Author and environmental activist Sandra Steingraber will present “Women on the Front Lines of Climate Change: Fossil Fuels as a Feminist Issue” at Ithaca College on Tuesday, Sept. 20. Her 7 p.m. talk in Textor 101 is free and open to the public.
A poet, biologist and cancer survivor, Steingraber used all three kinds of experiences to investigate the links between cancer and environmental toxins in her 1997 book, “Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment.” It was subsequently turned into a documentary film, which followed Steingraber over the course of a year as she traveled across North America, working to break the silence about cancer and its environmental links.
Continuing the investigation begun in “Living Downstream,” Steingraber’s books “Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood” and “Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis” explored the intimate ecology of pregnancy and reveal the ways which environmental hazards now threaten each stage of infant and child development. Throughout, she calls parents and cancer patients alike to political action.
In 2013 and 2014, Steingraber was sentenced to jail after pleading guilty to trespassing on property owned by Crestwood Midstream and refusing to pay a fine. The nation’s largest energy transportation and storage company, Crestwood seeks to bury fracked gases in abandoned salt caverns located beneath and beside Seneca Lake. Activists have been protesting against the plan as a potential danger to the environment as well as the Finger Lakes wine and tourism industries.
Steingraber’s honors include the Elliott-Black Award from the American Ethical Union for her “commitment to rescue our nation’s land, water and people from unsustainable, damaging corporate practices”; the Heinz Award, given for significant achievements benefitting the environment; the Rachel Carson Leadership Award from Carson’s alma mater, Chatham College; and the Hero Award from the Breast Cancer Fund.
Steingraber serves as a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College. Her presentation is sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences.