Rx for Environmental Health

An apple a day keeps the doctor away… but what can Bostonians do about airborne particles that worsen asthma? Is there a prescription for coping with toxins in urban “brownfields,” sites contaminated by chemicals including (but not limited to–not limited at all) dry cleaning fluids to motor oil, or heavy metals? Can a doctor help with obesity in an urban “food desert,” where dining choices are limited to convenience stores and fast foods?

Well, if you want to find out, you can go to the Cambridge Public Library this Thursday, September 30, at 7 pm for a lecture sponsored by Artists in Context titled “Introduction to the Environmental Health Clinic.” The speaker is Natalie Jeremijenko, who is “an artist whose background includes studies in biochemistry, physics, neuroscience and precision engineering,” according to her profile on the Environmental Health Clinic web site.

Jeremijenko will be talking about the Clinic. Here’s the how it works:

“The clinic works like this: you make an appointment, just like you would at a traditional health clinic, to talk about your particular environmental health concerns. What differs is that you walk out with a prescription not for pharmaceuticals but for actions: local data collection and urban interventions directed at understanding and improving your environmental health; plus referrals, not to medical specialists but to specific art, design and participatory projects, local environmental organizations and local government or civil society groups: organizations that can use the data and actions prescribed as legitimate forms of participation to promote social change.”

It should be fascinating.

If, after listening to Jeremijenko tell you how to change your microenvironment, you still want that apple, you have two alternatives. You can consult Earthworks— but sadly, not for long; this 21-year-old organization devoted to local fruit and urban wilds has decided to dissolve. Still, they do maintain a list of urban orchards for now.

In lieu of Earthworks, there are sites which can help you locate local fruit.  Neighborhood Fruit lists individual sites, while Fallen Fruit has maps of fruit tree locations. Alas, neither of these sites has any Boston locations… yet. Perhaps completing sites should be part of your environmental prescription.

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