SouthWings’ Whole Communities program area addresses the intersection of the human and natural communities. Poorly managed industrial, commercial, residential, and infrastructure development have long plagued the Southeast. Although the economic downturn of recent years has temporarily reduced these pressures, any improvement in the economic outlook will bring renewed calls for inappropriate development, which could have profound effects on the region’s natural and human communities. We focus on three primary issues:
Sprawl and Development: Long a bane of the Southeast, poorly planned sprawl development creates significant water and air quality problems; encroaches on working farmland, which in turn creates food security concerns; and destroys natural ecosystems such as forests and marshes. SouthWings’ flights help bring these impacts to light and inspire people to find better ways to address growth issues.
Environmental Justice: Siting and operation of industrial facilities has had disproportionate impacts on communities of color and low income communities. The complex of petrochemical facilities stretching along the lower Mississippi River, colloquially known as “Cancer Alley,” is a particularly well known example of this phenomenon, but others abound. SouthWings flights can be invaluable in assessing and illustrating the potential environmental justice implications of proposed new industrial facilities and the operational impacts of existing facilities, including emergency response actions.
Transportation: Transportation facilities and practices, both good and bad, have a profound influence on the fabric of any region. Whether showing the scars that new superhighways can leave on pristine areas, providing assistance to experts analyzing transportation project proposals, or illustrating how public transit can contribute to urban life, SouthWings flights can provide unique benefits to work in this field.