Making Environmental Justice Accessible

April 10, 2019

Elvira De La TorreElvira De La Torre ’20, a sociology major, is working on making online information about environmental justice more accessible.

De La Torre is the recipient of the Jan and John ’45 Cauffman Fellowship, which helped her fund the creation of Ground Truthing California, a website that discusses local environmental impacts, includes resources to understand pollution in California, and provides information regarding state environmental laws, legislators, and more.

“In many occasions, we tend to jump from one site to another trying to acquire knowledge about environmental laws in California, key legislators, or even monitoring tools to help folks understand their local air, water, and soil quality,” De La Torre said. Ground Truthing condenses all of this information and more into one place.

De La Torre has been creating the site with the assistance of her advisor, Associate Professor of Sociology Rebecca Overmyer-Velázquez, since the beginning of fall semester. Their vision for the site is “for members of the community to become politically aware of the pollution, whether that being air, water, or soil contamination, in their community and approach folks from their city council all the way to the State Capitol,” De La Torre said.

De La Torre added that “since the primary communities being affected by pollution are inner-city, low-income communities of color, I wanted to make the website accessible to non-English speakers.” To close this gap, De La Torre is currently translating all of the material on the website into Spanish.

The site also features ways to achieve clean air, water, and yards, as well as the goals and achievements of pinpointing pollution from cities near Whittier, such as Santa Fe Springs, South El Monte, and Pico Rivera.

During Overmyer-Velázquez’s recent Toxic Tours: Environmental Justice in SoCal JanTerm course, students assessed the website and studied each of its featured cities. The students went to each area to investigate environmental impacts the residents face. Beyond the course, students will continue to give input to refine the site and make it as accessible as possible.

You can find the Ground Truthing website at