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Promoting Environmental Health in Leimert Park through Improved Solid Waste Management and Air Quality Education

Los Angeles, California

Featured image for the project, Promoting Environmental Health in Leimert Park through Improved Solid Waste Management and Air Quality Education

Image by imordaf from Pixabay

This project will engage Leimert Park in nature-based community science focused on waste management’s impact on air pollution. Analyzing how improper waste disposal contributes to air pollution, residents will explore the connection of waste management to air quality, and public health through hands-on activities and workshops. We will install recycle and compost receptacles in the Park and educate the community in the process. Our goal is to promote environmental stewardship, improve air quality, and foster a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle for community members. We will evaluate the effectiveness of our approach through community surveys and identify areas for improvement



Leimert Park, located in South Los Angeles, is known for its vibrant culture of Black art and creativity. Nevertheless,  residents are disproportionately exposed to unjust and unhealthy high levels of air pollution and solid waste. Ezrach is a nonprofit organization dedicated to tackling inequalities. Our mission is to pave the way for economic opportunity, promote environmental sustainability, and advocate for equity to positively impact the community and its residents. Our priority for Leimert Park is to improve environmental health and foster a healthier and more sustainable community.

To address issues of toxic air quality, Ezrach collaborated with the University of California Los Angeles on community-based research, resulting in the publication of an air monitoring report. This report was shared with community residents and offered community-driven solutions to improve air quality. Recommendations for policymakers and change agents to contribute to the community’s growth in areas of air quality were also provided.

In line with these recommendations, Ezrach is partnering with the Thriving Earth Exchange (TEE) due to its expertise and resources in community-driven environmental projects. We rely on TEE’s support in designing and implementing nature-based community science initiatives focused on waste management and air pollution.



The community aims to improve sustainability and environmental health in Leimert Park through air quality education and reducing solid waste in the community. Public spaces, including the Park, lack recycling and composting facilities and have insufficient general waste disposal facilities. This project will focus on improving waste management infrastructure within the community to reduce community exposure to solid waste and reduce the volume of waste unnecessarily sent to landfill (recyclable and compostable materials). Our primary aim is to enhance residents’ understanding of air quality and waste disposal, install recycling and composting facilities in community spaces, and secure the necessary funding and logistical support to ensure their continued maintenance past the conclusion of the Thriving Earth project. Future studies will aim to understand the impact of improper waste disposal on air quality in Leimert Park.

Additional objectives include the following:

  • Improving community knowledge about environmental health, including but not limited to the use, maintenance, and importance of the solid waste infrastructure
  • Identifying the primary sources of solid waste in the community, with the aim of potentially preventing unnecessary waste from being generated
  • Understanding the impacts of solid waste in Leimert Park on public health, disease transmission, air quality, and sustainability
  • Establishing a positive point of contact with community members on sustainability-related issues to enable future environmental health-related work in the community


Timeline and Milestones

  • April 2024: Finalize scope and submit project description
  • May 2024: Begin recruitment of Scientist
  • June 2024: Interview finalists and begin collaboration
  • July-August 2024: explore logistics (funding, permitting, cost, options, etc), engage with community stakeholders
  • September-October 2024: evaluate options in partnership with community stakeholders, begin communication and outreach activities
  • November-Jan 2024-2025: Install recycle and compost receptacles, begin communication and outreach planning
  • Jan-March 2025: Execute community outreach plan, implementation of educational workshops, hands-on activities and demonstrations
  • April-May 2025: Evaluate results, solicit stakeholder feedback, final report and recommendation

Project Team

Community Leads

Dr. Edidiong Mendie is the Executive Director of Ezrach Brain Trust Association. A leader in the field of Environmental Justice, she brings extensive experience working with marginalized communities, policymakers, and clean energy stakeholders.

She is also an Adjunct Professor/Lecturer of criminal justice at California State University Sacramento and Texas Southern University, and began her career as a licensed attorney in Nigeria specializing in Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) initiatives. Dr. Mendie is a published author and has presented at 20+ international and local conferences.

Dr. Mendie holds a Ph.D. in Administration of Justice from Texas Southern University, an LL.M. in Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Law from the University of Houston, Texas, a B.L. from The Nigerian Law School, and a LL.B. from the University of Benin, Nigeria.

Mr. Shaahid Ali El is the Co-Founder and Chief Thought Officer of Ezrach. He possesses over 35 years of community and stakeholder engagement skills. Mr. Ali El will be in charge of developing and implementing strategies to engage community members, collaborating with residents, facilitating outreach initiatives, and ensuring that the project aligns with community needs.


Community Science Fellow

Emily Franklin headshot

Dr. Emily Barnes Franklin is an atmospheric chemist and environmental engineer currently based in Melbourne, Australia. Dr. Franklin holds a BS from Yale University and a PhD from UC Berkeley, and currently works for the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial and Research Organization (CSIRO). Dr. Franklin’s research focuses on better understanding human impacts on aerosol formation and composition from remote to urban environments, including development of machine learning-based models for enhanced characterization of complex organic mixtures. Outside of research, Emily is focused on preventing harassment during field research and has previous experience in organizing community-based efforts to improve indoor air quality in schools.

Scientist Wanted

We are looking for a collaborating scientist who will be willing and able to lead or contribute to the following tasks:

  • Design a community-centered deployment and educational workshops on waste management, air quality, and public health 
  • Identify locations and develop criteria for waste receptacle installation and replacement, identify appropriate city office/officials to oversee installation and maintenance 
  • Organize and facilitate hands-on activities such as waste cleans-ups, and demonstrations to residents in recycling, sorting, and composting. 
  • Analyze data and prepare reports on project progress  
  • Collaborate with project partners, and relevant stakeholders to ensure project success 

We are open to working with students. The Los Angeles base is preferred but not required.

Desired Skills/Qualifications:

  • Advanced degree or equivalent experience in environmental science, environmental engineering, or a related field 
  • Experience in waste management, air quality, or environmental health
  • Excellent analytical skills and proficiency in data analysis
  • Experience in designing and conducting educational workshops and community engagement activities
  • Ability to communicate effectively with diverse stakeholders including communing members, scientists, and policymakers
  • Willingness to prioritize community priorities and concerns and commitment to promoting environmental stewardship and justice
  • Experience applying for environmental justice-related grants would be appreciated, as the community is open to expanding the project beyond this pilot study

Thriving Earth Exchange asks all technical 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 on this project? Apply now! 

Collaborating Organization(s)

Ezrach is a faith-based organization based in Leimert Park, Los Angeles. Ezrach seeks to advance its work in several areas: 1) air quality monitoring; 2) education and awareness; 3) advancing sustainability.