HBCU-CBO Gulf Coast Equity Consortium
The Historically Black Colleges & Universities /Community Base Organizations Coastal Equity Consortium Project is funded by the W. E. Kellogg’s Foundation. Unity In The Family Ministry is the community base organization (CBO) that is working with the Kellogg HBCU/CBO Coastal Equity Consortium Project in Pensacola, Florida. The communities Unity In The Family Ministry are targeting are Olive Heights, Wedgewood and Rolling Hill which are located in Pensacola’s northern end. The problem(s) that are being address through this project are as follows:
Group looking at the growing pile of dirt and debris at the Rolling Hills Landfill
The Wedgewood community of Pensacola is a quiet African-American neighborhood where most residents own their own homes. Many of the residents are generational, where their homes were passed down from their parents, who bought them in the late 1950’s or 60’s. Back in the late 1950s, the Wedgewood, Olive Heights, and Rolling Hills communities reflected quite a different picture than what you see there today.
Residents have erected a message (pictured left) displaying how they feel about the environmental concerns in their neighborhood. Long-time resident Aaron Wiley says the neighborhood wasn’t always this way. Wedgewood started out as the American dream. “When we moved out here in 1958 this community was a middle-class Black community.” “It was a pristine neighborhood with big Oak trees, tall pines, creeks that ran clear water,” says Wiley. “We used to fish, swim, and all that out in the woods. He says many residents were veterans, hard-working, who were looking for a good place to raise their families.
Fast forward to present day and you will find these neighborhoods are surrounded by thirteen Construction & Demolition debris (C & D) pits, along with ‘borrow pits’ which are used for mining dirt, sand, and clay.
These pits are supposed to be free of odor, level with the ground, and – depending on the type of pit - should be between 100 and 500 feet away from private property. But Wiley and other residents say that these are three of the biggest problems they have with the pits, some of which they believe are accepting types of debris in violation of their permits. “The pits that we have here are unlined for the material that they’re bringing in,” says Wiley. “They’re bringing in toxic waste. So our ground water is contaminated and the soil is contaminated and the air is contaminated.”
Wedgewood Demographic Information & Statistics
1. Family Households – 970
2. 98% African American
Rolling Hills Construction and Demolition Landfill