We are motivated by Skidmore students’ enthusiasm in actively joining the fight for clean and renewable energy.

—Sheridan Hollow Alliance for Renewable Energy (SHARE)

—New York Climate Advocacy Project

Contributors

University Partners

Skidmore College

Faculty Project Directors Jesse O'Connell A.J. Schneller Adam Tinkle
Students Finley Tevlin Jack Lipson Jacob Adams Sarah M Baker Olivia Berson Abby Grayburn Parker Heuer Malcolm Kaletsch Brad Sachs

Community Partners

Sheridan Hollow Alliance for Renewable Energy (SHARE)

Ruth Foster
The Residents of Sheridan Hollow
Kieth Schue
Merton Simpson

Local Supporters

Chip Fasciana
Jean-Christophe Benoist
Environmental Studies and Sciences Program, Skidmore College
The John B. Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative (MDOCS), Skidmore College
Sane Energy Project/Kim Fraczek
Erik McGregor
NY Renews
Ward Stone
Times Union
Food and Water Watch
Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects - Pixyjack Press & EggGeothermal and Green Builder media