While biking along the Gulf Coast from New Orleans to Houston, college students and recent graduates stop in Baton Rouge and help groom a community garden.
The program titled Ride for the Future is organized by non-profit organization Better Future Project.
When arriving in Gulf Coast cities, group members participate in community outreach programs aimed at environmental justice and the emission of fossil fuels. One outreach program organized by the group, Garden Day, was held in an urban community.
“Urban gardening is a good way to have vegetables in the community accessible and cheap,” said Kaela Bamberger applied arts activism student at Ithaca College.
Students live on $6 a day and will stay at local churches. Each biker is assigned a task to keep the trip organized.
Two group members are responsible for community outreach while another two responsible for budgets and community reports. Another three members complete the positions of media coordinator, social media specialist and videographer.
The group organized a petition Tuesday for residents near the ExxonMobil plant to prevent the business from emitting more sulfur dioxide in the air. Up to 24 tons of sulfur dioxide can be emitted in one day. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “long-term” exposure to sulfur dioxide can be life threating.
But ExxonMobil is seeking a permit for more. Daphne Chang, media coordinator said the plant seeks a permit to continue to release chemicals in the air with fewer repercussions from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Chang said foul smells, soot on car windows and vibrations in the ground are all negative effects residents near the plant attributed to ExxonMobil.
“It’s about climate change,” Bamberger said “What we’re doing is exposing people who are being affected by that fossil fuel industry.”
While some group members may seem far removed from the industry, one member has a closer connection than most activists.
“My dad works for Shell, everyone in my family is related to oil and gas,” said Dena Yanowski, community outreach specialist. “I didn’t even think it was a big deal until meeting people from the Northeast.”
Because she has such an intimate connection to the oil and gas industry, Yanowski said it’s important to look at the grander scheme of things. She said she doesn’t believe individual people are responsible.
“We’re trying to work with all the communities we stay at,” Chang said. “Unfortunately we wish we could dedicate our lives to every issue, we’re trying the best we can to dedicate what we have as