Climates of Inequality: Stories of Environmental Justice

October 14 – November 5, 2023

A two-week, pop-up exhibition, Climates of Inequality invites audiences to follow the stories of people from 22 frontline communities around the U.S., Mexico, and Colombia, including Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, as they explore the roots of climate and environmental injustice where they live. Frontline communities are those that experience the first and worst consequences of climate change, and are most often immigrants, communities of color, Native American, and low-income.

Local stories represented in the exhibition and accompanying public programs explore how artists, community groups, and environmental justice organizers grapple with ways to convey the impacts of over a billion square feet of warehouses and a vast infrastructure of freeways, railroads, and intermodal rail yards blanketing the I.E. How does this affect people and places in Riverside and San Bernardino, where residents experience among the highest rates of air pollution and asthma in the state? And how have frontline communities creatively resisted, from coalition building and other solidarity movements to greening and re-storying sites of significance?

Watch the trailer


Saturday, October 14 – 4:30 pm at UCR Arts, Culver Center 3834 Main Street, Riverside

Screening of Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust, with musical performance by Alex Miranda (Payómkawichum/Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians) and discussion with filmmaker Ann Kaneko and Miranda. An inspired and poetic portrait of a place and its people, Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust focuses on the World War II concentration camp at the foot of the majestic snow-capped Sierra mountains as the confluence for memories of Payahuunadü, the now-parched “land of flowing water.” Intergenerational women from Native American, Japanese American, and rancher communities form an unexpected alliance to defend their land and water. 

Free and open to the public – Link to register

Sunday, October 22 – 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm at Riverside Art Museum Rooftop (Julia Morgan Building)

Climates of Inequality: EJ in the I.E. listening session/public conversation. Join us for a lively dialogue with environmental justice organizers from the Inland Empire, who consider how their communities mobilize storytelling for change, to save their lives and those of generations to follow. Spanish/English translation available. 

Free, please register here

Thursday, November 2 – 6:00 pm at Riverside Art Museum (Julia Morgan Building)

Environmental Justice in the IE: Community-based Practices in Art and Activism nel discussion. Local social practice artists, documentarians, and activists Tamara Cedré, Noé Montes, and Anthony Victoria talk about the challenges of representing the slow violence of the supply chain, which digs deep into historical forces of colonialism, extraction, and exploitation of the land and people. With over a billion square feet of warehouses blanketing the I.E. and a vast infrastructure—freeways, railroads, and intermodal rail yards—carrying goods to market, how can the arts help humanize the issues and convey the magnitude of the impacts we feel today in Riverside and San Bernardino, where residents experience among the highest rates of air pollution and asthma in the state? 

Free and open to the public – Link to register coming soon

Saturday, November 4 – 10:00 am – 12:00 pm at Riverside Art Museum (Julia Morgan Building)

Teaching “Climates of Inequality” Tour and Workshop

Are you a high school, college, or university-level teacher interested in bringing regional issues of environmental justice into your classrooms? We have limited spaces available to workshop strategies together, to build upon each other’s work in deliberate ways that can best provide pathways for our students to engage in environmental justice work at all levels.

Registration required; space is limited. Free museum entry to all registrants. Register here

Sunday, November 5 – 1:00 pm at Riverside Art Museum (Julia Morgan Building)

Cultures of Environmentalism: Read Aloud & Artmaking. Spanish/English translation available. Children’s books have begun to focus in sensitive ways on conveying issues around climate change, and to teach us how different cultures think about the environment. For this closing day public program in association with the pop-up exhibition of Climates of Inequality, families are invited to a bilingual reading of Carole Lindstorm and Michaela Goade’s We Are Water Protectors (2021 Caldecott Medal Winner), and Mona Damluji and Innosanto Nagara’s Together (2021), both for ages 3-7.

Link to register coming soon

Credits: Climates of Inequality is collectively produced by the Humanities Action Lab (HAL), University of California, Riverside, People’s Collective for Environmental Justice, and organizations in 21 other localities, led by Rutgers University-Newark. The project is funded in part by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Rutgers University-Newark School of Arts and Sciences, the UC-Riverside Teresa and Byron Pollitt Endowed Term Chair for Interdisciplinary Learning and Research, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Relevancy & History Project partnership between UCR Public History and California State Parks, and A People’s History of the I.E.

IMAGE: Warehouse Workers United block traffic, choking the supply chain to advocate for labor rights, 2009. From the Climates of Inequality exhibition. Courtesy Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.