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BarCampCHS

Participants at BarCampCHS listen to opening remarks from event organizers.

BarCampCHS is officially underway, and we’ll be here all day giving you live updates (follow @CyrusBuffum or @ChasWaterkeeper).  What is BarCamp, you ask?  We’re glad you asked.  Here’s a description taken from their website:

BarCamp is an ad-hoc, user generated “unconference” where participation, not observation is key.  It’s a day where people gather to share and learn in an open environment.

250 attendees spend all day learning about everything from “Building Stronger Communities with Social Media” to “Photojournalism as an Art.”  The presenters are the attendees, and the attendees are the presenters.

Charleston Waterkeeper is specifically interested in this “un-conference” because of its focus on open-sourced means of sharing information.  Our organization’s mission is to improve the quality of Charleston’s waterways.  In order to be successful at implementing this goal, we must engage an entire community and educate our citizens.  And so, it is absolutely essential to share information, spread awareness and involve the public.  Luckily, over the past few years many tools have emerged that have made this easier and more possible.

Harnessing tools like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. is essential (if done correctly) in effectively implementing our mission, and we intend to keep the public engaged and informed to the best of our ability about the issues influencing the health of our waterways.  Hopefully we’ll return from this conference with some heavy artillery and new ideas to better serve you and our natural resources.

Update: Here’s a great video from our friend @geofftech:

A recent report by USA Today claims that many of Charleston’s schools are ranked in the highest percentiles (which is a bad thing in this case) with respect to exposure to harmful pollutants. “USA Today used an EPA model to track the path of industrial pollution and mapped the locations of almost 128,000 schools to determine the levels of toxic chemicals outside. The potential problems that emerged were widespread, insidious and largely undressed.”

Of the 128,000 schools analyzed, many of those most affected by surrounding pollutants are located in the Charleston area. Here is a list of the top five schools exposed to the most air pollution in Charleston (all of which are in the top 1 or 2 percentile nationally!):

1. Chicora Elementary School (173)
2. St. Johns Catholic School (437)
3. Charlestowne Academy (447)
4. Academic Magnet High School (728)
5. N. Charleston High School (849)

According to the report, schools in the Charleston area are exposed to high amounts of toxic chemicals such as manganese, chromium, nickel, sulfuric acid and copper. The top five contributing sources include:

1. Charleston Marine Containers Inc.
2. Meadwestvaco Corporation
3. Detyens Shipyard
4. Rhodia Inc.
5. Saint-Gobain Vetrotex America Inc.

This study shows that nearly 125 schools in the Charleston area are exposed to these dangerous toxins. To read more, click here.

This could very well be a sign of deeper issues. After all, chemicals, toxins and pollutants that begin as air contamination eventually make their way to the surface of the earth and eventually, into our waterways. This chain of events creates an incredibly tightly woven web that connects and effects everyone and everything, especially our health.