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RiskAware: Visualizing the environmental health risks in and near Adel, Georgia

Adel, Georgia

Featured image for the project, RiskAware: Visualizing the environmental health risks in and near Adel, Georgia

Image by Ralf Vetterle from Pixabay

This project will be conducted for the City of Adel and nearby towns in Cook County, Georgia to support local activists’ fight for environmental justice against the construction of a new wood pellet plant near the neighborhood. We aim to develop a clear and interactive visualization tool to 1) demonstrate the impacts from existing pollutants for Adel and nearby towns with state-of-the-art data that can be updated continuously; and 2) provide estimation for the impact on air quality with the construction of a new wood pellet plant. This tool will effectively inform the local community about the environmental health risks they are, and will be facing on top of the existing pollutants in the community. Once developed, this tool will empower the ongoing and future fight for environmental justice by building a solid foundation with data-based evidence for potential legal actions and other forms of advocacy.


About the Community

  • Basic demographics of City of Adel, Georgia, according to the 2020 Census
Total Population % of African Americans Medium Income % of population with age 65+ Poverty Rate
5,571 45% $26,963 19.8% 23.5%

Existing environmental stressors

  • Air quality pollution induced by lumber yard, propane tank refurbishing facility, and an existing wood pellet plant located in 1.3 miles from the nearest resident
  • Water pollution induced by lumber yard
  • Excessive energy consumption by bitcoin mines

Newly approved potential pollutants

  • Air quality pollution is likely to increase due to a recently approved pellet plant facility within 100-200 yards from the nearest resident and upwind from residents who have already been overburdened by existing pollutants

A documentary about local residents’ fight for environmental justice

Abandoned: Greed, Neglect and Environmental Injustice in Adel


Summer & Fall 2022 → Search for and connect community to scientists

Fall & Winter 2022 →  Model building with the help from community leaders

Spring & Summer 2023 → Interactive tool development and final delivery

Project Team

Community Leads

Treva Gear headshot

Dr. Treva Gear is the founder and chair of the Concerned Citizens of Cook County, a community grassroots organization in Adel, Georgia.  She is also the Georgia State Manager for Dogwood Alliance, an environmental organization that focuses on protecting southern forests and communities from industrial logging.  Dr. Gear is an Army veteran, an educator of 17 years, and a community organizer. She believes in being the change that she wants to see in the world and doesn’t mind “getting into good trouble.” Dr. Gear holds a doctorate in Adult and Career Education from Valdosta State University.

Community Science Fellow

Shenyue Jia Headshot

Dr. Shenyue Jia is an adjunct professor and visiting scholar at Chapman University. She has been actively engaged in community science since 2020, focusing on improving the access to urban greenness in Los Angeles County’s “Gateway Cities”, where residents suffer from above-average air and noise pollution from traffic along the busy corridor from Long Beach Harbor to Downtown Los Angeles’ warehouse district. She recently concluded a series of community projects on tree canopy improvement for six Gateway Cities with colleagues from Loyola Marymount University, TreePeople, and Gateway City Government Council. In these projects, she incorporates residents’ preferences with the modeled priority for tree planting based on high resolution land cover data from LiDAR images and daytime population.


Community Partner

Sabrina Chapa–Anthropocene Alliance is a Xicana from the frontlines of so-called South Texas (Karankawa land). She is a proud “Earth Protector at the intersections of just practice, biocultural ecology, and radical transformation”. She got her M.S. in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management with a focus on Ecological Justice. She’s also a co-researcher with the Tishman Environment and Design Center and volunteers for her community.

Scientist Wanted

We look forward to working with one or two scientists to fulfill the following two roles. If one scientist can fulfill both roles, it is also welcome.

Environmental Risk Modeler

  • Knowledge on building environmental health risk (or other risk evaluation) models to calculate a synthetic index of environmental health risk for Adel, Georgia
    • Why we ask for this: the environmental health risk is the key outcome that will be featured in the mapping tool
  • Strong problem-solving skills
    • Knowing how to break down description of potential impacts from pollutants into quantitative metrics
    • Can identify existing environmental data for these metrics
    • Why we ask for this: these are just more specific details on the environmental risk model we anticipate to build
    • Remarks: you do not need to have environmental health risk modeling experiences. We value people who have any kind of modeling experience that can serve to solve problems
  • Soft skills
    • Passionate with community science, living or studying backgrounds from underserved communities are a plus;
    • Be responsive to communications;
    • Willingness to connect with local communities

Mapping Tool Developer

  • Proficient in GIS software with online mapping features or other popular online mapping tools, such as ArcGIS Online, Leaflet, kepler, or else
    • Why we ask for this: our expected final deliverable will be an online interactive mapping tool as a container of geospatial data showing environmental health risks, therefore, the scientist need to have an adequate level of proficiency to develop this tool
  • Familiar with existing datasets of environmental health risks, such as live feed of Air Quality Index
  • Soft skills
    • Passionate with community science, living or studying backgrounds from underserved communities are a plus;
    • Be responsive to communications;
    • Willingness to connect with local communities

Thriving Earth Exchange asks all scientific partners to work with the community to help define a project with concrete local impact to which they can contribute as pro-bono volunteers and collaborators. This work can also position the scientists and communities to seek additional funding, together, for the next stage.

Interested in volunteering as a scientist? Apply now!