As a first year master of social work student at the University of Utah, I started working with a community organization on the west side of Salt Lake.
Earlier this summer, I read an article in The Salt Lake Tribune regarding an EPA study that reported disproportionately poorer air quality in this (west side) part of the valley. This article brings to light one of the many environmental injustices residents in this region experience as part of their daily lives.
Moreover, it made me consider my position of privilege living on the east side in Cottonwood Heights. What actions can I take to avoid contributing to an issue that so heavily impacts the community I’m now working to support?
To begin with, I considered the options available for public transportation from the east to west side. I was surprised to find that east to west public transportation, including all forms of UTA, are severely limited. To reach my practicum location, a trip that is normally 15 miles by car, I would be spending over two hours walking and transferring between buses and trains. Clearly, our public transportation system in the valley is not set up to accommodate east to west travel.
This not only presents a challenge for individuals committed to reducing vehicle emissions, but also poses a barrier for those on the west side who wish to access a variety of eastbound destinations and cleaner air. This includes employment, health care, educational opportunities, and world class outdoor recreation, all of which I as an east side resident take for granted.
Jason Funk, Cottonwood Heights