20TH ANNUAL GABRIEL GATHERING
Organized by The Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project of the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality
On the evening of Monday Ocotber 10, 2022, Networked Public Space particiapted in the 20th Annual Gabriel Gatheirng: Making the Invisible Visible. The environmental sensing installation measured air pollution and sound levels on the African Burial Ground in real-time, responding to conditions on site with changes in lighting, and also uploading the data for visualization online. These responsive “sculptures” supported the ongoing environmental justice issues into conversation with the work of Sacred Ground and Recontextualizing Richmond. They highlighted the history of the African Burial Ground that extends to its conditions today, through the erasure of “urban renewal” and construction of I-95 to ongoing air and noise pollution on the site.
The sensors inside each sculpture measured particulate matter and noise levels. Particulate matter (PM) in the air is primarily the solid particles created by combustion and friction. Car, truck, and train exhaust, as well as tires, all create PM that dirties the air and enters lungs and - at their smallest size - the bloodstream leading to increased levels of asthma and cardiovascular disease. Noise pollution also impacts wellbeing, leading to stress and sleep impacts with mental and physical consequences for those exposed to high levels over time. PM and noise levels vary from moment to moment in urban environments, but places like the African Burial Ground, as well as many Black and Brown neighborhoods throughout Richmond face high levels of these pollutants relative to other parts of the City. The sensors measured these pollutants and made them part of the visible fabric of urban space. In addition, the data was uploaded to be available for visualization and analysis by any group or individual working towards knowledge and change. See the data below.