Waves of Change: Meet community organizer Justin Onwenu

Waves of Change: Meet community organizer Justin Onwenu
September 25, 2023 Great Lakes Now

Waves of Change is a new online interview series highlighting the diverse faces and perspectives shaping the environmental justice movement throughout the Great Lakes region.

Our first guest is Justin Onwenu, a Detroit native with extensive experience in environmental organizing, especially when it comes to protecting the water and air quality for people living in and around the city.

“We have a lot of heavy polluting industries that are oftentimes placed right next to schools and churches and residential neighborhoods,” he said. “Environmental justice is about the pursuit of making sure that everyone has access to that healthy community that we all deserve.”

After a waterfront storage site collapsed, community members were concerned about the possibility of uranium-tainted soil getting into the Detroit River. That’s when Onwenu and others mobilized to protect the city’s drinking water sources from pollution.

“Basic protections to make sure that our drinking water sources are safe,” he said. “And I think that’s just an example of how we can build coalitions, get the community involved and make sure that we’re working with our lawmakers so that we have access to the Detroit River in a way that’s safe and healthy for everybody.”

Watch the Interview

Learn more about the featured organizations:

Learn more about the featured stories:

Catch more news at Great Lakes Now: 

Michigan toddlers to receive universal lead testing under new legislation

Climate costs imperil Detroit’s unique, diverse Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood

Featured image: Community organizer Justin Onwenu. (Photo Credit: GLN) 


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