Audrey Mei Yi Brown
About the author

Audrey Brown is an independent writer based in the Bay Area who works at the intersection of environment, culture, social equity, food, art and climate. She covers environmental climate justice issues for Estuary, among other topics.

Articles by Audrey Mei Yi Brown


Catching Up with Mycelium Youth Network

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Mycelium Youth Network rolled with the punch. The pandemic came as a surprise to them as much as anyone, but Mycelium pivoted quickly to online programming. Nevertheless, the transition was a bitter pill to swallow. Leading into Covid, Mycelium was poised to drastically expand the reach of its programming by teaching courses through Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), among others. They had secured the contracts and built the curriculum—then the pandemic turned the education landscape upside down. A July 2019 story about Mycelium in Estuary News explored the organization’s work to train youth of color in climate adaptation and mitigation. Pre-Covid programming in their “Water is Life” curriculum...
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Tending the Urban Earth and Its People

While most activities ground to a halt in the COVID-19 crisis, nature didn’t skip a beat at urban farms across the Bay Area. Urban farms meet an array of local needs, whether it’s for organic food, living wage jobs, a community center, or a place to connect with nature. With the COVID crisis, and with many American communities touched by loss and fighting racism, these needs have become even more acute. Farms, gardens, and nurseries across the Bay Area are rising to the challenge. Times of extraordinary change reveal how future climate injustices may well play out: the “haves” marshal the means to protect themselves and the “have-nots” bear the burden of impacts. In particular, the nation is gaining painful...
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Striving for Equitable Outcomes

By Audrey Mei Yi Brown Five people of color, four of whom who were women, took center stage in a full amphitheater for a 2019 State of the Estuary conference panel discussing how to achieve more equitable outcomes in both human and estuary health. Mishal Durrani, an undergraduate researcher at UC Berkeley, observed from the audience. “As a woman of color from an underrepresented community, it was powerful to see a panel with so many women of color represented.” As multi-racial as it was multidisciplinary, the diversity on the stage was striking. From community frontlines to the university to the EPA, each panelist brought expertise in equity work from a different field. Despite the diversity in their fields, it quickly...
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Youth Learn to Shift as the World Shifts

In a bright classroom in the hills of East Oakland, youth huddle in small groups building miniature rain-catchment models. Birdhouses serve as the base for a catchment system composed of a foil gutter, a straw pipe, and a Dixie cup rain barrel. Spritzes of water from a spray bottle generate rain-like condensation, which trickles through the system into the barrel. The eight middle schoolers gathered on this chilly Saturday morning are participating in a youth social-media ambassador training organized by a climate-readiness program called Mycelium Youth Network. In a few weeks’ time, they will build a life-size rain catchment system here at Pear Tree Elementary School. Lil Milagro Henriquez founded Mycelium Youth Network in late 2017, while fires engulfed California....
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Toxic Soup Strains Silos

Headlines about falsified tests are just the latest development in a long history of frustrations for Hunters Point in San Francisco. Recently, the neighborhood has been in the news due to fraud in the cleanup of the former Navy shipyard, contaminated with radioactive waste from nuclear research. In what is now called by some the biggest case of eco-fraud in U.S. history, 97 percent of the cleanup results are in question and two supervisors have been sentenced to prison.
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The State’s Biggest Landlord Reconsiders Its Neighbors

When Mari Rose Taruc approached California environmental justice (EJ) leaders about advising the California State Lands Commission on its EJ policy, they didn’t know what she was talking about. “They were like, what does the State Lands Commission do?” recalls Taruc with a chuckle. A two-way discovery has since taken place between the agency and the resulting EJ group. The discovery is significant because State Lands wields bureaucratic power often out of reach of small EJ groups. As Taruc quips, it is “the state’s biggest landlord.”
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Marin City: A Peek into that Beautiful Future?

“What does it look like in resiliency planning when community voices take the lead?” That’s the question posed by Pandora Thomas of Permaculture + Social Equity Team. P+SET has partnered with Marin City as a part of the Resilient by Design challenge and the brand of resilience espoused by the community is non-negotiably local. To build local capacity in this predominantly African-American locality, P+SET held a community course that covered permaculture design and advocacy literacy. For many communities, acceptance of outside power coming in gets complicated when self-determination is threatened or displacement looming. As Thomas explains the effort, “no longer is there this idea of only experts coming in to save us. Now it’s the homegrown expertise partnering with other...
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