Resisting Cycles of Environmental Injustice in La Villita

Exhibition Open: September—November, 2020
The Chicago chapter is currently online only. Explore the project tiles on the Chicago page to see and hear their stories.

2018: La Villita’s Nuestra Historia mural shows community history, cultural pride, and activism.

Courtesy of J. Weller and P. Morales Fuentes, UIC.

1987: The Crawford Generating Station closed in 2012 due to local grassroots activism.
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1987: The Crawford Generating Station closed in 2012 due to local grassroots activism.

Courtesy of Library of Congress.

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2018: Hurricane Willa caused many residents of Minatitlán, Mexico to relocate to the US.

Courtesy of Angel Hernandez/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock.

The Problem
The Roots
The Solutions

Living in Chicago’s 3rd largest industrial corridor, La Villita residents face systematic environmental racism worsened by corrupt politicians and corporations who prioritize profit over people’s well-being. Policing, criminalization of migrants, and land use for incarceration reveal how environmental injustice and immigration intersect in La Villita.

In the 1990s, the frequency of dramatic climate events and start of NAFTA increased the influx of migrants across Central America, Mexico, and the U.S. Settling in La Villita, immigrants confront toxic environments due to old zoning laws and discrimination linked to 19th century policing to protect industrialist interests.

Activists and scholars recognize social inequality as a major factor restricting climate change adaptation and forcing migration. In La Villita, campaigns like “Fight for the Right to Breathe,” youth development programs, community pride and resistance, along with environment-friendly practices are improving community life.