Highways to the Brain

Award for pushing the limits of the form

Honorable Mention, People's Choice Spring 2021

By: Alice Lu, Vincent Grospe, Nawaphan Watanasirisuk

How freeways in Southern California produce a racialized and classed outcome in brain health.

Read on the ArcGIS site

Freeways play a special role in the social and physical landscape of Southern California. However, despite their ubiquity, these roads’ histories and social and biological impacts are not widely-known. The design, construction, and ongoing legacy of the national highway grid is far from apolitical and is arguably one of the largest racist monuments in the United States. Specifically, how has an infrastructure founded on racist practices of redlining and the destruction of communities of color continued to produce differential outcomes in brain health along racial lines? To better understand the current role that freeways play in brain health outcomes in Southern California, it is necessary to first understand how historical practices have imbued the system with racism. This understanding is the foundation for viewing the current racial landscape of Los Angeles in relation to freeways as one that is created intentionally. As a result, the pollution produced by vehicles on these freeways poses a distinct risk to the brain health of communities of color that live nearby.

This is amazing, complex, deep, focused and moving! The play of visual, mapping, and textual information is really great, and I learned a ton about the history of the 710 and the neighborhoods around it, as well as the science of air pollution, fantastic work! – Prof. Kelty

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