By Adam Spaulding-Astudillo
What are the best ways for community leaders to educate the public about noise pollution?
For answers to this question, ask Alexia, Cecilia, and Maria from Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio (CLUES)! During our recent in-person meeting, they shared a set of activities that they have been using with their community over the last year. These activities use the experiences of each individual to teach about noise pollution.
The first activity — a ball toss — had folks answer questions written on the ball like “What sound(s) remind you of home?” and “When do you intentionally expose yourself to noise pollution?” ‘
This was the most impactful exercise for Alexia because of the personal stories that came out of it. Through these stories, everyone could see first-hand how we all interpret and relate to sounds differently based on our backgrounds! Community leaders can use this activity at home to tailor their lessons to the experiences of community members. There’s no better way to learn than that!
In another activity, we had to guess which sounds are louder than others. By doing this, we were reminded why noise pollution research and education is so important for improving our health. Our own ears aren’t always the best at telling which sounds around us are safe or healthy. It might surprise many to learn that between an ambulance’s siren, a balloon’s pop, and a car horn, the loudest sound is not the siren nor the horn — it’s the balloon’s pop! Showing folks that their preconceptions aren’t always right about these sounds is a great way to teach them that noise has different effects on our bodies based on how long we experience them.
The St. Paul CSCs also led our NOISE Project Community on a walk that got everyone reflecting on noise and Noise Refuges. We had great conversations about the difficulty of finding urban parks/green spaces that are quiet! This was one of Karen’s favorite activities because it got everyone outside AND we all were pushed to think critically about how noise impacts us.
We were all thankful to get a real break from the meeting’s long hours and exhausting emotional work (as José Gonzalez called it — ‘a real EDI workout’) through a guided meditation led by the CSCs featuring Minnesota natural sounds. Many of us really loved the awesome sounds of the Loon! The meditation and soothing sounds were a welcome relief.
The St. Paul CSCs didn’t just take on the task of sharing activities focused on noise and its impacts on communities — they also shared an activity focused on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion: “Equity Science Reflections.” This activity guided our NOISE Community through an equity walk – but focused on noise! The activity surprised many of us and led to great conversations.
Thank you to Alexia, Cecilia, and Maria for creating and sharing these fantastic activities! They were not only useful teaching tools but were also helpful at our 2-day meeting for connecting to one another and to our collective mission. May they continue to remind us of the importance of our work, and be fruitful forms of engagement for many far and wide!