Featured Event | Film Screening

Nature as Nurture: How 3 Philly Groups are Improving Access

September 23, 2020
1:00pm - 2:00pm

Join Penn Sustainability for an event featuring three local panelists as they highlight one critical issue of environmental justice, access to nature. Hear from Eugenia South from Penn Medicine, Kiasha Huling from University City Green, and Jerome Shabazz from Overbrook Environmental Center about the impacts of nature on health, the history of the environmental movement, and how each organization is working to address issues of racial justice related to access to nature. The audience will also have the opportunity to engage with speakers in small groups virtually using Bluejeans breakout rooms to understand how they can get involved.


Gina South

Eugenia South, MD, MSPH

Faculty Director of Urban Health Lab, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. South has dedicated her career to improving the health and wellbeing of the urban poor. As an emergency physician, she provides care for a diverse population with complex medical problems and witnesses first-hand how neighborhood environments impact health. As a researcher, Dr. South works to identify and address upstream causes of poor health. She is interested in understanding the ways in which the physical and social attributes of where people live, work, and play influence cardiovascular and mental health, chronic stress, and violent crime. She develops and tests neighborhood level, place-based and person-based interventions. Dr. South has worked on a series of studies evaluating the impact of vacant lot greening on violent crime, perceptions of safety, physiologic stress, and mental health.  This work has been published in JAMA Network Open, PNAS, and AJPH, and has been featured in national and international media outlets including NPR, NBC News, TIME, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Dr. South also works on diversity in medicine efforts, and is very interested in mentoring medical students, residents, and fellows, particularly those from minority and other underrepresented in medicine backgrounds.

The Urban Health Lab (UHL) is a group of scientists, physicians, and students who believe everyone deserves to live and thrive in a safe and clean neighborhood. They partner with community leaders, non-profit organizations, and policy-makers to advance the science of urban health, particularly for low resourced and minority communities. The UHL designs and tests neighborhood environmental interventions, including quality green space, blight remediation, structural housing fixes, and more, as well as run observational studies. Their goal is to advance knowledge on the best practices to building healthy neighborhoods.

Kiasha Huling

Kiasha Huling, MSW

Director UC Green

Kiasha serves at the Director of UC Green, West/Southwest Philadelphia’s local community greening organization established in 1998. Through collaboration with residents and universities the organization has mobilized thousands of volunteers in planting 4000 trees in 19139, 19143 and 19104. As a graduate of Temple University and University of Pennsylvania’s School for Social Policy and Practice, Kiasha is a disciplined advocate for healthy communities. With a professional background in research, Public Health and community engagement Kiasha has steered action toward equitable greening education and policy that is rooted in community led volunteerism, social justice and civic partnership. “The stewardship of a greener Philadelphia begins in the hearts of every resident. To feel compelled to own a vision for a better environment in this city we all have to first experience that our city spaces belong to us and are for us.”

Jerome Shabazz

Jerome Shabazz

Executive Director Overbrook Environmental Educational Center

Jerome Shabazz is the founder and Executive Director of JASTECH Development Services, Inc. A not-for-profit organization developed in 1998, to promote environmental justice; encourage sustainable design and to ensure public health resources in urban communities. In 2002, JASTECH applied for and received a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant under the Clean Water Act to establish the Overbrook Environmental Education Center (OEEC), a community-based center dedicated to preserving our built and natural environments. Under Mr. Shabazz’s direction, the OEEC completed a Targeted Brownfields Assessments (TBA) and remediated environmental hazards from a Brownfield site in Western Philadelphia. The site in now the OEEC’s educational facility and has trained thousands of students on the Clean Water Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, and other topics that reduces human exposure to harmful substances at home and school. The OEEC is nationally known for its Environmental Justice and project-based learning programs. Mr. Shabazz is a member of the PA Department of Environmental Protection’s - Citizen Advisory Council (CAC), Environmental Justice Advisory Council (EJAC); National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC); Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET) at University of Pennsylvania and, he is a board member of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful (KPB). Mr. Shabazz has a Master of Science Degree in Environmental Protection & Safety Management from St. Joseph’s University and has received numerous citations and awards for his work in environmental justice and community development.


Natalie Walker

Natalie Walker

Sustainability Manager Penn Sustainability

Natalie serves as the Sustainability Manager for the University of Pennsylvania where she runs a number of programs aimed at advancing environmental sustainability on Penn’s campus and increasing collaboration. She supports Penn’s Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee (ESAC) Subcommittees in implementing campus-wide goals set out in the Climate and Sustainability Action Plan 3.0 (CSAP 3.0). Natalie also works with School and Center Sustainability Coordinators and student groups to advance understanding and awareness of sustainability issues on campus and empower members of the Penn community to take action. Natalie is both an International Society of Sustainability Professionals Sustainability Associate and a LEED Green Associate. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Development with a concentration in Community, Regional, and Global Development from Appalachian State University and a Master of Science in Sustainable Engineering with a concentration in Sustainable Infrastructure and the Built Environment from Villanova University.